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Does Tipping Your Uber Driver Make Sense?

Does Tipping Your Uber Driver Make Sense?
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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Tipping is one of the most bizarre concepts of economies worldwide, which refuse to make any sense to me. As a person of color and having spent almost my entire life so far in India, thankfully, the concept of mandatory tipping has not crept up in even the most posh restaurants or any other industry. I understand in America, tipping is not mandatory on paper, but socially is literally compulsory. From restaurants, to cab drivers to workers, agents, or basically any job that requires someone to personally do any work for you, essentially requires a tip. This strange phenomenon now threatens to enter Uber in India.

In a majority of European countries and almost entirely in Asia, tips are only given when services rendered are exceptionally good, or someone goes out of their official work duties to give you an additional incentive – a complimentary water bottle in your Uber, or a fancier collection of spices with your steak, a better quality built on your car’s ride or an extra smiling serviceman. Tipping in America is customary. There could be several reasons to it.

  • Employers have conveniently escaped giving decent wages to begin with to their employees, leaving that burden on the consumer/client
  • Because of this lack of decent salaries, you’ll be emotionally forced to help out the one working for you.
  • Everyone’s doing it
  • You want to not act cheap in front of your date/ friends/ family
  • Instead of tipping for exceptional service, it has become a tradition to tip when the service was acceptable. Now users tip if nothing exceptionally bad has happened!

These sort of reasons make vague, if any, sort of sense while in the food and beverage industry. But the concept of tipping for Uber rides makes no sense at all, especially so in India. Here’s why:

Uber drivers are making decent money

Don’t get me wrong, they’re doing a brilliant service and acting as necessary cogs in the circle of modernization of life. But earning upwards of 50,000 rupees a month while driving in an AC car – and then getting paid for being stuck in traffic, taking a wrong turn or driving during peak hours meaning even more money - all of this tell me there can be a lot worse job out there. They’re nowhere near the bottom of the economic barrel. Your 10% will be peanuts to them anyway.

You’re there to commute, not do elaborate mathematics

If I’m travelling at 1 AM back home, the last thing I want to do is figure out complex mathematics of how much to tip and then have an arguably long debate with my fellow peers on how to divide this amount. Nobody’s got the time for that.

It violates Uber’s USP: fair & transparent pricing

As a regular user of Uber, I want to know for a fact what I’m going to pay for so that I can decide whether to take an alternate form of commutation or not. I cannot keep adding imaginary tips into the equation. I want a crystal clear pricing, so that I know in advance what I’m paying for.

You’re paying via card to avoid cash: but you’re carrying tipping money?

The reason I tried Uber in the first place is I use my Paytm wallet or synchronized credit card so that I can roam around mentally free without a worry in my head of being robbed or losing cash. I like to travel light and use plastic instead of paper. Now the idea of tipping forces me to rethink and recalculate my entire night or journey, which is such a mental headache.

If everyone started tipping, rides would only be visible in the richer side of town

Since Uber doesn’t force drivers to stay in one location or another, imagine a world where drivers understand that this particular side of town’s clients always tip generously as compared to another. Wouldn’t they always linger near that area, leaving other parts of the town deserted? That would eliminate the whole concept of Uber being reliable!

Surprisingly, Uber recently also revealed its official public policy on tipping, stating that it intends to remain hassle free and not include mandatory or suggestive tipping in its billings – but customers are of course allowed to tip if they want to.

Do you tip your Uber driver? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments on our official Facebook page Entrepreneur India

Edition: October 2016

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