More big announcements from Uber! Staying true to their ‘180 Days of Change’, Uber has announced some big new changes for drivers coming to the platform this year. Senior RSG contributor Christian Perea outlines all the upcoming (positive!) changes for drivers. Let us know in the comments which ones you’re looking forward to the most.
Uber announced their second round of changes for drivers in their “180 Days of Change” campaign this morning. The second round focuses on making support better, faster, and more reliable for drivers who have long complained of slow response times, inconsistent answers, and policies around ratings that punish drivers for things outside of their control.
This includes the launch of 24-hour phone support for all drivers in the US and Canada, Ratings Protection, and other improvements that should reduce the amount of mystery and stress drivers experience when dealing with support.
It’s pretty tough to top the first round of changes, which included adding a tip option in the driver app, but this round is still significant because Uber is finally addressing enduring and structural problems that I have heard drivers complain about for a long, LONG time. I’ve included all of the changes below along with my take on the ones that matter most.
If this round seems underwhelming to you, Uber still plans to announce four or five more waves of changes for drivers in the coming months. So stay tuned.
Uber’s 7 Changes for Drivers In July
1. 24 Hour Phone Support For US and Canada
Uber has been testing 24 hour phone support for drivers in several cities for the last year or so. In this round of changes, Uber announced they would be rolling it out to the rest of the US and Canada by the end of the year. As of today, Uber says that 57% of the driver population should have 24 Hour Support available.
Support will initially be available in English, but Uber plans to add Spanish, French, and other languages based on each city.
Related Article: 24 Hour Phone Support for Drivers
My Take: This is probably the number one complaint we hear about Uber support, so this will be big with those who really want to know that they are doing something correctly on the road. However, I think this is something that will benefit new drivers the most when they are first getting started as support still seems to struggle with basic issues. We’ve called in multiple times to Uber’s support and while they answer the phone quickly, it’s still Uber support, so the reps can only handle a limited range of questions effectively.
It will be hard to quantify a big improvement in the actual support drivers are getting, but adding a 24 hour phone line is definitely a good thing.
2. Ratings Protection: Passengers Must Explain Bad Ratings
Instead of just handing out bad ratings to drivers all willy nilly, passengers will now have to select a reason as to why they are rating a driver below 5 stars. From there, if a passenger indicates that they rated you poorly due to a reason outside of your control (traffic, poor UberPOOL route, ride on surge, navigation to avoid traffic) then the rating will not count against the driver.
My Take: Drivers have proposed something along these lines for years to protect them from ratings abuse from passengers who often rate poorly for superficial reasons or use the ratings system as a means to exert power over their driver. This sort of change still allows for ratings to remain in place while also including protections for drivers who just so happened to pick up the wrong person in a bad mood that day.
3. $15 Payment for Returning Items
I hate when passengers leave something in my car because often it means going far out of my way to get it back to them. I get there, hand over their stuff and receive no tip. To be fair though, I usually get a good tip for returning lost phones but there have been times I didn’t and it sucked.
My Take: The $15 payment is a nice addition but, to be frank, I think it should vary depending on the distance to return the lost item. Especially if the passenger is more than an hour away! Hopefully I can still collect the $15 if the passenger agrees to meet me half way.
Related Video: See how Harry handles lost phones
4. Better Support Policies For Drivers
Uber also announced that they have conducted a full review of their support policies for drivers and overhauled them to make them more driver-friendly. Uber states they reviewed each policy around 2 things:
- Does this policy show a positive intent for drivers?
- Does the policy seem fair to drivers?
This apparently resulted in a lot of changes since many of the previous policies were either outdated or erred completely on the side of passengers.
For example, previously if a driver received 3 complaints of “unsafe” driving from a passenger, they would end up on a “waitlist” (a nice way of saying “deactivated”). The new policy will now take into account how many rides a driver has given (among other things) and then make a decision based on a better understanding of the driver.
My Take: This “3-complaints” policy had a heavier negative effect on full-time power drivers since the longer you drive, the more likely you are to receive complaints. It almost becomes inevitable since drivers will give rides to a lot of people and some will just claim the driver was unsafe to get a refund.
I think this is one of those changes where we won’t really know the effect until a few months down the road. The extent of this “re-working” isn’t available to see or demonstrate, but hopefully it means that our interactions with support get better and that drivers are less often assumed guilty until proven innocent.
5. In-Person Appointments At Greenlight Hubs
Drivers will now be able to schedule an appointment at a greenlight hub in advance to avoid standing in a long line at the “Uber DMV”. This is important for a lot of drivers because often a visit to an Uber Greenlight Hub can take between 20 minutes and 2 hours depending on how crowded it is.
My Take: Uber’s Greenlight Hubs have always been a shining star in the vast desert of Uber support wasteland. Since they’re staffed by actual knowledgeable employees, you can get pretty much anything answered, but it’s obviously a hassle to go in person for every little issue.
I hate waiting in line so this change should help. Even when Uber’s Greenlight Hubs are packed they still move MUCH faster than the DMV.
6. Faster Fare Adjustments
If you forget to start a ride or if something went wrong when you ended up eventually dropping off your passenger, you will be able to manually add the pickup and drop-off locations within the driver app (coming later this fall) to receive an updated fare payout.
Right now, you can make a fare adjustment on this page: Uber Fare Adjustment.
My Take: This isn’t too big of an upgrade in my opinion, but I have forgotten to start a ride once or twice in my lifetime and this seems a lot easier than emailing support or submitting a ticket and then waiting for it to be manually resolved. Although, once you ‘don’t get paid’ for not starting a ride, you’ll probably never forget to do that again 🙂
7. Faster Document Reviews
Uber says they are going to lower the turnaround time for document processing for things like driver’s licenses, registration, insurance, etc. According to Uber, they intend to bring this turnaround time down to 2 hours for most drivers.
My Take: Personally, I don’t have too much trouble with documents because the driver app already tells me anywhere from 15 to 30 days in advance to upload my documents before they expire. And in the cases where I have needed to update a document, Uber has usually been pretty quick. Next time this happens though, maybe I’ll give the 24/7 support line a call and they can expedite my request.
An Overhaul of Uber Support Was Long Overdue
This definitely wasn’t as exciting as getting a tip button, but these changes have been needed for about… 5 years. Even for the most tech-addicted millennial drivers, submitting a support ticket after a major problems feels like sending a letter out via carrier pigeon. The main difference being that carrier pigeons were probably more reliable.
Uber is expecting to announce major changes for drivers every month as part of their “180 Days’ of Change”. I’m actually interested in seeing how they will reform pay for drivers in a way that makes things more equitable for drivers. We may get some news on that front soon since Uber is testing a different UberPOOL pay scheme for drivers in Los Angeles as we speak, among many other features.
Readers, what do you think of these new features and which one are you most excited about?
-Christian @ RSG