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.
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:
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.
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
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.