Uber is now allowing passengers to tip their drivers - a decision that reflects a larger effort from the ride-hailing company to rebrand its image. The move is part of a "180 Days of Change campaign" expected to roll out in Canada, too, by the end of 2017.
Once the new feature has been activated, riders will be prompted to offer a tip of $1, $3, $5 or a custom amount, as well as rating the driver as normal.
Uber points out that service fees will not be deducted from your tips, so whatever you were tipped, you will gain in its entirety. Waiting for a passenger for more than 2 minutes will also turn on the meter and drivers will be paid for any additional wait time. "It's a big milestone, and to celebrate, we're rolling out improvements to help drivers earn more", Lyft announced in a blog post. Drivers can accept tips for any kind of trip they take - ranging from uberX trips to UberEats deliveries.
Tipping is a major reversal for Uber, which had promoted the simplicity of paying without tipping.
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Other changes for drivers are coming over the summer, including the option for them to add injury protection insurance.
The move comes as the worldwide corporation's chief executive Travis Kalanick announced an indefinite leave of absence. The teen fare will initially be available in Seattle, Phoenix and Columbus, Ohio, Uber said.
Amid the criticism, Uber lost $2.8 billion a year ago, and another $708 million in the first quarter of 2017. Reports had suggested that five large investors, including venture capital firm Benchmark, had demanded that Kalanick resign immediately as the company needed a change in leadership. Other planned changes the company announced include an end to unpaid wait times and an increase in pay for transporting teenagers.
Uber drivers are independent contractors, not employees, and lack paid sick leave and vacation, and must pay for vehicle maintenance and other costs. It's worth noting that rival company Lyft introduced the tipping option a long time ago.
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