What did we all hear from our parents when we were young on a daily basis? “Do not get in a car with a stranger.”
Well, things have drastically changed over the last decade. With the advent of SmartPhones, now we can push a button and get things done for us, ordering rides, groceries, alcohol, food, and even dog walking services.
Uber Announcement at GO Get 2023
We broke down all the new product offerings but one that piqued my interest the most was Uber Teen, a new service for Teenagers to order Rides as well as food through the Uber app using a family account.
As a rideshare driver, if you do the morning shift in any city, you will encounter requests made by parents to take their children to school…a lot.
It is prohibited under the TOS (Terms of Service) as underage minors (under 18) are not allowed to be in a rideshare vehicle without an adult but that is about to change.
Uber executives were gleaming with pride during the GO GET 2023 event about Uber Teen. They made it look and sound like the best thing since sliced bread, but not so fast!
What is Uber Teen & Why is Uber Doing This?
Uber Teen is a new program created for riders under the age of 18 (ages 13-17) to order trips and food through a family account all supposedly with the supervision of their parents.
Uber Teen was created for 13 to 17-year-olds to freely travel whenever and wherever as well as order food through Uber Eats.
As a veteran Uber driver, I have had my share of teenagers trying to get in my car during school hours as well as all other times of the day.
I have always declined or canceled these trips as the added liability of having children/teens in my car is something I did not want to deal with and I was following the guidelines set by Uber.
But now, by tweaking the app, Uber made this all possible, basically going against their own TOS.
There are some safety guards for parents as well as drivers installed within the app but are they enough for a guardian to have the peace of mind to send off their teenagers with a total stranger?
According to the Uber app, there is live tracking of the trip by the parent, there is a PIN verification process to make sure that the teenager is entering the correct car and supposedly all these rides will be provided by a highly-rated driver.
Why Is Uber Doing This?
I think this is a brilliant business decision on Uber’s part. It is a huge demographic that Uber is going after.
The Millennial and Gen Z generations use apps for on-demand platforms the most. By allowing them into the Uber eco-space at an early age, Uber is locking them in as possibly lifelong customers for all the services it provides
All Uber Teen accounts will be automatically converted to adult accounts when they turn 18! Think about how many millions of new passengers that is.
Uber Teen Availability
Uber Teen: Pros for Drivers
Since there is the threat of retaliation by the passenger account holder in the Uber app, a lot of drivers felt obligated to take on trips that were strictly prohibited under the TOS.
Now that risk seems to be eliminated by giving the driver an option to OPT OUT of this new service.
Will Uber keep its word and continue to offer that? Time will tell!
Another pro for the drivers now is that the Underage Minor trips are covered by the Period 3 commercial liability insurance offered on every trip by Uber.
Basically, the added liability millions of drivers took upon themselves is taken care of by tweaking the TOS. This will boil down to a personal preference for each individual. If one was offering rides to underage minors before, to a certain point now they can rest easy.
There are also some safety guards in the app for drivers such as below for additional peace of mind if one chooses to Opt-In to provide rides for Teens.
Uber Teen: Cons for Drivers
After digging deeper, I have realized that Uber Teen is not all roses.
Even though Uber claims that each time a teen orders a trip or food the parent will be sent a text notification, I am not sure that is enough.
What if the parent is busy and does not get the notification in time or misses it altogether?
As far as I know, once the text notification is sent by Uber to the parent, the teen is allowed to request a ride or order food, there is no approval process.
The parent does not have to send a text back to the Uber systems to allow for such action!
What if the teen decides to take a trip at 1 AM while the parent is asleep?
Most of us have our phones either turned off or on vibrate when we are in bed. There is no automatic curfew that comes with this program.
As a driver I would not want to have a 13-year-old in my car at 2 AM in the morning, let alone a bunch of them as the next screenshot taken from the Uber website indicates, see below:
Here it is, one teen can order a trip under the family account and turn this into a CarPool for a whole bunch of others.
Now we are back to square one, the TOS is in play. It will be up to the drivers to decide that the Teen who ordered the trip with multiple stops picking up his/her friends are between the ages of 13-17.
Can you imagine how this could all go wrong? A teenager can complain to Uber about the driver not accepting others and I have no doubt the driver will be either suspended or deactivated.
The same problems exist for Teens ordering food via Uber Eats. Since there is no specific approval (or very lax) process by the parent.
What if a teen orders $500 worth of sushi for a party with friends?
Is there a dollar limit set for Uber Eats orders in the app? NO! The net loser will be the restaurant as well as the delivery driver in all this.
As far as I am concerned, there are way too many loose ends in this. This should not be handled with a real-life trial and error-process.
I definitely think Uber needs to go back to the drawing board and tighten the guidelines for the parent as well as the Teen.
Tip for Drivers
We always talk about having a dash cam installed in your car.
Even with all the security measures taken by Uber, all it takes is one trip to ruin your day, possibly your life.
We recommend Display Ride, a plug-and-play system that directly uploads to the cloud.
My Take and Conclusion
Granted, times have changed and we all are leading very busy lives, but last time I checked, there are still 24 hours in a day, and sometimes as busy parents we do not have the time or availability to be in two places at once, especially if we have more than one child.
Technology should not be looked at as a nanny or a driver. Just because we can do it, does not mean we need it.
This also brings another question to mind, what kind of parent would trust their child to be alone in a car with a total stranger? I am not being judgemental, I would just rather be safe than sorry, all it takes is one bad event to change a life.
I am not willing to risk the safety of my teen over convenience. I may be in the minority on this subject and I would love to read your comments below.
As a driver, I will definitely be Opting Out of Uber Teen if and when it shows up in Los Angeles, and as a consumer I will definitely not be using Uber Teen as a service.
Will you Opt In or Out of Uber Teen, leave your comments below!