The past few months have been pretty rocky for Uber. In fact, if the company were an Uber driver, you’d probably give them one star for the nausea-inducing wild ride they’d have taken you on. But the ride-sharing pioneer and sometimes Silicon Valley darling is looking to make a U-turn, starting with the addition a feature that will certainly interest current and prospective Uber drivers alike.
For the first time, Uber will now offer in-app tipping. This comes after years of the company’s main competitor Lyft often citing their allowance of tipping as a way to gain drivers. As I alluded to, this change of heart comes on the heels of CEO Travis Kalanick’s resignation from the company, topping off a laundry list of PR nightmares and internal struggles at Uber.
But enough about what led to this change, here’s why it’s a big deal. First, prior to now riders who wanted to tip their driver had to do so in cash. Considering that Millennials — a notoriously digital clan on the whole — make up the majority of Uber’s clientele, you can imagine what an inconvenience that was. Making matters worse, Uber is specifically designed to be a cash-free exchange, so the absence of a tipping option always made some uncomfortable. However, now that Uber is matching Lyft and allowing guests to simply tack on a few dollars to their fare at the end of their ride, it stands to reason that drivers will be seeing a lot more tips coming their way.
Of course, there are a couple potential downsides to Uber’s new tipping initiative. For one, in the eyes of some good-hearted but short on funds riders, taking an Uber where tipping was less customary may have been a selling point over Lyft. Similarly, there’s a small chance that riders were compensating for a lack of tip by giving drivers a better rating than they may have felt was actually deserved. This could mean that, from here on out, riders may feel obligated to offer some sort of tip but might be a bit more stingy with the five-star ratings.
On the other hand, for passengers who wished to reward their drivers monetarily, it was always a pain to find cash (let alone small bills) before taking an Uber. In that way, this addition is a convenience for riders as well. Plus, with Uber and Lyft now on the same page, both companies will have to find new ways to innovate and stand out to customers.
Uber’s tipping feature is currently available in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston as of this week. As for the rest of the country, the company says in-app tipping should be completely rolled out by the end of July. So if you’ve ever considered starting a side hustle and driving for Uber, now may be the perfect time to get on board.