Uber is adding a tipping feature to its smartphone app, one of several changes the scandal-rocked ride-hailing company announced on Tuesday that will roll out over the next few months to appease frustrated drivers.
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Even though competing ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Gett have long offered the ability to tip from within their apps, Uber has been a holdout; tipping is optional but drivers are allowed to solicit cash tips, it said. Since Uber is an otherwise cashless experience, that has made tipping awkward, pitting riders who don't like fumbling with their wallets against drivers who feel they deserve gratuities.
Drivers are already fuming at Uber for a variety of other reasons, from accidental underpayments to deceptive recruiting tactics, not to mention the fact that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was caught on camera recently berating an Uber driver who quizzed him about the firm's shortcomings (he and Uber are currently on a break). So the company is trying to clean up its act, offering a range of concessions to drivers in addition to in-app tipping.
The other concessions include reducing the cancellation grace period from five minutes to two minutes, so that drivers already en route to pick up a rider will collect more in fees if the rider decides to cancel. It will also pay drivers a per-minute rate for wait times of more than two minutes, something it started testing last year in Dallas, New Jersey, New York, and Phoenix.
In an email to drivers on Tuesday, Uber said that it will add more driver-friendly changes to its app over the next six months. "Some changes will be big, some will be small—all will be changes drivers have asked for," the email stated.
New York City-based advocacy group Independent Drivers Guild praised the decision to add in-app tipping, which it claimed was a result of its lobbying efforts. "Today's tipping announcement is an important win for drivers and proves that thousands of drivers coming together with one voice can make big changes," IDG founder Jim Conigliaro said in a statement. "Make no mistake, Uber only did this because members of the Independent Drivers Guild pressured regulators."