On the Other Hand, Something Good is Happening in New York Too

Rather unsurprisingly, it does not come from the Governor, it comes from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, which is going to require that Uber allow tipping:

New Yorkers have for years been able to tip a taxi driver by adding a few dollars to their bill before swiping a credit card. But they cannot add a tip when they use the popular ride-hailing app Uber.

Now officials in New York City are moving to require Uber to provide a tipping option in the app.

The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission announced a proposal on Monday requiring car services that accept only credit cards to allow passengers to tip the driver using their card.

“This rule proposal will be an important first step to improve earning potential in the for-hire vehicle industry, but it is just one piece of a more comprehensive effort to improve the economic well-being of drivers,” Meera Joshi, the city’s taxi commissioner, said in a statement.

The decision was prompted by a petition from the Independent Drivers Guild, a group representing Uber drivers in New York. The petition, which collected more than 11,000 signatures, argued that drivers were losing thousands of dollars without an easy tipping option. Passengers can tip an Uber driver using cash, but many do not carry cash or know whether they should feel obligated to provide a tip.

The lack of a tipping option in Uber’s app has been a sore point for drivers. If new rules are approved in New York, it would be a major change in how Uber runs its business in its largest United States market. Other cities could demand to have the same choice.

Uber has fought tipping tooth and nail, and I think that there are a number of reasons:

  • Tipping makes the drivers seem more like employees, and Uber is all about extracting revenue while leaving the liabilities on the customers and drivers.
  • It servers to disintermediate Uber, because passengers can simply provide a tip as a way to rate drivers, and drivers can consider tips when they rate passengers, which removes a level of control from Travis Cordell Kalanick and his Evil Minions.
  • It is against the law for Uber to take a cut.
  • It provides an alternative to Uber’s policy of price gouging surge pricing.
  • It’s just dickish, and wherever possible, Uber chooses the dickish move.

In any case, I am amused.

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