I have been using Uber for three years now and, even though I was a little wary of using it at first, now that I do, I can’t imagine getting around town without it. Uber Pool has also made it more affordable than most other forms of transportation in the city. It is certainly much easier than a cab has ever been and one of the greatest appeals of all to me is, and has always been, the fact that no money changes hands.
Now that Uber has implemented a new tipping policy, all of this is going to change and I experienced the worst possible outcome of this first hand when I was taking a cab from the French Quarter of New Orleans to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
It took about 30-45 minutes to get to the airport. The driver claimed along the way that he would be “ignoring the Uber GPS” and would take a better route. As long as we got to the airport on time, I didn’t care, so I didn’t say anything. It turned out that it actually took longer than the suggested route.
Once we arrived at the airport, the driver got out of the car. For a moment, I thought that he was going to help us with our bags as some other Uber drivers had done, but instead, he just held out his hand. (Obviously, he wanted to be tipped for his “special” route.)
For the years that I had used Uber, I had never been asked for a tip and one of the reasons that I always used it was that all the costs were built in and I didn’t have to be hassled to calculate tips and to judge what sort of tip the driver deserved or didn’t deserve.
I told the driver the truth: That I didn’t carry around cash. His response in not so many words was this: I am going to give you a 1-star rating.
Since I started riding with Uber, I have always been a 5-star customer but now that will all change because Uber has a tipping function and a rating function. This means that, whenever I do not tip or do not tip to the driver’s expectation, I will be given a low rating.
By creating a tipping function on its app alongside an already existent rating system, Uber has essentially created a tipping blackmail trap for riders. Drivers are now going to rate riders based, not on good behavior, but based on tipping alone. If someone tips high, then he or she will get 5 stars. If someone does not tip at all, then someone will get 1 star.
This is the logical end of having a rating system and a tipping system standing side-by-side.
I tried to contact Uber about the driver’s blackmail and they told me that they could “do nothing about it.” No surprise. Uber’s customer service is far from exceptional.
In short, Uber’s new tipping policy will create tipping blackmail for riders.