Uber is cleaning house. Recently, the scandal-ridden company fired more than 20 people after it had investigated over 100 sexual harassment complaints. Its founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick, is taking a leave of absence. And one of its board members, David Bonderman, resigned after making a sexist joke at an all-staff meeting to discuss gender discrimination.
And things don’t stop there.
Today, Uber announced a series of changes aimed at its drivers, including adding a tipping feature to its app. The changes are a part of “180 Days of Change,” during which the company says it will “share major improvements that will make driving more flexible and less stressful, giving you earnings and support you can depend on.”
Tipping within the app is the feature that drivers have asked for the most, according to Uber, and as of today, it’s available in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston. It will be available in the rest of the U.S. by the end of July.
In the past, competitor Lyft has capitalized on the fact that Uber did not allow riders to tip within its app; Lyft has allowed tipping in its app for years. In November, when cumulatively more than $100 million in tips had been paid to drivers through Lyft’s app, the company rolled out a promotional ad:
“Why are all the Lyft drivers so happy?” asks the executive at Uber — ahem, sorry, I mean Ride Corp.
“Maybe it’s because Lyft lets passengers tip them in the app,” responds another.
“That’s gross,” says the first guy.
After Uber's announcement earlier in the day, Lyft tweeted that they are "closing in on 1,800 days of in-app tipping" and surpassed more than $250 million in tips.
"All that tipping has helped propel billions in driver earnings. It’s a big milestone, and to celebrate, we’re rolling out improvements to help drivers earn more," Lyft announced in a blog post. "Passengers will begin to see $2, $5, and $10 when the fare is above $25, instead of the current $1, $2, and $5 tip options. The custom tip option will remain available for all rides."
The fact that you could not tip Uber drivers within the app in the past has not stopped some drivers from soliciting tips. Drivers successfully demanded that Uber allow them to ask for tips when they agreed to a $100 million settlement in April 2016 that also classified them as independent contractors.
Tipping is not the only change announced at Uber today. Drivers will also be happy to find out that Uber is shortening the cancellation window from five minutes to two. This means that passengers will be charged a fee if they cancel a ride within two minutes of booking it. Uber will also begin to charge passengers for wait times starting two minutes after the driver’s arrival. Also, any "teen account" will be charged an additional $2 fee for each trip.
This piece has been updated to include Lyft's response.
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