Uber’s CEO Doesn’t Know How His Own App Works (Either That Or Uber Lied To Customers)

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A post written by View From The Wing yesterday really made my blood boil. Actually, saying that it made my blood boil is an understatement of colossal proportions. It actually made me want to slap the Uber CEO into the next zip code…and that’s disappointing because I don’t condone violence against anyone.

So what has got me so worked up? Well, as you’ve probably guessed, it’s the Uber CEO.

Apparently someone invited Dara Khosrowshahi (the Uber CEO) to the World Economic Forum in Davos and unfortunately CNBC decided that he was important enough to interview.

Sadly Khosrowshahi didn’t use his time with Andrew Ross Sorkin to tell us all how Uber plans to repay the billions of dollars of debt it holds on its books but, instead, he did decide to give us all a lesson in how to improve our ratings on the Uber app.

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Apparently, when Sorkin jokingly asked him how he can improve his own rating on the Uber app, Khosrowshahi replied: “you should tip more“.

He went on to say:

I am a very aggressive tipper right now. I pick the highest tip every time. Somehow my rating is getting better. I’m not sure if it’s aggressive tipping. Everybody, tip aggressively.

Oh dear.

Uber introduced the option to tip on its app back in the middle of 2017 but apparently no one has explained to Mr Khosrowshahi how his company’s app actually works….or at least how we were told it works.

While the Uber app does indeed give riders the option to tip after the ride has ended, the app doesn’t allow drivers to see what tip (if any) they have been given until after they have rated the rider….or so Uber has been telling us.

So here we have the Uber CEO telling a CNBC presenter that he can improve his in-app rating by tipping drivers heavily when, according to the information Uber has been putting out, there is absolutely no way whatsoever that the level of tipping can influence the rating a driver gives a rider.

That leaves us with 3 scenarios:

  1. Khosrowshahi has no idea how his company’s app and ratings work
  2. Uber lied when it told us that drivers can’t see their tip until after they’ve rated the rider
  3. Khosrowshahi deliberately lied to CNBC

I don’t think scenario 3 is all that likely and, as Uber would be in serious trouble if scenario 2 was true, it would appear that Khosrowshahi doesn’t understand a basic part of how his company’s ratings work.

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Considering Uber is reportedly paying this guy an incredible amount of money (which no doubt makes it very easy for him to “pick the highest tip every time”) that’s more than a little embarrassing.

But Khosrowshahi’s incompetence/ignorance/stupidity (call it what you will) isn’t what’s got me so annoyed – I’m not one of the lenders this clown has to somehow repay billions of dollars to.

What’s got me annoyed is that, once again, we have a huge corporation telling customers that it’s up to them to make up for the pitiful earnings that those who work for them get to take home.

A few years back Marriott essentially admitted that it underpays its housekeeping staff when it introduced tipping envelopes into rooms at some of its US properties, we’re regularly told that we should be tipping restaurant staff up to 25% of our bill and now we have the CEO of Uber telling us that we should be tipping his drivers more.

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It absolutely NOT the customers responsibility to make up any shortfall in earnings that Uber’s drivers face and it certainly isn’t right to attempt to link rider ratings to the amount we tip.

Here’s the inconvenient truth for Mr Khosrowshahi:

As far as the law in the United States goes, Uber drivers aren’t employees of the corporation and it’s that fact that allows Mr Khosrowshahi’s corporation to circumvent the employment regulations it doesn’t like.

By having drivers classified as independent contractors rather than employees Uber avoids paying overtime pay, vacation pay, maternity leave, healthcare insurance and a lot more. These are all things regular corporations have to pay.

Uber has spent an amazing amount of time and resources ensuring that its drivers are as small an expense to the corporation as possible (i.e. are entitled to as little money from Uber as possible)…..and now it’s asking its customers to dig into their pockets to help their drivers out.

Are you kidding me?!

How about this for an idea: Instead of the Uber CEO asking riders to help drivers earn a reasonable wage, why doesn’t he make the morally correct choice and make all of Uber’s drivers employees?

If drivers were employees Uber would have to pay for a host of benefits that the drivers currently have to pay out of their own pockets and that would ensure that drivers would be a lot better off than they are now.

Yes, the cost of rides would clearly have to go up but at least we wouldn’t be expected to tip our drivers to help them put food on the table.

Perhaps Khosrowshahi should spend less time pontificating on how much we should be tipping his drivers and more time (a) learning how Uber’s algorithms work and (b) working out how to ensure his drivers earn a reasonable wage without putting the begging bowl out in front of his customers.


  1. It’s always good to tip your Uber driver. As you pointed out, drivers are classified as independent contractors. They are not even guaranteed minimum wage, and in a lot of jurisdictions, they don’t even make minimum wage. You have to factor in gas, maintenance, wear and tear, etc that also comes out of their pocket. You can bet that if drivers were considered employees and had to be paid as such and reimbursed for mileage, your ride cost would be maybe a buck or two less than a taxi – if cheaper at all. So, rather than the concept of tipping making your “blood boil” maybe just tip that guy or gal a couple of bucks that’s driving you around for next to nothing.

    • Firstly, it was the fact that it was the Uber CEO (a) talking nonsense and (b) telling us to tip that made my “blood boil”

      Secondly, your solution to corporations underpaying those who work for them appears to be “let the public make up the difference”. If we change that ridiculous mindset to one that says “let’s force the corporations to pay a fair wage” everyone would be better off.

      Lastly, if Uber doing the right thing by the drivers raises the cost of rides I’m fine with that and I don’t much care if it makes Uber cost close to a taxi.

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