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Published: Wed, June 21, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Uber adds tipping to app

Uber adds tipping to app

It will roll out on Tuesday in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston and expected to expand to all US cities by the end of July.

The in-app tipping option is now available in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston, Uber said in an email sent to drivers Tuesday morning and later posted on the company's website. Uber also is reducing the time that riders have to cancel a ride to avoid being slapped with a $5 fee from five minutes to two minutes after summoning a driver. Drivers will also begin to collect a per-minute rate for wait times if a rider keeps them waiting longer than two minutes after arrival.

Among them: Wages for when riders take forever to get to the auto because they're in the fucking bathroom or something, reduced time windows for cancellation fees for when would-be riders can't make up their damn mind about transportation, and the option of driver injury protection insurance for drivers who get hurt working for a company that tried to block them from forming a union. Both features will be available nationwide in August 2017. Some changes will be big, some will be small - all will be the changes you've asked for.

Uber is introducing tipping, with the full amount going straight to the drivers.

Travis Kalanick, the firm's chief executive, is now on a leave of absence.

As CNBC noted over the weekend, Uber's ongoing relations with its drivers is one of a half dozen legal threats the company faces as it moves forward - with the question of whether the company can legally continue to classify drivers as contractors, rather than employees, unsettled law, despite a legal victory for Uber in California past year.

The new tipping option was included in Uber's announcement of its '180 Days of Change for drivers', which the company said was "designed to meaningfully fix and improve the driving experience". After an internal investigation uncovered multiple instances of sexual harassment, bullying and other boorish behavior within the company, Uber fired more than 20 employees and pledged to create a more harmonious culture for its employees.

In the past, competitor Lyft has capitalized on the fact that Uber did not allow riders to tip within its app; Lyft has allowed tipping in its app for years.

Uber executives had long argued that the no-muss aspect of its non-tipping approach - get in a auto, ride to your destination, and get out - was one of the most popular aspects of its service with riders. Drivers will also get a cut of Uber's "teen fare" which had previously gone exclusively to Uber. It's a new program for Uber, which first launched family accounts last year, and teen accounts earlier this year. Widespread publicity about its bad behaviour threatens to turn off drivers and riders, giving them incentive to switch to Lyft.

A more extensive report compiled by the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder chastised the company's leadership and recommended a long list of changes that Uber's board adopted.

A backlash could deepen Uber's losses, which totalled $2.8 billion past year.

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