I am an African immigrant living in America and like most of my friends, I heard great things about driving for ridesharing companies like uber and lyft and so I got onboard. I have been driving for both uber and lyft for about 2 years now and I have gathered a ton of experience during this time frame which I would love to share.
There are so many things I wish I knew before becoming a driver and I will like to share the experience I have gathered so far in order to help those who find themselves in my shoes. Uber and lyft share a lot of similarities but in this article, I will focus on just uber.
First of all, driving for uber and lyft is a great way to make some extra money. The key word here is “extra”. It is great if you do it as a side job. What do I mean by that? From my personal experience, doing uber full time isn’t worth much at all and I will come back to why I think it isn’t worth it. Let’s begin with things you need to qualify.
Of course you need a car. The most important thing I learned here is that, you don’t need just any car. Uber has some criteria to meet. The age of your car and mileage on the car are the two most important things uber looks at. Your car cannot be older than 15 years in some cities and you mileage cannot be more than 150,000 in most other cities. However, meeting this requirement isn’t as important as the type and quality of car you have and I learned it the hard way.
Please note that, before uber approves of your car, you need to go for a vehicle inspection (which you pay from your pocket) and your vehicle must pass inspection and be in an "uber perfect" condition. In other words, your transmission, brakes, wipers, tires, airconditioner, etc. must all be in great working condition.
Driving for hours puts so much wear and tear on your car. In fact, in some cases, you will be spending more than you earn from uber on car repairs. The point I am trying to make here is that, you need a very good car to stand any chance of making money driving uber. The radiator issues, transmission problems, oil changes, tire replacements, etc. are just a tip of the iceberg. Once you take all that into consideration, uber isn’t worth much. However, if you have a good quality car that does not require much maintenance, then you can profit greatly from uber.
Any obvious requirement is drivers license. However, you don't need just a driver's license but a driver's license with a clean driving history. Also, you need to have at least a year of driving history. Well, you could get in with one or two minor traffic violations but that is just about it. Even with 3 minor traffic violations, you cannot drive for uber. Also, about speeding tickets, you cannot drive for uber with 25mph over the posted speed limit in some cities.. In other words, even if you have just one speeding ticket and that ticket was 20mph above the posted speed limit, you may not be able to drive for uber. Lyft may give you a chance but definitely not uber and many drivers learn this the hard way.
One thing to be careful about here is that, it is your driver’s license and any infraction you accumulate driving for uber goes straight to your driving record. Accumulate more of these infractions and you can lose your driver’s license and driving privileges. Also, since you will be driving people to and fro hours every single day, your chances of getting pulled over increases tremendously.
Some new driver’s put too much hope in uber and learn the truth the hard way. One thing most people fail to point out is the fact that, uber is not your employer and you don’t work for uber. In other words, you are considered an independent contractor as far as ridesharing is concern and you do not enjoy any employee rights and benefits. The point I am trying to make here is that, uber is so unreliable and it would be a big disaster if you put all your eggs in one basket.
Talking about unreliability, you need to understand that, as a driver on the platform, uber only pretends to love you and that, no matter how hard you work and no matter how well you follow the rules and the regulations, you can still get fired any time with no questions asked. Here is an example. Uber’s rating system sucks and I learned that the hard way. Uber has a 1-5 rating system with “1” being the lowest possible rate and “5” being the highest. However, a 4.5 rating on uber is a major fail. In fact, a 4.5 rating on uber can get a driver deactivated for low rating. In other words, to continue driving for uber, a driver needs at least a 4.6 out of 5.
One other bad thing I learned about uber’s rating system is that, drivers have absolutely no control over it. Just imaging getting a “1” star rating for playing your favorite music in your own car. Yes, a passenger can give you a 1 star rating for playing the “wrong” music. However, as you know, we all don’t have the same taste when it comes to music. What may sound great to one passenger, might sound horrible to the next passenger. Some drivers go to the extent of asking passengers their favorite type of music and what they feel like listening to. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the passenger. Some passengers can rate you bad for music playing on a radio station they have themselves requested. Yes, a passenger may request you play their favorite radio station but end up giving you a bad rating if their favorite station unfortunately plays the wrong music.
Some people may not admit it and some may pretend it doesn’t exist. The truth however is that, racism exists and I experience it almost every single day driving for uber. There are some passengers you can never please and some others who will go to the extent of getting you deactivated just for being different. Imaging a black uber driver picking up a Ku klux klan passenger. What can the poor black guy do to secure a 5 star rating? Absolutely nothing. No matter how great a service the black guy renders our passenger, the poor driver will still receive a 1 star rating for being “black”.
Unfortunately, once the passenger enters this 1 star rating into the system, there is nothing uber can do about it. Does uber permit racism? On paper, the answer is NO. However, in reality, uber does permit racism. Why? Because racist people often go scott-free even after reporting them to uber.
In conclusion, yes, uber, lyft, and others are a great way of making some extra money but please don’t put all your eggs in one basket because they are very unreliable. And that is why I often tell people not to go full time with any app-based company. Get a regular job and take the app-based jobs as side jobs and you will be fine.