Why Isn't Tipping Customary in Rideshare?

You’re probably saying to yourself “I tip service people all the time, why is it not expected for me to get tipped”?

The answer has many folds, and speaking to both drivers and riders, I came up with a couple common trends.

  1. Wait staff get tipped, why don’t I? It is common knowledge that restaurant wait staff get paid below minimum wage, often as low as $2.13 per hour. This is because in the USA, tipping is expected in food service, and with tips included they will earn more than the minimum wage. Everyone knows this, and understands the deal.

    On the flip side, most people do not understand the plights of being a rideshare driver: maintenance, insurance, gas, dead head returns, upkeep, etc. Your customers think you are making more than you are.

  2. Most of your riders have worked as wait staff before, and can relate to it. Ever go out to eat with a former waiter? They tip way more than the usual because they have empathy and compassion for the job.

    Ever driven a former or current Uber driver? Did they tip you? How about this one, do you tip your driver when you use Uber?

  3. No one treats rideshare as a service industry, but instead as a transportation industry. We all know it is a service industry. At least the good drivers do. But that perception still exists, and every lousy driver that says “that’s not my job” hurts our collective chances at making tipping the standard.

  4. … But taxi drivers get tipped. That is mostly a result of the face to face, cash/charge transaction. In general humans avoid confrontation, and so if I make the decision to go against the social norms and not tip a taxi driver, I am more likely to get into an altercation.

    By the time we get tipped in the app, the customer is long gone. No accountability.

    One of Uber’s biggest benefits to its customers (transaction-less service) is one of the biggest weakness’ for the drivers.

So what do we do about this?

First, change the perception of the industry one customer at a time, by highlighting what we are providing is a service. Recognize that just getting from Point A to Point B is not going to get it done. Take Action to Create Value for your Customer and you will earn tips. Period.

Next, educate your customers through social media. This isn’t the sob story of how bad it is to be an Uber driver, and how little you make. Instead, journal your day to day life as a driver. Remember that last repair you had to do on your car? Talk about it. Got your car washed today, post it to Facebook. How about that awesome customer that you had? Talk about how you helped them and maybe throw in a little “thanks for the tip” at the end. Then, give your customers a glimpse of it while they are on the ride with you.

Last thing: If you do not have a tip sign, get one. Also consider getting a tip jar or something to show tips are normal, and to encourage cash tips.