Uber and Lyft recently re-designed their upfront earnings destination screens, and like many drivers, senior RSG contributor Sergio Avedian was thrilled to have more information at his fingertips. But has a recent Uber redesign of their ping screen thrown things out of whack again? Sergio’s analysis below.
Uber and Lyft released upfront fares in major markets, with a promise to to roll out nationwide soon thereafter. This feature is something drivers have wanted for a decade since upfront fares now include the rider’s destination. I took it in stride and as a victory for millions of drivers.
After about a month of upfront earnings destination (UFD) information, I realized the so-called rebalancing was not revenue neutral. It was another rate cut, an exchange of lower earnings for seeing the passenger’s destination before accepting a trip request. Here is the upfront fares screen on both Uber and Lyft’s platforms (see screenshot below).
In the past, Uber’s CEO has said US drivers earned an average of $36 per hour, including incentives and tips. However, these two trips do not come close to that number – are you earning $36 per active hour in your city?
Upfront Fares Are Changing
For the past ten months, especially after the upfront earnings destination addition, we have a motto on Show Me The Money Club: #justdecline #knowyourworth. It has hit home with tens of thousands of our viewers, and I get countless emails weekly thanking us for explaining why declining unprofitable trips is a must to run a healthy small business.
A few days ago I received these screenshots. It seems like Uber has been listening to SMTMC and is simplifying the ping screen to take upfront earnings destination in a new direction. The ping for rideshare lasts exactly 10 seconds, not long enough to digest all the information presented to us, especially if we are already on a trip. There is a lot of quick math that needs to be done for a driver to figure out if the trip at hand is profitable.
Here is the simplified new screen that you will see shortly for pings as well as on Trip Radar:
Now time/distance to pick-up and time/distance to drop-off are all bundled to present you with a consolidated offer. Simply, the total duration and distance of the job are at hand. As you see in the screenshots above, you have to do much less math. This is a very good change for us to decline bad offers like the one on the left.
You also will be presented with a map above the ping screen with your GPS location clearly indicating where you currently are, approximately how far you are to the pick-up (circle with an up arrow), and how far the drop-off is from the pick-up (circle with a down arrow). I wish Uber had added some color to this screen instead of leaving everything in indistinguishable gray. I suggest that Uber replace the up arrow with a green circle for the pick-up and the down arrow with a red circle for the drop-off.
The time and mileage presented to drivers now are like a summary of the whole trip. However, many veteran drivers I spoke to did not like this simplified version because they don’t like doing long pick-ups for minimum-fare trips. I get the point, but from the map attached to the ping screen, one can clearly identify if the request involves a long pick-up for a minimum-fare trip.
As most of us know, Trip Radar is where rejected rides go to get reshuffled. So please, do not be tempted if you see a trip on Trip Radar. There is a good reason they are on that screen. Study the ride first to see if it works for you before accepting.
Will These New Changes Cost Us Money?
A few days ago, I received some shocking trip screenshots (see below). Are the days of negative base fares here?
Let me explain. Before, upfront fares destination, surge was in addition to the fare. However, now everything is bundled into a package called Upfront Fares.
It only took me a couple of pings to figure the game out. When a high surge is attached to a trip, the algorithm lowers the base fare to pennies on the dollar, and now maybe even goes NEGATIVE? Surge is the bread and butter of veterans as they know how to position themselves correctly.
Take a look at the screenshots above. The first one on the left is within the new simplified screen, with a trip that will pay $4.23 with a $7 surge.
If you take $4.23 from $7, that’s the sticky surge. On its own this offer is horrible, but it gets worse. The second screenshot on the right, a request came in with the old ping screen since simplified offers are slowly being rolled out.
This offer is an Upfront Fare of $5.75 with a $5.25 Surge included. So they effectively reduce the Fare on this trip to a mere 50 cents. I am expected to drive 7.6 miles and 21 minutes for 50 cent Base fare!
I hope this is not the new normal and is a glitch. I get that these companies are in a mad rush to profitability, but I will not accept driving for free, let alone for negative Base fares – and neither should you.
Takeaways for Drivers
I like the new simplified ping screen, especially for those who typically accept every ride. Drivers now have no excuse to decline bad offers by taking a quick look at the ping screen. The math is done and presented to you as a single number. Set your profitability metrics and make the proper decision. It could be dollars per mile or dollars per minute/hour etc.
As a veteran driver, I think it is less math to do. Granted, I would like to know exactly how far I am from the pick-up, but I can gauge it from the attached map.
Lastly, I am hoping and praying that the negative Base rate trips are a joke or a mistake by a coder at Uber. They are real pings floating in our rideshare universe to be rejected forever. If this is going to be the norm, I will cut my hours of driving some more. If you have more of these screenshots, please email them to me at Sergio@therideshareguy.com.
What do you all think of the new simplified Ping screen? Please, leave your comments below!
-Sergio @ RSG