Either way, that may be coming to an end.
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has announced plans aimed at forcing all cab companies that take payment via credit card to offer a tipping option. And since Uber is a cashless experience, that would mean Uber would be forced to add an in-app tipping option. New York City is the company's largest US market, making it painful to exit should Uber choose not to comply with the potential policy change.
Uber may have had good reason-at least from the company's perspective-to oppose adding a tipping feature and interrupting the seamless passenger experience that has helped make the service so popular. And after a while, Uber could decide that it makes more sense to standardize in-app tipping, rather than continue to juggle different versions of its app in different cities. The average UberX driver in the state earned between $23 and $24.50 an hour in October 2015, but after expenses like gas and vehicle insurance, the typical driver in NY was left with a bit more than $19 an hour. While digital tipping has yet to go mainstream outside of cafes and taxis, American consumers are more likely to touch-type a tip if the staff member is standing (or sitting) expectantly nearby.
More importantly, Uber also agreed to a number of concessions, including new specific policies created to give drivers greater transparency about what keeps them in good standing and what could boot them off the platform.
Luiny Tavares, an Uber driver for five years, said he left his job as a dispatcher because the company led him to believe that passengers and fares would cover his costs and allow him to increase his income. The negotiations are still ongoing. "Nothing has changed", Josh Mohrer, Uber's New York City general manager, wrote in an email to users past year. If you want to tip your Uber driver, you'll need to have cash on hand. Uber drivers have been asking for a tipping option for years.
Commuters are likely to face a hard time on Tuesday as a section of app-based taxi drivers has threatened to go on an one-day strike, even as autorickshaw drivers are planning to take out a protest march in front of the chief minister's residence. Uber has previously argued against allowing tipping.
Conigliaro said that he thinks passengers will toss some extra money to drivers if they're given the option.
Now, Uber is weakened, and the company's foes smell blood in the water.
Rules on tipping are a first step in a larger process to bring some of the income protections given to yellow taxi drivers to those in the for-hire world, the commission said in a statement.