Last year I decided to quit my job making decent money at a Walmart and start driving for Uber. I did that for five or six months and eventually quit because I actually needed to make some money. Well, I drove again recently for the first time since October of last year, and it immediately brought back all of the problems Uber has. I felt like maybe I should list some of them here for those of you who might be interested in driving for them.
First, I’m not saying I didn’t make money, it just wasn’t a lot. Keep in mind that I’m in Cincinnati, and there isn’t a strong need for Uber or Lyft during the week here. So to make more than just gas money, you have to drive during weekend nights. And even then nothing is guaranteed. Of course driving for an hour or two throughout the week can be good if you go during the right times, morning or afternoon rush hours.
It’s also best to have a car that doesn’t use a lot of gas. After paying for my gas usage, I brought home very little, and since it was my only source of income, it wasn’t helping pay the bills. We actually lost our car to repo because of it. Not my best hour. So if you already own your car, or you don’t have a lot of bills, this could be a great job for you.
But Cincinnati isn’t a big market to begin with, and the last time I checked, which was right before Uber or Lyft came here, there were 61 taxi companies in the Greater Cincinnati area, and that alone sounds absolutely ridiculous. Everyone drives here, and if they don’t, we have a pretty good damn bus system. Not a lot of need for all those taxi drivers. I saw them lined up at taxi stands all over, constantly, just waiting, not working.
So with the market already flooded with taxi companies, here comes Uber and Lyft. It’s just too much. I can’t tell you how many times I’d drive through downtown on a Friday or Saturday night when the bars close and have absolutely no rides. Glad I wasted my weekend night for nothing.
I understand that in bigger cities, Uber drivers make a lot of money. By all means, if you can do it, do it. Just not in those smaller cities. At least don’t make it your only job.
I actually had really good luck outside of the downtown area where nobody else really drove. Because those people wanted rides, too, but nobody was there to take them anywhere. And the further out from downtown I got, the more I picked up people who wanted to go downtown. I made most of my money from those long rides, which I preferred.
Second, I have no idea what the second point was.
I never really had any problems with riders. My problems were always with the company and the way it operates. Their app that you have to use as a driver, is terrible. It loves to crash or freeze, especially during busy nights. Instead of making $60 to $100 on a Saturday night one night, I got the night off after one ride for $10 because Uber decided to update the app right then and there, and the update didn’t work. The app didn’t work right until about 4 AM, and by that point, it was over.
If you have any issues and have to contact them, they’ll most likely get back to you right away. But it will be with some copy/paste response, and it won’t have anything to do with your issue, and it will be extremely wordy.
Another awesome problem with the app is the GPS. Unless you know every address of every street in your entire city, you kind of need it. Tonight, for instance, the GPS on the first ride I got was acting up, so I started down a street. Once the GPS caught up I discovered I was going the wrong way, so I turned around and headed back. Then the GPS told me to make a U-turn and continued telling me that the rest of the trip, even though it was showing me going in the right direction on the map.
It was very slow, also. It stayed behind where I was by about a mile, the entire trip. And when I picked up the riders, the GPS showing me where I was taking them didn’t even come on, so I had to have them tell me where to go.
How bad is the app? That was my only ride, because the app began freezing and force closing.
But before it did that, another issue happened that you’ll experience a lot of.
Riders were canceling their rides before I could get to them. A lot. And in a city where rides can be hard to come by, that really sucks. I cuss loudly at my phone when that happens.
I dropped that first ride off and got two more ride requests shortly after, both of which canceled right after I accepted them.
Then, on my way to where I really wanted to go to get rides, I got pinged for another ride. I accepted it, but the app froze, then force closed.
When I got it back up and running, I got pinged for another ride on what was damn near the other side of town. 20 minutes later I pulled up to the bar and parked. I waited 10 minutes. The rider canceled the ride.
That was it. I was done. Pissed off, I drove home.
So for 2 hours of driving, I made $12 from the first ride (it was a 30 minute ride and I only made $12) and they tipped me $3 in cash. I then drove many more miles, wasted time, and on that last cancellation, I made $3 from them canceling after I drove all that way. I don’t think the cancellation fee is enough to teach a lesson, but at least it’s something.
So yeah, $18 for 2 hours of work. That’s $9 an hour. Plus gas, and taxes I have to pay at the end of the year…
Worth it? Not for me, but I have to do something while I’m unemployed.
Another problem with riders is, the later it gets, the drunker they get, the more often you’ll have no response at all when you try to pick them up because they passed the fuck out. And since they can’t/aren’t going to cancel the ride, you have to do it from your end, and when you do that so many times, Uber yells at you for canceling rides. Right there is where we had problems the first time I drove for them, and I yelled a lot and they copy/pasted a lot. Apparently Uber wants me to break into these peoples houses, drag them out by their hair, and force them to take the ride.
I’ve heard good things about working for Lyft, so maybe try them instead. I’m only doing this until I get something else. Besides, I’m pretty sure Uber is going to collapse soon anyway. We’ll see.
Another issue with them is, they like to show off huge surge areas at certain times of day or night, even when there’s no high demand for drivers. It happens all the time here. Typically surges can pop up if there’s a demand for drivers in an area where there aren’t normally drivers. It’s to show the drivers on their map that people need rides. But, on Friday and Saturday nights, downtown Cincinnati is a huge surge area all night long. Most of the time so is Norwood. But that doesn’t mean anybody wants a ride. They just want to make sure there are drivers there in case someone needs a ride. So, you could spend all fucking night there and not make any money. It happens to me all the time.
I had a rider recently who was married to an Uber driver in Cleveland. She said he made a lot of money and that the surge areas are only there if there is a demand. No matter how many times I told her otherwise, she didn’t want to believe me. IT IS TRUE. Just because there’s a surge doesn’t mean shit.
Tonight I went out for a bit, on a Tuesday evening, and drove for over an hour before getting my first ride. I took them where they needed to go and made $3. I overheard the one girl tell the other that she was going to turn it in as an expense to their company and said that it was only $6. So apparently Uber took half of the fee when they’re only supposed to take 20% or so.
After that I was pinged for a ride and as I accepted it, the app froze. Before it did, I saw that I had to go south of where I was and to Kenwood Road, so I started to head that way. In the meantime, I tried to close the app and restart it, which normally works when it freezes. Tonight it froze my whole phone. When the phone finally came back on and I got to the app, it showed me a completely different ride than before, and said I had to go quite a few miles north of where I originally had been, but now was even further since I had been going south. I canceled the ride and sent Uber a nasty message.
The bottom line is, Uber doesn’t give a shit about their drivers or their riders. They only care about making money. That’s obvious by how they fail to pay the proper taxes in the cities where they work. They’re so gung ho about getting out there and making their millions that they bypass doing it legally and efficiently with apps that actually work.
If you’re still considering working for them, I highly recommend not, but it’s totally up to you. You’re going to continue to make less money because they continue to take more from their drivers. You’re going to have more of a headache by trying to use their app than it’s worth. Just do a Google search or two. You’ll see a whole lot of people are very unhappy working for them. Go read some reviews of their app in whatever store you use to download apps.
If you’re still considering getting rides from Uber drivers, know that Uber doesn’t care who drives for them. When I applied, I had to send them copies of my license and insurance, and after a quick background check I was on the road. They didn’t meet with me to see what kind of person I am, or how I keep my car, or how I present myself. Because they don’t care. There’s no option to tip the drivers from the app, either.
Use Lyft. I’ve never had any problems dealing with Lyft drivers. Lyft actually meets with potential drivers to see what kind of people they are. Their app works, from what I hear. I know Lyft drivers, and they love driving for Lyft. Lyft seems to be doing things right. Uber, not so much.