Uber adding option to tip drivers

Uber Adds Option to Tip Drivers as it Heads in New Direction

On Tuesday, Uber announced it has begun allowing users in a handful of US cities to tip their drivers from directly within the app, with plans to roll it out across the rest of the country by the end of July.

The tipping option, long available in the app of rival Lyft, will be available beginning Tuesday in Seattle, Houston and Minneapolis.

Crucially, the company said it will not take any cut of any tips paid - however if drivers are now paying off a vehicle that has been leased through Uber affiliates, the tips may automatically be used to pay off those charges.

No More Unpaid Wait-times You will earn a per-minute rate if you wait for a rider, starting 2 minutes after arrival. Both features will be available nationwide in August 2017.

"A friend recently asked me, 'What went wrong?' and the answer is that we had not listened well enough to those who got us here... our team and especially our drivers", wrote Camp, who remains a powerful figure on Uber's board but otherwise has not been involved in the company's day to day operations for some time. Its founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick, is taking a leave of absence.

The changes come as Uber works to fix the damage to its reputation following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and other employee concerns.

Other features include offering Personal Injury Insurance Protection to drivers and paying drivers, who are qualified to drive teens age 13-17, a $2 base fare for teen accounts.

As CNBC noted over the weekend, Uber's ongoing relations with its drivers is one of a half dozen legal threats the company faces as it moves forward - with the question of whether the company can legally continue to classify drivers as contractors, rather than employees, unsettled law, despite a legal victory for Uber in California previous year.

The company announced the move was the first part of what it describes as "180 Days of Change", a series of measure Uber intends to implement over the next six months to improve the service for drivers.

"Why now? Because it's the right thing to do, it's long overdue, and there's no time like the present". Tech Crunch reports that Uber is trying to climb out of the rubble of bad press it's created for itself by extending "an olive branch" to drivers and customers alike. "In expanding so quickly, we failed to prioritize the people that helped get us here". It's also allowing more drivers to designate the routes that they want to travel to keep them closer to a destination.

The new tip function may be a tactic by Uber to boost its public image.

As Gizmodo notes, the "seamless", no-cash, non-tipping structure of Uber was an early selling point of the service, and through a year ago the company continued to insist, "Tipping is not included, nor is it expected or required".

A backlash could deepen Uber's losses, which totaled $2.8 billion a year ago alone.

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