Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chasing the Surge; Or, Tip Your Uber Driver, You Cheap Bastards!

Most rideshare drivers chase the surge. There are Lyft and Uber driver groups on Facebook seemingly devoted to posting screengrabs of high-ticket fares during price surges. Drivers click “like” and make comments like, “Lucky you!” or “I wish I weren’t already in bed or I’d get in my car right now!”
I’ve always been ambivalent about Uber’s surge pricing and Lyft’s “prime time.” I get the concept of supply and demand, but I’d much rather let the passenger decide how much my service is worth with an actual tip.

Surge pricing forces generosity from people who would otherwise not give you a penny more than what is required. And since Uber discourages tipping, the only amount required is whatever comes up on the app. Surge pricing is the only time drivers get more than what the app determines. So it’s no wonder drivers revel in it and respond to high fares like they just won the lottery.

While Lyft at least has the option to tip in the app, Uber is sticking to the no-tip rule. They even discourage drivers from accepting cash tips when passengers offer them. There are even some drivers who follow that rule.

Regardless of what Travis Kalanick thinks is a better model for transportation, driving is a service-based task. Only assholes stiff service workers on tips.

So, you may be wondering, who cares if passengers have to pay more — or a LOT more — when demand is high? Doesn’t the extra money make up for all the times they didn’t have to pay extra for the luxury of being driven around town, oftentimes receiving water and snacks along the way?

Perhaps, but telling riders they don’t have to tip and then forcing them to tip when it’s busy is ass backwards.

Why did Uber take tipping out of the equation anyway? It’s not like we’re getting paid more than taxi drivers. You wouldn’t stiff a cabbie on a tip, so why do it to rideshare drivers?

The no-tip rule is an absurd aspect of Uber’s business model. It may seem like a good idea to the consumer during normal times, but when they’re looking at a $400 dollar fare, like the unfortunate festival-goers at Outside Lands this year, all of a sudden, tossing a few extra bucks to your driver doesn’t seem like that big of a deal anymore.


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