People do it every time they go out to eat, every time they get their car cleaned, and every time they get a drink from a bar. Tipping is part of the American culture, and something done for the intent and purpose of bribing your way to receiving better service. Somewhere along the way to modern tipping culture, it became expected and an obvious faux paus not to. It extends everywhere in the service industry, even to tipping drivers. That is one way that Uber, a technology company that enables anyone with an up to standard vehicle, to drive others and get paid, without anyone exchanging a penny.
Drivers for Uber operate as individual partners. The company does not actually employ any of the drivers; they all operate as their own bosses. They choose their own schedule so they are not bound to any single route. However, in the app, there is not any place to tip. There is nowhere in the app that allows a customer to reward the driver for a stellar performance, only a 5-star based review system to let other future passengers know if the driver has any worth. Gratuity is not in the app either, and in order to be effective in the market, this creates slim profit margins for their drivers.
Nevertheless, Uber does not see themselves as the issue, as they have no rules or regulations prohibiting tips from being offered to drivers. These tips would need to be in the form of physical currency, one of the main features that using a service like Uber helps to end. “Uber is a technology platform that is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our app, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers,” responded Taylor Patterson, Communications Lead for the Western United States at Uber.
He emphasized the distinction the company makes that it is a technology company, not a transportation company; that Uber is only a platform and emphasizes an empowerment of drivers, rather than acting as an employer.
“For myself I would say no, just because of how booming their business is.” Kevin Brown, an MCC student detailed after being asked if he believes in tipping an Uber driver. “I haven’t owned a car since 2011, and so I ride cabs a lot, and compared to their price, I probably wouldn’t tip them, myself. Not to say they don’t deserve it, though.”
With such a huge emphasis on tipping in service culture as a way to get by in hard economic times, it may be time for Uber to add a tipping feature to the mobile application.
Until then, however, if someone wants to tip an Uber driver, it would be best to keep a little cash on hand.