should I feel guilty about driving for Uber when others need the work more?

A reader writes:

I recently started driving for Uber on the side. I have a full-time job that actually pays very well, so I don’t need the money, but I also like to travel and have been putting my Uber money towards my travel fund. Recently I was taken rather harshly to task by another driver for taking business away from drivers who need it to survive and support their families, when I am amply supported by my full-time job. I can see his point, but it also seems like there’s plenty of business for everyone. But now I’m feeling guilty about driving when it’s something I can easily do without.

Well, by his logic, you should also feel guilty about having a full-time job if you could get by with a part-time job, or for working at all if your spouse’s income could support you both, or for applying to new jobs when you’re already employed because an unemployed candidate might need the work more. It’s also pretty similar what women in the workforce were told at one point — that they were taking jobs away from men with families to support.

Also, who’s to say that the vacancy created if you stopped driving would be filled by someone who needed it to survive? Your spot could be filled by someone who uses the earnings to fund an out-of-control gaming addiction, or to build an army of terrifying robots who will someday destroy us all. We don’t know.

Jobs aren’t parceled out according to a hierarchy of need. You’re allowed to use paying work to help you pursue what you want to do in life, even when it takes you beyond minimal survival needs.

{ 345 comments… read them below }

  1. Big McLargeHuge

    I’m completely on board with AAM’s response here. It’s something you enjoy doing and you’re working toward a goal. Can’t really worry about what the other guy is saying.

    Side note, if you do take on one of the other goals Alison suggests… I, for one, would accept our new robot overlords.

    1. Jerzy

      The thing about the Terminator movies is that they completely leave out how Skynet was actually started by some guy who drove for Uber when he already had a full-time job! If only people would only work exactly how much they needed to, without trying to earn more than what they need to survive, then robots will never enslave humanity and we’d never have to see an aging Arnold reprise one of his most beloved roles.

      1. Artemesia

        Excellent point. And they would also not encourage modes of employment that are gutting the jobs that pay benefits and allow a middle class life style.

    2. Lily in NYC

      I see your game. Kissing up to the new robot overlords in hopes that they might give you some role in their new government.

  2. WorkingMom

    No way! Do not feel guilty about working hard and earning good money as a result. If other people want to do the same, they can. On their own. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty for making extra money – you’re doing extra work! Good for you!

  3. The IT Manager

    +1. That guy was an a$$. Maybe he’s a desperate a$$ who feels the pressure to put food on the table, but Uber is not charity that provides work for in need people. It’s a business designed to make money for Uber and it’s drivers and to subvert the taxi industry (I think). Ignore that guy and keep driving.

    1. Temperance

      It’s doing an awesome job of subverting the taxi industry here (Philadelphia). I prefer it because it’s more reliable than a cab, Uber is cleaner than Philadelphia cabs, and I can trust Uber to pick me up in neighborhoods where cabs traditionally won’t go.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I use Lyft but like it for the same basic reasons. I also love that I can see exactly where the driver is when on their way to me (as opposed to the cab companies here, whose time estimates aren’t always accurate).

        1. Allison

          Same here. I have accounts with both Uber and Lyft, I’ve used them both, I’ve found that Lyft is just as good a service but for less money, and I’ve never experienced surge pricing with them, even on Saturday when the weather was awful.

            1. Liana

              I’m also going to recommend Lyft. I used to use Uber, but switched to Lyft some time ago for various reasons and am glad I did. I especially use it in the mornings when I need to get to work and the T is running late (which is always). Even when I had a bit of an upsetting experience with a driver earlier this year (he found out where I worked and showed up unannounced to ask me out), I called Lyft immediately and explained what happened, and they were really understanding and helpful. Definitely give them a shot.

              1. Allison

                Oof! That’s really bad, I’m sorry that happened.

                Did you take Lyft this morning? I heard the red line is really messed up today, and will be for most of the week.

                1. Liana

                  I did! My commute is straight down the E line, so theoretically it should be easy, but it’s constantly running late, or just being slow. I used to live near Porter Square and taking the red line was atrocious in the winter. I lucked out last winter – I moved to a place that was within walking distance of work and it was an absolute lifesaver. I had coworkers coming in from Quincy and I felt so sorry for them.

                  As for the rogue driver, it was pretty unnerving – I work at a grocery store part time to help pay off my student loans a bit quicker, and that was the job he showed up to. I routinely work until midnight so I’ve been a bit nervous that he’ll show up at night when I’m heading home, but I haven’t seen him yet. As for Lyft, they were really great about it – I called them the day after it happened and the customer service rep was extremely understanding and gentle (I was kind of freaking out on the phone) and immediately set my account so that I would never be matched up with him again. I also spoke to a Trust and Safety supervisor who said she would address the issue with the driver, and they even gave me a $25 credit toward my next ride. So to make a long post short, I’m pretty pleased with my Lyft service.

                2. Liza

                  I checked Uber this morning when I got off the T (without having gone anywhere, just stood on an unmoving T for five minutes)* but it was at least 15 minutes and 2.8x surge pricing. I actually like surge pricing because it does get more drivers on the roads, but I decided I could get a bus a lot sooner than that–and I did.

                  * I will say the T was very good with updates this morning! The engineer kept getting on the intercom and explaining what was going on.

                3. TL -

                  Ha. I took the red line today and got booted off and then put back on the same train because they couldn’t figure out if it was switching directions or not. (In Quincy, so I ended up freezing for ten minutes before getting back on the train. Sigh.)

                4. Persephone

                  There’s also Fasten in the Boston area. Same concept, but a lot of their marketing is around how they don’t have surge pricing. I used them last weekend to get from an event I was at to the parking lot my care was in. Cost me nothing since a friend gave me a promo code, but it only would have cost $5 to go across the seaport district.

              2. Amy

                Love seeing other Bostonians, Cantabridgians, and Somervillagers on AAM! I also live by Porter and last winter was horrific for red line travel!!!

                1. Liana

                  I always get so happy when I see people talk about living in Boston – even if it’s complaining about the T! Hope you’re all handling the delays okay :)

              3. Broke Law Student

                I recommend fasten since it sounds like you’re in the Boston area. Super cheap–it costs me about $16 to get from my apartment near Harvard Square to the airport–and the drivers apparently like it better because they get to keep more of the money they earn. Plus, if you have a friend with one, you can get their promo code for your first ride free up to $20!

          1. SL #2

            Interesting, because every time I take Lyft, the pricing always ends up being more than what Uber would’ve cost. But then again, my heavy Uber-ing days were when I was in a market where they were definitely in a price war with Lyft.

            1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

              I find that in my city as well. Unless there is surge pricing Uber always has better prices.

              But Lyft has been running a ton of promos, like $10 off a ride.

          2. Dan

            Lyft was on record as saying that they weren’t going to charge any surge pricing during this weekend’s weather event.

            Uber was on record as saying their surge prices were going to be capped at the third highest peak time in the last 90 days. (Apparently NYE generated some nasty surge pricing, and Uber wanted to avoid that as the max.)

            I have to admit, I’m a bit of a capitalist at heart, and more or less support the concept of surge pricing — particularly during a weather event. If the roads are nasty and therefore more risky, shouldn’t the driver be compensated accordingly?

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

              Yeah, I’m a big believer in dynamic pricing. It’s such a smart market mechanism.

              A clothing rental service I use (Gwynnie Bee) uses dynamic pricing. Tons of folks complain about it, but I think it works especially well for that environment – their core business is to RENT clothing. It’s bad for business for clothing items to be removed from circulation (by being purchased by a user), but they’ll do it… for the right price, dependent on how many other users have indicated that they want to borrow the item. So, so smart.

                1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  Literally life changing, right? I’ve been a member for 3.5 years, and I can’t imagine going back to life without it.

                2. Persephone

                  I had to cancel my membership sadly. My hair is currently dyed ombre purple, and the color sometimes gets on my clothing. I’d hate for that to happen while wearing something of theirs, because it doesn’t come out. Since I primarily get tops and dresses from them, I wanted to put a hold on my account. Turns out I could only cancel, not suspend or put on hold. So when I go back, I’ll have to pay a higher rate instead of being grandfathered into my current rate.

                  Because of that, I don’t think I’m going to renew if my hair returns to a natural color. Also wasn’t a fan of their incessant emails when I first cancelled at the end of my free trial a couple of years ago. Really didn’t need that constant reminder that I couldn’t spend money on much while trying to save for a down payment on a house…

              1. LawCat

                This looks very interesting to me, especially since I’m in sizing flux (have been losing weight, but not wanting to buy a new wardrobe until I meet my goal, feeling like I could be looking sharper though).

                I don’t understand the pricing scheme in the FAQ though. Do they bill you weekly? Monthly? Every time you exchange garments? Some other interval?

                Kind of excited to know more!

            2. neverjaunty

              Which would be great if the point of surge pricing were to make sure the driver was appropriately compensated, but it isn’t.

                1. Book Person

                  In some places, Uber has now cut drivers’ earnings to $0.30/mile and has increased their “safe ride” fee from $1.00 to $2.30. I don’t know all the intricacies of the payment system–does their per mile fee go up during surges?–but there were a series of tweets collected over the past few weeks through an article on Medium with drivers outlining how they were actually now losing money (in terms of gas and car upkeep) on some fares.

                2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  Book Person – yes, drivers benefit from surge pricing. That’s why it works – they increase what drivers can earn during a surge so that they can provide enough service during periods of high demand.

                3. Dan

                  Book Person —

                  Which is why I’m all for Uber drivers quitting if they’re not making money. I suppose the economics are a bit bizarre, but if enough Uber drivers quit, then surge pricing will likely be enacted more often. Many people criticize Uber NYC for more or less being in perpetual surge. If that’s truly the case, from a marketing perspective, Uber should increase the price.

            3. Allison

              I understand surge pricing as well, in that it gets more drivers on the road when they’re needed, but I also like that Uber has decided to set a cap during critical times. I get spending more money for a ride at busy times, but at a certain point it gets ridiculous.

              And when I did take Lyft in the snow, I made sure the driver got a good tip. When I ordered takeout later, I tipped 20% when I ordered via GrubHub but then gave the driver a few more bucks when he dropped off the food.

            4. Honeybee

              It also has the flip side of lowering user demand. I’m certainly not going to take an Uber if there’s 10x surge pricing, but for some others they value that quick trip home that much so they’re willing to pay. I’m a capitalist at heart too I suppose :)

              1. Dan

                That’s exactly how the system is supposed to function — they really want people to get a ride with minimal wait, so surge serves two purposes — increase supply (incentivize more drivers) and reduce demand.

          3. Honeybee

            I have experienced surge pricing with Lyft but the pricing is usually lower. Lyft also has specials and sales on trips all the time. But for me the biggest motivator for Lyft is that they allow me to tip my driver right from the app. Not only does Uber not allow that, they are somewhat opposed to putting the functionality in the app itself.

              1. Andrea

                I think for most places this is true, since it’s built into the cost. But NYC, at least is an exception! In NYC, Uber gets the cab to you, but you still have to pay the driver (and tip!) directly. People who visit me are always surprised.

              2. Alison Read

                Uber would like to have people think the tip is built in but if you’re using their lower services (i.e. Uber X/XL/hop/pool) there is no room for a tip. The cost is typically < 1/2 the cost of a cab… You tip the cabbie, right? I find it obnoxious that Uber refuses to allow the tip function.

                As for the OP I hope they are calculating the true cost of driving – Uber now tales 25-28% of the fare. Mileage cost is in the $0.55/mile range. The drivers are responsible for self employment tax in addition to income tax… For a $1.10/mile rate that driver is only seeing $0.275/mile – YES you should tip them!

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          Yes, all of this. Literally everything about the Uber/Lyft experience is better for users: the cars are cleaner, newer, and more comfortable; the cost (in my area) is less; the service is always very fast, and always on time; etc. etc. etc. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve called a cab and literally never had it show up. This was an industry that was begging for disruption.

          1. Allison

            I hate getting a cab. I hate trying to hail a cab. I hate trying to call for one and either not understanding what the dispatcher is saying or being yelled at for calling instead of going outside and just waiting for one to drive by. I hate being told that the cab will take a credit card only to be told there’s a minimum and I don’t have enough cash to cover the ride (I once stopped a driver a mile short of my house and gave him all the cash I had when he told me “we can work something out”).

            Don’t get me wrong, I’ve totally encountered rude Uber drivers and had difficult rides, but I’ve also had straight up terrifying rides in cabs, so I’ll take the Uber/Lyft when public transit isn’t an issue.

            1. Temperance

              I had one terrifying experience where the driver told me that my CC hadn’t run through, and I had “better give him the cash fare”. He locked the doors and drove past my stop. I’m kind of .. salty, so I pointed out that the screen indicated that my fare went through, so should I call his dispatcher to check on this? He then let me out, but an angry man trapping me in a cab and acting like he wasn’t going to let me leave was an awful experience.

              I have had other garden-variety shitty cab experiences, but that time, I felt like I was in danger.

              1. Dan

                Yeah, I’ve seen some very nasty cab drivers, people who don’t belong in the customer service business. If Uber puts them out of business, I’m not shedding too many tears.

              2. I'm a Little Teapot

                Yikes! I’m … also salty, and I’d probably call the police at that point.

                My scary cab experience was telling a cabbie to take me to North Station in Boston – but he drove me out in the opposite direction and kept ignoring my directions to turn around until we reached Wellesley – miles away from my destination. At that point I called the person I was meeting and told her I’d be late and I was afraid the driver was kidnapping me. As soon as he realized someone else knew where I was, he turned around, drove me back in to North Station, and charged me the whole $40 fare, claiming he needed the money for his seven children and blah blah something about Jesus. I fell for his guilt trip and paid up, but later I reported him to the police.

                1. Kassy

                  I’m so sorry you were ripped off! But honestly, you were probably smarter to pay and GTFO of the situation.

          2. INTP

            The cabs not showing up issue is HUGE in San Diego. Even downtown, in the neighborhoods that are easy for cabs to access. For a long time I double booked cabs, screwing over one driver if both did show up – which I know sucked, but I had to get to the airport. The one time I decided to be nice and book one cab with buffer time instead of booking two, there was an event in my neighborhood I didn’t know about, so my driver chose not to pick me up and no other cab company would send anyone. I had to drive a mile to the airport and leave my car in a paid lot instead of a $10 cab ride. I’ve also gotten stuck at the airport at night when I just got a very scary vibe from the first cab in the line and none of the others would take me due to the agreement they had worked out (I’ve taken group shuttles when a cab would have been cheaper for this reason).

            So yeah, I am all for disruption to that industry. Just being able to confirm that your driver is, in fact, coming to get you is tremendously helpful.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

              YES, this — in areas where there is a cab line, you don’t even have a choice of drivers/cars/etc. Whereas with Uber I can check out a driver’s ratings and make my choice based on that. It’s an imperfect system, for sure (I haven’t read any research about this, but I’m pretty much 100% sure that drivers of color routinely receive lower ratings than white drivers, because racism is so very alive), but it’s better (for me, the user; I can’t speak to the driver side) than the alternative.

            2. Green

              Yes. People trying to get you to pay with cash when you need to use a credit card (I have to use it for business reimbursements). Varying states of decay/lack of seatbelts in the car. Not tuning on the AC. Pretending to be off the clock when they don’t like where you are going (i.e., quick ride in the rain or neighborhood they don’t want to drive back from). Haven’t had any of those issues with Uber (yet), but if I do, I can always leave a rating.

              1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

                Yes. People trying to get you to pay with cash when you need to use a credit card (I have to use it for business reimbursements).

                I had a yellow cab driver *yell* at me for not having cash.

                I also have had cab drivers lie and say their machine is broken, and when I pointed out the city ordinance was that they couldn’t drive without a working card machine, magically they could get it to work.

                1. INTP

                  Yeah, I’ve encountered a number of magical credit card machines that suddenly repair themselves when I say that I don’t have cash and can pay by card or not at all.

                  Kind of like how in France small bills appear in the register when yelling at the customer for not having exact change because you can’t make change doesn’t work :P

            3. Temperance

              I HATE THE CAB LINE. There is one company in particular that I refuse to use if I’m taking a cab (one of their drivers followed me through the Whole Foods parking lot, honking and rearing up on me, and then flipped me off when he passed me … I was walking too slow, apparently, and in his way … their dispatcher said it was “my fault” when I called her to complain), and I’ve tried going to a different cab to avoid them, and they refuse because of the agreement. Such BS. We should be able to choose the driver we want.

            4. Lizauthor

              This! When I lived in a Philadelphia suburb they had two cab companies, only one took credit cards and the other closed every night at 7 PM (?!?). So, I used the one that accepted cards. However, I had to wait upwards of two hours to get home from the grocery store. So. I will have no compassion if Uber drives those companies right out of business.

            5. Not the Droid You are Looking For

              The cabs not showing up issue is HUGE in San Diego. Even downtown, in the neighborhoods that are easy for cabs to access.

              This is a *huge* issue where I am too; and unfortunately it’s a big city with a *huge* DUI problem.

              Too often cab drivers just don’t show, or they get to you and find out you’re going beyond the five-mile radius of downtown (I live 8 miles out) and refuse the ride.I had to pick up a friend from the bars at 1:15 a.m. because the cab they had booked for 11 p.m. never show and the cab company refused to send a second cab out.

              The city is fighting with Uber and Lyft now over regulations, and we are all on pins and needles hoping it works out.

          3. Cupcake

            I once caught a cab in Manhattan and took it to Queens and after I’d paid and tipped, the guy yelled at me at for getting into a cab at 5:55 and taking it all the way to Queens when his shift was over at 6 and he wanted to go home, but nooo, he had to drive me all the way to Queens.

            Pal, you legally have to take me to Queens if you pick me up. And if you want to go home at 6 on the dot, don’t be so greedy about making that last couple of bucks gaming that the passenger wants to go only a few blocks.

            1. Honeybee

              I can’t tell you the number of cab drivers that have tried to tell me they’re “off duty” (but your light is on, and you stopped for my street hail) or tried to negotiate a higher price than the meter (no!) or even flat-out refused to take me where I was going (calling 311 on you rightnow). I used to live on 119th & Amsterdam in Manhattan and earlier in life lived even further uptown than that, near 172nd & Broadway. Cabs NEVER wanted to take me home. I had to jump in them, tell them my destination and then refuse to get out of the cab, and sometimes I have to threaten to call 311 on them.

              If you don’t want to drive to upper Manhattan or Queens or Brooklyn, don’t drive a cab! Not everybody lives in Manhattan below 96th!

              1. Andrea

                I used to have this experience this too, but in Brooklyn. (And in Brooklyn Heights, too, which is barely over the bridge! Cmon.) I actually think Uber has been GOOD for drivers in this regard, because Uber makes it more likely they’ll find a return fare.

              2. Koko

                Years back I dated a guy who lived in Baltimore and we learned you had to negotiate cab fare in advance whenever catching a cab away from a nightlife area. We used to joke there was the “sober rate” and the “drunk rate” because they never gouged on the way TO the bars. They waited til you were drunk and had no other way home and were already in the car to gouge you. So we learned that when the car pulled up, we would open the door and before getting inside offer them a flat rate to take us to his apartment, if they wouldn’t take it we waited for the next cab.

                Of course this won’t work if you’re trying to get to an undesirable area. In those cases you’re going to want to be inside the cab with the door shut before you reveal your destination.

          4. Honeybee

            I would say the one place I’ve lived where all of that isn’t necessarily true is NYC. In NYC if the weather is good and there’s nothing big happening (which is most days), hailing a taxi is easier and the cost is probably about the same or less. Also, if the weather is bad, it’s difficult to get a cab but it is ALSO difficult to get an Uber, and quite expensive. Plus public transit is so good that you’re not choosing between Uber/Lyft, a cab, and nothing else. One day I chose to get drenched taking the subway home instead of taking an Uber because the surge pricing was at like 4x and there were no cabs, nowhere.

            BUT I have since lived in other cities with MUCH less reliable cab service, and Uber/Lyft is so much better than anything they have to offer. After moving to central PA and being literally left out in the cold by cabs that never came, or called me 2 hours after their arrival time, I was like “Ohhhh THIS is why they are so popular.” Uber and Lyft are also useful in NYC for leaving places really late at night (after about 1-2 am) or coming from places that cabs don’t like to drive around (like Queens or Brooklyn. I’m black, and I’ve been zoomed by by cabs that have clearly seen me flag them and have no other fares anywhere on the street in sight, but I’ve never been passed up by an Uber.)

        3. neverjaunty

          I use Flywheel and Curb for the same thing – I’m not sure they’re available outside of SF and LA, though. But at least then I’m not feeding money to Uber, which is a horrible company.

        4. afiendishthingy

          I heard a story on NPR recently saying Lyft treats their drivers better. I’ve only used Uber before, but I think I will give Lyft a try.

        5. Shannon

          It’s not uncommon to wait 4 hours for a cab where I live. Between that and the fact that I had the Uber app that let me put my foot down in a really bad situation, I’m an Uber fan for life.

      2. Mike C.

        It’s also likely violating a ton of labor classification laws and there have been multiple reports of ADA compliance issues, women being driven off to the middle of nowhere late at night and members of certain racial groups repeatedly being mysteriously marked as “no shows” and never seeing their car.

        1. Temperance

          As part of my job, I do a lot of work with senior citizens, many of whom have mobility issues. Uber drivers always treat them well, show up when I expect them, and are courteous and polite. Most of the elders that I work with are African American.

          I’ve had cabs no show on these clients, and on one memorable occasion, drive past my client because they thought they could get more money from the person at the luxury hotel up the block who was hailing a cab. My client was on an oxygen tank and needed to get home ASAP to get a new tank.

          I’ve had cabs refuse to drive me to clients’ homes, and refuse to pick me up from their neighborhoods. I’m female, young-looking, and on the small side, and I’ve felt unsafe in many cabs, but never in an Uber.

            1. Temperance

              Have you been in a Philadelphia cab? So many of the drivers are rude, aggressive, and frankly incompetent and sneaky. Anything that might bust up the taxicab lobby stronghold here is a good thing.

              1. Mike C.

                I’m not advocating in favor of cab companies, I’m advocating for the law.

                If cab companies aren’t following the law then they need to be smacked around for it. But at the same time it doesn’t excuse Uber for pulling much of the same crap. I only spoke of Uber because that’s what people are talking about.

              2. Sunflower

                I also live in Philly and Cab drivers break the law all the time. The worst part is it’s the individual cab driver that personally breaks the laws.
                1. THEY REFUSE TO TAKE CREDIT CARDS. It’s the law to take them but cabs will refuse to pick me up or kick me out of a cab because I don’t have cash. They also lie and claim their machines are broken.
                2. I see at least 1 accident per day involving a cab. They always claim it’s not their fault when it is- if you’re merging into a lane and hit someone it’s your fault
                3. They are incredibly unsafe. They run lights, stop signs, make sudden stops, endanger pedestrians.
                4. When the pick me up late at night, they will try to take a longer way to jack up the fare and think I don’t notice.

                In Philly we’ve had a lot of protests by these drivers and I can’t get behind them for these reasons. Cabs have been terrible for a long time and the city hasn’t cared. They only reason they care now is because they are losing money. Even with losing money, they have no interest in trying to improve the cabs here. I don’t even believe Philly would allow Uber to operate legally if they purchased medallions TBH

                1. Temperance

                  A woman who worked at my firm a few years ago was mowed down by a cab while she legally crossed the street in a crosswalk. Their insurance paid her the minimum, even though her medical bills were astronomical and she is now too disabled to work. I hate cabs.

                  The city didn’t care because the cab lobby has the city in their pocket. I really don’t think that the city would allow Uber because they aren’t as generou$ with politicians, if you know what I mean.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            The ratings in the app do make it easier to weed out the bad drivers (I suspect the OP ran into one of those in the little contretemps in the letter), and the taxi industry could benefit from that, but I still feel that these new services are more ways to circumvent licensing and insurance requirements than innovations. But then, my grandfather made a living as a taxi driver for many years, and I have a lot of sympathy for the independent operators who put a huge financial investment into buying a license or medallion. And I read plenty of complaints about Uber and Lyft drivers refusing to take certain passengers (particularly those with service dogs) or make certain trips.

            1. Temperance

              I don’t know how it works elsewhere, but the insurance requirements for a cab in my city are laughably low – $15,000 per injured person. That’s Philadelphia, though, and our cab industry is notoriously corrupt, FWIW.

              I have personally only had issues with cabs. I do find it awful if people with disabilities are being discriminated against, and I hope Uber is taking steps to correct those issues.

              1. Mike C.

                Does Uber even require proof of commercial insurance? Not to mention the whole sketchy, “oh I didn’t have a passenger in my car at the time therefore I can totally use my normal car insurance for this” issue.

                Good luck getting an insurance company to pay up at all in those situations.

                1. neverjaunty

                  Uber is very, very, very sketchy, and fought tooth and nail against insurance requirements beyond ‘sticking it to the driver if something went wrong’.

                2. Sarah

                  Yep, everything about Uber is sketchy from an insurance liability standpoint. I know they’re super convenient, but the drivers don’t get paid as well as they legally ought to and when they get in an accident — it’s lie (and hope the lie works and the other driver doesn’t get the contact info of any of your passengers) or take a huge financial hit.

                3. Natalie

                  Depends on which Uber service you’re using – there’s Uber Black and UberX. UberX is the Lyft-style, any random Joe in their car service. Uber Black (which is how Uber started) are state-licensed limo companies that aren’t allowed to accept street hails. The limo companies obviously carry whatever kind of insurance is required in your state.

                  If you’re surprised to find out that there are 2 different services, don’t be – Uber is deliberately unclear about this because UberX competes on price but Uber Black has the whole “licensed commercial drivers” thing.

                  And, FWIW, some states do require UberX drivers to carry specific insurance. Mine does, and Uber corporate threw a giant fit when it was initially proposed, suggesting it was going to run them out of the state. It didn’t.

                  (My tone aside, I actually really like Uber’s concept and service from a user staindpoint, but I find the corporate office odious.)

                4. Violet Fox

                  Not really sure about the US, but I live in one of the countries where UberPop is considered flat out illegal because of lack of commercial/taxi driver’s license as well as lack of commercial insurance. Not to mention the whole private vehicle thing. The insurance companies here have pretty much flat out said that they will treat people driving for UberPop like any other pirate taxi. As in, bye-bye insurance, and bye-bye car when the police get ahold of you.

            2. Observer

              I feel bad for the folks that have put the huge investment in medallions. But that, in and of itself, is a symptom of the problems with the taxi industry. The artificial scarcity that the medallions fostered was NOT a benefit to the public – and not even the drivers. For one thing, if you need to put that much money, all at once, into getting into the field, you are getting yourself into years of debt, which means that the high prices the rider pays for the ride is not even benefiting the driver. A HUGE chunk of it is going to the bank (or loan shark) that financed the deal. For another, in many cities like New York, most drivers are NOT independent. It’s just too expensive to buy a medallion, so they are purchased by companies who, as often as not, treat their drivers like garbage. They also do stuff that really puts both the drivers, customers and general public at risk. I don’t know why this is even legal, but 12 hour shifts are normal, and 16-20 hours shifts are not unheard of.

          2. Katniss

            To be fair, no show isn’t just an issue with cabs. I had this happen to me with a Lyft just this weekend, AND the guy attempted to charge me. The good thing about something like Lyft is that I was able to contact the company and get not just a refund, but a credit.

            1. Sunflower

              That’s another huge thing. The customer service with Uber and Lyft is amazing. I had a driver forget to stop a ride and they had credited me back within 12 hours of email. There is NO customer service with cabs.

          3. OhNo

            Seriously, cabs are the worst when it comes to ADA issues. I don’t even live in a city that depends heavily on cabs, but every single time that I’ve ever tried to call a cab, either the company sends the wrong type of car (they’re forever sending regular vans when I specifically say that I need a sedan or a wheelchair-accessible van), or the driver will refuse to drive me because they say they aren’t required to help me with my chair. Which would be fine – but I don’t NEED any help with it! Just run the meter while I take it apart and put it in!

            Argh, Sorry, I just hate cabs. I’ve never tried Uber or Lyft, but all my friends really like them so I think I’m going to give them a call next time I need an emergency ride.

          4. Broke Law Student

            I once called an uber from a bar after I’d been drinking moderately. Another uber showed up (he had the decal) and said some name, not mine. so I said “oh you’re not my driver, I think mine is on the next block” or whatever. He tried to convince me that they could switch riders. When mine said he’d shown up and I couldn’t find him, I told the uber driver I was calling him, and he said “just give me the phone and I’ll tell him I’m taking you home” and tried to take the phone. So yeah, uber drivers can be creepy and make you feel unsafe too–I’ve had several friends with negative experiences from getting hit on, etc. by uber drivers.

        2. AW

          Yeah, I’m not impressed with the whole “we want to be a taxi company without being classified as a taxi company thing”. I also just realized after reading Alison’s comment that I never read about these problems with Lyft, just Uber. (Maybe they do and I just don’t hear about it?)

          1. neverjaunty

            Lyft is also doing the ‘rules magically don’t apply to us’ thing, but Uber is horrible on so many other levels – for example, trying to run Lyft out of business by booking and canceling rides en masse with Lyft drivers, sharing people’s private information, threatening to harass journalists… seriously, they’re just terrible.

                1. neverjaunty

                  Depending on where you live, you might also check out cab hailing apps like Flywheel and Curb, which have the same thing like driver identification, tracking when the ride is going to show up, prepay through the app, etc.

          2. Artemesia

            I hate to see our economy devolve into a state where there are no good jobs with benefits just people scrambling for crumbs that fall off the table and working as contractors where all the hazard falls to them. I live in a city where cabs are great — they are reliable, easy to hale and don’t raise prices when it rains. And they are also required to have insurance and drivers licenses.

            1. Dan

              You’re lucky that you live in a city with good cab service, Uber and Lyft couldn’t get a stronghold if enough cities had cabs that were up to par.

              I do agree with you about economics, which is why I encourage Uber drivers who are not satisfied with their economic arrangement to quit, not shake down passengers for tips.

              If Uber drivers continue to drive for Uber if they’re not making any money, that says more about our economy than it does Uber itself. Nobody is forcing Uber drivers to drive for peanuts. If that’s the best job they can find? Well, we can’t say “it’s awesome that Uber costs less than cabs” and “Uber drivers should make more money” in the same sentence. They really do go hand in hand.

              1. neverjaunty

                Your first sentence is not true. Companies that evade (or outright break) regulations that their competition has to follow are going to have an enormous advantage, well beyond what they would get from better service. Same for companies that misclassify employees as independent contractors.

                1. Natalie

                  But they didn’t start by ignoring or breaking regulations. Uber essentially started as a mobile booking service for limo companies (car services). Car services in New York, where they began, and most markets, can’t take street hails. If you book them through an app, it meets the legal requirements of a car service while still being responsive enough to compete with cabs.

                  Their company was car services only for years before they added UberX. When they started in my city the car service version was still competitive with cabs, that’s how expensive cabs are here.

                2. Dan

                  I traveled a good bit of Asia for a month over the winter holidays. Uber was around in many places, and I used it. Many people told me that the locals tend to stick to cabs, and that Uber is for tourists. Where I was in Malaysia, the cabs even had apps, and that’s what the locals did.

                  Uber is revolutionary on many fronts, pricing being just one of them. If I could hail a cab with an app that always took a credit card no questions, I’m’ not sure what incentive I would have to try Uber. At that point, it’s a commodity, and they don’t undercut cabs enough to disrupt the market on that basis alone.

                3. Dan

                  Natalie —

                  NYC is an interesting market. With a fixed number of medallions available, there are a fixed number of cabs on the road. Before Uber, I was once in Times Square trying to hail a cab to dinner in lower Manhattan. It was impossible to get a cab. A black car swung by, but didn’t recognize the address, and took us anyway. The guy who answered the phone at the restaurant only took the subway, and couldn’t describe how to get there by car. We missed dinner.

                4. Natalie

                  @ neverjaunty, I’m not making any comment on how they operate now. When they only provided booking for livery companies, there was no question about the drivers being their employees – the drivers were already employed by a licensed livery company (aka car service or limo company). The livery company contracted with Uber to use the app service and gave them a cut.

                  I think you are conflating their original service (now branded as Uber Black) with UberX, which is a completely different issue and does likely skirt a lot of regulations. Dan is correct that they initially succeeded as well as they did because the cab market was so underserved at the time.

                5. Observer

                  Actually, his first sentence is completely true. In New York, you simply CANNOT GET a street cab legally in most of the city. I’m not kidding. It’s not legal for anything but a “yellow cab” (which are actually green now) to take a street hail, but yellow cabs are not available anywhere but parts of Manhattan, unless you get one that had to take someone to such out of the way destinations as Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx. That’s why most cabbies don’t want to take people there – no one even TRIES to find a yellow cab, because they are so rare.

                  And, a significant percentage of car service companies clearly and consistently flout the law. Among the issues are inadequate insurance, cars in terrible condition, lack of seat belts (sometime they are deliberately destroyed because they supposedly cause wasted time), drivers who are on shifts that are insane and unsafe, and drivers without required licensing.

                  It’s bad enough, that if I didn’t have a “personal” driver who can either come or send someone he personally knows when I need someone, I’d definitely try Lyft. (I’ve heard enough about how Uber treats drivers and customers, that I hesitate to try them.) And, this only works for me, because I’ve been lucky enough to be able to plan my car service trips in advance for years. That’s not all that practical for lots of people.

                6. neverjaunty

                  @Natalie, I have no idea how they ‘started out’ in NYC. I know that like so many other companies out here, when they got to the SF bay area, they were and are full on “move fast, break things” where “things” means “regulations and laws that apply to our competition”.

                7. Zillah

                  @ Observer – That’s not true. Yellow cabs and green cabs aren’t interchangeable; the point of green cabs is to combat some of what you’re talking about. They’re only allowed to pick up fares in the outer boroughs and uptown Manhattan, where you generally can’t find a yellow cab. I’m sure some pick up fares in Manhattan anyway, but they aren’t supposed to. There still aren’t that many cabs in the outer boroughs, and many of the green cabs still just hang around LIC, Astoria, etc – but they’re not just yellow cabs with a different paint job.

                8. Observer

                  @Zillah, you are not entirely correct. In any case, the reality still is that you simply cannot hail a cab on the street – legally – in most of the “outer boroughs” most of the time. I think I’ve seen three green cabs in Brooklyn since they started. And, I’m talking about areas where you would expect there to be street cabs.

                9. Zillah

                  I’m not disputing that – as I said, there still aren’t that many cabs in the outer boroughs, and many of the green cabs congregate in specific neighborhoods. However, you said that yellow cabs “are actually green now,” which is incorrect – whether they’re really making much difference in the outer boroughs (where I’ve lived my entire life, ftr), green cabs are not the same thing as yellow cabs.

                  http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/passenger/shl_passenger.shtml

              2. Book Person

                https://medium.com/@davecraige/not-cool-uber-194198bed715#.ddjjpuark

                One thing I didn’t realize is that Uber cut drivers’ per-mile payments something like 3 times in the last 3 years, after offering car loans to lots of their drivers. People may not be able to afford to get out, or afford to keep going.

                Where I live we have neither Lyft nor Uber, so I don’t really have a car in the game, so to speak, but I was pretty horrified to read some of the issues with the service in the Medium article.

            2. Temperance

              You are so fortunate. The cabs in Philadelphia are awful, and it feels good to no longer depend on them when I need to travel in the city for work.

        3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          Yes, I’m troubled by the “Uber economy,” and eager for some regulations/legislation/whatever is needed to support the changing nature of work.

          But all of the other issues are at least as prevalent in the cab industry as the Uber/Lyft business model. As a woman, I feel wildly more safe with an Uber driver; there is a record of exactly who picked me up, where and when. Racial and other discrimination is easily identifiable with the data that is collected through the Uver/Lyft business model; in the cab industry it’s a badly kept secret that cabs don’t pick up Black men (and others). Etc.

          1. Marcela

            Precisely: as a woman I feel safer when there is a record of my trip. In my home city, where there is no Uber, we used to take a picture of the taxi, including the license plate, just in case. And as a tourist, I like that Uber shows me the route the driver took: I’ve been the victim of a unscrupulous taxi driver who took me for a longer route in Athens, which ended being 20€ more than it should be, if using several other similar trips as a comparison.

        4. Katniss

          Not only are they abuse in the way they treat employees, they outright brag about how disposable their employees are, saying they can’t wait to replace them with machines. Then there’s the fact that they have attempted to cover up multiple cases of sexual harassment and assault. And the way they have responded to reporters who try to call them out: https://pando.com/2014/11/17/the-moment-i-learned-just-how-far-uber-will-go-to-silence-journalists-and-attack-women/

          I use Lyft, which has it’s own issues, and I do have problems with the “sharing economy”. I use it when my city’s public transportation services absolutely will not get me where I need to go. There’s also an interest three part podcast series about sharing services in general that talks about some of the issues with that economy: https://toe.prx.org/2015/06/instaserfs-i-of-iii/

          1. Katniss

            I’d like to add to my own post that I am in no way attempting to shame the OP for working for a shady company. People do what they have to to get by.

        5. Cat

          I’m not defending the labor practices, but women are absolutely harassed and assaulted by cab drivers as well.

          1. fposte

            Might also be worth noting, for fairness and because this is a work blog, that cab drivers are very frequent *victims* of assault as well–it’s usually in the top ten or close to it of most dangerous professions, based on the homicide rate alone.

            1. neverjaunty

              Yep. And since passengers rate drivers, which ratings can push a driver out of Uber, there’s a lot of disincentive for an Uber driver to refuse to put up with creepy or threatening passengers.

                1. DeLurkee

                  Did anyone see the video of a doctor abusing an uber driver when she tried to make him take her but he has another booking?

          2. Temperance

            I would even argue that cabs are more dangerous for women, judging by the experiences of myself and the women I know, who have been threatened or worse in cabs.

            1. Elizabeth West

              I’m lucky, I guess; I’ve never had any problems with cab drivers. Not in my city, or London, or Los Angeles. I don’t take cabs very often, because if I’m in a city with public transport, I just do that instead.

              I’m nervous about using Uber or Lyft. If there is a problem, it seems like it would be more difficult to resolve. We don’t have them here as far as I know.

        6. Honeybee

          Honestly, the racial aspect is one reason I haven’t put a picture on my user profile. I’m not sure how much that would be an issue but I definitely know it has been with cabs on street hail.

      3. Cath in Canada

        I’m so jealous, we don’t have it here yet. The taxi industry are fighting it hard, but there are nowhere near enough taxis here, so people are really losing patience with them. I was almost extremely late for my own wedding because they wouldn’t let me book a cab in advance – “we don’t do that on weekends, just call us half an hour before” – and then when I called, three cruise ships had come in simultaneously and they said it would be at least three hours. Luckily, a friend answered my panicked call and came and picked us up on her way to the ceremony! She was actually quite happy because they were running late and as she pointed out, “if you’re bringing the bride, you’re not actually late”

    2. AMG

      He’s probably just financially stressed. I literally got angry at the people who recently one the billion-dollar Powerball lottery here in the US a while ago. It wasn’t rational, I wasn’t actually mad at them, I just wanted my financial situation to be resolved so badly…

      1. Katie the Fed

        Agreed – he’s probably under a lot of stress. And it’s easier to blame coworkers than the system that keeps wages low.

      2. Panda Bandit

        Winning the Powerball would probably have made your financial situation worse. A ton of lottery winners end up penniless in a short amount of time.

        1. DeLurkee

          Well, yes they do, but not as a direct inescapable result of winning the lottery. It’s other factors that cause the loss of winnings, some of which are within the winner’s control. It’s not as though winning the lottery means bankruptcy.

    3. Katie the Fed

      It’s worse than subverting the taxi industry. Uber is skirting regulations that taxi drivers have to comply with, which is why it’s so much cheaper for them. Taxi drivers are required to have special licenses and insurance; Uber doesn’t have that – they pass the risk on to their drivers instead. If an Uber driver gets in an accident – they probably aren’t covered under their own insurance because they were using the vehicle improperly. If they don’t disclose that, then they’re committing insurance fraud.

      It’s a really shady business.

      On the other hand, it’s so reliable and easy to use. I use it from time to time as well because taxis are difficult.

      1. Lily in NYC

        This. I will NEVER step foot in an Uber car. The people at the top levels there are so dang shady (I know several of them through a former job and these are not people I would trust in any way at all. Their strategic plan for the future is actually kind of scary and has nothing to do with cars or transportation).

        1. Katie the Fed

          I feel like a bit of a hypocrite because I have used Uber. I’m torn between my desire to get where I need to go, and my desire to not exploit workers.

            1. Temperance

              Amazon Prime makes it possible for me to live in a one-car household. FWIW, I was raised in a blue collar community with a blue collar family, and Amazon doesn’t seem any different from any warehouse situation.

              1. Dan

                I’m with you on that. I worked in IT for a major grocery chain for a spell, and visited one of their contractor-managed warehouses. That chain’s warehouses aren’t exactly walks in the park.

              2. Lily in NYC

                I feel like a hypocrite after reading the NYTimes article and the Gawker pieces on how they treat their warehouse workers – and no, I don’t think it’s like this every warehouse. The ambulance thing just really stuck with me.

            2. Elizabeth West

              This is where my guilt lies. Oh, Amazon, I cannot quit you. You’re like the ultimate bad boyfriend with an excellent out-of-print CD and book collection.

              And the gadgets. Oh mah damn, the gadgets.

              1. I'm a Little Teapot

                I use Better World Books for out-of-print books when possible. There are others out there too (alibris, Book Depository, Thriftbooks, etc.)

                And, being a writer, I feel fairly gross that Amazon is where I get a lot of my (very modest) sales, though it’s only one of a bunch of retailers my publisher works with.

            3. LQ

              Ugh this! I feel bad about Amazon, using it, but even worse is it is the biggest market if you’re self publishing or the straight up biggest market for audiobooks. So I can’t not use Amazon but I feel a little gross every time I use it.

            1. Kelly L.

              Yup. At some point I realized that if I boycotted everything that I could find something objectionable about, I’d have nowhere to shop or eat or live, so I have to make many decisions about what I can live with and what I can’t, and I’m not always happy with what I decide, either.

              1. Katniss

                I used to have this discussion/argument with fellow students where I went to college often. The vast majority of students were from very financially privileged backgrounds and idealistically believed everyone could consume ethically at all times, and for some reason I made it my mission to tell them otherwise. I can’t tell you how many times I had to explain food deserts to people who believed every person should be able to eat 100% vegan, 100% organically.

                1. Katie the Fed

                  This reminds me of when I was in Tanzania – one of the people on my trip commented with total disdain that she kept getting served white bread. “White bread? Don’t they even know how bad that is for you?”

                  Yes, so strange how people in a developing country would purchase cheap, mass-produced preservative-laden products that won’t mold as quickly. I’m sure they’ll get right on sprouted kamut bread once you point out the errors of their ways.

              2. neverjaunty

                While I agree with this 100%, I hear this ‘can’t be perfect’ argument invoked a lot to justify people who don’t want to pay any attention at all to the morality of their consumption.

          1. Dan

            Exploit is a strong, if not loaded word.

            I more or less believe that people in the US are free agents who can walk away from unsatisfactory employment at any time, so I don’t feel like a hypocrite for using their services.

            I don’t think we’re hypocrites for eating at McDonalds but not wanting to work there.

            1. Katniss

              People in the US and many other countries definitely cannot walk away from unsatisfactory employment at any time. Not without starving or having no roof over their heads.

                1. Katniss

                  Sure, I don’t think anyone here said they were. Uber does indeed exploit it’s workers though. Not every single one, but that is part of their business model.

                2. Not So NewReader

                  If every minimum wage worker failed to show up for work tomorrow, our country would be shut down.
                  And we were be very surprised by who did not show up for work, either.

                3. Linguist curmudgeon

                  NSNR – That’s why I think it would be hilarious if that actually did happen – but only in the lives/vicinities of the people who so proudly say “Americans are free agents!” See how they like the real consequences of that alleged system.

              1. Kathlynn

                And this right here is what people often forget about capitalism. Why people cannot just “go find a new job” etc. Why we *do* need rules and regulations, and actually have them enforced. /rant

            2. neverjaunty

              I don’t know if ‘hypocrite’ is quite the right word, but I’m really side-eyeing this argument that we shouldn’t ever concern ourselves with how a company treats its workers because they could quit if they wanted to.

        2. Violet Fox

          A pirate taxi being hailed by an app is still a pirate taxi even though it has the veneer of technology over it.

        3. Not So NewReader

          I was hoping you would expand on what their strategic plan is, but am guessing you can’t.

      2. sam

        It really depends on the jurisdiction. In NYC, Uber works differently than in other places – you need to be a licenced livery driver (think black towncar) with T&LC plates to operate for Uber. This has always been an alternative to yellow cabs, and Uber has essentially just app-ified what used to be a telephone dispatch system.

        But that’s in part because NYC already had a mature car service industry.

        That’s not to say that Uber doesn’t try to flout the rules here as well, but there are some limits. On the reverse side, Uber has actually forced the yellow cab industry to develop their own e-hail apps (Arro, Way2Ride), which I personally prefer – they give a lot of the benefits described (tracking cars, drivers), with the added benefit of only every paying the metered rate. Of the three times I’ve ended up using Uber, two of them could be classified as terrible experiences (my last driver couldn’t figure out where he was going, in the Manhattan street grid, so spent the entire ride staring at the GPS in his lap instead of the road, and wouldn’t listen when I tried to just give him directions).

        1. INTP

          I would definitely be willing to use a traditional cab company that was app-ified. I want to know how much the ride will cost before I get in, I want a record kept of who drove me where, I’d ideally like to see reviews of drivers so I know if he’s pulled something sketchy on another woman and can not get in the car if so, and I want to be able to see that my driver is actually coming to get me so that if they decide to no-show me, I can figure it out ahead of time and call another cab instead of waiting until they’re 15 minutes late and the dispatcher will finally acknowledge that I was stood up. I do believe all the reports of Uber’s sketchy practices and would totally support other companies if they could provide all of that.

          1. Natalie

            Yeah, this is the part that bums me out so much about Uber, which was livery only in my market for years, too – no UberX. An app for taxis/car services was a GREAT idea, and I bet they could have gotten plenty rich on that. But for some reason they needed to be more rich, and took all that goodwill from the app and trashed it by becoming evil.

            1. Allison

              yep, there are cab hailing apps in my neck of the woods too, but they’re still cabs, and they look like cabs, and there’s nothing preventing them from picking up another fare before getting to me and canceling on me. that seems to be the main issue with taxi apps, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually get to you.

              1. Violet Fox

                Oh. Around here the app gives you a medallion number and everything, and the taxi driver can get into a lot of trouble if they don’t show up. The taxi is already considered booked, and their meter is into booked mode as soon as they agree to pick you up, same as for phone bookings here.

                1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  No idea how it works here, but the end result is that you can’t count on the cab coming, and you definitely can’t count on it coming at the specified time.

              2. sam

                Yeah – here, when cabs accept the e-hail, it actually turns their meter / light into a “booked” status, so that they are not actually available to pick up another fare. I supposed they could cancel the booking, but I’ve never had it happen (then again, I usually use this service when it’s late/cabs are hard to find). More often than not when it’s “normal” circumstances, I end up being able to hail a street cab before I’m finished attempting to book the e-hail. What’s nice there is that you can still use the app to pay for cabs that you’ve grabbed from traditional street hails, so you can still basically “hop out” at the end of the ride without having to futz around for your wallet.

      3. Artemesia

        And good luck if you are hurt in trying to get $s from the turnip that will be the Uber driver — he is almost certainly judgment proof.

      4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

        Katie – taxi drivers , in many cities, are on the hook for a medallion – and if Uber/Lyft/etc. are allowed to run unchecked – three things are going to happen

        1) The “gypsy cab” industry – politely called “ride sharing” (just as ticket scalpers are now called “secondary market resellers” now) – will continue to run un-regulated. Things look ok now, but as you say – these ride sharing services are fraught with insurance risks.

        2) A lot of licensed cab drivers will go bankrupt – as they won’t be able to make the payments on their medallions

        3) When the medallion owners go broke – a lot of banks will be taking the hits on the bankruptcies.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Maybe OP’s rebuttal to his coworker’s remark is right here. Neither one of them should be working at Uber because medallion owners could go broke.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

            My argument – is that a few years ago – if you wanted to get into the cab business there were rules you had to go along with – and now – people can compete with you because they don’t have the same “rule book ” to follow.

            It would be similar to a community allowing unlimited liquor retail sales (newbies finding a way to sell booze without a license) or setting up an unlicensed radio station – by going around the existing rules, some may feel that you’re gaining an unfair advantage.

            Calling it a “ride sharing app” – it’s still a taxi service, only un-licensed.

      5. Quantum Mechanic

        “Uber doesn’t have that – they pass the risk on to their drivers instead.”

        That’s not correct. Once a driver logs into the app but is not handling a fare they are covered by a by an Uber-provided liability policy of $50K injury per person/$100K total/$25K property that is secondary to the driver’s personal policy. While they are handling a fare they covered by an Uber-provided $1mil commercial liability policy that is expressly primary to any personal policy.

        As for special licenses, in 20 years I have yet to take a cab ride in the Boston/Cambridge area where the cabbie’s driving behavior showed any indication of any sort of “special license”. I’ve never had an Uber/Lyft driver that was a worse driver than any cab ride I’ve had.

    4. Elizabeth

      I once worked somewhere where you could volunteer to work on a Sunday and make additional dollars. They only needed one person per Sunday. I used to sign up for one to two shifts a month, just extra pocket money. Some people never signed up. One of my coworkers took me to task because “I didn’t need the money”.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

        There’s nothing wrong with making money “you don’t need”.

        It can be used to enhance your lifestyle, and it also comes in mighty handy if hard times come knockin’ at the door. It can also be used to make MORE money – you know, things like IRAs and 401Ks aren’t all that weird, or even bad.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Wow, big judgement call going on there. How did your coworker know you weren’t sending your entire second paycheck to your great aunt Mabel who just buried her only child so she could pay for the funeral. grrrrr. What is up with people assuming they know every aspect of everyone’s life?

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

          If I pick up extra money – I make no bones about it – if I drove for Uber, I would use the money to pay the car and its insurance off, and any extra, that’s play money.

          I am astounded at some of the comments I see in here — “I feel guilty because I don’t really need the money” — “I turned down a raise because it might put me in another tax bracket” — “if they gave me a raise there wouldn’t be as much money for everyone else” — as if you should feel guilty for moving up the economic ladder, or being able to take care of your family in a better fashion.

          Or people feel guilty – they find a better position but gee whiz, what about the poor people they’re leaving behind? For years we had an expression = TAKE CARE OF NUMBER ONE. Number one meaning = YOURSELF.

          If you work hard – and your boss rewards you – accept the rewards because you EARNED them. You may see resentful co-workers. Live with it, it’s part of life.

          If you work hard and you’re denied – find out why.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

            I might add – if you’re the primary breadwinner in your home – NEVER NEVER NEVER feel guilty if you’re able to take care of your family. If you want financial independence you must act aggressively.

    5. Rebecca in Dallas

      My husband drives for Uber sometimes, just for extra spending money. My understanding from what the company said themselves in their training materials is that the majority of drivers aren’t doing it as their full-time job. For most of them, it’s a part-time gig, either they have another full-time job or are a student. So if he’s trying to make it his full-time job, he’s going to have a hard time with it.

    6. Billy Mumphrey

      Subvert the taxi industry AND not give any benefits or job security to middle class workers!

  4. Mike C.

    You shouldn’t feel guilty, but you should probably understand that the anger you saw is more likely a symptom of how bad Uber is treating their drivers. It’s more likely desperation more than anything more personal.

    Sorry man. :(

    1. Cat

      Yeah, I think that’s right. The anger wasn’t directed in the right place, but sometimes that happens.

    2. Meg Murry

      I agree that this is misplaced anger. As long as OP isn’t blatantly violating any rules that are swiping rides out under from other drivers or otherwise violating the rules of being an Uber driver (I don’t know if there are any cheats or hacks, but I imagine there might be), OP shouldn’t feel guilty about taking this job. This could also be a city where there used to be a lot of surge pricing due to there being fewer drivers, but now that Uber has recruited more drivers (like OP) the drivers who got in early aren’t making as much money. Again, not OP’s fault though – that’s the way Uber works.

      Link to follow, but Uber announced rate cuts in early January which could also be what has this driver angry, as in January 2015 rate cuts helped drivers in some cities but not others.

    3. fposte

      I think that’s linking two things that might not be linked, though. The “somebody else should have your job” claim is ubiquitous, as Alison notes; it comes from people getting treated well by their employers as well as people who aren’t.

      1. neverjaunty

        While that’s true, you often see that flaring up when people feel that their employment is a no-win situation.

        1. fposte

          I think it flares up mostly when people feel like they’re in a position of scarcity, whether it’s from the employers or not. The one I’ve seen posted several times here, for instance, is the notion that people over 60 are taking young people’s jobs by not retiring. Uber has some serious suck to its model, no argument, but it’s not like Lyft or even being a cabbie means people will be making the money they hope to make and won’t feel squeezed in competitive markets.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

            “is the notion that people over 60 are taking young people’s jobs by not retiring.”

            I’m over 60. I view my position is one that I’ve earned. And unless my employer has other designs, I’ll retire when I’m good and ready.

            But those Gen X, Gen Y, millenials – I do hope that you enjoy the same. DON’T UNDERSELL YOURSELVES.

          2. Not So NewReader

            Hopefully, the people saying this about 60 year olds will retire promptly at the proper age so they do not get accused in the same manner. Retire promptly and do not give a second thought to the bills that need to be paid each month.

            Just like a lot of boomers can never retire, I think that subsequent generations will find they cannot retire either, for different reasons, but the same outcome.

  5. jhhj

    I’d argue that the person needing money to build a bunch of Cylons actually has more need, so in that one instance you should probably defer.

  6. Temperance

    That other driver is a jerk. I thought about doing Uber for extra cash, but the lawyer side of me couldn’t take the liability risk.

    I use Uber fairly often, and whenever I end up with a driver who whines about how too many others are driving, how they aren’t making as much money, etc. etc. (it’s happened on a few separate occasions), I give them a low rating. You can hustle or find a new job if this one isn’t work out.

    1. Ted Mosby

      Ugh yea even if it’s totally true… if you want this to BE a job and be paid like it’s a real job, then treat me like a real customer. I really don’t care or want to hear you complain.

      1. How I Met That FAIL

        This comment is hilarious to me considering your screenname is one of the most whiny characters I’ve ever seen on a TV show. Ted wanted to complain about everything!

  7. Anon Accountant

    I agree with AAM’s response. I remember an ex-boss telling us female employees he couldn’t grant us raises because male employees had families to support or “needed to prepare to have families to support”.

    This was only a few years ago also. What a rude response from OP’s coworker. OP don’t feel bad about your job. Keep up the good work at your 2nd job!

        1. neverjaunty

          Please tell me somebody said something to the EEOC and to an employment lawyer about him! And that he’s now homeless!

          1. Katie the Fed

            Please tell me someone said something to HR, the EEOC, and an employment lawyer about him, and then kicked him in the shins?

              1. neverjaunty

                Indeed. Preferably while he was standing on the edge of a yawning chasm over a river of lava.

                1. Creag an Tuire

                  Then pulled him out of the lava, and encased him in a suit of power armor voiced by James Earl Jones…

                  Er, sorry, got off track there.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Isn’t this what the horrible boss says in “Nine to Five” when one of the women doesn’t get the promotion?

    1. louise

      My sister’s husband worked for an Amish-owned company years when they got married. He got an automatic raise when they got married and another when they had their first baby. He didn’t mind the raises, but I hope he felt icky about the raise process, because that’s not cool. I wondered if the women got an automatic raise for the same things, but it’s still icky even if they did–your value to the company is unrelated to those things.

      1. ThatGirl

        I’m going to slightly defend this, because that sounds like the kind of thing an Amish businessman would do as a kindness and to show the employee that they care and are valued. I agree that a person’s value to the company is unrelated to whether they are married or have kids, but you don’t necessarily know that single or child-free people were denied raises. If women worked there, yes, I would absolutely hope (and assume) they were treated equally. I say this as a lapsed Mennonite who does not have kids, for the record.

    2. Ted Mosby

      What??? Is this a typo? What industry? Someone said this in the 2000s? I am vomiting onto my key board.

    3. Adam

      It sounds too cartoony to be real, like he should be twirling a long thing mustache at the same time, yet I sadly don’t doubt that it is.

    4. Honeybee

      I once worked a summer job that had to do some layoffs, and they determined who was going to get laid off on the basis of age and their perceptions of who needed the work the most. They laid off all of the people college-aged and below, with the (very, very wrong) assumption that all of us were being supported by our families anyway and didn’t need the money!

      I wasn’t. SO the second half of that summer was a struggle for me. It was also super demoralizing because there were people with clear performance issues, who had been reprimanded for those issues before, who were kept on simply because they had children…and had the nerve to gloat about it afterwards.

      I can’t say I wasn’t glad when they went out of business.

  8. Kai

    Co-signing everything other people are saying, and wanted to add that Uber and similar programs are in a huge boom right now anyway. I’m sure there’s plenty of business for both you and another driver who seriously needs the money.

  9. Carrington Barr

    Sounds like the idiots who will rant on the childfree for having an SUV because they’re “taking it away” from a family with kids.

    I shit you not.

    1. S.I. Newhouse

      I could *sort of* see someone ranting on the childfree for driving an SUV because it wastes more gas and resources than necessary (assuming they don’t need the extra space to lug materials around/the four-wheel-drive to go to snowy places etc. etc.) … but because they’re “taking it away” from a family with kids? What?? Honda, GM, Chrysler, Ford, Nissan, Toyota etc. etc. are more than happy to just churn out more.

      1. Temperance

        If we’re going with an environmental impact argument, the family with children could just buy a roomier car. No one *needs* an SUV, really. Most people I know who haul equipment around have a pickup for that purpose.

        1. Barney Stinson

          If you’re going with an environmental impact argument, having lots of kids has a huge impact. Forget the SUV…

          I say that as a person with four kids. The impact on my environment was massive.

            1. fposte

              Wow, I hardly ever hear a Doug Stanhope reference from an American–mostly it’s Charlie Brooker fans.

          1. Happy Lurker

            When this states outlaws plastic bags I will have to drive to the next state to get my poop bags.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Hey, the program around here is to slash tires on SUVs, kids or no. It’s an equal opportunity program. (shaking my head…)

    2. plain_jane

      Well I get annoyed at everyone driving an SUV because I feel forced to be in a big vehicle to see around them. I fixed this by quitting the job where I occasionally needed to rent a car and drive places.

    3. Allison

      What? I could see grumping that there are too many “unnecessary” SUVs in the neighborhood taking up curbspace, but taking away SUVs? I haven’t heard of some bizarre SUV shortage . . .

      Hell, I’m not married and I don’t have kids, but I’ve considered getting a relatively small SUV for my next car because New England necessitates a car that’s good for snow driving and can handle all the potholes and rough roads that result from said snow. My little coupe is fine for street parking, but not the best for street driving.

      1. Sadsack

        I could see one dummy saying it, but I doubt there is more than that. I have never heard of this and even just googled it, I found nothing.

          1. Sadsack

            No, not at all! I just mean that I do not think that this is a largely held belief. Maybe you know a person or a few people who think this way, but it doesn’t appear to be “a thing”.

    4. OP

      I’ve also heard people complain about people without kids buying homes in a good school district because they’re taking that home away from people with kids. *eyeroll*

      1. Mike C.

        That’s when you ask them to start advocating for school funding equalized across your state. Watch them squirm, it’s fun!

        1. neverjaunty

          Oh, yes, this. Nothing peels off the progressive stripes faster than asking about property taxes or school funding.

      2. Temperance

        I’ve had similar comments actually be made * to me * in the most passive aggressive way possible. My house is in a decent district in a nice, walkable suburb, and the comments about how “oh wow, it’s not even like you NEED to live in X neighborhood because you don’t have kids” or “I wish I could live in X neighborhood, but there’s too many ‘rich people’ without kids who keep buying the houses and raising rents”.

        There’s another suburb a few minutes away from me that is notorious for having a high crime rate and a terrible school system, and it’s been suggested that I should have moved there because, after all, we don’t have kids who would be unsafe in Y city. Except, you know, WE wouldn’t be safe there.

        1. Dan

          Yet, it’s pretty un-PC to suggest that if you have kids and can only afford to live in the crappy neighborhood, then maybe you shouldn’t have had kids. Or engaged in activities that were highly likely to lead to kids.

          1. Temperance

            Oh I think the implication is that people like me are the reason that nice parents can’t afford to live in our suburb with the good school system. The other city is notoriously dangerous and the schools are awful. I don’t even like driving through it.

      3. Ann Furthermore

        Oh, good god. People will just find anything to complain about won’t they?

        We have people in our neighborhood who don’t have kids, and are not child-friendly at all. Almost everyone on the cul-de-sac has kids, and in the spring and summer we all hang out in someone’s driveway just about every Friday night, drinking a few beers and shooting the sh*t while all our kids play, ride their bikes, and run around together. I love it, because it gives our neighborhood a kind of “small town” feel where we all know and look out for each other. This one couple is always griping how noisy we are (bear in mind, we’re all usually inside by 10 pm, we’re never blasting music or anything like that), and even went so far as to call one family who was renting a house on our block “rental trash.” Nice. So here’s what I don’t get. Our neighborhood is part of a city that was specifically designed and built to be extremely family-friendly. There are rec centers all over the place, sports programs galore, a ton of schools, etc. So if you’re not child-friendly, that’s fine. Not everyone is. But why would you choose to live in what is arguably the most child-friendly town in the entire state?

        I will say it can be frustrating when child-free families in our county vote against bond issues for the schools. Many of them are older, and figure that they’ve already done their part and paid taxes while their kids were students in the public school system. And I get that. I really do. But there are some schools in the county that are in desperate need of some capital improvements, and at least in my state, the only funds that can be used for that are funds raised from a bond issue, not from property taxes. So in our county, the last bond issue that passed was in 2006, and all that money is long gone. So then, it’s up to the PTO to come up with fundraisers to try and collect enough money to make improvements to the school.

        Now, of course everyone is allowed to cast whatever vote they want. I’m not advocating trying to guilt or shame people into voting a certain way. It’s just a frustrating reality.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas

          I don’t have kids, but I will always vote for something that will positively impact the schools in my district. Because even if I don’t directly benefit from it, I still want people to get a good education!

        2. Shell

          As a childfree person, I think the argument of living somewhere child-friendly even if one doesn’t plan on having any is that those neighbourhoods tend to be, or at least feel, safer; not a lot of night-life, quiet neighbourhoods, not a lot of partying or strange crowds, little loitering, everyone home by 10pm. Whether that actually translates to a quantifiable increase in safety is another thing (I actually have no idea), but even if it doesn’t, the quiet(er), home-centric, “nesting” kind of lifestyle suits me (kids will make their noises, I guess, but that’s the tradeoff). And besides, I use rec centres, I like parks, and those kind of amenities suits me a lot more than downtown living, night life, and what have you. So I don’t think “family-friendly” neighbourhoods necessarily have to exclude those who don’t have children.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            No, they definitely shouldn’t. But if you’re going to live somewhere that has lots of kids, and then complain about kids being kids, I have little sympathy. You knew, or should have known, what you were signing up for. When they built the new airport in Denver, people who had lived out in that area for years were pissed because of all the flight noise. Legit. They were there first, and had they known their property would someday be in a flight path, they might not have bought it. But then there were people who moved out there after the airport was built, or while it was under construction, and then raised hell about the noise. Sorry…if you buy a house close to an airport, and then are surprised or upset because planes fly over it, I’m going to have a hard time feeling sorry for you.

            1. Shell

              So by that logic, a childfree person is allowed to be crankier at kids who just moved in next door, even if they were still just being kids? As opposed to the kids were there first and the childfree person just moved in?

              I really don’t think using the “who moved in first” measure is useful at all. I think it’s reasonable to expect neighbours to keep it to a decent level of noise; I assure you I will be just as cranky at the very grown up adult rocking their amp at 7 am on a Sunday than I am at kids yelling about Sunday morning cartoons, and if I can hear either of them two houses over (theoretically speaking, not an actual situation I’ve ran into), then they’re too loud whatever their age. I will grant more lenience to kids because they are kids, but if noise levels pass the point of reasonable tolerance I will raise my concerns whether the offenders are kids or adults. And if the offenders are kids, well, then I inform their parents. I got spoken to plenty of times when I was a kid because I was being too loud.

              Yes, there are unreasonable people on both sides. But using “they were there first” is not a good yardstick. Reasonable noise levels and/or city bylaws should be the rules to go by, not who moved in first.

        3. Temperance

          I live in a fairly family-friendly suburb, and we chose it because it’s very walkable, close to public transit, and has a real community feel with events that are for all, not just people with children. I’m not kid-friendly, though, and I would be annoyed if kids were running through my yard or in front of my house for long periods of time. However, I like being outside, so I take the fact that my neighbors have loud get-togethers with lots of kids to mean that they aren’t going to call the police when my husband and me have friends over.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            Exactly — be a good neighbor, and chances are, your neighbors will repay the favor. In our case, all the kids know that one particular couple really does not like having kids in their yard at all, so they all know to stay out of it. And they do. If the kids are playing baseball or something, and the ball goes into that yard, one of the adults will go get it. So we all try to respect their wishes. And they make plenty of noise themselves….they are bikers, so they have a couple huge Harleys that they ride, and then sometimes they have their biker friends over on weekends, who all bring their Harleys too. But no one complains about that, for the reason you said…we let our kids play outside in the summer until late in the evening on Friday nights, so if they want to make noise of their own, if it’s not 2 in the morning, that’s only fair.

        4. Amy Farrah Fowler

          I’m really torn about the bond election thing. I have voted both ways on them depending on why they’re doing a bond. If they’re doing it to build new schools because the population is growing, okay. If they want tens, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new football stadium, I’m a bit less swayed that they need that money. I’m hugely supportive of education, just not as supportive of athletics being such a high focus point at schools.

        5. neverjaunty

          I will cut those childfree people a lot more slack than I will those people who DID have kids…and who start voting against tax measures immediately after their own kids stop benefiting from them.

        6. LQ

          I’ve known plenty of families with kids vote against bonds and I’ve not only voted for every single one I’ve ever had the chance to, but I go out of my way to go in and vote when most of them are weird weird elections. I don’t have kids, I don’t even like them much. But I’ll lay my anecdote against yours.

    5. BananaPants

      People actually say this with a straight face?

      We have two kids. When we get a new vehicle we do just what child free folks do, we go buy something in our price range that meets our needs.

  10. S.I. Newhouse

    OP, it’s nice that you’re giving this a second thought but there’s really no need to. I totally agree with Alison’s response. The other driver was way out of line here.

  11. A Non

    It’s also a thing where lower- and middle-class people are encouraged to blame each other for poverty issues, rather than pointing fingers at the system that creates the uber-wealthy. (Pun fully intended.) I sympathize with the anger, but it’s aimed in the wrong direction here.

      1. boop

        That sounds more appropriate in a world where we don’t treat lower income and homeless people like complete garbage. Nice thought, though!

      2. Liana

        I understand where you’re going with this, but unfortunately in this society we tend to treat low-wage earners and anyone living near or below the poverty line like they’re lesser humans, which does contribute to a class system. It’s awful and dehumanizing, but I also think it’s important to call it out for what it is. A Non’s statement is right – our culture encourages the lower “classes” to fight with each other, because it protects the wealthy.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I am not so sure the wealthy are getting along better with each other than lower classes. Some of the really wealthy seem to have very sad, isolated lives.

          1. MegEB

            Sure, some of them do. Money can’t buy happiness and all that. But when people talk about this issue, they’re not talking about individual miserable people who are just sad that their parents didn’t hug them enough. It’s more of a systemic strategy to keep the lower socioeconomic classes down – if you keep the “lesser people” fighting over scraps (of money, status, power, etc), they’ll be too distracted to realize who the real adversary is. It’s a totally different thing.

    1. Mike C.

      To paraphrase from the end of “The Big Short”,

      “And yes, we blamed poor people and immigrants. This time we even blamed teachers.”

          1. Gandalf the Nude

            I really liked the idea of alcohol in movie theaters until I watched Pirates of the Caribbean in 3D while drunk.

    2. Adam

      This is what I was thinking, and I’m fairly middle of the road when it comes to financial politics.

      The big wealthy guys barely seem real as people like the OP’s guilt inducer have no real access to them (as in they’re never going to meet and have a conversation with them). Your fellow Uber drivers are more present and quantifiable and have more of a picture they can judge on, thus the other Uber driver sees the OP continuing to drive even though he would be fine without the extra income and that translates into “stealing fares” from the less economically secure drivers.

    3. neverjaunty

      Wasn’t it Carnegie who said he could always hire half the lower classes to beat up and control the other half?

  12. Allison

    By that logic, high school students who still live with their middle class parents shouldn’t get part-time jobs, or work full time over the summer, because there are people who need those jobs to pay rent. But last I checked, pretty much everyone thinks high school students should be working, whether it’s to save for college, earn spending money, or just so they can learn how to work and understand the value of a dollar.

    It’s not like you’re driving all the time, right? If someone needs to live off Uber, they’d probably be able to do it by driving around full-time, or taking advantage of busy times and surge pricing. If you “take” one guy’s fare, I’ll bet he could easily find another pretty quickly. But I don’t know where you live, your mileage may vary.

    1. Kelly L.

      But if you are using that job to pay rent, then people will tell you it’s meant for teens living at home, not to pay your rent with, so you shouldn’t expect to get paid decently! *eyeroll*

      Yup, like mentioned above, they keep us all fighting amongst ourselves so we don’t notice we’re all getting screwed!

  13. Barney Stinson

    In the mid-70’s my mom, the stereotypical housewife, had to get a job because she and my dad had financial difficulties. She did a good job of being a commissioned salesperson at JC Penney.

    The salesmen she worked with gave her exactly the same line: she had a husband who at least had a job, and she was stealing money from their families by competing for sales.

    Of course, another man supporting his family would have been competing, but that would have been okay because it wasn’t optional for the hypothetical other guy. For Mom, it was optional.

    If you ever wonder why we needed the women’s liberation movement, this is a good example of why.

    1. some1

      It’s not just the 70’s! I wasn’t even alive then and I have heard people say about certain female coworkers while I have been in the workforce, “I don’t know why she even works; her husband makes good money.”

      1. Barney Stinson

        That’s also used as a way of judging whether a woman is a good mother or not. If you work when you don’t ‘have to,’ then you must not love your children very much.

        It’s exhausting.

    2. Artemesia

      It was 40 years ago — but still. When I was a grad student I remember waiting in a campus office for an appointment and watching 3 elderly faculty come out of their offices and chat with each other about economic issues and one actually said “Well, if these teachers were required to resign when they go married like we used to do, there wouldn’t be a shortage of jobs in teaching for these men who need them.” Yes in my lifetime and after the passage of the Civil Rights act of 1964.

    3. JGray

      At my current job most of the professional staff (mostly men) get $1/hr raises and all the admin staff (all women) only get only $0.50/hr raises. They won’t admit it because they would be in trouble but women are not as highly regarded at this company as men. Pretty much the president doesn’t think women should be working at all just be at home with our kids & more on the way. They always like to make the distinction between professional and admin. Well, the admin staff is just as professional and we all have college degrees just like the so called professional staff. And at this company the admin staff works a lot harder than the professional staff.

  14. Sally

    For me, the benefit of using uber is the availability of cars. The more uber drivers on the road increases my ability to get one quickly, and the quicker I think I can get an uber, the more likely I am to use the service. From my perspective, the more uber drivers working means the higher likelihood of any and all of them making money.

  15. OP

    Hey all – OP here. Thanks so much for all the responses and for pointing out the logical flaws here (I knew they were there but couldn’t quite articulate them in my head) AND for pointing out the corollary to what women used to be told! What a great counter-argument.

    I’ve had Uber drivers (both when I am being a rider, and when I am driving a fellow Uber driver – that happens pretty often) complain about not getting fares. I don’t know where they are going or when they are driving because I never have issues with that.

    From my perspective as a driver AND as a rider, I think Uber is a great service and I’ve got no complaints with how I’ve been treated. I’ve never really had a bad rider experience (a few drunk people, of course).

    1. Katie the Fed

      OP – I really, really hope you’ve squared this away with your insurance. You’re taking on a lot of potential liability and may not be covered if you get into an accident when driving for Uber.

      Not trying to rain on your parade, but companies like Uber and AirBnB bank on their drivers/hosts violating their own insurance policies and taking on all the risk without realizing it. You seem smart and I would hate to see you financially destroyed because of this.

      1. Mike C.

        Yeah, my wife works in insurance, and you’re in for a world of hurt if you aren’t open and honest with them. She works for a nice, local place and they take a hard line on this. If you’re with a large, national chain it’s going to be much, much worse.

        1. Katie the Fed

          These companies make me really angry. They count on drivers taking on all the risk and either not knowing, or willfully ignoring, their insurance contracts. I would never in a million years drive for Uber or Lyft.

          1. Allison

            They probably figure “I’m a safe driver, so I’ll never have a problem.” They never realize something might happen to their car due to another driver’s carelessness.

            1. Katie the Fed

              You can be at fault without screwing up too. I skidded for an entire block last Wednesday in 1 inch of snow/ice. I was going super slow, but some things are just unpreventable.

              1. Not So NewReader

                Ugh. I hope you are okay. I totalled a car at 20 mph. Ran along a guard rail for a ways. I’m thankful for the guardrail of course. It’s amazing how slow you can be going and still run into trouble.

            2. Witty Nickname

              I’m a safe driver and haven’t had an accident since I was a pretty new driver at 16 (like 20 years ago).

              Until a couple weeks ago, when I was coming down with the flu but didn’t realize it yet, and my depth perception was completely off. I managed to bump into another car as I was pulling into a parking space (my turn was too wide). A really expensive brand new porsche.

              Thankfully, the damage was minor, but I was very thankful I had insurance at that point! (I was less thankful that I had upped our deductible when I got my car last year, since we are both good drivers and never have a claim).

              Even good drivers have bad days, and you want to make sure your are covered when that happens!

          2. neverjaunty

            California has forced them to clarify their insurance policies and take some steps to make sure there is protection, and by “forced” I mean it was a knock-down, drag-out fight with Uber kicking and screaming all the way.

      2. OP

        Fortunately, I live in Ohio and have Geico, and they currently offer a ridesharing insurance policy in that state that covers your personal AND ridesharing use. It’s only an extra $200 every six months. So I’m covered!

        1. Katie the Fed

          OK, good! Sorry to lecture you, but these companies make me really nervous. Glad that Geico is coming around to the sharing economy.

          1. OP

            Yeah, it’s fairly new, but Geico has it in about twelve states now and is expanding more. I was super nervous when I signed up because obviously it’d involve telling them that I HAD been driving with just my personal policy, but they didn’t say boo about it, just signed me up for the rideshare policy happy as you please.

  16. Amber Rose

    I would drive for Uber if it was legal. Sadly, Uber lasted less than a month before authorities shut it down and they still have no idea how to make it work around existing insurance and licensing laws.

    I have a well paying job also. But there’s enough people who need rides that I doubt you could possibly take work from anyone.

  17. TechChick

    I can definitely relate to this. I have a full time job at a digital agency that I LOVE but I also teach yoga on the side. I don’t need or live off my yoga paychecks but it helped me pay off my car in just over a year and is now earmarked for grad school tuition. I sometimes feel guilty when I listen to other instructors lament how they work several jobs to support themselves or how they’re piecing together full class schedules to make ends meet. But at the end of the day, that’s their choice and their problem. I feel insanely lucky to have two jobs that I love but my happiness or ability to make that work has no bearings on them. Just like other instructors, I paid and went through teacher training, auditioned for the job and was hired based on merit.

    1. Allison

      Wasn’t there a post last week about someone whose coworker was pressuring them to giving up some of their hours to “make things fair” or something? People shouldn’t have to give up shifts or stay away from jobs they want, or in some cases do actually need, just because other people need them more.

  18. Khal E. Essi

    When I was working at a grocery store during the summer as a college student, I was initially part-time but eventually bumped up to full-time. A co-worker (who was also a woman) was irked and told me I was “taking away full-time hours from someone who is supporting a family.” I was so taken aback I just shrugged and said “Well, that’s how our manager did the schedule…” and walked away. I needed that job to help pay for college but still felt guilty at the time. :(

  19. Lady H

    The driver who lectured you could also supplement his Uber income by driving for Lyft. Chatting with two Lyft drivers that I took this weekend, they both drive for both companies. They just switch over the app and see which has more passengers. I have reservations about how Uber treats their drivers, but since they insist that they’re independent contractors, the drivers are free to work for both companies if they want.

    I was also happy to hear from one of my Lyft drivers that compared to Uber, Lyft is more employee-oriented and geared toward people looking for full time work. (Though I’m sure they still have their issues.) He said if they work more than 50 hours each week that Lyft gives them back the percentage they take from their fares (or something like that), whereas Uber tries to pretend all drivers are like the OP: just supplementing income, which lowers expectations about how they treat employees. Note, this is not at all a critique of the OP, just illustrating that Uber is trying to attract drivers like them who don’t drive full time to make a living.

  20. Jubilance

    Comments like the one the OP received always irk me. So many people buy into the scarcity model – where resources are finite, and each additional person is “taking away” from someone else who needs it more. You saw these comments a lot during the debate over ACA and people claiming that if we have more people with health insurance, they would somehow “take away” healthcare from others. I wonder how some people buy into this mentality and how others can combat it.

    1. Mike C.

      I just mocked folks for believing that folks would go to the doctor or dentist for fun. I mean seriously, how many ladies look forward to their yearly exams? And for the older gentlemen in your life, there are remote cameras!

      1. A Non

        I once sat in a company meeting where an out-of-state bigwig informed us peons that the company self-insures for health coverage – they pay most of our medical costs themselves, and then carry some extra insurance for when people get cancer, essentially. So we shouldn’t go to the doctor thinking we’re “sticking it to the man” or anything.

        Boy did the local leadership have to scramble to patch up after that one.

    2. TL -

      I mean, you do run into these issues on a very high level, especially with single-payer healthcare. But there are always finite resources and there’s always a compromise to be made when deciding who gets what.

  21. Adam

    The guy who yelled at you sounds like he’s going through a hard time and completely misplacing his anger and frustration. You are one person and as popular as Uber has become I seriously doubt you are monopolizing the available work in your location. You are one regular person, and your personal economy is not jeopardizing that of anyone else. You have a financial goal you are trying to reach, and you are working to reach it using legally acceptable means. No guilt necessary on your part.

  22. Karyn

    Yeah, I wouldn’t feel guilty. If you chose to drop your hours or whatever because you wanted to, that’s your choice, but it’s not up to him. I have a second job that I do for fun, and whenever they’re short on hours, I tell them to cut me because I don’t NEED the money, but that’s MY choice. If someone at that job told me that I had an obligation to do so, that would make me LESS likely to do it, just out of spite.

  23. Miss M

    When I worked at a bookstore one summer to make extra money, management put up a notice suggesting us to think of giving some of our hours to the college students to help them out. It didn’t bother me because I was seasonal, but then there were single people and those with families that were FT employees as well. Wonder what they thought of this.

  24. Anonymous Educator

    Considering how often “surge pricing” comes up, I definitely don’t think you have anything to feel guilty about, even if there was some validity to this person’s argument (there isn’t, for all the reasons Alison laid out).

  25. Honeybee

    Also, who’s to say that the vacancy created if you stopped driving would be filled by someone who needed it to survive? Your spot could be filled by someone who uses the earnings to fund an out-of-control gaming addiction, or to build an army of terrifying robots who will someday destroy us all. We don’t know.

    These are the best hypothetical alternative reasons, lol!

  26. Bob

    My understanding is that Uber is a way to enlist people already going to a certain location to share their ride and make a little money. I was never under the impression they intended anyone to make a living purely from Uber. Whenever I hear about people making a living from Uber, Airbnb or eBay, my first thought is that supporting yourself was never the intention of those services. As a result of that opinion, I have no sympathy when their earnings fall short.

    I don’t see it so much as too much competition is taking food out their kids’ mouths. I see it as they think they have figured out a loophole to earn a living without having a boss/punching a clock/working set hours/etc. or investing in their own business and the competition is making them realize their plan was not realistic.

    1. OP

      That’s definitely not what Uber is, or is intended to be. When I get a call for a ride, I have no idea where the rider is going. All I know is where they are, and their rider rating. I don’t see their name until I accept the ride, and I don’t see their destination until I have them in the car.

    2. Kelly L.

      That wasn’t my understanding of Uber either. That sounds more like the “need a ride” bulletin board in a dorm.

    3. Sunflower

      Uber is tricky- they claim you can make $90,000/year which would necessitate something like never sleeping and timing to work out perfectly so you are always in ride with someone.

      I agree that anyone who looks at the Uber model for more than 10 minutes should be able to realize that Uber is really geared towards people like OP- people who have full time jobs looking to make some extra money on the side with no commitments.

      1. OP

        I think it would be more than feasible to make about $1000 a week. I’ve made $400 in a week working about 20 hours, and that with working off-peak. You’d have to be very strategic about when and where you drive, though. It wouldn’t be easy to make a living doing it, but you could.

      2. Natalie

        I wonder if that $90K a year comes from the livery side of the business (Uber Black). That might be plausible, but of course that has to cover whatever the livery company pays the driver plus the license and insurance cost.

    4. Chriama

      The thing about ‘sharing economy’ services is that they make money by skirting the regulations of the industries they’re disrupting, and it absolutely does effect people playing the game by the rules. I don’t blame customers for wanting better services at better prices when the established offerings have monopolized things to substandard levels, but let’s not pretend it’s not harming anybody. It’s a complicated situation all around, but a little sympathy costs nothing.

      1. OP

        That’s exactly what I think. The cab companies cry foul, but the much-worshipped free market means that if someone else offers the same service that customers prefer and offers advantages, you’re going to get out-competed – the downside being that those advantages may be made possible by avoidance of regulatory oversight. The cab companies were the only game in town for so long that they got lazy – the service wasn’t good (I have heard so many cab horror stories from Uber riders it’s insane) but you didn’t have a choice. They had no incentive to improve (they could have introduced an app-based ordering system like Uber’s years ago – in fact some are now doing so, gee I wonder why) and so they didn’t. And then along comes a service that offers faster and more reliable pick-ups, cashless and tipless monetary exchange, fare estimates and app-based ordering and surprise, customers flock to it.

        I can’t say I feel taken advantage of as a driver – I knew what I was getting into, what kind of contractor I would be, and what I could expect.

  27. AMG

    The key takeaway that I have is that if I ever live in a city where owning a car is too expensive, I should absolutely stick to busses and the subway. Yikes!

  28. mander

    What a strange argument! By that logic nobody should ever do anything beyond basic subsistence, because there are people out there somewhere who don’t even have that.

    I mean, sure, it’s a common way to get kids to eat their broccoli, but I don’t think it’s a good way to arrange your career.

  29. Anxa

    I actually think this is less detrimental than people taking actual jobs (after work adjuncting, weekend counter work) when they have a full-time job. Instead of competing for a job once and winning, you are constantly competing for shifts. I feel like there’s also probably a better labor supply: demand ratio for driving than there is for most other work.

    That said, I’m sure the demand has limits. And there are probably some people who are depending on every shift they can. A few extra rides could be what enables someone else to feed their children, absolutely. But that’s they system we’re in.

    I would say, please declare the taxes if you’re worried about guilt. At least if you pay taxes on the income, you’re contributing to programs to keep people afloat. In theory, that would allow you to compete for more income while ensuring people have their basic needs met.

    1. Anxa

      (I should note, I live in what I call a ‘rural city,’ which is actually experiencing a bit of a boom, but is also economically depressed)

  30. Thomas W

    This is closely related to the argument that allowing immigrants into the country takes jobs away from people from that country. I don’t wish to speak about the politics or morality of immigration (either legal or illegal) here, but from an economic point of view, having immigrants means having more people with money to spend, and the result of that is more jobs. There is not a fixed number of jobs available in the economy — that is dependent on how many people are present *and* able to buy products and services.

    Back to the situation at hand, you taking a job with Uber means people are going to get to the places they need to go. That drives economic growth in its own tiny way. (Also refraining from comment on Uber’s business practices, as that’s another matter)

    1. Temperance

      Economically speaking, though, the presence of legal H1-Bs lowers wages in the tech industry, and the presence of undocumented workers means that US citizens and LPRs aren’t able to access certain jobs, and that they’ll be paid less when they do. I grew up blue collar, and know many people who lost jobs because their bosses were able to hire workers not legally allowed to work in the US and pay them under the table, at a huge cost savings.

      These undocumented workers aren’t paying taxes (neither are their employers!), and that can also be problematic.

  31. Alissa

    Oh my goodness. Do not feel guilty about this at all. What a tool. I used to work at Lyft in Booming Southern City. There was a private Facebook group that was set up specifically to target Uber drivers, carts, and cabs who were doing something wrong so they could be reported. The end goal was to get them off the street (especially the newly invented cart transportation). It was an exhausting group filled with people who were petty. I left the company soon after because it was getting to me.

  32. Kathlynn

    Everything everyone ever does is selfish, by definition. Doesn’t make it a bad thing to do until it directly negatively impacts another person. (like, taking someone’s lunch from the work fridge. Or people putting their preferences over someone’s health, like in the pet-friendly office letter last year)

  33. Sunny

    I literally had a man tell me that I should not have gotten a particular job because there was a man that applied for it and he had a family to take care of. I really don’t think he knew exactly how sexist that statement was.

    I was the better candidate and the man that applied had just finished his Masters and would not have stayed anyway. Yuck.

    1. Temperance

      I actually think he knew exactly what he was saying, but he believed that he was more worthy than you simply because he is a man and you are not. Disgusting.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Guess the man could not get a job anywhere else? Having family is not a job qualification.

    3. OriginalEmma

      Guess he should have thought about the consequences of being unemployed before he had a family! /snark

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      Then again – I started a firestorm a couple years ago – what if you ARE the better candidate (or incumbent) but are rejected or lose your position owing to “affirmative action”??? Six of one, half dozen of the other.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        What if you are white and get your position at the expense of a better candidate who’s a person of color? Happens far more frequently, so is probably the better question.

  34. Dakota

    Uber would very much disagree with that driver’s advice. The head of Uber’s supply side growth just sent out an essay today talking about Uber’s virtuous cycle: more drivers means pick-up times fall and coverage density increases, which leads to more demand from consumers, which leads to more drivers, etc.

  35. Not So NewReader

    Like others have said, this coworker was having a bad day or something. I would ask him, once he got done qualify/disqualifying me, when would he do the same for everyone else that worked there? It seems only fair, that if you have meet some income qualification, everyone else should also. Your coworker will be a very busy person collecting up all this info an processing it.

    More to the point, I guess I would say that is not how employment works in this country, that’s not the system we use. If he has any concerns about it he will need to discuss it with management and have them implement a company-wide policy.

  36. sara

    I don’t know about feeling guilty about working, but you should probably feel bad about helping to destroy a legit and highly-regulated industry whose regs protect both fares and drivers. When I talk with my city manager, he dislikes Uber not because they’re enterprising but because they behave like 8-year -old firebugs. They don’t understand or care why regs exist, what civic responsibility is. They just want money and behave very badly when they don’t get it.

    If you want to assuage your guilt, maybe help drivers unionize for living wages and talk to your state rep about Uber’s efforts to buy statehouse cooperation in stopping municipalities from requiring the same things of Uber that they do of any other cab company.

  37. KH

    I fix cars in my spare time on weekends. I can think of one or two shops that would probably like to put some sand in my air compressor for the business I am taking away from them.

    The job goes to whoever does it best and cheapest. If there is too much supply, prices will go down until people decide it’s not worth their effort. If there isn’t enough supply, prices will go up and more people will do the work.

    Therefore, every person who wants to be an Uber driver already is an Uber driver. The entry of you and others like you in to the market may be driving down prices overall, but that is a function of the market. If there are people who need the job more than you, they will be Uber drivers whether you are or not.

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