Uber is rolling out a new feature today that allows riders to send compliments to drivers beyond leaving them a 5-star rating, according to Wired. Of course, most people would reward excellent service by tipping a few extra bucks. But Uber is known for being vehemently anti-tipping, so we’re getting a new in-app feature instead.
After completing their trip, riders will be asked whether they want to send their driver a compliment from a list of canned responses: “Neat and Tidy,” “Excellent Service,” “Above and Beyond,” and so on. Riders can praise their driver’s car, choice in music, or conversation skills. And each compliment comes with a sticker, because who doesn’t love stickers?
Last week, I inadvertently sent my Uber driver one of these compliments (no sticker, just a canned phrase), not knowing this was a new feature in the app. My driver Martin told me an amazing story about Mike Tyson giving a $180,000 Bentley he just crashed to a couple of NYPD cops — I fact-checked it, this really happened — so I made sure to note that Martin was an excellent conversationalist after I gave him 5 stars.
But you know what else I did? Tipped him $5, because that’s what you do when you receive above-average service — or even just average service, for that matter, because this is America and Americans tip, damnit.
Uber says you don’t have to tip, even though it said it would allow drivers to solicit tips as part of the $100 million settlement with its drivers in California and Massachusetts. (The settlement was rejected as being too low by a federal judge and is now in the process of being renegotiated.) Uber even went so far as to cite a research study that found tipping to be racist.
Of course, Lyft allows riders to tip, as do other taxi and car service apps, and we haven’t seen any evidence that it’s harmed those businesses. Whether Uber will continue to roll out features to “compliment” drivers with stickers rather than cash will depend on its customers. The ride-hail company is known to be very responsive to its riders’ feedback. If enough people demand that Uber add a tipping function in its app, it may eventually do it.