Uber Drivers Should Not Be Asking You for Your Destination

When you book an Uber driver, you may get a phone call from the driver stating there’s a problem with the app and the driver cannot see your destination.

The driver may ask you what your destination is.  And then state that the app still isn’t working, and ask that you cancel the ride to “fix it”.

If an Uber driver calls you with this story, he or she isn’t telling you the truth.  The driver is trying to determine whether or not s/he wants to pick you up.  And may try to convince you to cancel the ride if your destination isn’t ideal.

uber app

There are two things you should know:

  1. Uber drivers will not know your destination until they reach you.  When they start the ride, your destination pops up.
  2. If you cancel after a certain amount of time, you may be charged a cancellation fee.

Uber has taken better steps to educate customers that Uber drivers should not be doing this.

Here’s a screen shot from the app:


My strategy is to be “overly helpful”.  I explain to them that they shouldn’t be seeing my destination until they pick me up.

Also, if a driver does end up convincing you to cancel, you can always email Uber and tell them the driver requested you cancel (or tap “help” in the app).

I’ve been canceled on a lot in the suburbs of New York City.  (It took me 20 minutes just to get booked on an Uber to Westchester Airport once).

Ultimately, you don’t have much control over this situation, but I find it helps to know the rules and signal you know them.

I had a driver do this last night.  Here was the series of tweets I sent out that inspired this post:

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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  1. I have had this happen twice from O’Hare. Because I live in neighborhood full of restaurants and bars, they are happy to take me home because they can get another ride right away. It still annoys me that they are doing this.

    • It annoys drivers that you are paying dirt cheap fares, so we are even.

      • It’s annoying that drivers like Rocky complain about fares though it is completely their own choice to drive for uber knowing that they only charge “dirt cheap” fares.

        • You want something for nothing. That’s why you use Uber instead of cabs! Then you cheap people don’t even tip. Bellhop places bags in trunk and you tip. Uber driver places bags in trunk AND takes out and guess what NO TIP!

    • Uber has lied to you..it is in our contracts that we can call you and ask you for your destination..If you are going somewhere that is too far or too dangerous then I have a right to refuse the ride..

  2. This happens to me all the time at FLL. When this happens I just leave the driver hanging until they finally give up and cancel and book a Lyft in the mean time.

  3. Left Handed Passenger

    I get that often of Lyft drivers, so they’re all trying to game things in their favor.

  4. Tell them if they want to cancel to do so at their end.

  5. I know this is a rule in place for Uber drivers, but just thought I’d throw out a contrarian view….

    My dad is an Uber driver. From the Uber driver’s perspective it can be pretty crappy to drive really far away only to have a customer want to take a 1 mile trip down the road. I get that this is the business model, but it still means the Uber driver is getting screwed.

    • @Ben how is that any different then a regular taxi? Except now they have the opportunity to select from multiple pick ups which would hopefully minimize their waiting time (not making money while waiting for the next fare).

      I typically have Uber’s cancel on me and then right afterwards I try to find another one and the surge has started. Basically they keep two phones running so they can see when the surge starts. That also shouldn’t be allowed. Or at least Uber should give the original pricing if canceled upon.

      • @Ben O. A regular taxi does not have to drive great lengths for a simple fare. That’s the difference. Plus, regular taxis that pick up passengers directly from the street are only required to drive within certain limits, usually of densely populated areas, such as the yellow cabs in Manhattan, New York.

        I don’t understand why Uber doesn’t allow the drivers to see the destination. At least give an approximate area.

        • I wanted to do either Uber or Lyft. My main concern would be since this would be a side job for me, what would happen if I accepted to drive someone and the distance is too far for me to get back to my main job ontime? My friend who used to drive for Uber told me he didn’t have a choice of which rides to take.

        • The reason why you can’t see the destination is because drivers will cherry pick rides and some customers will really get screwed over with long wait times..This will also clog up the uber system as it is designed to quickly match riders and drivers

      • If you have a driver drive 15 minutes to pick you up for a minimum fare, the driver may only make $2.30 on that trip. Uber will actually make more, $2.80 depending upon the minimum in your area. It’s a losing proposition for most rides. I agree that it sucks and people are trained not to tip by uber. Consider if it was a friend picking you up. Would you only pay them $2? Think about it.

      • If there is no difference between taxis and Uber, why the demand for Uber. I rest my case.

        • Because it’s cheaper for you, not for the independent contractor who’s on his own time trying to make a little extra money on the side. Taxi drivers are employees, and that’s why it cost more for taxi’s so the company can make a profit, afford their business and upkeep of the cars in order to keep running and also pay their drivers(employee). Uber drivers are not employees and have to pay all our taxes, mileage and gas and car repair expenses ourselves out of pocket and the profit we are earning from driving riders and Uber only pays out a small percentage of what you the rider actually paid, Uber is a system that scams drivers to believe we are independent contractors so they don’t have to pay/share tax responsibilities and stuff in our behave but then enforce rules that could consider you as an employee. Last taxi’s usually ask for your pickup location and destination your before they take when you call then they charge you per mileage/minutes during the trip not make an estimated guess like Uber does then charge you that price giving you a steal because the mileage/time is estimated no way for Uber to estimate traffic, delays, accidents, stop lights etc.

          • In many areas Taxi drivers are not employees they are contractors paying to lease the cab plus their gas. The taxi owner takes care of all cost for the cab. The big difference is driving a cab you can in some areas at least ear a living

    • The drivers are not “getting screwed” – that’s how the business they signed up for works. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t. And one of the reasons uber has been successful is that the taxi business was such a mess in many places, with corruption, taxi scams etc

      • Actually you are wrong about that. It’s a rideshare service not a publicly regulated commercial taxi service. As an independent driver using their private, non commercial vehicles, Uber drivers should have the right to do whichever rides they choose. But Uber deliberately hides the destination in order to compel drivers to do rides they would otherwise choose not to do. The result is a forced subsidy from driver to rider which allows prices to be kept artificially low.

        So yeah, the drivers are most definitely getting srewed

        • We are forced to take rides that we do not profit from, I don’t know how you can say that is not getting screwed. I don’t call passengers but I don’t blame the ones that do. Your rates are too low. Enjoy them while they last.

        • Thank you gene!! Someone has a brain!

        • Drivers have the right to work with Uber, or to choose not to. If it’s a losing proposition, drive for someone else.

          Don’t try to screw over the people who are paying you to provide an agreed-upon service.

          • Two points, Matt:
            1. The service isn’t “agreed-upon”, because drivers are paid by the ride, and key details about each ride are withheld.
            2. Drivers aren’t “screwing over” anyone who is “paying us”. We aren’t employees, and since we are paid by the ride, we should be free to accept the rides that make economic sense for us.

      • Hey man, you are talking crap. When you say drivers signed up to get this type of treatment that shows you don’t have a heart. Uber is taking advantage of people that have no choice for survival. Why would everything always be pleasing riders. How about pleasing drivers. If you don’t have meaningful things to say, please get the fuck out here.

    • Hey I get it. Uber is a slimy company with an unsustainable business model that is taking advantage of it’s drivers (until it can replace them with self-driving cars). But your dad doesn’t have to work for them. If scamming the customers is the only way to make a living at driving for Uber then maybe he should be looking for something else.

      • Drivers don’t WORK for Uber. The sooner you understand the reality that drivers have the legal right to decline rides for economic reasons — as any private car service does– the sooner you’ll understand that the service you are buying from Uber isn’t what you have been led to believe it is.

        • They have that right. and uber has the right to part ways with them. If drivers want to decline rides – by all means let them do so on their end.

          • Matt, If Uber were to fire drivers for not accepting money-losing rides, it would be evidence of their “control” over drivers, and would prove that drivers should be properly classified as employees and not independent contractors.

            The principle is pretty simple: an independent driver that is paid by the trip needs to have the choice to accept a trip or not. The more Uber tries to prevent that choice (by either hiding key information needed to make the choice, or firing drivers for their choices), the more they are acting as an employer, and would be forced to reclassify drivers as employees.

            Lawsuits are already pending about this, and Uber needs to walk a fine line to not exert the kind of control you suggest.

  6. You never know how long the driver has been waiting in the airport queue. It’s polite to tip the driver if you’re clearly inconveniencing them.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      I agree on the tip part. If I take an Uber to go three blocks (sudden wind/snow, etc), I usually tip 100% in cash. I only do that in the city, though, where they don’t really need to travel to get to me.

      • @jeanne..the only reason why a driver should ask for your destination is because some customers are going too far..I have some customers that wanted to go from Cleveland to Columbus..that is a 2hr trip that I will not do..

  7. I’ve had this happen several times at DFW. The uber drivers want to get back inside the terminal area within a certain amount of time so they don’t have to pay the entrance fee again. If your hotel is too far away for them to do that they will try to get you to cancel.

  8. Uber drivers at Dulles Airport (IAD) will always call you for your designation, if you don’t say DC, they will cancel the ride, as in they do not like local designation like Fairfax, Chantilly, they want the longer fare to DC.

  9. In NYC Uber drivers routinely cancel rides booked at non surge when surge commences. The worst part is that Uber always chabrges the passenger a cancel fee AND(as stated by others) does not honor the previous booked fare but charges surge for the new ride.
    I find Uber’ s policies of questionable legality but they have made it impossible to contact a higher level. While I never thought I would feel this way, Uber’s behavior has made a strong argument for more regulation.

  10. I would argue that drivers should know the destination before accepting the ride. Uber is (or at least should be) an ultimate representation of the free market, with surge pricing and all. Part of that should be drivers knowing exactly what they’re getting into before accepting a ride.

    • Absolutely! If you want this to be an on-demand taxi service where drivers are obligated to take every fare wherever they want to go, then it needs to be regulated as such: reduce the service area, limit the number of cars and impose fares that compensate the driver at a fair rate. But if you try to force drivers to do long money-losing rides, don’t be surprised if they find creative ways to avoid them.

  11. As an Uber driver, I have called to ask a rider’s destination before. There can be many reasons for this. For me, my daughter needs to be picked up from school at 1PM. I can’t take someone to the airport at noon and be back in time to get her, but I would like to drive until 1. Or, while this is not my case, some female drivers may not feel comfortable driving to certain parts of town at night. Drivers should be given all of the information upfront so that we can make an informed decision about whether or not a particular ride would be in our best interest. As an independent contractor, it is our right to choose which work we accept.

  12. The fact is, fares are too low for drivers to make a profit doing rideshare. Imagine a driver driving to apick up point and the destination is 10 minutes away. On the other hand, if you are 7 minutes away and the destination is an hour drive (the fare could be $100 minus 25% to 30% that uber takes away.), tit means the driver has to deadhead back to his home base. Minus gas, maintenance and car payments, that driver made peanuts. Uber should increase their rates. Two years ago, when the rates seemed reasonable, none of these shenanigans happened. With that said, TIPS were never included in the fare. Do the math. Uber is a greedy company. They are squeezing the drivers out of profitability. Good luck!

  13. Brandon Eggleston

    This is why it’s VERY important for passengers to fight to have Uber raise the fares! If passengers actually told Uber that the fares are so low they have a hard time getting an Uber because the driver doesn’t want to drive for less than minimum wage then Uber might start listening. So the story you need to be telling is that passengers need to complain to Uber that the fares are too low!

  14. As a uber and lyft driver

    I do not normally call a pax to ask for destination. The exception is if distance to pickup is more than 15 minutes and it is location going away from where i want to go.

    If I drive 15 minutes to drive a pax 2 miles I lose money. These short rides should tip but usually do not. Would you drive 15 minutes for $2.60? And pay your own gas to do so?

  15. I confirm destination… I don’t ask for it.

  16. Not correct if a person just wants to use your car to go to a high crime area and by drugs and make you wait …you have the right to know…it is your personal property

  17. I’ve never called a passenger to ask where they are going but I’m getting to the point where I might have to. For me, it’s not the short rides that I would reject. As someone said above, if I only have an hour or two left to drive, I cannot take someone to NYC from the suburbs. So I wind up stopping because I’m afraid of getting stuck far away. Uber lets you choose a destination and only get requests along your route (so if you’re stuck far away, you don’t go even farther from home), but what they need to do is let me say, I’m almost done with my shift , please don’t send me on any rides outside of westchester county”. There has to be fairness on both sides.

  18. No. The only thing calling you for your destination gets the driver is a better cancellation rate and the convenience of not having to drive to a pick up location where the only exchange that’s going to happen is a brief conversation and a cancelled ride. They don’t have to take you anywhere, and can cancel your trip at any time. So if they do call to ask you, it behooves you tell them, so that you don’t waste their time and your time while they drive to the pick up location.

    Eventually Uber is going to have to either a) make drivers employees, or b) conceed that they can’t hide the destination until pick up, in an attempt to force independent drivers to take fares that aren’t profitable. In the meantime, just tell the poor driver where you’re going, if they ask, otherwise they’ll probably just cancel you anyway. Have a better ride, and get there faster. Everyone wins, except maybe Uber, which won’t be able to have their cake and eat it too. Boohoo.

  19. Let’s be clear Uber passengers are 85% bratzillas. Demanding water & mints then giving a zero rating because after all the how dare a driver not satisfy their every diva demand & trust me. Even the passengers really wouldn’t care to deal with attitudes the passengers give out consistently. So yes the driver should have the right to refuse beastly brat customers.

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