Policies & InformationTippingUber

Should Uber Passengers Tip Their Drivers?

By December 8, 2014February 11th, 202057 Comments


    As drivers, there will always be things like rates, passenger requests and pay that will be beyond our control.  Obviously, lower rates are at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now but there’s not a whole lot we can do about it.  I understand the desire to vent though, since it’s human nature to not want to do the same exact job for 30% less pay.

    But personally, I’m not going to waste my breath.  Complaining won’t get you anywhere in life and there will always be people willing to work for less.  It’s up to you to do something about your situation if you’re not happy with the way things are.

    My Number One Issue Right Now

    As you guys know, my site is all about finding solutions to problems.  I don’t think rates are headed up in the near future so for me, the biggest issue right now is what to do about Uber’s tipping policy.  Uber’s official policy states:

    Being Uber means there is no need to tip drivers with any of our services.

    First of all, I have no idea what ‘Being Uber’ means but the rest of the message is clear: riders are not supposed to tip their drivers.  This has been Uber’s policy since the beginning, but it comes with one large caveat.

    Uber’s rationalization for not having to tip drivers has always gone something like this: since Uber pays an above average wage, there is no need for passengers to tip drivers.  Drivers aren’t ‘supposed to’ work for tips like waiters or bell hops do in other service industries so there is no need to tip them.  That was Uber talking there, not me 🙂

    Now that policy was fine when Uber was paying above average rates but since their fares have come down significantly in the past six months, that line of thinking no longer sits well with me.

    Uber Is Even Getting Sued Over Their Tipping Policy

    Any time you see $40 billion next to a company, there are bound to be a lot of hungry lawyers looking to sue said company for anything and everything.  I’ve seen a number of lawsuits pop up over the past few months but if the claims made by this latest one are true, Uber could be in big trouble.

    The lawsuit claims: in the past, Uber told riders that tip was included in their fare and sometimes the number 20% was even referenced.  But as any driver can tell you, there is definitely no tip included in the fare or our pay statements.

    But the only problem with this lawsuit is that I have personally never seen one piece of evidence that this is or has ever been Uber’s policy.  Not a screenshot, not an e-mail, nothing.

    Either way though, somehow this notion of ‘tip being included’ has gotten around to most passengers and I have no idea how or why.  Most drivers even think that this is Uber’s policy but I’m here to set the record straight and come up with some solutions.

    How To Get Around Uber’s No Tipping Policy

    In case you’re wondering, if a passenger offers a tip, here is Uber’s official response (this is the standard canned response that they will send you if you e-mail them about tipping):

    Our current policy is that there is no tip with Uber. The Uber experience means not having to reach for a wallet at the end of a ride. As a result, we message to riders that tipping is not required – we never want riders to feel obligated to pay extra at the end of Uber trips. If a client offers a tip, please remind that them that tipping is not necessary with Uber. New riders may not know about the tipping policy, and could feel cheated if they later learn that tipping was not required. However, if the rider still insists, you should accept the tip – you earned it!

    So basically, Uber wants you to decline the tip but if they offer again, you can accept it, you earned it, haha!  I don’t know about you guys, but there is no way in hell I’m going to say no to free money.  I’m a 4.9 rated Uber driver and I expect to be compensated like one.  If the ride that I provide is superior to the average experience, then I should be compensated accordingly.  That is how capitalism works.

    I actually e-mailed Uber about what would happen if I refused to state ‘that tips aren’t required’ and they never responded back to me.  So proceed at your own risk.

    Take Your Own Tips

    If you’ve decided to engage your rebellious side and accept tips regardless of Uber’s stance, you’re going to want to make it as easy as possible for your passengers to tip.  One of the easiest ways to broach the tipping subject is when you’re talking to passengers about the difference between Lyft and Uber.

    By now, all of my loyal readers should be driving for Uber and Lyft and since most passengers are aware of this by now, I always tell them that one of the things I prefer about Lyft is the fact that passengers can leave a tip with Lyft but not Uber.

    Related Article: Lyft Drivers Can Get $500 When They Sign Up For Uber

    This generally gets the passenger’s brain thinking about tips but in a subtle way where it doesn’t seem like you’re asking for one.  Sometimes, I’ll even say something along the lines of “I really prefer the Lyft app because passengers can tip on it and Uber just makes it so difficult for passengers to tip.  In fact, I take Uber all the time as a passenger and that’s the one thing I don’t like.  So I usually try to bring cash or I know some drivers have started using Square readers to accept credit cards.  Either way, I still enjoy driving passengers on both platforms.”

    The key is to encourage tipping and make it seem like everyone else is doing it but not overtly ask for a tip.  I take Venmo and use a Square reader to accept credit card tips if passengers are so inclined.  Remember, it’s all about making it as easy and convenient as possible for passengers to tip.

    (The Square app is a credit card reader that you attach to the headphone jack on your smart phone and it allows you to swipe anyone’s credit card for a very nominal 3% fee.  The reader is 100% free and there are no monthly or start-up fees of any kind, it only charges you when you swipe a card.

    Venmo is a mobile payments service that pretty much every young person with a smart phone uses these days.  Just give them your phone number and they can send payment with one click.)

    Passengers Are Not The Problem, They Are The Solution

    Should Uber passengers tip?  If you’re providing a 5 star level experience, then yes they probably should.  But think about it from a passenger’s perspective: they take and like Uber because it is a convenient and cashless method of transportation.  I know that I personally rarely have cash (especially dollar bills) so for me it is a huge hassle to tip when I take an Uber.  And remember, passengers are also under the impression from Uber that no tip is required.

    I often see drivers referring to passengers that don’t tip as ‘cheap bastards’ or ‘pieces of shit’ but I can guarantee you that that attitude isn’t going to inspire or encourage anyone to leave a tip.  I also have a hunch that anyone who refers to their passengers like that probably isn’t providing a tip-worthy experience.

    Ultimately, I think what’s going to change things is to educate passengers about what’s going on.  Uber has probably already received thousands of e-mails from drivers about the tipping policy and they haven’t done anything.  Don’t expect that to change, it clearly isn’t important to them so what can you do?

    Educate Your Passengers

    As a driver, if tips really are important to you, then you need to educate your passengers about how Uber used to pay a better wage and drivers were ok with not accepting tips and now that rates are lower, more and more drivers depend on tips to make a live-able wage.

    If passengers start e-mailing Uber about wanting to be able to tip on the app, I guarantee you that Uber will listen.  So the next time a passenger asks you about tipping, let them know that tips are appreciated but what would really help you out is if they e-mailed Uber about adding a tipping function so that passengers can tip in the app.

    Most passengers that I talk to feel bad paying $4 for a 5 minute ride and they want to give the driver more!  But giving a cash tip or even using something like a Square reader is not only inconvenient for them but it can be kind of a hassle.  If drivers can educate passengers about tipping, things will be a lot more likely to change.

    Drivers, what are your thoughts about Uber’s tipping policy and how do you feel when passengers don’t leave a tip?  Should tips be expected or do you now understand what it’s like from a passenger’s point of view?

    -The Rideshare Guy

    Harry Campbell

    Harry Campbell

    I'm Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I'm a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.