Some Uber drivers are turning to “dodgy” tactics after the ride-sharing company increased its service fees, with passengers bearing the brunt of the changes.
Uber drivers have told The New Daily that last-minute cancellations, unfair ‘no show’ charges and organised surge-pricing are among the underhand behaviours some of their fellow drivers have turned to in response to the pay cuts.
Since its launch in Australia in 2012, Uber would claim 20 per cent of each fare as a “service fee”, but more recently the company has begun collecting up to 27.5 per cent of each driver’s fares.
Melbourne Uber driver Lisa Tanner told The New Daily that 25 per cent of each trip’s fare when she picks up a passenger is now pocketed by Uber. Similar ride-sharing apps, such as Shebah, have a service fee as low as 16 per cent, she said.
Ms Tanner said this is leading some Uber drivers to seek other means of making up the shortfall.
“A lot of them are doing dodgy things lately,” she said, reflecting on conversations she’s had with her passengers.
“Some drivers are pushing ‘start’ before the passenger arrives and then driving off, maybe if the destination’s too close. Others are coordinating with a group of drivers to all head to the one area and create a surge fare.
I’ve also heard that drivers have been ending the trip without waiting the required five minutes for the passenger to arrive, so that they can charge them $10 for a no show.
“If you get charged a $10 late fee as a passenger, but the driver didn’t wait at least five minutes, contact Uber straight away to let them know. Nine times out of 10 you’ll get it back.”
Uber drivers are not aware of the destination when they accept a trip, only once the passenger arrives in the car and the driver presses ‘start’ on the app.
Ms Tanner added that it’s a shame a small number of drivers are acting dishonestly because the service is generally “really reliable”.
Another Uber driver, Mick Owar, has seen the percentage of his fare claimed by Uber rise from 20 per cent to 22 per cent, the first change to his earnings since he signed up to the service about two years ago.
He confirmed the various loopholes being exploited by some Uber drivers, after hearing numerous stories from his passengers.
“There doesn’t seem to be much integrity in the world, with drivers pulling this dodgy stuff,” he told The New Daily.
“Drivers should be giving passengers five minutes to turn up and if they’re not there, see if they can get a hold of them on the phone.
“No matter the industry, there’s always a bunch of bad apples.”
Mr Owar’s new car, which meets the vehicle requirements of the more luxurious UberSelect service, has almost doubled his petrol costs.
He said that if Uber were to deduct any more from each fare in service fees, it “just wouldn’t be worth it”.
An Uber spokesman told The New Daily that the service fee hikes followed recent changes to tax laws.
“The service fee was changed in early 2016 from 20 per cent to 25 per cent for all new driver partners. Any driver partner who had signed up when the old service fee was on offer (20 per cent) stayed on the existing rate,” the spokesman said.
“The only recent change is the application of GST to the service fee for those driver-partners who haven’t registered for GST.”
The spokesman added: “Uber’s driver deactivation policy prohibits fraudulent behaviour and we closely monitor our systems to detect drivers who may be acting fraudulently or attempting to game our systems.”