Have you seen a ‘long pickup fee’ in your city? Not every city has these fees yet, but if you’ve driven very far to pick up a passenger lately, you may have seen the additional money in your driver account. So what is this long pickup fee, what triggers a ‘long’ pick up and how much extra can drivers make? Senior RSG contributor Will Preston answers these questions, plus what drivers need to know about the pickup fee below.
Like seemingly everything with Uber, long pick-up fees sound good at first but aren’t always what they seem. Yes, you can now be compensated when you drive more than a certain number of minutes to a destination. But depending on what happens once you get there, you might be in for a surprise.
What is a Long Pickup Fee?
The long pickup fee is meant to give drivers an incentive to take pickups that are more than 7-10 minutes away. The actual time varies by market but here’s a list of the long pickup fee in several markets (special thanks to readers Chris, Angela, Joey, and Jordan for sharing their long pickup fee screenshots on our Facebook page!):
If you’ve ever taken some of these long-distance pick-ups, you know the problem. You drive 20 minutes to get to the passenger, only to find they are going 1 mile away – and you’re not compensated for all that extra time.
This is different than the time and distance charges that are now added to a cancellation that happens after you’ve driven some distance to the passenger. They’re related, but not quite the same.
When Does a Long Pickup Fee Apply?
Each market has long pickup threshold – a certain amount of time that is determined to be a “long pickup.” In the San Diego market, for example,10 minutes is the threshold.
Please note that a long pickup is determined by time, not distance. Once you drive over your market’s threshold, you will get a per-mile and per-minute fee for the remaining distance and time that you travel until you reach the pickup location.
In San Diego, the fees are the same as the driver rates for UberX and UberPOOL, $.087 per mile and $1.125 for UberX. The long pickup fees stop as soon as you arrive at your destination. Then the typical two-minute timer starts, after which you will begin to receive your market’s wait time rate. San Diego’s wait time is $.2325.
Let’s look at an example. Suppose I receive a pickup request that is 20 minutes and 5 miles away. After I’ve driven for 10 minutes, I’ve crossed the long pickup threshold, and I’m now 2.5 miles and 10 more minutes from my destination.
If I did indeed drive 20 mins and 5 miles – and I was 2.5 miles away at the point I crossed the 10-minute threshold – I will get a long pickup fee based on the remaining 2.5 miles and 10 minutes. That would result in a long pickup fee of $3.30, in addition to the fare that I receive from the trip (except for the caveat that I’ll discuss later in this article). See the table below for that calculation.
The long pickup fee is not available in all markets yet, so if you haven’t seen it pop up for you while driving, that’s the reason. Also, I can tell you based on the research I did in this article that Uber’s time-to-pickup-location timer seems way off – at least in my market. It almost never takes as long to reach the destination as Uber says it will.
So I had a lot of what I thought would be long pickups that I ended up reaching in just under 10 minutes. It’s possible that’s happened to you a few times, too.
Where Do I See My Market’s Threshold and Rates?
Login to your Uber driver account, then click on the menu in the upper left hand corner, and select Fares.
On the right you will see a series of fees, one of which is the Long Pickup Fee. There you will most likely see your market’s per mile and minute rate, followed by what your market’s threshold is.
What Does it Look Like?
Here’s an example of a long pickup fee. Once I crossed the 10-minute threshold for this ride, I was 1.38 miles and 4.5 minutes away from the pickup location. I was therefore paid $1.20 for mileage and $.51 in time for that extra miles and time. That added $1.71 to the original fare of $15.19 – an 11% increase. Nothing to write home about, but it beats nothing.
Fishing for Fees
I spent an entire weekend fishing for minimum fares, killing my acceptance rate in the process. I only accepted rides that said they were over 10 minutes away (again, make sure to find out your market’s threshold time). Those kinds of rides don’t actually come very frequently where I live, but it may be different where you live.
As I mentioned earlier, time after time I’d get a ride that advertised itself as being 12 minutes away. I’d accept the ride and click over into Waze, only to be told that the passenger was 8 minutes away. I even tried picking at less effective route to get there in order to cross the 10-minute threshold. I don’t know if it’s Waze’s conservative estimates or my 40 years of driving as a Type-A personality, but I just couldn’t cross that 10-minute threshold.
Eventually I did get a ride that was over 10 minutes away, which is the one I showed earlier. I share this because you may think you should be getting more long pickup fares than you are, but it’s not considered long pickup depending on your market’s threshold.
What happens if you drive 20 mins to get to a passenger and they only need to go a mile? You get the minimum fare plus the long pickup fee, right? Not so fast. Here’s what one Uber driver reported to Harry through the Facebook page (screenshot below).
This driver drove 1.15 mile and 2.4 minutes beyond his market’s threshold to reach his passenger, who then only need to go about one mile.
After subtracting the pretty awesome $10 tip he received, he was left with $3.75 (see screenshot below). That’s right, they included the $0.92 long pickup fee in the minimum fare calculations.
So he didn’t get his minimum fare of $3.75 plus the long pickup fee. He got $3.75. So much for giving you an incentive to drive a long way for pickups!
Those that commented on the post didn’t all agree that this was an unfair price. Some felt that – after the threshold had passed – the driver still drove just over two miles and got paid for $3.75 for it.
Note: Wanna Avoid Long Pickups Altogether? Try a delivery with a company like Caviar. They have a smaller area of operation and the result is that you get far less dead miles and long distance pickups.
Others felt, as I do, that the long pickup fee should be in addition to the minimum fare. If I’m going to take a minimum fare, the last thing I want to do is travel 20 minutes to get to it. And if I travel 20 minutes to get to a fare, the last thing I want is to get a minimum fare.
As far as I’m concerned, this makes the long pickup fee no longer an incentive for me. I’ll keep blowing off pickups that are over 10 minutes away. If I just wait a few more minutes, I’ll get something closer and not put all those miles on my car just to make $3.75.
Drivers, is the long pickup fee available in your market? What is the threshold for a long pickup fee in your market? How far have you driven to pick someone up?
-Will @ RSG
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