Hi Reddit! IAmA UberX driver in the Washington D.C. area. Ask away!
I've been driving for Uber since November, 2013. I have a full time job and am also in grad school, so I mostly just drive for Uber for some extra cash and because really I find it to be a fun time. I saw an AMA request for an Uber driver so here I am. I'll be around for a few hours today.
Here's a link to the webpage for Uber. There are a lot of third-party write ups you can find with a google search on the subject. Basically, it allows customers to use a smartphone app to call a car (a private driver with their own personal car) or a limo (a currently off-duty livery vehicle) to pick them up, at any time. It then tracks the vehicles progress until it arrives. You get in and tell the driver where you want to go. When you get there you just get out of the car. No money changes hands - the app automatically charges the credit card you saved when signing up. Then, later, the driver is paid a percentage. They've been expanding internationally quite a bit in the last few years, so anyone who is in a city they have set up in might be interested.
I'm not a typical driver: I drive (what I like to think is) a fairly nice car, I only drive one or two nights a week, and this isn't a full time gig for me. Still, I've spent a lot of time talking to other passengers, and talking to other drivers as a passenger myself. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have about life as a driver, the surge pricing "debate," or just my personal opinions on the bonuses and drawbacks of having Uber in your life.
Please remember anything expressed here is a personal opinion and in no way represents Uber as a company.
For proof, here's my Uber phone with the driver app.
EDIT: Sorry I'm falling behind on the responses everyone. I'm on Reddit pretty much every day, so I'll be sure to keep going through and trying to address everything. I'm still going, just falling behind.
EDIT #2: Hey, just saw me made the front page. Thanks everyone! The weather here in D.C. is just too damn nice to stay inside all day. I'm taking the dog for a walk and I'll be back on later (still need to finish House of Cards too). Thanks again for all the comments!
EDIT #3: I'm having a blast answering all these questions - sorry I'm still so far behind. I'm gonna take a break for awhile and watch some House of Cards. Sorry, but Frank Underwood moves too fast for me to keep up with him and reddit at the same time. I will be coming back to this thread though and answering every question I can get to.
EDIT #4: A couple people have pointed out it was probably rather narrow-minded of me to include a description of what Uber is. Now added above.
I really don't know. I've traveled around the U.S. and the rest of the world quite a bit, and I agree that D.C. has its own special problems with their taxi system. I'm sure some part of it stems from our problem of having three different jurisdictions within 15 miles.
Beyond that though, I really have nothing constructive to add. The thing I love about services like Uber is they give me an option. I loathe having to be a customer of a service that has me as a captive customer (no other options). So now that Uber is an option (and other services too), I actually don't mind lousy cabs so much. Now, whenever I have a bad experience, I can blame myself for not taking another service - whereas before I used to just get incredibly frustrated that cabs where my only option for point to point motor transit.
This was brought up elsewhere in the dc subreddit. Does the customer rating effect who you pick up? Or, if you ever canceled a request why did you do it?
Honestly, I almost never even look at the customer rating - mostly because I accept the fare as soon as my phone starts beeping. The software is set up to match a person with the nearest driver by default, so it's rare to get a fare that's more than 10 minutes away. I think distance is probably the #1 reason why a driver cancels a fare, but I personally don't think that's smart. A fare is a guaranteed fare, whereas canceling just means more waiting.
The only times I've ever canceled a request would be when I didn't get to log off of the app fast enough. On a busy Saturday night for example, as soon as I close out one fare I might get another before I had a chance to close the app. Once your phone is beeping with a fare, pressing anywhere on the screen will accept it. Every now and then I'll press the log off button, but at the same time a fare will come in. If I need to get home or go meet my friends somewhere, I'll just cancel the fare right away so it can get passed to another driver.
Of course, canceling when someone doesn't show up for their ride is another thing. It doesn't happen to me often, maybe once or twice a week, but it's still disappointing. Most often it's because (I think) the person is just too drunk to find the car - this is usually confirmed when you try calling the person and they have trouble forming coherent sentences on the phone. I like to try and look around for them and send a text describing my car, but sometimes it just doesn't work out.
Recently I've had major issues with the driver actually finding us. I always try to stand on cross street to make it easy. Just last night actually a driver canceled after calling us and saying he saw us waving. We never saw the Toyota Prius he was in.
I would say that is definitely one of the hardest parts about using Uber, as either a driver or a passenger. Usually if I can't find the person right away, I call and ask them exactly what building they're coming out of - the name of the bar for example. On the driver side, I know Uber has given out little light up decals for drivers to put in their windows, but not everyone uses them. I don't, because I don't like being easily identifiable to cabs and police officers.
The best solution might be texting with the driver, especially if one of you is having trouble understanding the other on a phone call.
I don't, because I don't like being easily identifiable to cabs and police officers.
Why is this?
Unfounded paranoia mostly. Just last night I had a problem picking someone up in the Adams Morgan area, which for those of you not from DC can get insanely congested around 2am when everyone wants to go home. I stopped the car for literally 45 seconds to let a passenger see me and then get in. Then a cop came over, after the fact as I was about to pull away, and asked me if I wanted him to give me a few hundred dollars in tickets for clogging up his street. I was already on the way out, so I politely asked if I could just move on and stop clogging up his street. I get it, he has his job to do, I have mine. It's gotta be insanely difficult to keep traffic moving in areas like that, so I feel for him. At the same time, if no one picks up those people and moves them out of the area, the problem is never solved. Anyway, I don't like to give a police officer who is already having a bad night an extra reason to be concerned that I'm trying to actively solicit fares on the spot.
As for being identifiable to cabs - again unfounded paranoia. I'm aware of a lot of the controversy surrounding Uber and the taxi industry's response. I like my car, I'd like to avoid any unnecessary dents or scratches, and I want my passengers to have the safest ride possible. You never know if a cab driver out there is just having a bad night, or maybe there's some road rage building up.
I thought about the advantage of having the Uber light for my passengers to spot me, and then I thought about the possible downsides of people knowing I'm picking up fares. I just like my anonymity I guess, for both myself and my passengers.
Why doesn't the Uber app just show you where the passenger is and the passenger where you are?
It does, but there are flaws.
First, it's all GPS based. So when it is showing you the driver, especially when he's moving, there is a delay. When it is showing you the passenger, if that passenger was in a building when they made the request, that could include an increased area of error (the blue circle you see on google maps when it's not a solid blue dot). Also, you have to "drop a pin" to show where the driver should meet you. As a passenger, I use this to have the driver meet me on a one way street he's already on, as opposed to waiting an extra five minutes for hime to take 3 left turns. I'd rather just walk half a block. Anyway, if someone isn't paying attention, or is a little tipsy, that pin drop might not be completely accurate.
As an Uberx driver myself, I do in fact look at the passenger rating. I take it seriously when I rate clients, and only on one occasion have I rated someone less than four stars. I won't accept a fare for someone below 4 stars, although I've only ever seen one person with that low a rating. You have to be pretty bad to not even warrant 4 stars.
So what should you expect if you want to start using Uber for the first time and (presumably) don't have a rating? Would you be unlikely to want to pick them up?
I think the default is five stars...it drops from there. All of the five star passengers I've had, have only been using Uber a short time. It doesn't take much for the rating to drop from five.
Yes. Passengers and drivers both start at 5 stars.
How many of your customers tip cash on top of the fare?
Almost none. I've only accepted cash as a tip twice, and that was because both times the passenger literally put the money on the dash as he was exiting the car.
People ask about tipping from time (I like to think I'm a pretty decent driver, and people enjoy the car a lot too) and I just tell them that with Uber there is no need to tip. The entire fare is already calculated based on the time and mileage. If they ask how they can tip me, I just tell them there's no need.
There is an important distinction here. Many people will say "the tip is included." This is not technically true. There is no equation where the fare is plussed up by any percentage to form a tip. Still, as a driver, I'm fine with it. I signed on to earn a certain rate, and I never had expectation of any tips.
If I could have it my way, I'd like to see an option where someone could tip a driver through the app, after the ride. I assume I know why Uber doesn't do this - to both keep things as simple as possible for passengers and also to prevent drivers from asking for a tip (I can't stand it when drivers ask me to rate them five stars). Even with those considerations though, I've had more than a few passengers express a small amount of dissatisfaction that they don't have a mechanism to tip me for the ride.
NOTE: Uber does technically allow their drivers to accept tips, I just don't bother with it. The protocol established by Uber is to tell the passenger initially that a tip is not required, then a second time that they don't need to tip you, and then if they insist, you can accept the tip. I just see a lot of room for misinterpretation there, so I avoid it entirely. Plus, really, I just like knowing they wanted to tip me.
I know on Uber's competitor Lyft, there is an option to add more money to the overall fare. The overage amount is still subjected to Lyft fees (20% of the total amount), but there is that option. Is there something that states with Uber that you can't accept a tip? Seems kinda counter-intuitive, imho.
No, Uber doesn't explicitly say you can't accept a tip. As I think I mentioned elsewhere in the thread, there is a specific process they want the driver to go through (basically turning it down/informing the rider a tip isn't necessary, twice, then finally accepting). I just choose to not go through the process.
As a driver though, I'd love to see a method for passengers to tip me but still have the convenience of the transaction being cashless.
Holy shit I feel awful now. When I signed up I set up the tip to 20%. I just read that only applies towards taxi cab rides requested through Uber? Not actual Uber cars. I didn't even know there was a such thing. I thought I'd been tipping this whole time. Why does Uber do it this way?
That's really a question for Uber that I couldn't answer. Like I've said, I would love a system that allowed for tips. My guess though, personally, is that their primary drive is "how do we keep this simple for the passenger." You should be able to get into a car, be driven, and get out - all as one smooth transaction without any bumps. I would guess they are always just asking if any changes would impact this experience.
How's the cash?
Not too bad, but I think the best way to be a good driver is to enjoy the job and have the cash as a secondary factor. The driver gets 80% of the fare, Uber takes the other 20. Most of the info regarding that is here.
But a few things you have to remember about your bottom line. First, you should be withholding a portion of your weekly pay for taxes - you're going to pay them on your own, out of pocket, each year. Second, there's your car payment and whatever you spend on gas. Then add in the less frequent but still costly things: new tires whenever you hit a nasty pothole, getting the car washed and the interior cleaned, and just overall wear and tear on your car.
On a good night my "gross" will be around $30 an hour, but after all the costs are factored in, I'd say it's $15 to $20 an hour net. Still good money, especially when you consider you're really just driving around, meeting fun people, and getting better acquainted with whatever city you live in. I've lived in DC for six out of the last 14 years, and I'm still finding new places to hang out just from talking to people about wherever they're headed to or coming from.
Also, I'm assuming you know this, but you can presumably deduct that other $10-$15 (other than the portion you're putting aside to cover your taxes) from your taxes as business expenses.
I just started in November, so I haven't figured this in yet. But I have already given my tax guy a heads up that I'd like him to look into this for me.
To keep expense tracking easier, it might be worth getting a business charge card (not a credit card) that you use only for Uber-related expenses.
Good idea. I've also considered forming a small LLC. Really though, I'm only about 4 months in. I wanna make sure I'm better acquainted with all the ins and outs first.
hitting a pothole is a serious problem? I have never heard of anyone actually hitting a pothole that bad (thou it sometimes makes the news)
so is it a real thing in your area to change tires for ather reasons than wear or age?
Actually, I've been lucky so far. And every time I hit a really nasty one, I just hope my run-flats will carry me through to the destination in case something goes wrong.
I've heard complaints from other drivers. One told me he gets a tire replaced on average once a month. I felt bad for him, but if I were him, I'd probably be looking into other work options.
Do you use GPS? Do people just assume you know every street like London cabbies? Is there any level of geographic proficiency you have to demonstrate before being accepted as a driver? Do you ever get lost or have a hard time finding a place?
There is no requirement for showing geographic proficiency to become a driver. That said, if you are incredibly lousy, I think the review system would weed you out pretty fast.
I do use a GPS. I simply use my personal Iphone. I use google maps because I think it's most accurate and also most immediately recognized by my passengers. I also keep Waze open so I can check traffic (I know google is starting to incorporate Waze, but there is still a good amount of info to be gained from looking at the actual app).
Almost no one ever assumes I know every street. This is probably for two big reasons: 1) In DC, at any given time I think about one in three people you meet will only have lived there for three years or less - this place is constantly full of new arrivals. 2) With the prevalence of GPS units, I think people just assume one will be used. Even when I get into a cab, I don't expect the driver to know where every place is, and that is often the case.
I haven't been lost yet, the GPS makes that pretty much impossible. There are plenty of hard to find places in DC, especially large community style locations (college campuses, large apartment complexes..) where the address doesn't really narrow down where the actual person is. In these scenarios, I just get as close as I can and then call the customer. I tell them my name and that I'm from Uber, and just ask where the best place to pick them up is.
As a pretty frequent Uberx user in DC, I definitely don't expect drivers to know the entire city by heart, and I further understand that since Uberx is so new you've got Maryland and Virginia Uberx drivers who may not have really driven into DC before and haven't had a chance to learn the city yet.
That said, I've been in at least a couple cars where I had to pull out my own Android turn-by-turn navigation because the driver didn't know where he was going AND didn't have a GPS system, and I've always been puzzled by why you'd try to be an Uberx driver and not at least use some form of GPS.
Agreed. Anytime my driver doesn't have a GPS that is an automatic 3-star review from me. When you sign up as a driver Uber states repeatedly that you really should just use a GPS.
Interesting--so you're both an Uber driver and an Uber customer?
All the time. And I have to admit, as a driver, I've become a bit of a snob as a customer.
Do you care if its phone based gps, like using their google maps, or do you want it to be those regular mounted units?
I drove a livery cab in Brooklyn for 10 years and as soon as it was possible I just figured out the best path using my trusty google app. My experience as a driver knowing local traffic (and listening to the radio) almost always had better advice then the directions any automated app could give.
I don't have a preference. I think experience like yours is tough to beat, and is an excellent asset. The way the market is set up though, it's gonna be hard to come by drivers with your level of experience. I know I'm not even close, and won't be for quite some time.
Good point. Yeah, if he knew where to go and everything, I'd certainly give him the full 5 stars. I just haven't had that happen yet.
NOTE: I've only given a driver 3-stars maybe 3 or 4 times in the couple years I've been using Uber as a passenger.
Do passengers always get in the back seat? Do they ever try to sit up front, and if so, do you stop them?
Has anyone ever vomited in your car? How did you handle clean up?
Have you ever feared for your safety?
When surge pricing is in effect, who gets the extra money?
Easiest one first:
I've only had one person vomit during a ride and it was my first night. She was pretty trashed, but not obnoxious or anything. She rolled down the window and lost it out the side of the car. I asked her if she needed me to stop, and she just asked me to keep going. Really, I didn't mind. I think we've all been there at one point or another. I just drove to the nearest gas station afterward, got some windex and paper towel, and cleaned up the outside of the car. If someone blows chunks inside of the car though, Uber does have a request system built in so you can ask the person to be charged for a "clean up." I've never had to use it, so I don't know any detains about the follow up.
Passengers usually get in the back, but maybe one in every ten gets in the front. They always ask if it's ok first, and I'm always fine with it. Plus, my car has heated front seats, which are pretty popular in the winter time! I'm cool with it either way. Some people want to talk, others just want to have a quiet ride and chill or text or talk on their phone. As a passenger, I've experienced both sides. I always keep the whole car clean and clear, so there's room for people to sit up front if they want. Also, whenever there is a large group, someone usually has to sit up front.
I've never feared for my safety. A personal note on this - I was in the Army (infantry) for a few years, so that always helps. But in more general terms, I think it's important to think of who you're clients are. This is a group of people who have been self-selected a few times - self-selected as a group of people who have purchased smart phones, then downloaded the Uber app, then added their credit card into to the app. Sure, someone who wanted to cause someone else harm could (and probably will always) find a way, but I consider it way safer than the pure randomness a cab driver has to deal with. Also, assuming there's not identity fraud involved, Uber has the name and billing address of each person I pick up, as well as the location I picked them up, so there's some decent evidence if police ever need to be involved.
The surge pricing just increases the total fare, so both Uber and the driver get the extra cash. If you have a $10 ride, and the surge is 2x, then the tab goes up to $20 and the driver gets $16 instead of $8, with Uber taking the remainder. The concept behind the surge pricing is to motivate more drivers to move to high demand areas, or in extreme scenarios motivating them to sign on in the first place (Uber will sometimes send a text to your personal phone), so it makes sense for the driver to benefit from the surge multiplier.
It does make sense for the driver to benefit - but it doesn't make sense that Uber is. The driver should be getting 80% of the original fare and 100% of the surge, which is what Lyft does.
You won't get any argument from me. Of course I'm incredibly biased.
I'm actually not sure, but I don't see why it would. Unless Uber reports your car to carfax as being used as a taxi (which I don't think they would), there is no other place the car is registered as such. Keep in mind this is just UberX we're talking about. It would probably be a much different matter if you were operating the vehicle in an actual livery company.
I got in a cab the other day and my driver was explaining to us how Uber and Lyft are illegal (I live in Arizona). Care to clarify?
Well, a couple starting points:
1 - Every state in the U.S. is going to be different with regard to what is legal and illegal, and I don't know the first thing about Arizona legislation.
2 - I'm not a lawyer or legislator.
3 - I'm assuming your cab driver isn't either (though I could be wrong).
The allegation I hear most frequently is that people without a chauffeur's license or a taxi medallion are performing taxi services. The counter-argument I hear most frequently is that Uber only connects drivers with passengers in an efficient manner, and processes payments for them - drivers do not actively solicit fares (in the manner that a cab will pick you up off the street with no prior contact).
Here's what I think: the law in any given place is constantly adapting to the values and needs of the society the law governs. Results will vary from place to place, but I think after a couple rough years, this will all get sorted out and I think public opinion is generally on the side of permitting a service like Uber to operate.
A quick anecdote - I had a passenger who was visiting from Johannesburg, South Africa. He was in DC with his young daughter. He told me they just got Uber in Johannesburg and he and his friends considered it a Godsend. Apparently the taxi system there is incredibly corrupt (in terms of who can get a license and such) and there is very little regulation or ways to legally respond to a cab that demands an exorbitant fare. In his opinion, the introduction of a system with ratings, identified drivers, and no cash (theft can be a huge problem) was incredibly valuable to customers.
What car are you driving?
2011 BMW 328i
...and there goes my anonymity from the Uber folks. But I really don't think they'll mind.
I live in DC and use UberX at least once a week. I'm pretty positive you've been my driver before.
Hope you had a good ride!
I hope you pick me up sometime. I'll be keeping an eye out for this car!
Follow up: How difficult is it to be accepted into the UberX program? It sounds like an interesting thing to do on the weekends, might recommend it to my nephew if he's interested.
It's a pretty simple process. You can access it through the Uber webpage and click on the links for becoming a driver. You'll submit your documents (registration, license, proof of insurance) and let them do a background check. Then they just communicate with you about the next steps. Can be done in about one or two weeks I would say.
Also, I guess a shameless plug here: If anyone wants to be referred as a driver just PM me. Of course there's a referral bonus for me :) (it's currently $100). Or, like I said, you can just go on the webpage and do it from there.
Does Uber have any offerings in Florida?
Looks like the answer is no, for the moment. Keep in mind that Uber is still actually a start-up and although they're expanding pretty rapidly, they obviously aren't in all the markets we'd like yet.
You definitely picked me and two girls up last night and drove us from Dupont to Arlington at 1:24 am and we were asking you some questions about what it was like. I was pretty shitfaced but Im sure it was a great ride. Thanks man!
Anytime. Glad to help out.
What are the annoying things passengers do? And what makes a good passenger? As a semi-frequent UberX user I'd like to know what to do and what not to do.
Being a good passenger is easy - just let me know where you want to go, and if you want to tell me specifically how to get there or if I should just use the GPS. Other than that, I'm happy to talk, to be quiet, to let you control the radio (I set up my car as a wifi hotspot and let passengers use spotify via an ipad) or whatever.
I haven't had too many annoying passengers. I guess the leading thing would be being obnoxiously drunk but even then, I'm happy to be giving that person a ride rather than them trying to walk or drive home themselves, so I'm ok with it overall.
Really having trouble thinking of other annoying things. One stupid thing - when people are talking on their phone and they mention to someone they are "in a cab," for some reason that just causes my ears to prick up. But again, that's stupid and really probably just elitist. Or maybe I just care about branding ;)
I set up my car as a wifi hotspot and let passengers use spotify via an ipad
A BMW 328i with a WIFI Hotspot and Spotify. You might be driving the best UberX car in North America.
have you seen the movie "Se7en" with Morgler Freeman and Brrad Pitt?
Awesome flick! Luckily, I've never had to ask any of my passenger's what's in the box.
Mandatory plug for /r/washingtondc
I think the folks in our subreddit would appreciate it if you came over and did one with us as well in case this one is missed by some. As mod, I'd like to invite you over - thoughts?
Sure, I'm happy too. I'm actually pretty new to reddit as a poster, so I'd just need to to tell me the appropriate way to do so. Also, I think I saw earlier that someone already did a cross post on this over to /r/washingtondc not sure if that does the same thing though.
We are actually covering Uber in my grad school team and it seems to have an interesting story. What do you think may be Uber's fatal flaws (e.g., in its business model, leadership/direction of company, etc.) in regard to weaknesses that may hinder its sustainability and future growth? As an Uber drive, what are you most impressed with based on your observations in how the company is operated?
From an amateur (studying MBA) perspective, I often think about this question. I don't know the first thing about Uber's international operation (they are expanding all over the globe) and that can be a massive area for success or failure, so know ahead of time that's a big blind spot for me.
Locally though: I think it's great that they can operate each market with minimal staffing. If you think about it, they truly are only providing a type of "matchmaking" service between the riders and the drivers, and at only 20% of the fare (assume the average fare is maybe $10) they really are dependent on massive volume. I think this is their greatest strength and weakness at the same time. We're talking about an app here. As soon as a person uses it with an unsatisfactory experience two or three times in a row, they're just going to switch to a new option. Less passengers, less money available for drivers, less drivers, less ability to meet passenger demand. So it could easily spiral downward that way, or the spiral could be sparked from the driver side (a different service pulling drivers away). As long as the spiral moves up (increase in drivers/passengers/volume) everything is good.
I think the above strength/weakness is great news for customers. It means Uber has to fight to constantly innovate and stay ahead of the market, so hopefully it won't get lazy and rest on its laurels like some would say the cab industry has done for the last couple decades. As long as Uber can continue to test new strategies in new markets and isn't afraid to take risks and soak up some failed bad ideas, I think they have a very promising future.
I met with Uber in DC in a group info session organized by my college, and I was explained to me that a new operation is set up with only 3 people on staff.
I don't know the exact numbers, but that sounds entirely realistic. Whenever you email the staff - as a driver or passenger - the response you get is from an individual, with the email sign off as their first name. I've been to a couple "events" where I've seen the staff a few times, and it's the same faces. I know they have HQ staff, but in each market office all they (probably) really need to worry about is customer service and logistics/operations.
I would actually love to work for Uber in a larger capacity, in one of their market offices, but with such small staffing, I'm sure the competition is pretty fierce and I've got a pretty good gig at the moment anyway.
No question but I know reddit will love this. There is an UberX driver in Chicago who picked me up in a red Tesla Model S.
Edit: His name was Gino and the ride cost $11.77. Picture from inside http://imgur.com/TLNhDVD
So jealous of that guy.
What were you doing beforehand? (ignore if you already answered this, I'll catch up :P)
No worries. I've been in my full time job since 2009 (was in college before that, and in the army before that). I was overseas for the past 3 years, and really didn't get to drive much - especially in a nice car. It's important to note that for me, driving is my relaxation. It's the thing I do that I enjoy and take pride in.
So when I moved back to DC in August of last year, I was kinda bummed because I was making the "smart" choice and just using mass transit. After talking to some Uber drivers I realized I could make enough money to cover a decent sized car payment and come away with some spare spending cash. So I basically used Uber to justify a fun car purchase.
To more directly answer your question I work for the government and have a pretty decent salary and great job security.
Any chance uberX will allow convertibles?
I wish! If they did, I would have definitely purchased a convertible. The requirements are for a certain amount of legroom in the back, so I suppose if they still made massive Cadillac convertibles it might be doable, but I'm not aware of any car on the market today that is both convertible and has the necessary legroom. For Uber, it's about style, but it's also about the passenger being comfortable.
I was thinking of starting up a company called funride: only fun vehicles allowed + motorcycles + boats + planes + 4x4 off road.
Not practical but if you have a free Sunday afternoon....
Insurance would be a nightmare though!!! I would have likely have to forgo it and be open to lawsuits for the first guy who crashes his mystery van knock off full of high 16 year olds off a bridge....who bought the weed from the driver.
You start it up and bring it to DC, I'm in!
Do drivers see what a passenger rated them as? For example, I recently had a trip where the driver was going extremely slow, took a longer route, and was barely maintaining his lane. When we went to leave, he said to rate him 5 stars and he'd give us 5 stars. I'd much rather give this guy a lower rating, but want my passenger rating to stay solid. So, would this guy be able to see what I rated him as, or is it anonymous?
Your direct interaction with him is anonymous. When this happens, I encourage you to give a low number of stars with a detailed explanation of what happened. This allows the system to self-regulate and adjust, and also will most likely result in an email from Uber staff where they review your trip and refund you accordingly.
Drivers get a weekly report indicating, as a group (I guess you could almost call it metadata...bad joke) how many passengers gave them 5 stars, 4 stars, etc. Also, recently, the report has also included any specific things passengers have said. I get a real kick out of this. I don't know if they include negative comments (again, I haven't had less than 3 stars), but it really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when someone comments on my job as a driver - because when you give 4 or 5 stars a comment is not required. Last week I got a comment that said "Very cool dude; kinda crushing." It's silly, I know, but it totally made my day.
What is the point of using Uber when the fare for the same distance via another taxi is more/less the same? I have tried using uber but everytime I get a quote, I realize that I can get the same by just flagging down a regular taxi.
A couple things. The biggest is that Uber is on demand, so you can use an app and they come to you. Many cabs offer this service today, but they don't always deliver. During a recent really bad snowstorm in DC, I was driving a lot of passengers who told me they called the cab company, but the operator told them they aren't "accepting phone requests at this time."
Second, if you get into a cab (at least in most places I've been) with more than one person, there is a per-person surcharge. There is no such surcharge with Uber, and on top of that the app lets you automatically split the fare with another Uber user.
Third, If I have a bad experience in a cab, I (personally) don't have any reassurance I can report that experience and there will be action taken as a result of it. With Uber, I have the opposite feeling. Granted, this is just perspective, but it's one of my personal reasons.
Fourth, in some markets, UberX is actually cheaper than a cab (not by much, but still). This becomes more prevalent when you consider surcharges UberX doesn't include (extra passengers, luggage, airport drop-off/pickup).
Fifth, the initial reason the founder of Uber started the company is because he and his friends wanted to find a cheap way to get moved around town in "baller" style in limos. So they started up Uber utilizing off-duty limos. If you're into arriving in style, without spending a whole lot, and not having the restrictions of a limo contract (set times), then Uber is a great option.
Uber is usually considered to be half the price of a cab here in Seattle. The cab drivers are all very upset, but i don't know anyone who uses a cab anymore over Uber or Black Car (confusingly has the same name as Uber's other service).
That's great to hear - because I'm looking at going to law school out in Seattle and would love to keep using Uber as a source of income while I'm racking up all that student debt. Thanks for the info!
Ever pick up a girl that you ended up getting a #?
No.... but one day....
Know any other drivers this actually happened to?
Not that I'm aware of. It might sound like a cool experience initially, but if you think about the general creepiness of the whole thing (imagine telling your friends your going on a date with your Uber driver...) I can definitely see why it doesn't happen more often.
Or maybe it does happen all the time - and just no one is talking about it.
My wife caught an UberX home from class a few weeks ago and forgot to rate the driver afterwards; then the app must have errored out at some point, because it never asked her again for a rating, and she's taken multiple rides since. Now in her ride history on her account, that original driver's rating shows up blank. Do you have any idea how that might affect the driver? Does it count as zero stars, or just have no impact on his overall rating?
That is odd, I've never seen that before. I have no idea how it would affect the driver, I also don't know how much time/effort the Uber staff would dedicate to investigating the problem. That said, if you don't mind taking the time, feel free to send them an email with the info from the ride, and saying what she would like to rate the driver as. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Uber staff reply within a day or two and even fix the problem.
What's the most interesting thing that you've seen/heard/experienced as an Uber driver?
I wish I had a cooler story to post here. I've met some interesting people (mid-upper level management for companies like Apple or Booze Allen), and I've had some great conversations.
I'd say overall the most interesting thing happens fairly frequently - I end up hanging out with some of my passengers. Sometimes you really have some great conversations in a 10 or 20 minute car ride, and especially if I'm driving a group around I'll get an invite every now and then to come join them at the bar or wherever. If it's toward the end of the night, or I'm just tired of driving, I'm totally up for it. I love meeting new people and hearing new stories. Usually I just say thanks, but no, because I still want to drive more or if I decided to stop and drink then I'd have to figure out where I could leave my car overnight (when this does happen, I actually take an Uber home), so the logistics get in the way. But overall, I'm just thrilled with how generally cool most of my passengers have been.
Second question: did you see the new Robocop? Follow-up: Would you buy that for a dollar?
I didn't see the new Robocop yet. I've got a best friend who I went to college with in Chicago, and I wanna see it with him. The dude is obsessed, he used to watch all the sequels (I mean ALL of them) during college. I'm sure he's already seen the new one, cuz he lives in middle of nowhere Wisconsin now so we don't see each other too frequently, but I'm still gonna give him shit for not seeing it with me first. Just because.
Also, yeah, I got a dollar, whatcha selling? Attack sharks?
Surge pricing question if you know -
Is it theoretically possible to pay more for UberX than "regular" Uber if UberX is surge priced and regular Uber is not?
I've run into this situation before, and went with normal Uber (which I was inclined to anyway in that particular case).
Didn't crunch the #'s/the fare ahead of time though.
I honestly don't know - it might be situationally dependent. I think drivers can downgrade in terms of fare: for example if an Uber Black driver isn't getting any fares, he might be able to pick up UberX passengers, but at the UberX rate (I haven't actually done this, but rather have heard of it).
It might be theoretically possible, but the situation seems doubtful to me. If there is high demand in an area, I would think that demand is across the board - for UberX and Uber Black. Still though, I would always suggest checking all your options. The surge exists to drive supply to demand, so if you're willing to shop smart and switch between modes, it could save you money and get you an upgraded ride if there doesn't happen to be any demand for Uber Black in your area.
Also, something else I always tell passengers: if you don't have to get a ride right away, don't feel like you have to accept the surge. You can always take the chance on the surge going down in 1 or 5 minutes. Then again, it could go up. As a passenger, whenever I go to request a ride and I see there is a surge, I usually just try again in about 5 minutes. If the surge is still on, then so be it. But sometimes it's only on for a few minutes.
How do you like your coffee?
I don't like coffee, I wish I did. I drink probably an incredibly unhealthy amount of Coke though. At my (day)job I have a rule: no bad news before I've had at least three Cokes (rule stolen from Michael Keaton's character on "The Paper"). I'm working on cutting back but we'll see how that goes.
As a habitual Mt. Dew drinker, I empathize. (sip)
Actually, my coke here at my desk has run dry, and I'm looking for a break in comments to run downstairs and refill :)
Really quick, FIRST! - If you haven't already started up your account, find a friend to refer you. Or just google "Uber Promotion" and find a code to use. You will usually get a $20 or so riding credit for your first few rides. And if a friend refers you, they can get a credit too
Hell, I'd be happy to give you or anyone else my referral code, just PM me.
It does not change my driver license status. As some people have mentioned in this thread, this is a bit of a grey area in most states as laws are adapting to companies like Uber, but for the moment (and I think the foreseeable future) I'm fine just using a "normal" license - Class C in Texas as you point out.
I don't put up my own commercial policy. I told my insurance company the reason for my car purchase was some personal travel (not much) and giving rides on Uber. Per their suggestion, I'm still just using personal insurance (but with a higher forecasted "per year mileage"). Uber also covers drivers who are on fares with a hefty liability coverage. You can probably find details on it here.
what if you get in an accident? do you have commercial vehicle insurance, because if your insurance finds out you were using uberx when an accident happened they wont pay, and uberx doesnt cover you at all i heard.
I don't put up my own commercial policy. I told my insurance company the reason for my car purchase was some personal travel (not much) and giving rides on Uber. Per their suggestion, I'm still just using personal insurance (but with a higher forecasted "per year mileage"). Uber also covers drivers who are on fares with a hefty liability coverage. You can probably find details on it here
I love what Uber did to the cab industry. Next up, the cable industry, and finally, airlines!
Seriously. Google Fiber, hurry up already!
I heard that as everyone has an account, drivers can rate passengers in the same way that passengers rate drivers. Is that true? If so what gets you marked down as a passenger and what gets I '5 star' rating?
I don't think I've ever given a passenger less than four stars. For me the difference between 5 and 4 stars is simple:
5 stars: Is ready to go shortly after I arrive, or just gives me a quick call or text to let me know they'll be at the car shortly, or pleas just give them 10 minutes. As long as I know, I'm cool with waiting.
4 stars: I have to wait longer than 5 minutes and there is no communication (I try calling and the phone isn't picked up, no response to my text). The point of Uber is for the car to be ready and waiting for you, so I don't mind waiting at all. I just like to know I'm in the right place and you know I'm available for you whenever you're set to go.
You say personal phone a lot. Does Uber provide a work phone for you or did you buy one?
Yes and no. Uber provides a phone so you can use the Uber Driver app, but it is limited to data. If you take a look at my "evidence" in my initial text, there's an imgur link where you can see the phone. It literally has nothing but the driver app and the bare necessities on the phone. I happen to know (from a previous passenger actually) that Uber has a specific contract with Apple for phones that are limited in their usage. Also, this allows the driver app to be used only by drivers and not open for anyone to download.
You get the phone for "free." You pick it up when you're accepted as a driver. They (at least in the DC market) charge you a $100 deposit that comes out in two $50 tranches across your first two paychecks.
Oh that's pretty cool. So the phone doesn't have any minutes? Only data?
Exactly. Actually, I've never even tried to make a call on it. But I assume it wouldn't go through.
But don't you call the passenger and tell them where you are?
I do that from my personal phone. Uber routes all driver/passenger communication through a third number so the driver doesn't get the passenger's real number and vice versa.
An Uberx driver killed a pedestrian in SF last NYC. What are your thoughts and feelings on how Uber had handled the situation? What is your personal car coverage like, who is your carrier, and what do they think about you doing ridesharing? Are you having to pay a higher premium? Do they even know?
Also, will you be filing taxes on the money earned? Does Uber give out 1099's to certain drivers who make more than 2k+ a year?
Easiest first: As far as I know, 1099's go out to all drivers. I just started in November, so I made right around $1,000 in 2013, and I receive a 1099.
I'm not familiar with the situation in SF beyond what I've read online. As I understand it, one of the points in question is whether the driver was in fact "on fare." I honestly believe this is a troublesome grey area with room for interpretation - which is dangerous when you're talking about liability. The Uber provided insurance is technically for when you are on a fare. The argument in SF, as I understand it, is if the driver was in fact on his way to pick up a person for Uber - or was in between fares. I would like to see changes in the future, even if they included an additional fee for me as a driver, that covered me for all times that I was out driving for Uber, even without a passenger. I think this would clear up some grey area, and could be as simple as signing into the app (which you have to do to find fares) and having that be the official start/stop timestamp of when you are covered. To prevent abuse, possible prorate the amount a driver must pay for this coverage based his "covered" time. You could assess the fee monthly, as Uber drivers are paid weekly.
My personal car is insured and when I purchased the car I informed the insurance company that I was purchasing it for primarily use as an Uber vehicle - but I also use it for some personal use. They noted that, I am sure it upped my premium a little bit, and they also suggested that I declare my "forecasted" annual mileage as being higher, which I did. I prefer to not disclose my carrier as they are rather specific to my job, which I am also not disclosing.
I like the approach to ridesharing and the idea. I think it bring us a lot of benefits such as more efficient movement of people from point A to B, reduced vehicle usage and thus reduced emissions (although there is an argument to make for increased vehicles just driving around waiting for fares. As for me, I'm parked with the car off - gas isn't cheap), and similar secondary and tertiary effects.
More importantly though, I think ridesharing is something we need to face and deal with as a society, both culturally and legislatively. We have had an insane increase in social interconnectivity in the last ten years, and smartphones aren't even when it started. In the DC area specifically, we have had things called "sluglines" that started as people gathering at convenient locations (convenience store parking lots) and queuing up for rides from people who want to take the High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes into DC. It's a win/win - you get a free ride, and the driver gets to take the fast lane into work. That's another form of ride-sharing. Yes, Uber is much different in that there is an exchange of payment in some form, but you are still talking about taking on the extra liability of an additional passenger in your car on a regular basis.
In short - I'm interested to see how we respond to ridesharing, at least in the U.S., and I am optimistic that we will, while stumbling at some points, find a way to incorporate it into our current transportation structure rather than just recklessly abandoning it because of the extra complications it brings.
I don't know. There used to be a "becoming a driver" faq online where you could pull up a scroll-down list of the pre-approved vehicles, but I can't find it now, sorry. Still, my car wasn't on the list either, so I just sent them an email. You can always send in an email to their driver support staff (the address is different depending on market, you can pull it up on their website) and say you're interested in joining up, would they accept a jeep wrangler? That's what I did, I had a response in a couple days.
What are your thoughts on up and coming competitors to uber like lyft?
Edit: stupid autocorrect
Thought #1 - I really don't want to put a pink mustache on my car's grill.
That aside, I think new competitors are great. As a passenger (and a driver actually), I don't ever want Uber to think they can control the whole market. I mentioned this earlier - I think innovation is key in this market area. Reacting to new customer expectations as well as finding things people will want, before the people even realize it was something they wanted. I think competition drives innovation like that.
I've also met at least one guy who drives for both Uber and Lyft. He just keeps both apps running and takes whichever one pops with a fare first. He seemed to think it was worth it. I just prefer the simplicity of working with only Uber.
I'm a valet at a restaurant In Atlanta and I have the number of some Uber drivers. I call them whenever a customer needs a ride and the uber comes and picks them up even if the customer does not have the app. Most of the drivers give me a few dollars for the call. I'm pretty sure this is illegal, but have you ever heard of this/done this? Are the drivers just getting straight cash under the table to take the customers to their destination?
I don't know whether it is illegal. I know I would much prefer to just use the app. You are probably right, they are probably just pocketing the cash, and I'll leave off any judgement in that area.
I have a lot of friends who use Uber, and they like to throw business my way. Sometimes they suggest just paying me cash. Instead, what I ask them to do is just let me stand next to them (the driver is assigned based on proximity) with my driver app open, then they request a driver, then they get me, and I take them where they want to go. That way, it's all covered under the normal Uber policies and insurance.
How often are you in friendship heights?
Not too often actually.
First, I usually only drive on one or two weekend nights.
I might end up there for course if a passenger wants to be dropped off there. But when I don't have a fare, I'm usually driving around the Arlington area, or in DC I like to go up Connecticut to the Woodley Park area. I usually have a fare heading back into the heart of the city before I get too far North.
But I'm always looking out for areas that I know are a good source for fares, and American University and the surrounding area is a place I've started to hang out in - but only if I'm already nearby. Otherwise it's a little too far for me to go without a fare (I live in Arlington).
Got it. How much do you know about "regular" cab drivers and how that system works? Is the mentality of driving when you work for Uber different?
I really don't know much about it. I have a friend back in Chicago, her father is a cab driver. We talk about it pretty frequently. The "value" of his taxi medallion has dropped about $150,000 in the last few years, probably due to ridesharing. At the same time, this friend uses uber pretty frequently.
I've never been a cab driver, and really have no interest in being one. The biggest draw about Uber, for me, is that it is whenever I want. I turn the phone on, give some people rides, and then turn it off. Sometimes, if I'm going out to run errands, I'll turn it on just on the chance someone needs a ride in my area. Especially if I'm going from a frequently origination point to a frequented destination point (such as Arlington to DC around brunch time on Sundays).
It seems so much more organic. I love Uber, and I'm glad they're not just doing luxury cars anymore. Thank you for taking the time to do these responses!
Gladly. Thanks for the comment.
Easiest first - if you want to find out your rating, just ask the driver. I tell my passengers all the time and I can't think of any reason another driver wouldn't do the same.
As for how it affects me. The most direct way is if I drop below a four star average (or if any customer gives me less than three stars), then Uber talks to me about it and might choose to let me go as a driver. I can't speak beyond that point because I've never had anyone give me less than four stars. I don't actually know what the "next step" is.
In an indirect way, Uber does a few things to motivate good customer service. They give drivers tips on what passengers like (bottled water in the car, waiting to start the trip until you're actually moving forward...). They also send you an email each week with some info about your stats, and they let you know who the "top" drivers were in terms of hours driven, customer rating, and a few other categories.
The rating has no impact on tip or rates. There really isn't a tip as we usually understand the word - I think there's another comment in more detail on that here.
I only once have given an UberX driver a 3 star rating, and it was because he went through Chinatown at the busiest part of the day and made the trip unnecessarily long. I wasn't angry or anything, I just got the impression he didn't understand where he was going very well. Uber got back to me really quickly, said they would talk to the driver about routes and GPS, and processed a partial refund for what the route difference would have been. From a customer point of view, I was pretty impressed.
Happy to hear stories like this. Sorry for the delayed ride.
Good to know about the 4 star thing--someone had told me it was more like 4.5 stars so I thought leaving less than a 5 without good reason was a dick move to the driver. Sometimes trips simply aren't 5 star trips, but they're not BAD or anything--you know, a 4 star trip.
I get you.
And I should say - maybe they do contact you if you are under 4.5 stars. My average hovers between 4.8 and 4.9 (because yeah, they just aren't all 5 star trips). I do know that when I signed up, they quoted 4 stars as the threshold.
Hello! I live in Northern Virginia (shameless plugs: /r/nova and /r/washingtondc). What was the worst experience you've ever had as a driver?
Nothing really too tragic. The only thing that stands out (and this goes to show how infrequently I have problems) is a group of four women who were all quite drunk and pretty obnoxious on a ride from DC out to Alexandria. That said though, I got to provide them a safe ride home and none of them did anything unsafe or insulting. Really, it was just a loud ride out to Alexandria :)
Do you or your coworkers (for lack of a better word) ever catch heat from cabbies for your work?
I haven't yet. I also have bumped into at least a few Uber drivers that are also (or were) cab drivers. But ultimately, no, I haven't heard any actual accounts of cab drivers giving Uber drivers a hard time.
where I live, cab drivers need to get their cars examined at least once a year to ensure they are safe to drive. does uber have a similar requirement for it's drivers?
Before you sign up as a driver, Uber has a chance to check out your car.
In addition to that, in Virginia for example, you have to have a safety inspection annually. You then have to submit that to Uber to become a driver or maintain your driver status. No info on states that don't have safety inspections.
Also, although this wouldn't be as in-depth as a safety inspection, there is again the user review system. If someone is driving people around with a busted rear-view mirror, I'm hoping the passenger will say something. If so, I'm confident Uber would address the driver immediately. Again though - that's my opinion. Haven't had it happen to me.
What kind of vacuum do you use?
Whatever kind the good folks at my local car wash use. At least once a week.
I have a Siberian Husky (70 lb red & white furball) that I drive around from time to time. So whatever vacuum they're using, it works!
I have only ever used black cars. What type of cars are Xs usually? Do people have a harder time finding you because you aren't a black sedan/SUV?
People sometimes forget that UberX can be any color, and my car is silver, so that trips some people up at first. Other than that, I don't think I'm any harder to find. Especially when I send the person a text saying I'm in the silver BMW with the hazards on (heads up to Uber staff - it'd be great if the car description the passenger sees included the color), I'm easier to spot because of all the black cars on the road.
The UberX cars I see most frequently are what you would consider the better MPG cars: Prius, Corolla, Civic, Focus, etc. But the field is pretty wide open. Uber has some criteria (which might be constantly changing or different per market) about amount of leg-room, age of the car and such, but as long as you meet that, you're in.
Living in the dc metro area is there any way to request you or another driver? Or is it exclusively first come first serve?
Not at this time, but like I said above, I'd love for this to be the case. I'm always open to anyone sending me a PM and I'm happy to drum up extra service for someone who wants my car specifically, but again it would all have to be from within the Uber app.
So as a driver for Uber, you use your own vehicle? Could you potentially pay off a car driving for them? And how does the request system work (like if I want to get you as a driver? lol) I work on Capitol Hill with some late nights sometimes where I wouldn't be able to get the Metro.
This touches on something that I'm really focused on - requesting specific drivers. So for starters - again, this is all just my personal opinion.
Yes, I use my own vehicle. I think you could potentially pay off a car driving for Uber, especially if it were your primary occupation. Since I have a day job, for example, I'm not able to drive during morning rush hour, so I miss out on that. I take MBA classes at night, so on weeknights I miss out on evening rush hour. If you were focused on Uber, I am sure you could pay the car off - probably in a year or two (but don't forget you gotta live too).
The request system is based entirely on proximity. They want to deliver the nearest driver to you for two key reasons: 1) your wait is shorter, 2) the driver has less dead-head (time without a fare) getting to you.
I am incredibly biased on this topic. I drive a BMW 328i and I get people asking me all the time how they can request me specifically, even if it means waiting longer. I can see many pros and cons for Uber implementing a system that allows passengers to discriminate in their car choice, but I would obviously (I think) benefit from such a system. And I assume passengers would be happy with such a system as well. Another thing to think about though - many drivers aren't always available. Such as myself, I only drive maybe 2 nights a week, unless I happen to have spare time.
If you don't already use Uber, feel free to PM me for a referral code. I am sure there will be cars available near Capitol Hill nearly any time of night you need a ride.
I am also considering the most appropriate way to have something like business cards available - in case passengers want to contact me specifically for a ride in the BMW, but still under the Uber app. I haven't started this yet, because I want to make sure I'm doing the right thing by both Uber and the passenger. Ultimately, Uber is about getting someone a good, safe ride, on demand. All the extras (like getting a BMW instead of a Corolla) are just that - extras.
Why are DC cab drivers (not UberX or Uber drivers) so terribly unprofessional, prone to deliberate overcharging (such as tacking on unspecified extras on the meter not consistent with the regulations), rude and generally unpleasant? I've taken taxis in dozens of cities and the DC drivers are special.
EDIT: since this has gotten a bunch of replies, I should mention http://dccabssuck.com/knowyourrights.html (now slightly out of date) - and the redditor run law firm that has been suing DC taxi drivers for violating the regulations on a continent fee basis: http://www.taloslaw.com/know-your-d-c-taxi-rights-washington-dc-consumer-protection-lawyers/
View HistoryShare Link