Uber is making big changes to drop off information (for some drivers in California) and surge pricing (for drivers throughout the United States). Senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins looks into how these features are changing and what drivers are saying about them below.
- After 4 ride requests in 30 minutes, drivers in CA will no longer be able to see ride request drop off information (full trip info will be available in 30 minute increments)
- Another feature Uber has released to more drivers: the ability to lock in surge pricing
- These features may not have rolled out to drivers everywhere – let us know if you’ve seen these updates in your Uber driver app!
In 2019, Uber rolled out some big changes for drivers in California, including the ability to see passengers’ destinations before accepting trips. One of our contributors-at-large, Ezra Dubroff, wrote about these changes pretty favorably in ‘Here’s What It’s Like When You Can See Where Passengers Are Going’ and overall, drivers really loved this feature.
With this feature, drivers could decide for themselves if they thought the ride was worth taking—if it wasn’t in line with what they wanted, they could just decline it right away as opposed to accepting, driving to the pickup point and canceling then if the destination was not worthwhile.
Recently, this feature changed: Uber Has Stopped Showing Drivers The Drop off Destination!?
Uber Makes Changes to Its Passenger Destination Feature
Drivers in certain markets—seemingly all in California*—received the following message:
- The first 4 requests you receive within each 30-minute window will have the fare, drop off location, and trip length. It doesn’t matter whether you accept, decline, or cancel these requests. If you receive more than 4 requests within the 30-minute window, the additional requests you receive will not have fare, dropoff location, and trip length.
- Clock first starts when you go online & details reset every 30 minutes. When the 30-minute window resets, you’ll once again see the additional information on your next 4 requests. Regardless of whether you’re offline or on a trip—all that time counts toward the 30-minute window….”
Basically, drivers will be able to see drop off locations for passengers only for the first four rides in 30 minutes. If you accept one of the first four ride requests and a 30 minute window elapses, you’ll get to see the next four ride request drop off destinations and so on.
For example, if you start driving at 2 PM and decline four ride requests at 2:20, you would get four new requests with full trip information at 2:30 PM.
We reached out to Uber for comment on the change to this feature and received the following statement:
We are running this test and exploring other changes to our app so that riders can reliably get an Uber when they want one and all drivers will have more trips on a regular basis.
*Drivers in Sacramento, Palm Springs and Inland Empire will experience the destination drop off changes.
What Are Drivers Saying About This Change
One person on Reddit took to the threads and posted about the change saying:
“So yeah, when they allowed us to start seeing fares and distance we could more effectively choose winners or losers. Well apparently people don’t want to do short runs so now Uber will let you see the first four in thirty minute windows and then it’s rider roulette. Good luck to not get 4 instant decline worthy rides because you won’t know what lies in store for #5.”
Some are saying it’s a “test run” of sorts to see how it works out. Will passengers have fewer complaints about drivers not accepting their fares? Or will drivers have more complaints about not being able to see necessary information for making an informed decision for each ride?
With the passing of Proposition 22, it’s not all that surprising that Uber is changing the name of the game. This kind of freedom for Uber to control their drivers is probably one reason they pushed for Prop 22 so hard. Uber knew once it passed, they could make their own rules and no one could hold them accountable.
Uber Offers Drivers the Ability to Lock in Surge Pricing
In addition to changes to the drop off location information feature, it looks like there is another new feature Uber is testing out – and this may be available to drivers nationwide.
This change seems like a positive move for drivers. Uber is going to allow drivers to lock in surge pricing.
If you see a surge zone that’s hot and don’t want it to disappear before you can get there, you lock in the surge pricing you see and accept your next fare if it’s within that zone to receive that price you locked in.
Here’s how it works:
“To lock in surge pricing when you receive an offer:
- Tap Let’s go on the offer
- Use the navigation to arrive at the surge area
- Complete the next trip you’re offered
If you reject or cancel the next trip, go offline, change trip type, or set destination mode, you will still receive your standard fare, but you will not receive the offered surge payment.”
If the price in the surge zone continues to go up, you will still be locked into whatever price you accepted when you chose to lock it in. However, if the surge disappears, you’ll have your locked in amount to earn if your next pickup is within that area.
Update: Recently, drivers have been sharing on Reddit that if you decline too many surge ‘lock ins’, Uber may stop showing you locked in surge opportunities entirely. This means you may have to accept locked in surge for rides you might not want at the beginning so you continue to be offering the lock in surge opportunity!
Should Drivers Be Wary of This New Change to Surge Pricing?
Drivers are skeptical of this new surge lock-in deal, however. Several posters on Reddit said they opted out and immediately got a higher surge offer for their next fare, meaning if they had locked it in when asked, they would have received less money than if they had passed on the offer.
A lot of drivers have learned to just not trust anything a rideshare company says is “good” for them. One poster stated, “I don’t care if Uber offered me a million dollars to do one trip! I don’t believe a word they say anymore.”
Some think this is a way for Uber to advertise to passengers lower rates and fixed surges. They said, “GOOD NEWS UBER PASSENGERS! Beginning in April 2021 during high demand, Surges will now max out at 1.5 saving you money when you need to be there!”
Personally, I think this person is being too optimistic here. I think it would be more realistic if Uber kept surges higher for passengers, locked drivers in at a lower surge rate, and Uber pocketed the rest. Uber would certainly show more money that way.
As always, time will tell what will happen. Uber will do their test runs, drivers will be upset, passengers may be upset, but in the long run, the things that stick tend to benefit the company and/or the passengers, not the drivers.
If you’re in one of the markets being affected by these changes, please let us know your thoughts about them and share your experiences! Are these good changes or bad?
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-Paula @ RSG