Speaking of Money . . .

Originally posted on May 27, 2019 @ 1:30 PM

They say it’s in bad taste to talk about how much money you do, or do not earn. I agree, to a point. On someone’s J-O-B, I understand the need for that policy.

But in the rideshare industry, we drivers really have no choice but to talk about the money. It’s the only reason any sane person would voluntarily “do” traffic, especially in Atlanta (and New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, etc.)

Every driver signed up to drive Uber and/or Lyft for the money. In the beginning, I heard drivers did indeed make very good money. But today, 13 years since Uber’s emergence, and not even a month after it went public, this company has:

  • NEVER been profitable;
  • Stated in its IPO to investors that it may never be profitable;
  • Also stated that driver dissatisfaction is likely to increase, while investors think drivers ought to be paid less;
  • Lost $6 billion in 5 hours when it debuted on the stock exchange;
  • The worst public debut in the history of the stock market.

Frankly, as a driver, I’m very concerned and have been for years because I knew then “the handwriting is on the wall.” And of course, driver earnings have NOT improved since I originally published this post.

Drivers KNOW Uber Is, and Has Been, Playing with Our Money

Here are just two examples to show you what drivers are dealing with:

This one is from sometime in 2017 after Upfront Pricing was introduced. It’s an estimate that riders agree to pay, which has NOTHING to do with what drivers earn!

I had a Buckhead to Airport ride and the rider app showed the upfront price of $21.99.

IF Uber were only taking 25% ($5.50), the driver earnings should have been $16.49.

However, drivers are only paid based on time and distance after the rider is in the car and the trip is started. Drivers are not paid for the time or distance it takes to get to a rider.

20.31 miles x $.75/mile = $15.23
27 minutes x $.12/minute = $3.24
$18.47 Minus Uber’s 25% ($4.62) = $13.85

Clearly you can see there is a $8.14 difference between what the rider was charged ($21.99) and what I earned ($13.85). So why is that?

TODAY, that same ride would look like this because mileage and minute rates have been cut:

20.31 miles x $.60/mile = $12.18 ($3.05 less than 2017)
27 minutes x $.11/minute = $2.97 (.27 cents less than 2017)
$15.15 Minus Uber’s 25% ($3.79) = $11.36 ($2.49 less than driver earning in 2017)

A more recent example shows what I see in my app from last week:

Uber obviously takes more than 25% with something called a Service Fee (which I have no idea what that is), along with the known Booking Fee and Airport Surcharge. So this rider paid $52.85 x .25% = $13.21

That $13.21 should have been Uber’s cut. Instead, Uber took:

$12.47 for a Service Fee
$2.60 for the Booking Fee
$3.85 for the Airport Surcharge
Totaling $18.92 because my earnings were: $33.93

IF Uber were only taking 25%, then I should have earned $39.64, right?

So, what do you conclude? Are drivers being fairly compensated? Are riders being overcharged?

What Can Drivers Do, Besides Quit?

Every driver has their own reasons for doing this rideshare gig. Too many, including myself, cannot afford to quit for a variety of reasons. For me personally, my rental car payment at the time was hefty, and driving Uber had been my only source of consistent, daily income. And is the main reason I do it.

But the reality is financially draining. To know what I mean, read “How Much Does Uber REALLY Cost?

Because my intention is still to drive less, so I can be online where I KNOW I can earn MORE money, I am still looking for Plan B and encourage other drivers to do the same.