If you’ve used Uber or a similar rideshare service to help you get around in the past few years, you’ve probably been delighted by the smooth, cash-free experience that’s possible with these app-based transport services. It might leave you pondering an important question, though: Should you tip Uber drivers? Opinions vary among the frequent rider set, though drivers are (as you might expect) very eager for your gratuities.
How The Uber System Works
In case you haven’t ridden with Uber before, here’s a quick primer. You use the company’s smartphone application to signal for a car. An independent operator in his or her own vehicle arrives and transports you to your destination. All payment is handled within the app, leading to a simple, painless, cash-free ride.
Riders and drivers alike carry ratings in the Uber system. These ratings can dissuade passengers from accepting rides from certain drivers — and drivers from picking up certain fares. From the rider’s point of view, you should know that deciding not to tip Uber drivers may hurt your rating and make the service harder to use.
Arguments In Favor Of Tipping
Besides the rating issue noted above, tipping your Uber driver is a good way to show your appreciation for good service, just as it is in any other service-oriented business. There’s also a real issue regarding Uber drivers’ take-home profits. While it’s common knowledge that Uber drivers make a higher gross wage than conventional taxi drivers, they’re also responsible for several costs (including maintenance, cleaning, and insurance) that eat into their profits.
It’s interesting to note that some Uber alternatives — like Lyft — have integrated tipping into their software model, removing the need to get cash involved in the transaction. Many Uber drivers have taken the initiative to provide a similar service, using a mobile transaction point to allow you to tip with a credit or debit card.
Arguments Against Tipping
At the corporate level, Uber’s resistance to tipping is pretty clear. Their website explicitly states that tips are not required or expected, and they consider the cash-free, in-app nature of the Uber transaction to be one of its major selling points. The company’s failure to add a tipping option to the app software itself — a programming feat that would be more or less trivial — further suggests that it is strongly in the anti-tipping camp.
This sentiment is shared by many Uber riders, some of whom would resent the merest suggestion of being obligated to tip. The entire concept of smartphone-enabled ride sharing is so new that there is no accepted social convention regarding tipping yet. If you survey multiple Uber riders, you’re likely to find attitudes towards tipping falling all over the map.
At the present time, the decision of whether or not to tip your Uber driver is entirely in your hands. A tip will doubtless be appreciated by your driver, but you have ample justification for holding onto your money if you so choose. If you find ride-sharing services like Uber to be useful, you should probably keep your ears open to see how the tipping debate plays out in the future.