The issue of tipping and Uber is still a difficult one for me.
One of the most popular posts I’ve ever written on Live and Let’s Fly is 5 Tips for Using Uber at LAX. I wrote it in August 2015 and what made it controversial was this paragraph–
What I love about Uber (and dislike about Lyft) is that you don’t tip drivers — everything is included in the fare and your credit card is charged directly. You see, I hate carrying cash and generally don’t carry anything more than a $20 bill. Feel free to tip, but I think it is bad idea because it undermines the very concept of Uber and perpetuates a culture of tipping in America.
I was “taken to task” for not tipping and a bitter debate played out in the comments section concerning tipping and living wages.
It’s now 1.5 years later. Has anything changed?
First, Uber’s language on tipping has changed. From this in 2015:
To this today:
Uber still explicitly states that tips are not “expected or required”. Still, the language has softened.
Second, I now tip. I figured that if my anti-tipping stance evoked such vehement negative reactions, a few extra dollars would make someone’s day brighter and show that I do care. I still am against tipping by principle, but have given into the culture of tipping.
But stories like this make me second guess my new more liberal tipping policy–
During a recent trip to Colorado Springs, I hailed an Uber to the airport. Colorado Springs is a military city and an off-duty Air Force airman trying to make some money on the side picked me up. We struck up a conversation about life in the Air Force and I reminisced about my brief military service. The trip to the airport flew by and I genuinely enjoyed the conversation (usually I am buried in my laptop or phone).
He shook my hand and said it was a pleasure to drive me. I thanked him and as I exited the vehicle, reached into my pocket, pulled out my wallet, and handed him $5.
You should have seen the look on his face…
It was like a I had betrayed him. His smile turned to a frown and he said, “No,no. Not necessary.” I insisted, stating that he deserved it and I tip all great Uber drives. But he refused to accept it. His friendliness disappeared and he drove away with a glum look on his face.
I was just trying to be nice!
Another time I was in LA and my female driver refused to accept the tip. We were only talking about a couple bucks and we played a game of “hot potato” with the money. I finally left it on the passenger seat. My goodness…
Since those recent incidents, I am hesitant to tip again, though for a totally different reason than by principle. I still do, but at least for me it seems like a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.
What about you? Have you ever had to fight with an Uber driver to get them to accept a tip?