Over the summer, Uber announced Uber Crew, a “pilot program that lets you choose other drivers and delivery people to share your thoughts about Uber.”
While it’s not completely in-person (i.e. it’s not part of Uber Hubs), it is a feedback program for Uber, for Uber drivers to talk to other Uber drivers (Uber Crew Members) about Uber-related things.
How is this different from Lyft’s Driver Advisory Council? What is Uber getting out of this – and more importantly, what will drivers get out of this?
What is Uber Crew?
Basically, Uber Crew is a chance for Uber drivers to share feedback about Uber with real people, virtually (as of now). However, you’re not sharing feedback with actual Uber employees, but rather other drivers (Crew Members) from your state, who then take your feedback back to Uber.
Learn more about Uber Crew in our video: What Is Uber Crew And Will It Help Uber Drivers?
On the plus side, you get to speak to a real, live human being! On the con side, you’re not actually interacting with an Uber employee and still need an intermediary to hopefully bring your comments/issues to someone at Uber.
It’s a great way for Uber to get filtered feedback from drivers about app outages and other major issues, without actually having to talk to a bunch of drivers at once. Someone also pointed out on Reddit it could be an opportunity for Uber to save money on all those surveys they send out, since Crew Members, according to Uber, are not compensated (more on that below).
Speaking of that, Crew Members will serve for 12 months and spend roughly 50 hours a year on Crew Member activities.
This is how Uber describes a Crew Member’s responsibilities:
“Crew Members will sit on a regional committee with other drivers and delivery people and will provide feedback to Uber’s operations and product teams. They’ll also collaborate with Uber employees on new features. Crew Members can volunteer their time to:
- Meet with local drivers and delivery people over video or phone to discuss local issues
- Raise local issues to Uber’s regional teams
- Collaborate with Uber’s product teams on new app features
- Provide feedback and ideas on new projects”
Uber Crew Town Hall
Uber recently hosted a town hall to talk about Uber Crew, but RSG contributor Sergio Avedian was unimpressed, to say the least. Watch RSG contributors Sergio and Chris reaction to the Uber Crew Town Hall below:
How Do You Talk to an Uber Crewmember?
50 hours a year on Crew Member activities! If you’re a driver talking to talk to a Crew Member, that might not be enough.
We reached out to Uber for a comment about the complaints that drivers haven’t been able to get through to Crew Members, and an Uber spokesperson had this to say:
“We’re excited that Crew has been so popular with drivers. It’s early days, and we’re working to make sure Crew members have as much availability as possible but also recognize that this is a limited time commitment for them. While we’re glad to see positive feedback, we also know that there’s still more work to do, and we’re looking forward to making Crew even better for drivers.”
As of January 2022, Uber Crew is live in most states – except for glaring absences in California, Texas, and almost all of the South. Uber says they anticipate scaling to the entire United States in early 2022.
At the time of publication, we looked through the available states for Crew Member availably and found… none. Drivers on Twitter also found no available time slots.
If you can get through to an Uber Crew member, you’re not actually limited to talking to someone in your state. If you’re a North Carolina driver who, for example, is considering moving to California and wants to know what driving there is like, you can reach out to California Crew Members (when they’re available) and ask questions.
We were able to chat with an Uber Crew member (interview below), who said she’s already had her month’s worth of chats. She said the appointment slots fill up fast, and while her interest in helping her fellow drivers was apparent, it still doesn’t make drivers who can’t get any appointments feel any better.
Life of an Uber Crew Member
We had the opportunity to chat with Michigan Uber Crew member Sheila R. to get more information about Crew, the sign up experience, and her thoughts about it so far. Below is our lightly condensed and edited interview:
Are you an Uber Crew member and want to share your thoughts with us? RSG pays for stories and interviews – reach out to Harry at firstname.lastname@example.org
How long have you been driving with Uber?
I’ve been driving with Uber since 2015, and over this time I’ve seen a lot of changes take place that I agreed and disagreed with. I’ve always wanted to share my opinions about what does and doesn’t work, problem-solve and open a dialogue.
What made you want to sign up for Uber Crew?
Uber Crew gives me an opportunity to be a voice, interact with my fellow drivers, and communicate our concerns with Uber about what’s working and what’s not working.
What was the sign up process for Uber Crew like?
I signed up for Uber Crew when it launched and had to do an interview, which was recorded. After that, I found out that I along with 7 other Michigan drivers had been selected to move on. From there, drivers from Michigan actually voted on us (based on videos we made) and Michigan drivers ended up choosing me!
What is it like being an Uber Crew member? Who do you communicate with the most?
Street Level Strategy is the intermediary between Crew Members and Uber, which I feel comfortable with because there was some worry that Uber could use our feedback against us. No one wants to get fewer ride requests or bonuses because of something they shared, so having Street Level has been helpful.
That said, I love that Uber actually listens. We’ve had meetings and shared issues with navigation that Uber has been able to work on and offer solutions for. In addition, Uber recently tried out a new in-app feature and I was one of the first people to try the feature out and offer my feedback!
What is the work like and what is the time commitment? Are you compensated?
We are compensated by Street Level with a stipend, but you do have to fulfill the requirements of being a Crew Member (office hours and attend meetings to discuss concerns, offer feedback, etc.)
I’ve already put in several office hours and helped drivers with issues. A lot of the issues I’m seeing right now stem from not being able to go in person to the Hub (Michigan’s Hub is limited by appointment only).
One of the concerns we recently brought to Uber was the subject of breaks: Uber used to have a contract where they’d give drivers free drinks (Have a Drink On Me). While Uber can’t offer that right now (pandemic-related), Uber did roll out break reminders and a feature that allows you to tap the ‘coffee cup’ icon to take a break without losing access to your Quest, for example. We’re also in talks about bringing back the Drink on Me program when it’s possible.
Curious about what other Crew Members are saying about Uber Crew? Learn more about what other drivers are saying here: Uber Crew
What Are Drivers Saying About Uber Crew?
Understandably, drivers are skeptical about Uber Crew – something Sheila acknowledged herself. She mentioned that some drivers come into the Crew interactions hostile to the idea that Uber would even help them, and while Sheila is limited in what she can do to address every single driver’s unique issues, she says Uber has been able to resolve some drivers’ concerns.
However, here are some of the biggest driver complaints about Uber Crew:
- Difficult to get in touch with a Crew Member
- Uber controls the narrative with a group of drivers they ‘control’
- Uber Crew Members are working for free*
- Why doesn’t Uber just listen to the driver survey feedback?
- May end up being completely ineffective
*There is stipend compensation
How is this Different from Lyft’s Driver Advisory Council, Uber’s Driver Advisory Forum or Hub Support?
Lyft’s Driver Advisory Council has been around since 2018, although in the last two years or so, it seems to have gone dormant. Lyft’s DAC was based around regions, with 1-2 region managers serving as the representative for Lyft for one year.
Overall, from drivers who participated in Lyft’s DAC (even as representatives), DAC was largely ineffective. While it did get rid of Taco Mode, representatives had no power to change anything or really improve the driver experience after a while.
Those of you who’ve been driving for a while might also remember Uber’s Driver Advisory Forum as well – what happened to that? While Uber’s DAF was different from both Uber Crew and Lyft’s DAC, it was an opportunity for some drivers to share their feedback, create dialogue – and meet Uber leadership! However, the Forum was temporary and did not have driver representatives assisting other drivers.
It’s also important to note a Crew Member is not an Uber employee! Uber Hubs are hiring “Uber Experts” in some markets (here’s a job listing in LA), which provides an hourly, set wage. Interestingly, while Uber Crew Members must have driver experience, Uber Experts who work at Hubs do not have to have any experience driving for Uber.
Uber Crew Takeaways: What Will Drivers Get Out of This?
On the plus side, if you can get through to a Crew Member, this can be extremely helpful in alerting the Crew Member/Uber to any outages you see or big issues with the app. In addition, you’ll speak to a real live driver who knows exactly what you’re talking about and truly wants to help. For many drivers, this is what they need – the ability to feel heard, even if it may take some time to get their issue resolved.
However, while I tend to err on the side of being optimistic, after years of working for The Rideshare Guy, I’m as skeptical as you likely are. While Crew is a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen how long this will last. The stop-and-starting of helpful places for drivers to share feedback is frustrating.
Besides pay, one of the second biggest driver complaints is customer service. It would be great if Uber just hired more Hub people, in each state, both in-person and via Zoom calls – like a hybrid between a Hub employee (“Uber Expert”) and Crew Member. These people should have driving experience. They should be paid an hourly wage to answer driver questions.
That, of course, probably costs more money than what Uber would like to spend – which is why we get Crew Members. Do I hope they make a difference for drivers? Of course, but only time will tell.
Are you an Uber Crew Member, or have you talked to an Uber Crew Member? What is/was your experience like?
-Melissa @ RSG