The company announced the move was the first part of what it describes as "180 Days of Change", a series of measure Uber intends to implement over the next six months to improve the service for drivers. "Some changes will be big, some will be small ー all will be changes drivers have asked for".
The feature is still in its preliminary stages, so Uber is testing it in three cities: Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston.
The fact that you could not tip Uber drivers within the app in the past has not stopped some drivers from soliciting tips. This means that passengers will be charged a fee if they cancel a ride within two minutes of booking it. Uber will also begin to charge passengers for wait times starting two minutes after the driver's arrival.
The 180 Days of Change plan comes as Uber continues to confront a rocking 2017.
Holt said the company talked to thousands of drivers before adding tips to the app. In a blog post in April 2016, Uber called earnings through tips a kind of "uncertainty" for drivers. The tips will be available to all Uber drivers and delivery partners, which includes those fulfilling orders for services like UberEATS, by the end of July.
Uber has suffered in recent weeks, with company CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick taking an indefinite leave of absence last week. It will roll out on Tuesday in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston and expected to expand to all USA cities by the end of July.
Adding tipping is a major shift for Uber but it isn't entirely surprising given how much change the public is demanding of the company. Drivers who pick up and drop off teenagers will also earn a so-called "teen fare" of $2 per ride. One worry was that mixing tips with rating scores could cause problems for riders.
"This is just the beginning", the email read. Slate wondered if we should " even be discussing this cosmetic change in the driver-customer-company relationship, when the business model is dependent on cheap labor made possible by treating the drivers as contractors?" "In expanding so quickly, we failed to prioritize the people that helped get us here". One person suggested tipping after a driver rates the passenger, and another suggested tipping be done in a discreet fashion so money is not tied to a person's identity.