Uber Caves in Fight With Drivers

Protesters gathered Friday at Uber's West End offices.
Protesters gathered Friday at Uber's West End offices.
Marshall Green via Youtube

It only took Dallas' UberBlack drivers a long weekend to get back their right to pick up only passengers willing to pay for their more expensive service. Late Monday night, following four days of protests and calls for strikes, Uber informed drivers through an email that they could opt out of receiving ride requests from riders who want a ride from Uber's UberX service, which is significantly cheaper than UberBlack: 

We want you to know that we appreciate having you as our partner, and we are working hard to ensure you are getting the most out of the Uber app.

Last Friday, in an effort to maximize UberBlack partners' profitability, we launched a new program that allows you to receive all eligible trip requests. In other markets where this functionality was enabled, drivers experienced a significant increase in earnings. In the DFW area, we anticipate that UberBlack partners will double their earnings potential when accepting all eligible trip requests.

We want to continue to work with you as our partner to create the best environment possible while still allowing you to make the best decision for your business. We want you to make that choice.

For the majority of our partners who wish to keep the new changes, you will still be able to do so. But, we understand that not all partners want to participate in this expanded option so we have created a pathway for partners to opt out of the changes at their own discretion. 

It is a privilege to partner with you, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to make the streets of DFW a better place for everyone. Thank you for your service.

The email included a link for UberBlack drivers to opt out of any class of Uber service for which they did not wish to receive calls. Notably, the same option to opt-out has not been extended to drivers for Uber's middle class UberSelect service. UberSelect drivers must still accept rides from the UberX-seeking hoi polloi. If they don't, they'll face consequences, including potentially being shut out of Uber's app for their low acceptance rate.

On UberPeople, a web forum for Uber drivers, reaction to Uber's concessions was mostly negative. Multiple UberBlack drivers complained that they were still receiving pings to pick up UberX passengers despite opting out, while UberX drivers complained that their issues — namely the extremely cheap fares mandated by Uber for UberX in Dallas — hadn't been addressed.

Tuesday afternoon, many of the UberBlack drivers who'd turned off their apps over the weekend were apparently back on the road. UberBlack, in the form of about a dozen available vehicles near the Observer office, was available at its standard, non-surge multiplied price.


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