Uber have introduced a raft of new changes to their app that should bring customers and drivers an easier and more flexible service – but could come at a price.
The taxi hailing service has now added the option for customers to tip their drivers if they deem their ride to be a pleasurable experience. Working in-app, the new tipping service goes live as of Tuesday 15 August and drivers will take 100% of the money given to them via tip.
"Riders who want to reward great service will now have the option to tip their driver through the app after each trip," the company said. "This means riders don't need to carry cash if they want to tip their driver."
Another new change is ‘paid waiting time’ – where customers will be charged 20p a minute if they keep their driver waiting beyond the arranged pick up time. Activating after two minutes of the driver signalling their arrival at the destination, paid waiting time will go live in the UK from Tuesday 22 August.
There will also be a shortened cancellation time for Uber customers; where previously you had to pay a fee if they cancelled a ride request after five minutes, that has now been limited to two minutes.
And drivers are now being given a “No thanks" button that allows them to instantly reject a trip request instead of having to wait 10-20 seconds, as well as a trip request control that can see drivers opt out of the less expensive UberX trip requests.
Finally, Uber drivers are allowed trip control – allowing drivers who want to stay in a certain area of a city to be more easily matched with customers in the area.
Uber say the changes are largely to help drivers maximise their time and earning opportunities, offering a fairer system for their drivers. It is believed the changes have been implemented after criticism Uber was making it difficult for its drivers to improve their earnings.
However, James Farrar, Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB) United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) chair said: "This is a cynical PR move ahead of Uber's appeal next month against last year's employment tribunal ruling in favour of drivers.
"Despite its claims, Uber remains completely deaf to the most serious issue facing - excessively long hours earning on average between £5 and £6 per hour."
A spokesman for Uber disputed the calculation on earnings, saying: "Last year UK drivers made an average of £15 an hour in fares after our service fee.”