Uber drivers to 'fine' riders who keep them waiting
Uber is offering a raft of new features aimed at placating drivers as more look to take legal action over benefits and status.
The ride-hailing firm is extending a system in which drivers charge riders a "wait times" fee if they take more than two minutes to come to the car.
Drivers will also be able to specify their routes for pick-ups to fit in with their own journeys.
Uber is also allowing drivers to pause ride requests and get paid instantly.
The "fine" system - which is calculated according to how long the driver has to wait - has already been tested in New York, New Jersey, Phoenix and Dallas.
This is separate to a cancellation charge - which ranges from $5 to $10 depending on the city - which would be added to the wait fee if the driver continued waiting a while for a no-show.
The scheme is due to be expanded to a dozen more cities this month as is Driver Destinations, which allows drivers to input their destination so - if they are heading home at the end of the day, for instance - Uber will only send trip requests that are on their way.
Other new features include:
- Pause Requests - allows drivers to pause the stream of requests if they want to take a break or have finished their shift. Previously drivers would have to decline trip requests.
- Instant Pay - will be rolled out in all US cities and allows drivers to click an 'instant pay' tab on their app
- Ride discounts - one in four people who drive with Uber also use it as a passenger, according to the firm, so it is rolling out a feature allowing drivers to get 15% off one ride for every 10 trips completed in a week.
All of these goodwill gestures are aimed at giving drivers more control over the ride process as Uber faces questions over the terms and conditions of those who work for it.
"We have heard from drivers like you that there are plenty of things we can do to make driving more empowering and worth your while," product managers Maya Choksi and Ryan Fujiu write in a blog post on the updates.
In April, Uber agreed to pay up to $100m (£69m) to settle legal actions brought in California and Massachusetts over whether drivers should be classified as employees or independent contractors.
Drivers had argued that they should be classified as employees, entitling them to a raft of benefits and expenses.
Although the lift-hailing firm won the right for drivers to continue as contractors, it was forced to make several concessions and now faces similar legal action in Illinois and Florida.
Uber argues that its on-demand working regime offers huge benefits to workers because they can set their own working schedule and be their own boss.