One of the biggest changes to society in the last 10 years has been the invention of Uber and Lyft. These are transportation services that allow regular people to pick up passengers for a set fee. Uber drivers are connected to people needing a ride through the Uber app and the Uber company takes a percentage of all income earned.
Even though everyone now knows what Uber is, I still think that there are a lot of people who don't know how it really works. Who better to give you some insight into the inner workings of Uber than the drivers themselves?
This article will discuss 17 things that Uber drivers keep secret from us, and on the flipside, seven things they want us to know. My hope is that after reading this article our readers will not only have a better understanding of the Uber company but that they will also be more considerate of their Uber drivers, and better prepared to get the most value out of the Uber experience.
As research for this article, I read through the online accounts of several Uber drivers and I also interviewed a handful of my friends that have used and driven for the ride-sharing app.
24 Under Wraps- Bad reviews can get drivers fired
There are a lot of industries where customer reviews do not matter. Your airline or cable company can do whatever they want because there are only so many companies that can provide that service. Uber isn't like that.
Your uber driver probably doesn't want you to know that your reviews and rating of them have a serious impact on their status with the company. Drivers can get in trouble if they get a low enough score and there have even been instances of people getting fired because of reviews. This is one way that Uber has been able to distance itself from the taxi industry.
23 Under Wraps- If you're sick in the car, they'll make you pay
I'm the type of person who would not want to ruin another person's car no matter the repercussion. Every time I get into an Uber, I am very careful about leaving it in exactly the same condition as I found it.
But there are some people who are totally inconsiderate of the fact that these Uber cars actually belong to someone.
One thing Uber drivers do not want you to know is that while they can file a claim through the app to charge you for any damages, it is quite a hassle for them.
22 Under Wraps- Studies have revealed dark results
I think that this next entry can be classified in the category of "sad but not that surprising."
According to an MIT study, a large percentage of Uber drivers who were interviewed admitted that they were prejudiced towards certain customers based on race.
These studies in and of themselves are disturbing, but they could also be viewed as a warning sign for more troubling incidents to come. This looks very bad for the company and for drivers themselves.
21 Under Wraps- Not All-Inclusive
There have been plenty of recent reports of Uber drivers making offensive statements to their passengers. Several of these reports have even come from cities with a diverse population, like Boston and Seattle.
These isolated incidents shouldn’t be used to vilify every Uber driver but it is something that the company will have to acknowledge. It will be a difficult task for Uber to address this on a company-wide level.
20 Under Wraps- Driving Uber the Influence
Driving under the influence has become so taboo in the United States that I am honestly surprised that people still do it. Not only do people still do it, but some people also do it with regularity.
I am always surprised by the number of people who get busted for this while they are on the clock and Uber is no exception.
The New York Times released a report that told the story of multiple Uber drivers who hang out at popular bars (with a drink in hand) and wait for a ride to pop up on their app.
19 Under Wraps- The Uber-Lyft Debate
Right now, Uber and Lyft are the only two major companies providing this kind of service. As such, both companies have spent millions of dollars trying to distinguish their company from the competitors. Therefore, one thing that most Uber drivers don't want you to know is that Uber and Lyft are basically the same thing.
I was unable to find any tangible difference between how the two companies operate that would significantly alter a rider's experience. The fact that someone can drive for both Uber and Lyft at the same time is compelling evidence of this point.
18 Under Wraps- They're not as busy as we think
I have heard several of my friends say "we'll never get an Uber ride out here" while trying to figure out how to get home from an out-of-the-way location. I think that this kind of thinking overestimated how busy Uber drivers are most of the time. Sure, at certain peak times it is hard to get an Uber no matter where you are.
But at most of the hours of the day, many Uber drivers are just hoping a route pops up on the app, even if it's a little out of the way.
17 Under Wraps- Underpaid and underappreciated
Like any customer service industry, Uber drivers have to interact with the public way more than they would like. This naturally includes dealing with a lot of rude people.
If there was one thing that Uber drivers don’t want the general public to know, it is that they aren't getting paid a lot for their job.
I have noticed that people already talk down to their Uber drivers, this will only get worse if people realize how little they are actually getting paid. This is especially true when you consider the cost of gas and upkeep for their car.
16 Want Us To Know- Uber Can fine passengers
If you significantly damage an Uber driver's car in any way, they can file a claim through the app and your card will be charged an extra fee. The weird thing about this policy is that a lot of riders don't know about it. This is bad for people who are riding in Uber cars but it is also bad for the drivers. This policy works best as a scare tactic to deter people from damaging the driver's car.
No one wants to get slapped with a $75 fee, so it would make people much more considerate of the fact that they are in someone's actual car.
15 Want Us To Know- Finding the correct passenger is Harder Than It Looks
Have you ever been outside a bar waiting for your Uber and you can understand why they haven't been able to find your location?
The reason why it always seems so hard for them to find a pickup location in their answer was that the GPS location on the Uber app isn't as great as everyone thinks.
Every driver that I have talked to describe the experience of driving up to a crowded street after the bars of been let out and having to sort through the amount of people because the app only gives them an approximate location of the person they're supposed to pick up.
While the person who requested the Uber knows to make a model of your car, the driver doesn't know anything about the person which would help them locate you.
14 Under Wraps- Business Incentives
This next entry is more about Uber's corporate office than the drivers themselves but I have found that Uber drivers have a particular pride for their company (at least to outsiders).
In 2016 a report surfaced that the CEO of Uber was conducting company retreats in places that weren't exactly safe for work. Given Uber's already spotty record with its female employees, this didn't go over too well with the press.
This certainly put those Uber employees in an awkward situation and was a major black eye for the company. Can you imagine working in Human Resources the day after this story broke?
13 Want Us To Know- An International and expanding Brand
I think that people underestimate how big Uber has gotten in the few years since it first became popular. I have had conversations with multiple Uber drivers who brought up the fact that Uber is an international company. Uber is very popular in Europe and they can even be found in such faraway places as Australia and New Zealand.
The company has long term plans to infiltrate several more countries in the coming years. I'm not sure how this benefits their U.S. Drivers but they keep talking about it, so I'll put it here
12 Under Wraps- Background checks are very minimal
When you get into an uber car you may be thinking "how do I know that this driver isn't a dangerous and unhinged individual?" The answer is that you don't and some recent news reports have shown that this is something worth worrying about.
The background check that Uber does for its drivers is very lax. It ignores dozens of factors that could make you a danger to your fellow passengers. In the recent string of incidents involving Uber drivers, this policy has come under fire.
11 Under Wraps- No additional driving experience required
When you first learn to drive, you have to take some form of test to prove that you are a safe enough driver to be out on the road. In order to drive a semi-truck or a motorcycle, you must pass an additional exam to show that you have an additional driving proficiency that most people don't have.
Since the driving requirements of an Uber driver are greater than the average person (having a car full of people, regularly driving in traffic), you would think they would also have to pass some sort of test. This is not the case.
10 Under Wraps- Drivers aren't allowed to sell you anything (but that doesn't stop them trying
This next entry might surprise a lot of people because it is so common on Uber rides. How many times have you been in an Uber and the driver has tried to sell you something?
While riding with Uber, I have been offered everything from the driver's mix tape to things that are a little more taboo. Drivers are strictly prohibited from selling any products while driving with Uber and they can get in a lot of trouble if the company finds out.
You can see why drivers don't want this information getting out to the general public.
9 Want Us To Know - They're keeping drivers quiet
It certainly seems like the corporate office of Uber is headed towards a direct confrontation with its freelance drivers. A lot of things have come out in the past couple of years about how poorly the company treats its employees.
A story broke at the beginning of this year that the company was punishing drivers who were publicly speaking out against Uber. This is a big deal for people who make their living through Uber. This practice is morally wrong, and is something that a lot of Uber drivers hope will get a lot more attention.
8 Under Wraps- Extra passengers are forbidden
I have never personally experienced this breach in Uber protocol but apparently it is more common than you would think.
Uber drivers are not allowed to have anyone who is not a paying customer in the car with them while they are on a route for Uber.
This actually makes some sense. What if you don't have room for all your customers because your friend is chilling in the front seat? Uber drivers who break this regulation can get a warning or be deactivated by the company.
This is something they don't want everyone to know.
7 Under Wraps- AN Uber Aggressive STRATEGY
Where you stand on the political spectrum has a lot to do with how you view large corporations. But corporations are not uniformly the benevolent benefactors that conservatives make them out to be, nor are they the evil supervillains that progressives portray them as.
There are some businesses that care about the welfare of their workers and the community but there are just as many (or more) that are solely driven by their bottom line. All evidence points toward Uber being one of the latter.
Uber's business strategy is super aggressive and they have tried to branch out into everything from food delivery to hospital transportation. The aggressiveness of Uber's home office is behind a lot of the entries on this list.
6 Under Wraps- Accounts Can Be Deactivated
Elsewhere in this article, we talk about the fact that ratings can have a big impact on how much money an Uber driver can make but if your complaint about your Uber experience is bad enough, it can actually affect a driver’s standing with the company.
Uber doesn't fire its drivers per se, but it will deactivate their account if they are found to be in violation of company policy. This is usually due to extreme conduct, like drinking on the job or harassment.
There have been some cases, however, of accounts being deactivated merely because of consistently low ratings.
5 Want Us To Know- Uber Takes 20% Of all their earnings
It always disturbs me to hear people giving drivers a hard time for the high cost of an Uber. The drivers have absolutely no say in the cost of an Uber. In fact, drivers are being preyed upon by Uber corporate just as much as you are.
Uber officially takes 20% off the top of everything their driver makes, though in certain circumstances this number can be much higher.
Meanwhile, the drivers themselves are responsible for gas and maintenance to their cars. This is all while they are getting cursed at by customers about prices that they have absolutely no control over.
4 Under Wraps- You Can Always Cancel, But They Can't
Canceling rides with Uber is generally viewed as a fairly open two-way street. Customers can cancel a ride if they no longer need it and drivers are given the freedom to cancel rides for a variety of reasons.
One thing that Uber drivers keep on the DL, however, is that they can get in trouble for canceling rides in certain situations. For example, drivers have been reprimanded for canceling rides from the airport if they realize that they are too short in distance.
I'm sure that drivers do that all the time but it only takes one well-informed rider to complain and get them in trouble.
3 Want Us to Know- No Benefits and nothing to fall back on
Our readers might look at all the money that Uber drivers can make and look at them as something other than what they are, which is unskilled workers.
Uber drivers are a lot like bartenders or waiters in that they have the potential to make a lot of cash on any given night but their job does not offer the benefits or dependable income that most people crave.
This makes them very susceptible to mistreatment by their employers. This is something that the general public has to know if the situation at Uber is going to get any better.
2 Under Wraps- Cancelling Lyft
Companies in the same industry are always in conflict with one another. Every burger that Burger King sells is a burger that McDonald's didn't sell. Companies that are in direct competition often try to sabotage each other but some companies tend to be more cutthroat than others.
Uber has a long history of unsavory practices designed to target their competitors. One of the most famous examples of this was when it was reported that several Uber drivers were calling themselves Lyfts during peak hours, only to cancel them.
This kept the Lyft drivers from picking up real customers, which gave more business to Uber.
1 Want Us to Know- Mistreatment of Employees
What a surprise, a major business with an aggressive CEO is involved in some questionable employment practices. The status of unskilled workers is at an all-time low. Decades of anti-Union legislation and Supreme Court decisions have left many workers susceptible to the whims of their employers. Uber drivers are no different.
Uber is infamous for taking advantage of its workers. The very fact that every Uber driver is a freelance employee makes it easier for the company to treat them that way.
If things are ever going to get better for Uber drivers, they have to get the word out about how they are treated as employees.