Monday, January 25, 2016

Loopholes take the fun out of Ridesharing

For the third week in a row, Uber is guaranteeing the same Winter slump promotion again. Based on poor earnings since Christmas week, this Winter slump promotion is possibly the worst ever. Discouraged drivers are making horrible fares, week-in and week-out. Their skimpy direct deposits are a fraction of their previous earnings.

Unless you drive in San Francisco 67 percent of the time, you won't qualify to make peak-time and off-peak San Francisco guarantees. Get a fare into San Francisco. Complete many hours driving clients there. The breakdown of hours are weighed against hourly guarantees, thus qualifying you to get "outside of San Francisco" rates rather than higher San Francisco fares.

This Winter slump promotion is unlike past promotions. It guarantees Uber drivers $17 and $20 hourly (before deductions) to drive off-peak and peak time hours in the East Bay and South Bay, respectively. In San Francisco, drivers can make $24 and/or $30 an hour driving off-peak and peak time hours. What is the catch?

Uber drivers must start 67 percent of their trips in San Francisco. Moreover, San Francisco peak-time hours require drivers to average 2.2 trips per hour. What if clients input wrong addresses, drop pins far away, are no-shows, and influence other aspects of peak-time hours? You won't qualify to get matched for these hourly guarantees.

With back-to-back trip feature, driver acceptance rates will decrease. Uber has no shutoff switch to avoid back-to-back rides. Therefore, the freedom to go offline is manipulated by this feature. Uber clients get angry watching vehicles sit for a few minutes, when in fact drivers just completed a trip and are trying their best to make a U-turn and drive toward the pickup address.

Attaching these loopholes to San Francisco guarantees complicate driving. If a higher concentration of trips are completed outside of San Francisco, then drivers won't get San Francisco rates. These are horrible requirements to enact into an unappealing promotion.

Face the truth; Uber drivers are discouraged driving with such low fares. Drivers must increase weekly hours 20 percent, take 20 percent more trips than before and maintain a high acceptance rate to earn the same amount of money. Uber clients have a huge hand in disqualifying drivers based on no-shows, wrong pin drops,  and deliberately gaming the fare system to avoid surge pricing. Furthermore, clients request and cancel trips at a high frequency. They use Uber to run errands, sit in fast food drive-thrus, and wait outside of stores. If trips per hour are missed, Uber will disqualify these drivers from hourly guarantees.

Driving with Uber has quickly lost its allure. As recent as December 20, 2015, Uber drivers enjoyed taking the road. However, slow business decline in January heavily influenced driver earnings. Uber responded with slashing rates, which is the third time this occurred in the East Bay since Summer 2014.

Tell us how driving clients from Berkeley to SFO for $35 will make drivers more money? This trip cost clients $55 in 2014. Late summer East Bay and South Bay fare cuts reduced this Berkeley to SFO trips another 15-20 percent. It then cost $41, but now it's a $35 fare. Deduct safe ride fee, Uber fee, toll bridge, airport fee, fuel cost, and wear and tear from this $35. You are making less than $15.

An Uber driver shared that an Oakland Airport trip netted them $6. If you take into account wear and tear, as well as fuel cost, this airport trip will net a driver $4. In this sense, Uber drivers can make more with a cancellation fee than to complete an airport fare. It may take drivers 15 minutes to retrieve clients, several minutes waiting, and then another 10-15 minutes driving to destination. Is $4 worth this effort? No way!

Restore past promotions that attach specific amounts to trips completed and acceptance rates. Make Uber fun again. Guaranteeing East and South Bay drivers $17 an hour before deductions will decrease their pay to minimum wage. FYI, Uber drivers are struggling bad. They are struggling to survive this recent fare decrease. A dark cloud is hovering over them. It is a challenge to drive 70+ hours in a week to match what Lyft drivers make driving much less.

Winter slump guarantees come with too many loopholes. After drivers account for fuel cost, toll cost, and lease/car payments, they are making less than $10 an hour driving in East Bay and South Bay region. Slashing fares hasn't increased overall trips, as expected prior to making this move.

Uber drivers are not making more money. They are discouraged to get on the road. Many drivers expressed their dissatisfaction of price reductions to clients. The word is traveling fast. Professional Uber drivers are far behind amateur Lyft drivers. Why? Lyft introduced a better weekly promotion, allowed for drivers to receive tips via app, and have a loyal following that will request trips during Prime Time pricing. Uber clients whine and complain about surge pricing, usually waiting out the ride multipliers until they end. The awesome surged priced trips were once a motivating factor to drive.

Do you get excited to make minimum fares on longer trips? $8 fares from Downtown Berkeley to Kessington? A $12 fare from Rodeo to Richmond? These amounts are pre-deduction, so drivers are receiving much less driving longer hours and taking more trips. What can Uber drivers do about this? Unfortunately, nothing.

Uber determines whether drivers succeed or fail. Right now, Uber drivers are failing to make money. Should drivers stay on the road 70-100 hours a week? Driving tough clients this many hours can take a toll on the mind. It gets tiring dealing with entitled riders, so making decent money and enjoying clients help to make time pass.

Uber drivers who lease cars must earn more money to make a living. If they receive direct deposits less than an old Berkeley to SFO fare after working 20-30 hours, then they are wasting their time. When rates dropped, drivers lost their motivation to drive at much cheaper prices. The Winter slump promotion is terrible. It manipulates the pool of Uber drivers to drive entirely in San Francisco. Remove the 67 percent loophole to allow drivers a balance between San Francisco and outside of the city.

Uber drivers possess professional ridesharing skills worth greater than $30+ an hour, not $13-$16 an hour. Reduction in fares can impact driver morale. These drivers are fully aware of past trips, which are now a fraction of their previous cost. Would you be excited to make $150 driving 15 hours? Past UberX drivers once earned $600-$800 working the same hours.

Uber clients were once more willing to accept surge pricing. Cheap riders are now populating ride platforms. They whine and complain about high priced rides, when most of the time they're taking cheap rides. They rarely stop to think that Uber drivers accept a high cost to operate.

Uber is unable to push out Lyft. This is the reason price competition is discouraging drivers. These drivers can't afford to survive low prices. Uber better hope that gas prices remain the same. If gas prices increase and fares stay low, drivers will reduce their hours. It is likely that surge pricing will be in effect most of the time without a supply of skilled drivers.

Take out the loopholes. Offer better guarantees, lower total trips per hour requirements during prime time hours in San Francisco. Clients play a major role in reducing driver earnings. They drop pins in the Bay, in distant neighborhoods, at destinations, and many miles away. These confused clients assume drivers are close to them, instead of viewing the exact location of drivers in relation to their inputted pickup addresses and/or pin drops. There are so many drawbacks that are leading ridesharing into a dark region. Unless you drive with Lyft, it is not a good time to be ridesharing.