Uber is giving its premium customers the option to ride in silence. Amongst a rollout of new features for Uber Black users, users can elect to have their driver drive without talking. Passengers that need some quiet time, hate small talk or need a nap will be incentivized to upgrade to Uber Black.
But not everyone is happy. Drivers on Uber forums have already nicknamed the silent setting as "Uber quit mode" and as "Driver STFU." The forums express their concern this is just another way for drivers to be treated poorly by both the company and their passengers.
Enhanced Experience for premium passengers
As well as the silent option Uber announced passengers would have the option to request luggage assistance for the driver and to preselect an interior temperature before entering the car. Uber Black passengers will also enjoy an Extended Pickup Period, that gives them more time between confirming a ride and being at the pickup point.
Passengers using the cheaper UberX or UberPool won’t be able to request the additional services or silent mode. Uber went public just over a week ago and things have been a little rocky. The company lost value soon after launching but things are slowly improving for the company which is yet to post a profit.
Drivers demand better conditions
The rideshare company got a boost this week when New York authorities ruled its drivers are contractors and not employees. Drivers had attempted to get together and demand higher pay and better working conditions by being classed as employees.
Unfortunately, their efforts fell short and The National Labor Relations Board concluded that the company’s drivers are contractors, not employees. Under New York law, contractors lack the protection afforded to full employees.
The decision makes it very difficult for Uber drivers to form a union that could have lobbied the company for better wages and working conditions. Uber drivers went on strike in many countries including the U.S, Brazil, and Australia head of the company Initial Public Offer.
Gig economy causes financial stress
In London, the strikes were organized by the Independent Workers of Great Britain union. The union demanded an increase in fares to £2 per mile from £1.25; a cut in the commission paid by drivers to Uber from 25% to 15%; employment status for drivers which means they get paid the minimum wage and receive holiday and sick pay; and an end to unfair dismissals.
Drivers can be cut off from the app by the company if they receive customer complaints against them. The rise of the ‘gig economy’, where people provide services offered through apps is cause for many who say the tenuous work conditions of many around the globe are contributing to financial insecurity, as well as mental health problems.
Popular gig economy jobs include driving for apps like Uber and Lyft or delivering food for Deliveroo or UberEats.