Uber bringing tipping, wait charges to New Zealand

In case you're wondering if the tipping option and wait-changes announced for Uber in the US are coming to New Zealand – they are.

Uber Australia-New Zealand corporate communications manager Mike Scott tells NBR that both measures will be introduced here by the end of the year, "in some form."

In the US, tipping usually starts at 10%, with 20% payments common (and remember, Uber drivers rate you as well as you rating them, with all your payments – tip or no tip – digitally recorded. Uber points out that you tip after the driver rates you; you have seven days to tip).

One frequent traveller notes Visa Paywave offers 10%, 15% and 20% options for cabs in New York.

Mr Scott says the changes are "based on feedback we've had from drivers who want to improve their earnings."

Uber recently raised its minimum cost of a ride in New Zealand from $5 to $6.50.

The rise consisted of a bump in the minimum fare from $5 to $5.95, plus the introduction of a new 55c booking fee.

The move followed local Uber drivers threatening to strike, though legal opinion was split on whether the Employment Relations Authority would view them as employees or (as Uber maintains) contractors.

Different culture in US
Earlier today, Uber added an option to tip drivers in 100 US and Canadian cities.

It also introduced a wait fee of $US5 to $US10, depending on city.

The charge kicks in if an Uber driver has to wait two minutes or more. Previously, a charge kicked in after five minutes (in New Zealand, there are  no wait charges but a driver can take off and hit you with a $10 cancellation fee, which you can dispute via the app).

Mr Scott says the wait-charge time and amount are yet to be set, but "pay for wait" is definitely on its way to New Zealand.

Uber is also still mulling the best way to introduce tipping to New Zealand, which he acknowledges has a different customer culture from the US (something that was underlined by the recent brouhaha over Paula Bennett's call for mandatory tipping).

Changing culture at Uber
The tipping and wait-charge move came not long after Uber founder Travis Kalanick's departure as chief executive from the $60 billion market cap ride-hailing behemoth (although he remains a director, and owns a majority of voting shares).

The word in the US business press is that more moves are on the way to boost drivers' remuneration.

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