Call me old world, as my kids do sometimes, but I remember in elementary school I was punished many times by my teachers who sent me to the corner of the classroom and told me to stand on one leg, no joke, for 15 minutes at a time.
This latest attempt from Uber reminded me of my childhood. Punishing drivers by timing them out by not sending them pings for 15 minutes after they happen to decline 3 requests in a row.
If this does not sound like Uber treating us as Employees, I don’t know what does. We are so-called ICs (Independent Contractors). This overreach brought the best out of me on SMTMC (Show Me The Money Club) the other day.
Uber is in Control, the Algorithm is Your Boss
If I hear one more time that gig workers are in love with the flexibility and freedom of driving passengers or delivering food, I may totally lose it.
Another point people make is that they love not working for a human boss and that they love no one looking over their shoulder.
Hopefully, you watched the video above, does any of it look like flexibility, freedom or not having a boss? Yeah, the boss is not human, it is the algorithm that is watching you 24 hours a day and punishing you for falling out of line.
This is nothing but exerting control over the driver who as an Independent Contractor should be able to decline bad offers as they choose.
This is nothing more than the gig companies wanting to have their cake and eat it too. I am not a huge fan of the government but I think it is time that driver rights are put front and center. This is definitely treating drivers like employees.
Imagine a plumber or an electrician, they are offered a few jobs which do not fit their profitability metrics and they decline it only to be punished by being put in a time-out. If this is the future of work in the US, I want no part of it.
I might as well go get a steady W2 and deal with one boss who is more human than some AI bot.
What is an Uber Time Out & Why are They Doing It?
As you watched in the video from SMTMC above, once you decline 3-4 bad offers in a row, the Uber driver app will prompt the screen below.
You are kindly directed to the Trip Radar lounge, where all rejected requests go to die. You will have two choices, neither are winners in my book.
Either you have to accept a bad offer from Trip Radar to get an early release out of “Uber jail” or you will have to wait about 15 minutes to be freed on your own recognizance.
A group of coders at Uber must have come up with this genius idea that by timing out drivers and sending them to the Trip Radar lounge, drivers would give up Cherry Picking and fall in line. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Another thing you can do is once you decline two in a row, swipe up on your phone and Force Close the app, wait about a minute, and come back with possibly 3 fresh lives, talk about gamification.
I think our CPU (Cherry Pickers United) members are messing up with the algorithms at Uber and by declining a vast majority of unprofitable trips, the passenger wait times are going higher.
If there is one thing Uber hates, it is that riders must be treated as the Golden Goose that lays the golden egg all the time. Since UFD (Upfront Fares Destination) showed up nationwide about six months ago, drivers now know the destination of the passenger as well as the exact amount of the fare before accepting a trip request.
Drivers are a lot more savvy than Uber gives them credit for. With the help of the SMTMC education series, earners are being a lot pickier regarding which trips to accept or decline and looking out for their bottom line as any IC should.
I am so sick and tired of gig companies wanting to have their cake and eat it too. It has been their modus operandi for far too long and I have all the scar tissue to show for it.
I get a thousand emails a week, some call me a whiner that I complain all the time, well if you are ok with this treatment, you must have Stockholm Syndrome or worse.
The reason these companies get away with treating their drivers like this is that no one stands up to them. But things are changing, our collective voices through SMTMC are getting louder and louder, I can assure you Uber is listening.
Will they do something about all this nonsense? Only time will tell!
Harry Campbell interviewed the CEO of Uber Dara Khosrowshahi about nine months ago, video below.
Dara in no uncertain terms said that if drivers are declining trips, it is on Uber, not on the driver. He said it is because the algorithm is not pricing trips correctly. He also stated that in due time the systems will learn and adjust pricing on trips that often get rejected by drivers.
Well, it is time to call him and Uber out on this. Mr. Khosrowshahi, UFD has been around for over six months, I personally don’t see a change in pricing, in fact, they may have gotten worse.
I am perfectly content with this punishment, it will backfire on Uber, the more drivers they time out for rejecting bad offers the less supply they will have to meet the demand, and passenger wait times will go through the roof.
Only then will they figure out that the collective will of drivers can not be broken. Long live the CPU!