How Long is Too Long to Wait?

We all encounter this on a daily basis. You pull up to your pickup location and your customer is nowhere to be found. After 5 minutes, you can cancel the trip, earn your cancellation fee and move onto the next fare. But, is that $5 more valuable than sticking around and getting a full fare?

This obviously depends on the following:

  • Where you are

  • How much demand there is for a drive

  • How far you drove to pick up this customer

  • How long the fare will be

So how long will you wait after the 5 minutes are up? Do you cancel and drive away right at 5 minutes. Do you slink away at 4mins 45 seconds, and cancel right at 5 mins on the dot? Do you wait a couple extra minutes?

Here is what we recommend. Call your customer as soon as you arrive if they are not outside, and say something like

“Hey, this is Hannah your Uber driver. I am waiting outside <address>, and am ready when you are. Let me know if you need any help”.

Then for the next 5 minutes I read FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, catch up on whatever news I have missed. Right at the 5 minute mark I will call them again. If they answer, apologize and say exactly how long they will be I will wait. But, be honest with them. If you are going to leave at a certain time, say it. That adds some consequence to the timing, and will get them out there.

“That’s not a problem. I will wait the 2 more minutes, but if you are not ready then, I am going to have to cancel the trip.”

If they do not answer their phone when I call at the 5 minute mark, I cancel the trip and move on.

Now flip this around, and put yourself in the passenger shoes. They do not really know how far away a potential driver is until they commit to the pickup. Sure you get an estimate, but every time I am the passenger, it is 3-5 minutes longer than the prediction. So, Uber has conditioned the passengers to order the ride a few minutes before they are ready, because they know it will take longer. I know when I am a passenger, I appreciate when a driver does not make me feel bad if I am ready a couple minutes after they arrive. Oh, and I tip them extra for the inconvenience. Maybe yours do to.

So, how long will you wait for your customers?