|No, I Have No Change|
Recently, I heard an episode of "Freakonomics" while in the car doing the rideshare hustle. The episode talked with an economist who looked at tipping in the Uber app, and shared the following "surprising" findings.
1) Introducing tipping didn't improve the per hour revenue for drivers. Mostly because it got more drivers into the pool, and more drivers in the pool means less surge pricing and fewer rides per hour.
2) A very small percentage of passengers tip. Something like 7% always do, and over 60% never do. This seems odd, considering that nearly 100% of cab riders tip, but I get it - the dynamic is different and the transaction is all digital. It's just not as expected. But should be. (The percentage of my take-home amount from tipping is, to be fair, less than 7%, and has dropped from around 9% when I worked out on the West Coast.)
3) Men tip more often than women, and women drivers get more tips than men. Again, not very surprising. That's just how sexism works!
All of this seems fine and correct. But here's a few more from my own experience (15K rides and counting) that you can also take to the bank.
1) Shared or pool riders rarely, if ever, tip. Not too surprising, right? These folks are trying to spend as little as possible pretty often, rather than doing an environmentally conscious act.
2) Riders in economically disadvantaged areas also rarely tip. Again, not surprising. I tend to work these areas often, because the ride density is strong and I'm frequently chasing a ride bonus. If you don't have it, you're not sharing it. Or if you get the gist that I might (shh!) make more than you do, and am just doing this as a side hustle.
3) Airport riders, especially with luggage, tip. I tend to hop out of the car and grab the bags, mostly to speed the ride along. Airport rides also tend to be longer, and...
4) Long rides tip more than short ones. You have more time to get to know the passenger, and most folks know that airport rides are unpleasant for the driver. If someone is taking you out to the middle of nowhere, they also tend to feel bad and try to compensate for that.
5) Routine commuters are unlikely to tip. A fair amount of my rides come from supermarkets and train stations, and for these folks, the cost of the rideshare is something they are thinking hard about.
6) Folks who are (knowingly) paying a surge price. Which is, to be fair, a pretty small percentage, and leads to the next one...
7) Drunk people tip. Especially if they are feeling self-conscious about how much time they've spent talking through the ride.
8) If they match your demographic, or have something in common with you... they're gonna tip. People who wind up linking to me on LinkedIn don't want to start the relationship without throwing a few extra bucks on the ride.
9) Older riders tip. Most often in cash, and highly considered amounts, after a startling amount of conversation. Sometimes, I want to give it back, especially if they appear to be in poor health... but I never do. It'd be insulting, honestly.
10) Other people who work for tips. Waitresses, bartenders -- these folks respect hustle, and game respects game.
The best tipping person in my career as a rideshare driver is a waitress who has gotten me a half dozen times, and always tipped hard -- and I repaid the favor just this last week with a visit to her restaurant. We asked for her special, waited longer to get one of her tables, and hit the check with a 25% gratuity, in cash. It's how I roll, folks. (At least, when I can afford it.)
Bonus: The people who tip... always tip. And yes, this includes me. If your service stinks, it might just be a buck, but I want to live in a world where rideshare drivers can make a living. Which is possible if we just treat them, well, like the cab drivers they are replacing...