Uber Extends Wait Time Required For Drivers to 7 Minutes!?

In early August, Uber posted a message in the driver app to Minneapolis and St. Paul drivers with an update to the wait time policy.  The 5 minutes that drivers have been required to wait to receive a cancellation fee is being extended another 2 minutes to a total of 7 minutes.  

Senior RSG Contributor Joe Pierce will discuss this extension of the wait time and also look at some feedback from other drivers.  Needless to say, this change is not a welcome one by the driver community.

Uber Announces Changes to Wait Time Policy

This is the message that was sent in the Uber driver app to drivers in Minneapolis & St. Paul on Tuesday, August 3rd:

Update to wait-time policy
We’re extending the wait-time window from 5 to 7 minutes for UberX and UberXL trips.

After 2 minutes, you’ll get paid per minute for the time you’re waiting. If there is surge in the area, you’ll get paid a higher wait-time fee.

Learn how this works:

If your rider is late
Once you arrive at the pickup spot and have waited 2 minutes, you’ll get paid a per-minute fee. The fee will automatically be added to your fare. If there is surge in the area, a higher wait-time fee will be added to the per-minute fee.

If your rider doesn’t show
You can charge riders a cancellation fee after waiting 7 minutes.

If you don’t want to wait
You can cancel at any time. Depending on how busy it is, you might have to wait longer to get another trip request than you’d have to wait for your rider.

As if riders didn’t already have enough time with the 5 minute wait time window once a driver arrives, Uber is giving them even more time.  Also, they mention a couple of times that drivers will be paid a per-minute fee after the first 2 minutes. This is nothing new, drivers have always been paid wait time after the initial 2 minutes.

Why Did Uber Make This Change?

In my opinion, 5 minutes was plenty of time. When a passenger requests a ride, they should be ready to be picked almost immediately, and even if they weren’t they still had a 5-minute buffer once a driver arrives.

For drivers, we want to be on the road with our wheels in motion because our per-mile rate is multiple times the amount of our per minute rate.  The wait time was 5 minutes for years, and I had even thought in the past that it should be reduced to 3 minutes – I never thought it would be extended!

The only explanation I can think of is that from a rider’s perspective sometimes their request may be transferred to another driver because the first driver may cancel.  This in turn could drastically reduce their wait time.  But they still could always rely on the 5-minute buffer once a driver arrives.  Again, that 5 minutes was plenty of time!

What Are Drivers Saying About Extended Wait Times?

We received over 200 comments between our Facebook post and our YouTube video on this change.

Here are a few of the comments we received:

“Received this a month ago in Orlando area. That seven mins total (initial 2 mins + 5 mins wait time) seems like an eternity when waiting to cancel on a belligerent and rude pax.”

This looks like in Orlando this has been in place for over a month.  Again, we received this change in Minneapolis and St. Paul at the beginning of August.  And I can relate to this comment, I had two 7 minute cancellations this week and the wait does feel like forever; it’s ridiculous honestly.

“Uber riders can see drivers enroute once the ride is accepted. Riders are notified that their driver is “×” minutes away. The app tells riders to request a ride ONLY when they are ready to go!”

Could not agree more.  When a passenger requests a ride they should be ready to be picked up almost immediately.  For years passengers have been given that 5-minute buffer and that was more than enough time.

“Screw the cancellation fee. I wait 2 minutes tops. Sometimes not even that long. Plus it counts toward an “accepted” request. The “be right there” is almost always an immediate cancel.”

This driver isn’t waiting at all after the initial 2 minutes, they are willing to eat the mileage and time it took to get to the passenger and just move on to the next request.

Also, the Uber app has canned messages that riders can send a driver, any time I receive that canned “be right there” message I know it means an additional 2-3 minutes of wait time.  The rider is never “right there.”

“Are they stupid, there is already a short supply of drivers so every minute counts and the shorter the trip the better chance for someone else to get a ride this is bs”

Bingo, by extending the wait time for riders an additional 2 minutes, that on average reduces the overall driver supply. And there is currently a shortage of drivers, so if anything reducing the wait time 2 minutes would make sense, not extending it.

Overall Thoughts

This is an unneeded and annoying change.  Cannot say it enough, 5 minutes was plenty of time.  Not only does this make the experience worse for drivers but it makes the Uber system more inefficient at a time where efficiency is crucial.

I personally know that if a rider is going to make me wait nearly the full 7 minutes that is going to be a terrible experience and they will receive a 1 star rating.

Drivers, what do you think about Uber extending the wait time for passengers?

-Joe @ RSG