There are huge disparities in the claimed income of Uber drivers, not only from the company itself but from sources outside the company merely making estimates based on the activity of the brand. Some have estimated the potential income to be nearly or even over $100,000 per year, but there are some caveats to that claim. Drivers who have that potential are rare since it requires living near a larger city where Uber drivers are in high demand much more often. In actuality, the average hourly rate for Uber drivers is much closer to $10 or $12 per hour throughout the majority of the United States. That figure is only the gross income, which means it comes before Uber’s 20 percent cut. That means the majority of Uber drivers in America are making little more than minimum wage, especially after their own expenses are taken into account.
One of the perks of the Uber system is that drivers can see exactly who their passengers are before they pick them up, and vice versa. Since Uber drivers have at least some level of control over who they pick up, they can attempt to avoid passengers that might give them trouble. However, Uber uses what amounts to a reputation-based system of ranking both drivers and passengers, and that system isn’t always completely accurate. An Uber driver might see a 5-star passenger awaiting pickup, but when they arrive at the location, they find the passenger belligerent and inebriated, much like this female passenger who wasn’t even the official fare of the driver. She is clearly rude and undeserving of a ride, and those sorts of instances are all too common.
Harassment & Assault
In worse cases, Uber drivers have to deal with literal physical harm to their person and property. Unlike the majority of taxi cabs, Uber drivers have no physical barrier between themselves and their passengers, unless they install such a barrier in their own vehicle. Those plexiglass barriers are there for a reason in cabs, and that reason is to prevent situations like this. This passenger was incredibly drunk, and when he was unable to provide adequate directions to his home, the driver attempted to drop him off at another location. The passenger then assaults the driver from the backseat. Days later, the passenger was fired from his executive job with Taco Bell. When the driver filed a civil suit against the passenger, the passenger retaliated with his own lawsuit for $5 million, claiming the driver illegally recorded the drive and subsequent attack. This is the sort of event that causes Uber drivers to second guess their ability to safely and effectively operate within the platform.
Perhaps the biggest negative about working for Uber is that you won’t technically work for Uber as a driver. The freedom to set your own hours comes at a price. Uber drivers are considered independent contractors, which mean they aren’t employees of the brand, but merely ‘franchises’. This might sound like a great thing since it means Uber doesn’t control their drivers, but that also means they legally can’t offer legitimate support. In order for the government to classify Uber drivers as independent contractors and not employees, no training of any sort is allowed. Drivers can’t seek direct help from Uber for dealing with unruly passengers, but instead they can only follow guidelines put in place to help maximize efficiency. Indeed, Uber drivers have filed a class-action lawsuit against the brand in order to have themselves reclassified as employees so they can enjoy the benefits of such classification.
With all the problems that face the Uber platform, it is difficult for the brand to keep drivers. Over half of all Uber drivers will quit within the first year, and many will quit long before that. The reason is typically that they don’t take the time to research the realities of the job, and they get into a situation where they aren’t happy with their position, hours, or income.
Ridesharing in itself is a great idea, but Uber has a long way to go before the idea is perfected. For now, the dangers and downsides of being an Uber driver are so vast that very few people will find the job acceptable.