After a parade of scandals and a campaign urging users to delete its app, the ride-hailing app Uber has implemented some changes that the company hopes will happier, including in-app tipping. Since that was added to the app, the company reports that drivers have already received $50 million in tips.
That’s according to Recode, which notes that competitor Lyft has had tipping for five years, and says that its drivers have received $250 million in tips through the app in that time.
Uber originally promoted itself as an easier alternative to regular taxis, telling passengers that there was “no need to tip.” Drivers could accept cash tips, but not solicit them from passengers, since not having to carry cash is sort of the point of the app.
As it happens, Uber added the feature to its app just a few months before drivers in New York City succeeded in having a requirement for in-app tipping signed into law by Mayor Bill De Blasio. Now all services operating in New York must have in-app tipping, but Uber was the only one that didn’t at the time the law was proposed.
The company is now on a campaign called “180 Days of Change,” in which it is implementing more features aimed at making drivers happier. Specifically, what it needs to do is hang on to the drivers that it already has for longer. New features include allowing drivers to route their fares in a way that gets them near a specific destination at a certain time, or allows them to only accept UberPool or UberEats rides… or decline those, according to their preferences.
If you’re worried that this kind of flexibility for drivers means that it will be harder to get a ride, that isn’t the case. Drivers are less likely to decline the rides they’re offered, which means faster hails and a better experience for passengers, the company’s head of driver experience explained to Recode.
“Riders want to feel their driver is not unhappy,” he said. “This is something I think about a lot, [and we’re working on] extra special features that we can launch that will be positive and mutually beneficial to both riders and drivers.”