Home / News / Uber Support Advises Drivers to Ask Your Destination; Uber’s Rules Say Otherwise

Uber Support Advises Drivers to Ask Your Destination; Uber’s Rules Say Otherwise

A little over a week ago, I wrote about how Uber drivers have been increasingly asking for your destination before pick-up.  The drivers are trying to decide whether or not they want to take your fare.  If they don’t want to take the ride, they may try to convince the customer to cancel the ride–sometimes incurring a cancellation fee for the customer.

uber app

In the example I used, my driver was lying to me in order to get me to cancel.  He told me the app was stuck and couldn’t load up my destination.  My only option to fix it, according to him, was to cancel.

As I went into, drivers cannot see your destination until they pick you up.  If they claim otherwise, they are not telling you the truth.

I decided to write about the incident in case some readers did not know the truth in this case.

Luckily, Uber has done a better job at informing riders that the drivers aren’t supposed to be asking this information.

For example, here is a screenshot from the app:

uberride

The language is pretty clear.  “Drivers should not call and ask for your destination while you wait for your ride to arrive.”

After I wrote the post explaining what happened to me and what the general Uber rules are, I started getting a lot of comments from Uber drivers, both on the post itself and through social media.  And some bloggers who linked to me got a ton of comments from Uber drivers.  (Angelina from Angelina Travels from may have gotten the brunt of the comments.  You can check them out here).

And the reactions were varied.  Here’s a selection of some of the comments Uber drivers made:

  • This is another way Uber is screwing over drivers (not letting them see the destination)
  • Some routes require them to travel far to pick up a passenger, only to have the passenger travel one mile
  • If passengers tipped on inconvenient routes, they wouldn’t do this
  • Drivers like these give the other drivers a bad name
  • If they get a long route as their last fare, they might not be able to pick up their  kids from school
  • If Uber paid the drivers more, this wouldn’t be a problem.

Ultimately, it seems like a conflict in overall Uber policy and the needs of the individual drivers–but it’s the passenger who gets caught in the middle.

But then a driver reached out to me with a different type of story.  It wasn’t about the Uber vs. driver narrative (which we’ve also seen in other issues with Uber), but about how Uber explains the policy to drivers versus the clear way Uber explains the policy to the passenger.

First, I want to explain two things.  I have been sitting on this for about a week because I wanted to give Uber a chance to response.  However, their press team has not responded to my requests for more information or a comment on this.  I provided them with the screenshots and complete information upfront about the story I planned to write.

Also, I am in no way trying to say Uber is intentionally telling two different stories to the drivers and the passengers.  I personally believe it is just indicative of internal miscommunications.  (But again, that is my opinion about the situation.  Without comment from Uber, I do not actually know the reason behind this).

Going back to the driver, he explained to me that Uber actually advised him to ask passengers for their destination and to request that the customer cancel the trip if he does not like the destination.

This support ticket is from about a month ago.

ubersupportWM

The support ticket reads:

To answer your question, the only way you will be able to contact riders would be after you accept the request a uber number will be provided for that trip only.  Using that uber number, you can contact the rider to find out the destination.  If it does not suit your distance, you can ask the rider to cancel.

So in the support ticket, the agent:

  • Tells the Uber driver to call and ask a destination
  • Tells him to request that the customer cancel if he does not like the destination
  • Which would potentially incur a cancellation fee to the customer, depending on how much time has passed

Meanwhile:

uberride

To me, it looks as if there is a lot of internal miscommunication going on and we cannot completely blame drivers for calling if Uber is advising them to do so.  In the specific case I wrote on, I still don’t think drivers should lie to you.  But this gives me more to think about.

I do wish Uber got back to me so I had more information about how this is happening (and their position on it).  I suppose their press team is very busy right now, though.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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32 comments

  1. Just one more reason why deleting my Uber account was the right choice for me. Too many instances of the corporation not doing right by staff, drivers, or passengers.

    At least where I live I have other rideshare options. I know not all areas have that.

  2. Uber has the worst customer service. You’ll never hear from them. I do have the New York managing directors email if you’d like.

  3. I feel like a happy medium would be to show the driver the ETA of the trip, but not the destination, before they agree to pick up. We as customers get this information upfront when booking, so if the drivers are complaining about not being able to pick their kids up or something, they would at least be able to know it’s a long vs short trip with out giving too much info away.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      I think this is a great idea!

    • The whole reason they don’t do this is to ensure that drivers still accept short trips. Otherwise, you would never have a short trip request accepted. A driver needs to drive 4 or 5 miles to take a passenger 5 blocks? They lose money. No driver would accept that ride request knowing the destination. Recently, Uber has started sending drivers 10, 15, even 20 or more miles for a pickup. No driver would go that far even if it was a 5 mile ride. Remember, Uber does not pay the driver for all the miles driven without a passenger in the vehicle. They only pay once the passenger is in the car, and then only until they are dropped off.

    • Catherine Koutroumpis

      100% agree. Or the driver can put in the time they need to be done or maybe the destination they need to be at a certain time and the app can pass them by if the ride would leave them hanging. My driver just now wouldn’t start approaching me til I told him where I was going, so my 6 min wait turned into 18 min wait. And then he accepted another ride through another app while we still had a few minutes left to my drive. And he outright said he checks where riders are going now because some lady had him take her 3 hours away. Duh. Cancel her, not Jack the rest of us over. I get why it sucks, but if you don’t like how Uber works, get another job. You all just want it easy.

  4. This is a persistent issues at Washington Dulles. I fought it for a while. Uber management and the Metropolitan Airports Authority did not give a rat’s tail about this. The only advice Uber gave me was “don’t answer the phone when the driver calls.”

    How, if I choose to use Uber, I tell the driver I’m going to Bethesda ( a long ride) and then change the destination (a medium ride, but one they won’t take from Dulles) once I’m in the car. Drivers are not happy but neither am I when I wait at Dulles with driver after driver asking me to cancel. Don’t want to drive an uber? No problem. Don’t.

  5. I have stopped using Uber because I can’t get one Uber driver to pick me up at IAD and take me to my house. It’s an avg $15 fare to go 8 miles or so. I get the phone call every time and if I don’t answer after they accept they just drive in circles and never pick me up. I have gone back to using Washington Flyer. When I email Uber I get a bs answer of you weren’t charged we don’t understand your problem. The problem is I can’t use the service to get where I need to go.

    • Just an FYI, not sure if you are aware, of that $15.00 the driver will be lucky to get $8.00 of that. Then take away the gas to get to you and most airports also charge an airport fee. Not trying to bust your chops, just wanting to let you know that the driver does not get all of the fare you pay as a rider.

  6. Let me chime in with my 2 cents. First, the CS at Uber is not handled by Uber but outsourced and staffed by a much of cubicle dwellers who has never driven or understand the Uber policies. These people will use canned responses that has nothing to do with some queries you send them just to get the query off the radar. Not surprise that you did not get a response from them.

    I understand your frustrations regarding drivers calling you requesting the destination and your reluctance to give it to them as you feel that it may impact your ability to get a ride. I think this may be beneficial for both the driver and the rider. You need to know that a driver has NO responsibility to take you anywhere even after he accepts a ride with you being in the car once the destination is release. This is not a taxi and rideshare drivers can choose to end a ride anytime. With that being said, I see the benefits both ways. If the destination does not fit the driver, you save time by cancelling and requesting again instead of waiting for the car to arrive and they cancel which will taking longer. The reason drivers ask you to cancel instead of the cancelling is because they have bonus numbers to hit based on the number of rides they give and if the rider cancels, it does not go against them. You emphasize about the cancellation fee a bit much as if this happens, a simple request to Uber CS will refund the fee. (You have 5 minutes to cancel a ride without being charged a fee ($5) on an Uber X ride. Uber Pool is a bit different ($2) but no penalty if the ride is taking longer to arrive (like more than 5 minutes) but there is not grace period if you request a pool and the ride is on its way and the ride is within less 5 minutes).

    Yes, I drive both Uber and Lyft with close to 3k rides and also ride both platforms.

    The tipping thing:
    Most, not all riders are CHEAP as hell hence they use rideshare. Why do I say this, I have had riders on Pool rides ask if I have water/gum etc. where the ride cost them like $5. Most Lyft riders don’t tip even with the option in the app. Uber riders are the same, not because they don’t carry cash it’s because they are CHEAP. I do pickups/drop offs at the airport and I always help with the luggage (BTW, not required to) and I received tips like 5 times out of more than 100 airport rides on Uber. On Lyft with the tipping option in the App, I received tips about 10% of the number of airport rides. So again most ride share users are just CHEAPOS.
    The people who state that they do not carry cash is just a way to cop out of tipping.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Thanks for your thought and perspectives! To clarify, I reached out to their press contacts, not to customer service, to comment.

    • Not necessarily true, I NEVER carry cash if I’m in the US. I rarely even have cash at my house. Many people I know don’t carry cash either. Therefore I always tip with lyft and almost never do with Uber. We’re entering a cashless economy and not having cash is rarely ever an issue. I’m a good tipper everywhere that accepts credit card tips, not a cheapo. The issue is that Uber doesn’t allow credit card tips.

      • Great Corey. Then you’re one of the exceptions, hence I said Most, not all.

      • “I’m a good tipper” he says as if his honor depends on it. For God’s sake, stop. The social pressure exerted to extort customers is toxic and regressive.

        Experienced waiters in most restaurants where I live make six figures. Most hairdressers where I live make six figures. Meanwhile, the people being pressured to tip 20-25% are middle-income people with student loans. It’s straight-up immoral and needs to end.

        You DON’T NEED TO TIP ANYONE MORE THAN 15%, and the ONLY people you need to tip are waiters at table-service restaurants, food delivery guys, and yellow cab drivers. A buck or two to bellhops, coat check people, bartenders, etc. is fine– but anyone else with their hand out is trying to guilt you into enriching them because they’re jerks. They should screw off, not be rewarded.

        • Hey bitch 15% will get your food spit on

        • So you tip your yellow cab driver but not UBER driver, who is providing you the same service in a better vehicle. You tip your food delivery person for getting your food to you, but not your UBER driver who delivers YOU safely. You tip your bellhop for helps getting your luggage out of the car, but not your UBER driver who helps you put the luggage INTO the car. O and let’s not forget the the coat check person who is keeping your coat safe, but not your UBER driver who is keeping YOU and your loved ones safe, yes seems fare.

    • Fuck off you Uber driving piece of horse shit.

    • So in other words, your customer should jump through hoops and waste their time/money because you can’t be bothered to cancel yourself? F that.

      And a lot of people don’t carry cash (including me, unless I make a special effort to get cash for some purpose). I don’t doubt a lot of people are cheap, but a good chunk of those are both cheap AND not carrying cash.

    • I’ve had to cancel a number of Uber rides while I was in Thialand these past few months for the failure of drivers to show up – one started driving to me five minutes away then stopped and didn’t move for a while. When I texted him, he said he was in the bathroom and will be there in 10 minutes. I cancelled and got hit with cancellation charge. Another one spend 15 minutes and got nowhere close to me when I canceled. Yet another one actually did get close to me, then inexplicably turned around and started driving away.

      I asked Uber for refund of cancelation fees in all of these situations and they never did.

      As far as the CHEAPO tipping goes – that’s probably true. I use the service because it’s convenient and saves me money. I don’t need help with my bag, I don’t need water, suckers, etc. I just want to get from A to B for the price the app shows me. In hundreds of rides, there were maybe five that I felt the driver did something great that deserved a tip. Actually, make it one time. I still didn’t tip because while I do carry cash on me, it’s usually a $20 bill for something unexpected so I felt pretty bad afterwards. Still, I won’t be stuffing my wallet with one dollar bills on the off chance that I might tip someone one of the days.

  7. In Seattle, it’s illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against passengers based on destination, and I suspect this is the case in many other cities. Even though the law probably wouldn’t exactly translate (Ubers aren’t legally exactly taxis), I would guess that not giving drivers access to destination information is just a proactive way of avoiding potential lawsuits.

    • Yes, in NYC taxi drivers have never been legally able to discriminate based on your destination – that is a clear violation of the TLC rules, and could cost them their license. Despite that, before Uber existed, I had many taxi drivers refuse to take me to the Metro-North station on 125th Street and Park Ave. They had the doors locked, would roll down a window, ask me the destination, and then drive off. The reason was simply racism, they didn’t want to find themselves in Harlem looking for their next fare and having to take a person of color. I quickly figured out to stay mute, get into the cab, close the door, and politely ask that they take me to that destination – at which point many would argue that they are not headed uptown, its the end of their shift, they have to pick up a child, blah, blah, blah. I responded that if they didn’t take me I’d call 9-1-1 and swear a complaint, and their career would be over. This hassle completely ended with Uber’s arrival. Taxi drivers are now grateful for any ride they can get, and further the cars are cleaner, the drivers more polite, and they are (mostly) not speaking on their cell phones while driving.

      But from this thread it seems that Uber is getting complacent and allowing their drivers to fall into the same trap that medallion taxi’s used to be in when they had a monopoly – taking the customer for granted. If you don’t like the Uber service, use a taxi, or Lyft or … Let them know with your business that you will not tolerate their selective behavior.

      And I appreciate the blog. I will certainly NEVER tell an Uber driver my destination until I’m in the car.

    • Actually, it is not illegal for an UBER driver to refuse a ride based on destination. As an UBER driver, they are exempt of taxi rules because they are using their personal vehicles. They can refuse a ride based on destination just as they can refuse a ride for a friend or relative based on destination.

  8. Why would the Driver take you if the ride is unprofitable? They are probably waiting an hour in the queue at the airport and you are rewarding them with a low fare. Taxi drivers can’t legally refus3 rides but ride share obviously can.

    • Because that’s his fucking job? Fuck off you Uber driving Dick sucking shill cunt.

      • It’s actually not, not exactly. The Uber driver is a contractor, not an employee of Uber’s. He can accept or decline rides at his whim, though if he declines too often Uber can stop sending him rides altogether.

        And chill the hell out.

  9. That Uber CS agent in Manila was DEFINITELY onboarded in the last 3 months. Not exactly the word of God folks

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