I recently learned one of my extended family members has taken a part-time job driving for Uber. I was stunned by the revelation during a family party since there is probably no one on the planet who has not heard me preach or post on social media about the dangers of “electronic hitchhiking.”
Within my family, I have always preached why my family members should not use Uber including sexual attacks on passengers, lack of intensive background checks, the possibility of not having proper insurance to cover passengers in an accident along with other factors. I have always concerned myself with their safety as a passenger but never thought of any of them driving for Uber.
So be it. I cannot control the actions of a 50-year old, very attractive and youthful looking family member who I will call, “Brenda.” Brenda captivated an entire table with her Uber driving stories. I must admit, I fell into a level of fascination myself listening to her tell stories of her passengers like a veteran cabbie and explaining how drivers can cheat the Uber system using various methods.
In an age-old dilemma within our own industry, driver requests with Uber are not allowed. When you allow that, at some point the passenger becomes the client of the driver rather than the company client, and it can set the stage for bad things to happen.
However, that’s not what this blog is about. I learned that Uber drivers give passengers their personal phone numbers, and the passenger will call the driver to say where they need a ride. The Uber driver heads to the location. When both parties are within a football field of each other, the Uber passenger sends an order to Uber. The order comes up on the Uber driver’s phone and voila, a match is made!
Brenda explained her daily routine of working a day job in a wealth management office 30 miles south of her home in the sprawling Orange County, California area. At 5 p.m., she comes out of the office, turns on her Uber app and looks for someone needing a ride going north. Ideally, a passenger needing a ride to John Wayne Airport, which is five minutes from her house. It’s the best ride for her and she might be done for the day. If she feels like making a little extra cash, she will leave her Uber app on while at home, and if anything arises in her area, she will seize the opportunity.
One motivating factor for earning extra cash is responding to a “surge demand.” She says when a particular area has more passengers than cars, the price goes up and drivers will scramble to get to the area during surge pricing since the drivers keep 80% of the fare and Uber gets 20%. She says it is very rare for a passenger to tip but sometimes they do. She says anytime she is going anywhere she looks for a passenger going in the same direction to ride with her and make some money. Hmmm, sure does sound a lot like picking up a hitchhiker to ride along — except they are paying with Amex instead of giving up cash, grass or…….you know the saying, nobody rides for free.
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