Uber asks for tips: Tampa Bay drivers hopeful for more money, riders unsure of tipping

Lyft drivers have earned $250 million in tips
Posted at 3:39 AM, Jul 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-10 06:41:13-04

The original Uber promise was a cashless, tipless transaction. The revolutionary business plan turned the ride-sharing company into a $50 billion-plus company.

So some local riders are resistant to a new change: Tampa Bay is one of the first regions in the country to have a digital tipping option on Uber apps.

Uber quietly implemented tipping last Thursday. After rating drivers via a star system, riders are now given the chance to tip drivers $2, $4, a customized amount or nothing at all.

Nothing is what Osney Rodriguez, a noted Uber fan who uses the company daily, plans to do.

"Uber is cashless, tipless -- so why am I tipping?" says Rodriguez.

USF student Barbara Bacvic is a server. She relies on tips but an Uber gratuity is not automatic for her, either.

"I'll tip them if I really like them," Bacvic says. "Like if we have a good conversation."

At Tampa International Airport, Uber driver Desmond Gayle just received his first digital tip: $5. The extra money is a difference-maker he says, since the company takes percentage of fares.

"That's great," Gayle says. "I'll take that anytime."

He has reason to be hopeful that more riders will follow suit. Uber's main competitor, Lyft, offered a digital tip function for the past five years. In that time, drivers have made some $250 million in tips alone.

Tips aside, Uber is also testing a new penalty-charge system for riders who make drivers wait more than two minutes. That feature is not being practiced in the Tampa Bay region, yet.