NEW YORK: The Independent Drivers Guild has teamed up with Revolution Messaging on an Uber tipping campaign.
The guild is working on a public awareness campaign that’s trying to change the perception about tips for drivers on the ride-hailing app.
"It's a very confusing subject for consumers," said Jim Conigliaro Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild, which was set up to represent Uber drivers in New York City. "People don’t know if it’s included in the ride or if it’s expected."
The guild conducted a survey of its 35,000 Uber driver members in New York and found tipping was the number one concern, Conigliaro said, which spurred the launch of this campaign. The guild brought on digital marketing firm Revolution Messaging, which has run campaigns for Bernie Sanders and Americans for Responsible Solutions.
The awareness drive has three main prongs: a social media campaign, an online petition, and stickers for guild members to post in their cars saying "Tips for service are appreciated."
Conigliaro hopes the public awareness campaign will help sway Uber’s position on tipping. Currently, there is no in-app tipping option available for Uber. If passengers want to tip they need to carry cash, unlike with other taxi services such as Lyft or NYC taxis, which allow users to add a tip to their credit card.
"We’re trying to include an in-app tipping option," he said. "People don’t carry cash, people don't have change, and drivers don't have change. Uber made the transportation industry efficient - we want to bring an essential part of that ride along as well."
But Uber has not taken to the proposal, Conigliaro said. After the company settled two lawsuits from drivers in April, Uber released a Medium post to clarify the company’s stance on tipping, which directly addresses in-app tipping.
"When we started Uber six years ago, we thought long and hard about whether to build a tipping option into the app," the post reads. "In the end, we decided against including one because we felt it would be better for riders and drivers to know for sure what they would pay or earn on each trip—without the uncertainty of tipping."
An Uber spokesperson also released the following statement to PRWeek when asked for a response to the guild’s campaign:
"On Uber, tips are not included, nor are they expected or required. Riders tell us one of the things they like most about Uber is that it’s hassle-free. Riders are free to offer tips and drivers are welcome to accept them, as has always been our policy."
The social media campaign and petition will begin in August. Conigliaro hopes public support and awareness about tipping will influence Uber and "push them" to make in-app tipping a reality.
The Independent Drivers Guild is affiliated to the Machinists Union, which also represents black car and limousine drivers. It struck a five-year agreement with Uber last May to represent drivers in New York City on issues including grievances, pay, benefits, and job protection.