Potential UberX drivers, do not rely on what Uber tells you about how much you will make. The inflated figures Uber bandies about how much you might make are before expenses. So you must discount what you make from Uber by 50% to account for Self Employment taxes (remember that you will be paying both the employee and the employer portion of these), fuel, depreciation, maintenance, and income taxes.
And after Uber has been in a city for a while, and after Uber runs its promotional discount during which drivers do not take a hit, Uber will unilaterally cut rates with no advance notice to drivers, and you will then make even less (and if you unwisely used Uber-arranged financing to buy a car, you are really stuck).
Even before your deductions, Uber’s take is closer to 25% of the “fare” charged to riders after Uber deducts the “Safe Rides Fee” ($1 per ride) and its 20% off the top (which includes the Safe Rides Fee). Yet Uber will show you the top-line “fare” as if that is what you earn. It’s not.
Don’t believe us? Then read the stories linked below. You have been warned.
Uber as a company is very disrespectful of its (mostly brown and black male) drivers. After Uber runs it promotions discounting rates (especially UberX), and stressing that the drivers are not losing anything, at the end of the promo period Uber then announces to its riders that lower rates are here to stay, making the decision unilaterally and with only a few hours advance notice to UberX drivers. The new rate reduction DOES impact drivers as the entire rate reduction comes out of drivers pockets. (In some cities that have had recent rate cuts, some UberX drivers are not working the Labor Day weekend to protest those rate cuts.)
Uber has recently pulled this underhanded trick on UberX drivers in Washington DC, London, Tampa, and Seattle, among other cities. So, current and potential UberX drivers, be prepared to see Uber unilaterally cut your fares by 15% to 20% while letting riders know how great Uber is for cheap rates, and giving drivers little advance notice of the new “improved” 15% to 20% pay cut.
Back in June, Uber lowered prices for UberX customers by 20 percent. For two months, the company continued paying its drivers — who earn 80 percent of each fare — as if the discount had not been implemented.
But earlier this month, Uber shifted the discount over to drivers, who are now making less money per ride.
Uber also hides the ball on the fees and costs to drivers (phone deposits, weekly “data” fees, etc.), discloses very little until the last minute, or Uber buries details that make it difficult even for native English speakers to figure out what Uber is charging drivers. Uber is a rich guy shtick, and sneaky in our opinon, and it increasingly looks like it is tricking poor people to ferry wealthier people around via UberX.
Oh, and you will probably get more traffic tickets (think “cameras” you don’t know about yet), and those are not deductible.
Contrary to what some people are saying, the aggressive recruiting of Lyft drivers by Uber isn’t good for the UberX drivers in cities where the rates have been unilaterally cut by Uber. Uber needs to aggressively recruit drivers because many UberX drivers are quitting or cutting back to working only the busiest hours after the rate cuts. (The aggressive recruiting of Lyft drivers also has the benefit of hurting one of Uber’s major competitors, which is Lyft.) Uber is in the early stages of burning through drivers (driver churn), but at some point the word will get out and Uber will have to increase UberX rates to attract and keep good drivers.
Uber has also encouraged people to finance vehicles to drive for Uber (see “Financing 100,000 Entrepreneurs” by Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO). Our guess is that many of the drivers who used Uber-induced financing to buy cars to drive for UberX 1) did not speak or read English that well, 2) relied on the UberX rates at the time, and 3) relied on Uber’s claims of how much money they would make. As a result, our guess is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of UberX drivers who might have plausible “fraud in the inducement” claims against Uber, Uber’s CEO, and Santander in cities where Uber unilaterally cut rates, making these financed vehicles even less affordable. The discovery process would be interesting….
Our prediction is that unless Uber raises its UberX rates, the only people who will drive for UberX will be people who really have no other options. We also predict that you will start to see more UberX drivers pushing for tips to supplement the “new” rates that result in many UberX drivers making less than minimum wage even before their expenses: fuel, maintenance, depreciation, self employment taxes, state and federal income taxes). (And unlike cab drivers who often get paid in cash and get cash tips that often go unreported at tax time, Uber actively discourages riders from tipping drivers and thus UberX drivers do not get tips from most riders. UberX driver income is reported by Uber on 1099s.) So tip your UberX driver.
Uber does not “talk” with its drivers, at least not most UberX drivers, other than using form replies to emails. And Uber can take days to respond to driver inquiries.
You UberX riders are really the high-tech version of hiring the brown gardener, and you don’t even need a garden! Your own private underpaid driver of color in many cases. And think how you look down on the people who drive a cab or UberX, and also how you complain about them to your friends. It’s easy to love people of color from afar, harder to do it up close…. How does that feel now?
And Uber hiring David Plouffe is just another sign of the political class and (aspiring) crony capitalists working together.
(UberX drivers, maybe you should consider Sidecar, which allows drivers to set their own prices.)
For more, see:
UberDrivers on reddit. See
- “Prediction: Uber will continue to lower fare prices (and driver incomes) until drivers either protest or quit”
- Has anyone used the Uber vehicle purchase program? What do you think?
Uberx drivers – Facebook (Ramzi Reguii)
UberLawsuit, a class action by attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan in Boston. See
- Judge to Uber: Let drivers join class-action lawsuit, by Carolyn Said
- One Miami UberX Driver Disillusioned by Company’s Promises, by Eli Stiers
- “New lawsuit claims Uber exploits its drivers”
- Drivers: Uber Is Skimming Our Tips, by Josh Harkinson
Beautiful Illusions: The Economics of UberX, by Justin Singer
How big of a deal is Uber? by Justin Singer
Uber London – 15% Price Drop for UberX, by uberdriverlondon
Uber Strikes Deal To Lower The Cost Of Car Ownership For Drivers, by Ryan Lawler
This is Uber’s playbook for sabotaging Lyft, by Casey Newton
Uber’s Ratings Terrorize Drivers And Trick Riders. Why Not Fix Them? by Jeff Bercovici
UberX drivers slam new low rates aimed at undercutting taxis, by Dan Rivoli
Lyft says Uber’s recruiting tactics caused drivers to lose money, by Russell Brandom
Uber’s War on Lyft Could Prompt Federal Investigation, by Dustin Volz
Lyft claims Uber cost its drivers major money with recruitment tactics, by Carmel DeAmicis
UberX vs. Lyft: One Driver’s Perspective, by Dave Chung
UberX drivers honk horns in downtown Seattle to protest low wages, by Taylor Soper
Ride-share service Uber drivers say pay is shrinking, by William D’Urso
Uber’s Battle Against Its Drivers Continues, by Olivia Nuzzi
We Talked To Uber Drivers — Here’s How Much They Really Make, by Megan Rose Dickey
Taxi Drivers Are Using Apps to Disrupt the Disruptors, by Katy Steinmetz
Driving for Uber Sounds Like a Nightmare, by Connor Simpson
Why Uber Driving Is For Introverts, And Other Ridesharing Tales, by John Boitnott
UberX Dodged a Possible Driver Strike—For Now, by Steve Annear
Uber ‘partners’ protest in front of Santa Monica office, by KPCC Staff (Ben Bergman)
Despite backlash, Uber says it’s rapidly expanding, by Dara Kerr
Life as an Uber Driver: It’s Just Not Fare, by David Fagin
Driving for dollars: Thousands sign up to work for UberX and other ride-share services, by Steve Hendrix and Lori Aratani
Uber Drivers Say They Need a Union, by Ansel Herz
How Much Do uberX Drivers Really Make, Anyhow? by David Murphy
Why cab drivers should love Uber, by Felix Salmon
Local UberX Driver Says Working for Company Is a Rip-Off, by Trevor Bach
UberX drivers turn in company phones, effectively going on strike, by Graham Johnson
What Uber Isn’t Telling uberX Drivers, by Nate Boroyan
Uber’s Biggest Danger Is Its Business Model, Not Bad PR, by Marcus Wohlsen
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