Tipping Is Coming to Uber, and It’s Going to Be Awkward

Drivers can now ask for tips, says Joshua Brustein at Bloomberg:

As part of the settlement with drivers in California and Massachusetts, Uber has agreed to notify customers more clearly that tips are not included in fares and give tacit approval for optional gratuity. Drivers can now solicit cash tips by asking passengers or posting signs in their vehicles.

A few weeks ago while Ubering around on a business trip I asked other Uber users, and one driver who’s a friend, whether they tipped, or in the case of the driver-friend, expected tips. About a third of the people said yes, most said no. But the third saying yes was enough for me to offer a tip on my next Uber ride (which happened to be the last one I’ve done since). The driver seemed confused a moment, obviously completely not expecting a tip.

A couple of people reacting to this article on social media said they hate the idea of tipping Uber drivers. The entire appeal, they said, was to just get out of the car and go and not deal with payment. For me, pulling a couple of singles out of my wallet and tucking it into my shirt pocket is no big deal. The inconvenience of payment isn’t the transaction itself, it’s the calculating tips, waiting for change or – more frequently – handing over the credit card, waiting for it to be swiped, and signing. Many cabs still have those old impression-style credit mechanical card readers, which further delays my departure. Absent all that inconvenience, I’m happy to give the drivers a couple of bucks, because I’m guessing their margins are slim. Many of them are actually losing money by working – not making enough by driving to pay for wear-and-tear on the car and other costs.

So I’m happy to tip. But I’d really rather the US goes the way of Europe, and eliminate tipping entirely. I never know when to tip, or how much. It’s awkward and unfair. Everybody should just make a good wage.

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