Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Reduced Fares, Low Earnings and Poor Treatment Discourage Drivers

Recent winter decline is influencing the ridesharing industry. In order to stimulate ride business, Uber slashed fares and offered hourly guarantees to increase demand in the Bay Area. All this hasn't done nothing to improve the current landscape for drivers. Ridesharing is not as appealing as it once was a few years ago. It really isn't the right work to increase your yearly earnings.

Reduced fares are killing it for ridesharing drivers. To make $17 per hour in the East Bay during non-peak times before Uber commission, airport fees, and safe ride fees are deducted is beyond terrible. Before lowering prices again, East Bay Uber drivers once earned above $30 an hour. Hourly earnings after Uber fees, airport fees, and safe rides net drivers less than $14 an hour. There is way too many risks to make this little money.

Some Uber drivers shared their disgust; they want to get out of ridesharing because it is not profitable anymore. In the past, Uber drivers could earn $600 in 10 hours. Less than a few years ago, drivers earned $300-$400 in 10-12 hours. Currently, Lyft drivers make $300 driving 8.5-9 hours. Good luck making $300 after fees are deducted on the Uber platform. It would take nearly 20 hours to reach this amount. Even steady rainflow across the Bay Area is not enough to boost business.

Despite reduced earnings, Uber drivers remind us that clients are mostly rude, demanding, and even verbally abusive toward them. Uber clients put drivers at risk of getting parking tickets and traffic citations. Furthermore, clients are quick to order rides late and rush their drivers to reach destinations. Uber clients don't care much about informing their drivers they are not at a particular pickup address. Rather than do this kind gesture, these clients wait until after 5 minutes after a driver arrives at the wrong pickup address to call and tell the driver they are several miles away. All of this is a poor recipe for disaster, especially with the way clients treat their drivers.

Drivers must deal with tough clients and accept making pennies performing this service. Morality to help people can only go so far, before endless hours on the road demotivate drivers. Submissive tactics of clients put drivers on the hook to do what is out of the ordinary or risk receiving low ratings. Clients have 24-hours to rate their drivers, whereas drivers must rate to accept the next trip. Uber Support refuses to adjust client ratings to possibly prevent their drivers from ride profiling low-rated clients.

Uber will go on to reinforce the notion that their Partners matter most; they have their backs. This is untrue. Their ride platform favors their clients, but demands their drivers to stay professional no matter what clients do to interfere with this process.

The temporary reduction of ridesharing fares were adjusted on the behalf of Uber. They didn't request their drivers to give input on this move, instead they just notified their drivers of this widespread fare reduction. Hourly guarantees favor San Francisco drivers, who stand to make a guaranteed $30 an hour at peak times and $24 an hour during non-peak times.

San Francisco is a cesspool to drive within. In this dark city, the rudest, entitled clients take rides at all hours. They cancel requests at a high frequency. They have the highest no-show rates. The drunkest clients enter ridesharing vehicles and vomit without warning the driver ahead of time. Sf Parking enforcement issue ridesharing drivers more tickets than anywhere in the Bay Area. If Parking Enforcement doesn't catch drivers, then we can count on MTA buses to take real-time snapshots of drivers driving in bus lanes. Blame this action on clients who still continue to request rides on Market Street, at bus stops, in bus lanes and in extremely busy areas where accidents may occur.

The ridesharing landscape is quickly sinking drivers. These drivers, those which earned good money during promotion periods and during busy times, are now contemplating giving us their driving to earn consistent income in the traditional workforce. Flexibility and convenience are no longer enough to convince drivers that ridesharing is the right choice. Reducing fares three times, within the past 16 months, transitioned ridesharing work into a minimum wage job.

The cost of ridesharing is far too expensive. Leasing and/or purchasing new and/or used vehicles, fuel cost, maintenance, repairs, perks for clients, ridesharing insurance premiums, Uber fees, airport fees, and safe ride fees impact drivers. These drivers are unable to earn enough money to make ridesharing worthwhile. A few years ago, surge pricing kept drivers interested in driving. But aside from this, clients are getting much smarter to avoid taking rides during surges. They constantly complain about surge pricing, but don't realize they take cheap rides at the expense of drivers.

Price competition is going to kill the ridesharing industry. Drivers will soon wise up and move on. Then, just maybe, ridesharing prices will finally restore back to their normal cost. An Uber client shared that their trip from Walnut Creek to SFO only cost $40. This trip included Bay Bridge toll cost, Uber fees, safe ride fee, and SFO airport fees. After all deductions and fuel cost, this Uber driver stands to earn only $18. It probably took this driver almost an hour to complete this trip.

Imagine this, the cost of inter-city trips between Sunset and Richmond Districts could once earn a driver as much as $30. Good luck making a percentage of this fare now. It won't happen with fare slashes. Uber is bottoming out UberPool prices, as well.

Minimum trips at $5.35 are becoming the staple of ridesharing. Quick trips to and from BART stations cost the minimum. These trips also require a lot of time since drivers must travel to retrieve clients, who make still be riding BART and/or not ready to enter vehicle at their home address.

Uber drivers are not interested in spending 70-100 hours to earn what Lyft drivers make in 40-50 hours. It is unappealing to increase production and make reduced earnings. Uber is adamant about reduced fares increasing demand and increasing earnings. That idea is so far off the truth. Drivers are making much less working more hours. This surge in hours is increasing wear and tear on vehicles. The cost of repairs and maintenance are impacting ridesharing earnings. Fuel cost is the only positive of ridesharing, because once gas prices go back up again there won't be as many drivers on the road.

Hopefully, Uber wises up. $17 and $20 an hour guarantees in the East Bay before Uber fees and airport fees are discouraging. Despite price reductions to increase business, drivers are driving much less and suffering financially. It doesn't make sense to think that reducing fares will increase income. The only winner is Uber, they are earning more safe ride fees to increase their war chest.

What could stimulate driver production is to offer old incentives, such as $10 extra per trip on random nights. Another great promotion is to tie hourly guarantees in with trip incentives - complete 100 trips to activate higher hourly guarantees. An Uber driver noticed they didn't receive the guaranteed $24 an hour driving off-peak in San Francisco, instead they received $17 an hour guarantee that night because the majority of their driving had occurred in the East Bay, with exception of several hours within San Francisco.

Uber loopholes trick drivers. Guaranteed earnings are met with clauses. For example, 67% of trips must be taken in a given area to reward drivers with at least the minimum hourly earnings. A certain number of trips per overall hours are required to qualify drivers for these guarantees. In addition, drivers must accept 90% of overall requests. Peak and off-peak times activate different hourly amounts. If all these conditions are met and drivers earn less than the minimum fares in those hours worked, they will receive miscellaneous payments to match the appropriate guarantees.

A feature that stands in the way of guarantees is back-to-back-trips. It is believed that this feature decreases driver downtime and increases overall earnings. Uber's response to this feature is to ignore trip requests. We all know that promotions and hourly guarantees require high acceptance rate of at least 90%. The back-to-back-trip feature is a nuisance because it stops in-app navigation on a current trip. When clients view drivers touching their phones to restart navigation, they automatically assume drivers are being unsafe. As a result of this, they rate their drivers with low stars.

Drivers needing to use the restroom must ignore multiple trips coming-in and go offline as soon as a current trip ends. Why not offer drivers the choice to activate and deactivate this trip feature? There are times in which further away trips somehow reach a driver from 30-60 minutes outside of their driving area. A San Francisco hotel request arrived to an East Bay driver and this showed only 3 minutes away. Not even a helicopter could reach this San Francisco hotel at 333 O'Farrell in 3 minutes. Tell us why such requests are being referred to East Bay Uber drivers with flawed pickup times?

Uber still hasn't resolved the MacArthur BART station pickup problem. When a client requests a ride from this address, the pickup time increases as drivers reach closer to this address. Basically, the Uber app is showing the pickup address at the top of the freeway. It will plot a driver 8 minutes out, when in fact they are only 30 seconds away. Clients get frustrated waiting, so they contact drivers and demand to know the ETA. Drivers are on the hook to constantly explain their every move.

Additionally, app problems are complicating ridesharing services. Uber's navigation won't adjust unless drivers make U-turns. Whenever an address is between two streets, destination addresses are way off the mark and put drivers on the hook for this mistake. Moreover, some clients are complaining that they have taken different routes back home.

What we're seeing is the average hours driven on the road have decreased, hourly earnings have also decreased, and the number of trips have gone way down or the inverse. It is a travesty to ignore these dark times. All internal moves made on fare reductions, without warning Uber drivers ahead of time, have tainted ridesharing. It a dark time to be performing ridesharing services.

Uber drivers are willing to accept less pay driving in the East Bay, rather than increase their risk of getting into accidents, being issued tickets and receiving low ratings driving in San Francisco. Uber clients in San Francisco are some of the worst to drive. As much as these clients use Uber, they still don't understand the basic principles of ridesharing apps that help them and drivers connect. They still stand on Market Street, at bus stops, in red bus lanes, near fire hydrants, on busy streets, and at other locations which are deemed unsafe for pickups. These clients just learned that drivers can rate them. They also don't contact drivers to revise pickup addresses on faulty pin drops. They input destinations as pickup addresses, and then blame drivers for driving to their anticipated destinations.

Uber Support are quick to deny cancellation fees. Drivers understand the cancellation policy; they must wait 5 minutes after arrival to qualify for this fee. However, clients will get charged $5 if they cancel after 5 minutes, no matter if drivers arrive or not. There is a problem when clients request a pickup at their destination and are at the real pickup that is assumed as their destination. If a driver travels to the new pickup spot and the client is a no-show, they won't get a cancellation fee if this trip is cancelled at another location other than the requested pickup address.

A driver traveled 40 minutes to retrieve a client. They sent a text, waited 5 minutes, and called the client. No answer. No-show. After cancelling this trip, the driver was denied a cancellation fee. Uber Support informed the driver they didn't wait long enough. Uber drivers know that most Uber support members don't read their messages entirely. US are quick to judge drivers. They also reply back with generic messages. It is discouraging to witness this lack of respect for the drivers who make Uber possible.

Furthermore, back-to-back-trip feature take the freedom out of working whenever. It is not an flexible option to see multiple rides come through several minutes before ending a current trip. Clients are quick to contact drivers, asking them why they're at the wrong pickup address. This occurs after drivers end current trips, and need to navigate toward new client pickup addresses. These drivers must make a U-turn from a previous drop-off, which new clients watch onscreen as a delay in their pickup. However, the client is misinformed that they booked this trip in motion. Uber drivers are trying to make drop-offs and adjust to new pickups. Perhaps, Uber should inform clients of this feature in a newsletter to calm down their clients.

Too bad Lyft has it all figured out. They guarantee their top drivers $1,500 a week. Their drivers receive in-app tips, whereas Uber is still trying to figure out how to integrate a tipping feature into the ride app. Uber has failed their drivers by holding out on this in-app tip feature. Every Uber driver working full-time lost out on thousands in tips, especially during the holiday season. Clients are getting cheap rides at the expense of drivers, but their attitudes toward drivers have worsened.

Given all of this stuff, we don't see Uber as a good work option right now, unless better promotions are available, fare prices increase, surge priced trips are taken, and Uber support shows better respect for Uber drivers. This Winter decline is the worst ever. Reducing fare prices to increase production require drivers to stay on the road longer and complete more trips to make the same money. One driver only earned, in the past 4 weeks, what they previously had in 1-week during November and December. This past month sinked them financially.

Drive with Uber at your own risk. Usually, Uber looks out for their drivers. This Winter slump forced them to adjust fares, discouraging drivers to take the road. Drivers are earning 50% less working 40 hours than a year ago. Lyft drivers can earn up to $1,500 in a week driving at least 40 hours. UberX drivers are making far less driving the same hours. There is no comparison. Price competition will only get worse, forcing drivers to rethink ridesharing as a primary job. Hotels don't keep lowering prices until their prices become motel prices.

Uber should look to introduce client incentives to increase their ride service, such as job discounts going to and from work, points to use toward future trips, surge forgiveness on a trip, and much more. Focus on service, not on prices. People use what they enjoy. Price doesn't always matter. An example of this is the taxi industry still remaining competitive with much higher fare prices.