Every month, Harry goes live on YouTube to share all the latest rideshare news and answer questions from current or interested drivers like you.
In January’s live Q and A, Harry announced the new site design (what do you guys think?), Uber’s latest app updates, which dashcam he uses, and more.
Feel free to view the original YouTube live below, but here’s a quick rundown of everything to keep you up-to-date on the latest rideshare news and happenings.
Shopping For a Dash Cam? Here Are Some Recommendations
Having a dash cam is a must for rideshare drivers. It’s great for not only recording what’s going on outside of your car, but also can be helpful if you get into an accident and need footage to show what really happened especially if the other driver was at fault.
Harry currently uses the VanTrue N2 Pro, which is one of our top recommendations, but you can also find some other recommended dash cam options to compare here. Harry has never heard of Uber or Lyft asking to see dash cam footage, but keeping a few days worth of driving recorded can still serve as your personal insurance policy should you ever need to recall a trip or a specific incident while rideshare driving.
Most riders seem to be fine with drivers using dash cams as well and it may even be used as a passive incentive for riders to behave and not create a disturbance during the trip.
Uber’s New Dash Cam Program
We recently wrote about Uber’s new dash cam program that has been rolled out in a few select cities. The Uber Nauto dash cam program is $5-$10 per month and includes a device that will take video inside and outside of your vehicle.
The app allows you to see the video clips taken that were automatically saved when the dash cam thought an accident or incident occurred. While this program doesn’t cost much, it still may be more cost-effective for drivers to invest in their own dash cams that they will own outright.
Also, it’s also important to understand that by agreeing to this program and renting the dash cam, you’re allowing Uber to access the video/audio at any time. It will also be hard to tell if Uber is looking at the footage without a request.
Personally, Harry thinks it’s a little pricey since you can basically just buy one on your own to keep, but it’s an interesting program.
What’s Going On With Other Rideshare Companies Like Tryp?
It’s hard to not want to love the idea of a company doing something positive for drivers. I think we all want to see a rideshare company put their drivers first and offer exceptional benefits with their platform.
However, in the past, Harry has expressed how difficult it is to start a rideshare company. While we covered what Tryp is a while back, they have been pretty quiet as of late. There’s no official confirmation that Tryp has launched, and Harry did see quite a few red flags initially, like never seeing proof of the company having a Public Utilities License – the actual license needed to operate a rideshare company in most states.
Needless to say, the jury is still out on Tryp, but it’s not looking too promising.
Should Drivers Consider Opting In to the Audio Recording Feature Uber is Testing in Certain Markets?
Back in December, Uber announced that it will be recording driver and passenger interactions in Brazil and Mexico with plans to roll this feature out in the U.S. soon. While this could aid drivers who already use dash cams, it also raised some privacy concerns for quite a few people.
While we’re still waiting to see what Uber will do with this feature, whether or not you take advantage of it if given the opportunity really depends on personal preference. Right now, having dash cam footage could be helpful if you ever have to deal with a legal issue regarding an accident or passenger complaint.
However, if you’re someone who really cares about your privacy, you may not want to be on board with the audio recording feature.
But if you’re really reliant on your Uber and Lyft income, you may not mind having every tool in your back pocket to prevent you from getting wrongfully terminated from the app. If Uber can access the audio recording on their own terms, that may be a good thing in the event that a passenger does say something out of line that affects the trip.
Can You Clarify All the Clickbait Media Articles Regarding CA Drivers Setting Their Own Fares?
Many of you have been following all of the updates about the changes in California but just as a quick recap:
- In December, Uber started giving drivers the ability to see their passenger’s destination when accepting a trip.
- In January, they got rid up upfront pricing so now what the rider pays is tied directly to what the driver gets.
- Uber also brought back the fixed service fee, so now they charge a $2 booking fee.
Most recently, at three airports in CA, they gave drivers the ability to set a ‘fare multiplier’. You are not able to set your own rates though. Uber is still setting the rates, but now if you want to charge 10% more, 2X or 3X more, you can do it at these three airports.
This concept sounds great for drivers, but there has still been some push back since Uber is also allowing drivers to reduce their own surge pricing in order to get more trips.
For example, if Uber is offering a 2X surge in your area but you’re not getting any rides, you can opt to undercut the driver next to you, go to a 1.9X and the Uber algorithm will match you with a passenger.
With this feature, drivers are pressured to lower their rates in order to beat out the competition and potentially get more trips, which still may not be the best for your earnings and your time.
Can You Explain the Quest Bonus Change in CA?
Another big Uber change in California is the Quest Bonus. Drivers used to be able to complete a certain number of trips to earn a bonus. Now, drivers can complete a certain number of trips and get a reduced service fee (from 25% to 15%) on all remaining trips.
Of course, Uber says drivers are going to be making the same amount of money with the new program vs the old program. However, we at RSG still feel that Uber hasn’t learned their lesson in terms of messing with driver’s pay and all the backlash it can cause.
Their key messaging has always been: “Don’t worry, it’s going to be the same. Nothing is changing.” But if nothing is going to be different and drivers can expect to earn the same, why make the changes in the first place?
During the live chat, drivers sounded off in agreement that this is basically a bad idea with comments like:
“I went from $30 per 4 days giving 40 rides to making $4 for 40 rides with the new Quest. It’s hard to even compare what you’re making.”
How Will All of Uber and Lyft’s Changes in CA Affect the Rest of Us?
As you can see, Uber has been making a ton of changes in California. Meanwhile, Lyft has not (yet). Uber and Lyft both don’t want to classify drivers as employees. Lyft’s primary plan involves gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that will take place in November.
Uber is also gathering signatures, but is also trying to treat drivers more like independent contractors and see if they can avoid the regulation that way.
Harry is actually surprised that Lyft is not following Uber since they tend to copy each other all the time. He also predicts that Uber and Lyft often use California as a testing ground to try out new features that eventually roll out in other cities as well.
It makes sense that these companies eventually want to have a uniform system throughout the country, which is why it’s extremely important to watch how these changes in CA pan out.
Uber and Lyft Are Not Taking the Underage Passenger Problem More Seriously. Any Suggestions on How Rideshare Companies Should Correct This Problem?
Joe, a RSG contributor, has actually discussed this topic openly in a video. Harry believes that all Uber and Lyft need to do to help resolve this issue is to require riders to scan their IDs. Right now, it’s so easy for kids and students to create an Uber or Lyft account with their parent’s information.
To ride a scooter or bike on the Uber app, you have to use your ID, so it’s apparent that they already have this technology and it can create more of a barrier to prevent this issue from coming up as often.
I’ve Had Many Rides ‘Add a Stop’ Lately After Accepting. Shouldn’t This Be Considered As Another Trip Toward the Quest Bonus Like a Pool Trip?
Uber pays based on exact mileage and time in most states. If you do make a stop that’s out of the way, Uber will adjust the fare automatically.
What can happen though is that you’re not getting paid enough when you’re waiting in between stops. If that’s the case, Harry would suggest politely telling the passenger that you don’t get paid much when waiting and request if they can end the trip and call another ride if they’re going to be longer than 2 minutes.
Drivers have been getting pretty frustrated with riders who abuse this feature and use Add a Stop to run to the store and grab groceries or go pick up takeout. Most riders may not know the effect this has on your earnings, expenses and time so there is a nicer way to get out of these situations by using the recommendation above.
How Do We Discourage Uber and Lyft From Using Driverless Cars?
Harry doesn’t think driverless cars are going to live up to the hype. If and when they do ever hit the streets, they’ll be available in limited areas, with limited capacity and there are always technical issues to consider that will need to be ironed out in the beginning.
The truth is that riders want the cheapest ride, so they may find this option appealing. If you’re interested in following this and learning more, I’d highly recommend Harry’s podcast interview with Tim Lee about self-driving technology.
Drivers, what are your thoughts about driverless cars and all of Uber’s changes? If you’re not in California which of these new features would you like to see in your city soon and what you pass on?
Don’t forget to join us on the next live Q and A and be sure to continue the conversation in the comments with your thoughts.
Get 25% off tax prep with H&R BlockH&R Block clients get exceptional value and easy access to expert help throughout the tax preparation process. And now with the ability to upload your prior year’s tax return regardless of the preparer, switching to H&R Block has never been easier.
-Chonce @ RSG