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7 min read

    7 min read

    Recently, Uber announced it would be rolling out an experiment to destination filters in a few select cities worldwide. Senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur outlines what the destination filter experiment is, what cities it has rolled out to, and how it could impact drivers.

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    I recently learned Uber is testing out a new update for those of us who use Destination Filters in select markets and even outright eliminating Destination Filters in two markets. When I heard about this update, I had to ask myself: “Who doesn’t use destination filters?” Well, apparently there are drivers out there who don’t, and they are the only drivers who may benefit from this new policy.

    In this article, I will share the details of this update, compare it to Lyft’s Destination Filter policy, and provide a real live example from a recent day of driving to show the negative impact you may also experience.

    This experiment is yet another example of how Uber works very hard to pay the drivers less and less while trying to convince themselves that this is in the best interest of passengers and drivers.

    The Details of Uber’s Destination Filter Change

    Experiment #1: 30% Reduced Rates On DF trips

    Uber is doing two different experiments with destination filters.  The first is a rate reduction on Destination Filter trips.  The best way to share the details of this experiment is to show you what is appearing in the Uber app in select test cities:

    Uber announcement on the destination filter changes

    I have highlighted a few key sections.  First, Uber tells us they are seeing lower earnings for some drivers who do not use the destination filters.  My initial response to this is to say to those drivers: “Why aren’t you using the destination filters?”

    The next thing I have to say to Uber is “why are you penalizing those of us who intelligently use the Destination Filters to make more money and then reward the drivers who don’t?”

    This is what I call “Uber Socialism.”  Uber is rewarding and encouraging mediocrity. If you don’t use the Destination Filters, as we read in the second screenshot, you will be rewarded with the money that is taken from those of us who do.

    Next, Uber acknowledges that the actual rate reduction could be anywhere from 0 to 100%.  All bets are off.  One may assume Uber will do whatever Uber wants.  And what is worse, we won’t know the amount until we are on the road, looking for a ride home at the end of a shift.

    Finally, Uber is asking for feedback.  I hope those of you who are in the test markets do share your feedback.  If drivers don’t speak up, Uber won’t know how you feel.  However, I am resigned to the fact that Uber does not care what you think so what difference does your feedback really make?

    Here is a list of the markets impacted by the 30% fare reduction policy.  If this policy is not met with much resistance, I assume it will be rolled out to more markets in the near future.

    • Philadelphia
    • Chicago
    • Charlotte

    Experiment #2: Remove DF Completely

    Uber has removed the Destination Filter as an option in New York City, Raleigh (thanks to reader Rick for the heads up!) and Dallas.  This is further evidence of the fact that you and Uber are not partners.  Uber will do what Uber will do.  Drivers be damned.

    An example of the announcement drivers received announcing the end of destination filters

    If you are like me, you remember how frustrating it can be at the end of a shift to have to deadhead (drive with no passenger in your car) 30 minutes or even an hour to get back home.

    Now, if you work in NYC or DFW, you will have to go back to the old antiquated ways and waste 30 minutes to an hour of your day driving home.  How a driver picking up passengers on the way home is a bad thing for either the driver, the passenger or Uber, I cannot comprehend!

    Lyft vs. Uber: Destination Filters

    It is quite something that Uber is so concerned about how a driver’s use of two daily destination filters impacts the passenger experience.  Actually, I have never had a passenger complain about how long it took me to make a pickup.  No, in fact, it seems I have to wait for the majority of passengers to get to my car.  I get there too soon and they are not ready for me.  So there seems to be a big disconnect between what Uber is seeing in their data and what drivers are experiencing on the road.

    But what is Lyft doing?  According to Uber philosophy, Lyft must really be damaging their business by giving drivers a whopping six destination filters per day!  However, they are not hurting their business.  Rather,  Lyft seems to be doing just fine.  Their drivers seem happier.  Why?  Let’s do a Destination Filter side-by-side comparison:

    Uber vs. Lyft destination filter

    This is a big drawback for drivers who only drive for Uber.  Those destination filters sure do come in handy and can be used to maximize your revenue.  It’s is unfortunate what Uber is doing here. This is why we always recommend you sign up for both Uber and Lyft.

    Impact on Drivers Who Use Destination Filters

    I drove today for about 5 hours.  I used the destination filter twice.  Let’s see what a 30% decrease looks like.  On this first trip, I was over in Oakland and needed to get a ride back to San Francisco.  I got lucky and found one fairly quickly:

    Next, at the end of my shift, I set the destination for my home.  Since I live close to the San Francisco airport, I often get a ride to SFO.  Here are the details of my second use of the Destination Filter:

    If I add up my earnings for those two trips, we have a total of $37.82.  30% out of that would now be a loss for me of $11.35.  Assuming I work 6 days per week, that is a weekly loss of $68.  If I work for 45 weeks, my annual loss due to this new policy is over $3,000.

    According to Uber, this money will be shared among all the drivers who did not use the destination filter.  How will that be done?  Who has oversight?  Will Uber change the rules?  It all sounds like a big bowl of driver dissatisfaction and inefficiency to me.

    Final Thoughts on Uber’s Changes to the Destination Filter

    Since I have been driving for Uber this past month, the destination filter is now a rare occurrence. Half the time I try to use it, it is unavailable because the ‘network is too busy’. At best, I can only use it twice in a day.

    I always save one for the end of the day, so essentially I only have one to play with.  That one I save for when I have to go over to Oakland or down to San Jose and I want to head back towards San Francisco.

    Uber has already done some damage by only allowing us, the drivers, to use the destination filter twice per day, compared to six uses offered by Lyft. Uber also, unlike Lyft, throttles it down so we drivers cannot use it when we need it the most, buried deep in traffic and trying to get out of an area.

    This is another example of how Lyft works a little bit harder to make the driver’s experience more satisfying and profitable.  Like so many of Uber’s “adjustments,” we have to let this one roll like water off a duck’s back.  There is nothing we can do except use this as fuel to get to work on your Plan B.  Take it easy and be safe out there.

    Drivers, have these new changes to Uber’s destination filters affected you? Have they rolled out to your city yet? Let us know in the comments!

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    -Jay @ RSG

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur, a graduate of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, is a full-time driver with over 26,000 rides. Jay has a driver-focused podcast: Rideshare Dojo with Jay Cradeur. When Jay isn’t writing articles or making videos, he is traveling the world. You can see what Jay is up to at www.nomadjay.com.

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