Uber Introduces In-App Tips For UK Drivers – But Is It Kind or Cynical?

Tipping and Uber has always been a difficult conundrum. The fact that no cash changes hands gives users an excuse not to tip, and the main appeal in the early days was how cheap Uber was. The UK has now followed the US in allowing in-app tips. But is Uber taking care of its drivers or taking part in cynical marketing?

Rather than only giving UK Uber users the option of handing over cash in an otherwise cash-free situation, the company will now allow them to tip via the app.

“Riders who want to reward great service will now have the option to tip their driver through the app after each trip,” Uber said. “This means riders don’t need to carry cash if they want to tip their driver.”

Is Uber “getting less awful”?

Reuters described the move as “improving conditions for drivers”, while The Next Web said Uber was “getting less awful for drivers in the UK”.

However, a union representing British Uber drivers said the step was “a cynical PR move”, according to the BBC.

The change is one of a number that will be introduced. Others include “paid waiting time” – which will require users to pay 20p (around 26 cents) for every minute after the first two minutes if they keep their driver waiting.

tipping Uber
Passengers can now tip without cash. Source: Market Watch

Levelling the playing field

In-app tipping has previously been introduced in the US by Uber, and also by Lyft, Uber’s big competitor, which has allowed in-app tipping in the States since 2012.

Nervelessness, some see this as something other than Uber simply deciding to take care of its drivers to the same extent that other companies do.

“This is a cynical PR move ahead of Uber’s appeal next month against last year’s employment tribunal ruling in favour of drivers,” said James Farrar, of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) chair.

“Despite its claims, Uber remains completely deaf to the most serious issue facing – excessively long hours earning on average between £5 and £6 per hour.”

It’s the job of unions to scrutinize company’s actions. Even if the move is cynical, though, it is likely to make drivers happy.