Bowing to drivers, Uber finally adds tips

Uber app Image copyright Getty Images

In what could amount to a rare piece of good publicity, ride-sharing service Uber has added in-app tipping.

Drivers in Seattle, Houston and Minneapolis will get to enable the feature first - but the company said it would roll it out across the US by the end of next month.

International drivers will be able to use the feature in the very near future, the BBC understands.

The move brings Uber in line with its main competitor, Lyft.

Lyft recently said it had paid out more than $250m in tips to its drivers.

Uber drivers, long disgruntled with falling fares, have been calling for tipping for some time.

In an email to drivers, Uber said adding tipping was the first announcement in its "180 days of change", a programme that the company hopes will help it improve its relationship with drivers.

The Independent Drivers Guild, which represents Uber drivers in New York City, took credit for Uber's decision.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Uber drivers have protested against the company's policies in some US cities

"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," it said in a statement.

"Cuts to driver pay across the ride-hail industry have made tipping income more important than ever. We were proud to lead the way on this fight on behalf of drivers in New York City and across the nation. This is an important first step toward a more fair ride-hail industry."

Driver pressure will have played a significant factor - but it is likely that wider concerns are what prompted this latest move by Uber, a company left in tatters after a hugely critical report into its culture.

Also, proposals have been put forward by the The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) that would have forced the company to add the feature or risk having its drivers banned from the city's roads.

No Uber cut

Once the new feature has been activated, riders will be prompted to offer a tip of $1, $3, $5 or a custom amount, as well as rating the driver as normal. Riders have up to 30 days to add a tip. Drivers will not know which riders have tipped them.

Crucially, the company said it will not take any cut of any tips paid - however if drivers are currently paying off a car that has been leased through Uber affiliates, the tips may automatically be used to pay off those charges.

In a separate statement posted Tuesday, Uber's lesser-known co-founder, Garrett Camp, said the company must hold itself to a "higher standard" in the wake of its numerous scandals.

"I believe that our business can have 10x the impact it has today -  once we have additional leadership and training in place, and evolve our culture to be more inclusive and respectful," he said.

Travis Kalanick, the firm's chief executive, is currently on a leave of absence.


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