How much do you think I make as an Uber Driver?
It’s probably less than you think. I say that because it’s less than most people think. In fact, nationwide, no one makes over $15 per hour once commissions and fees are taken out. In some cities, like Baltimore, drivers barely make over minimum wage and that’s not accounting for the fact that they have to provide their own upkeep on their car.
The problem with this is that most people don’t realize just how little drivers make. They may have some vague idea that we pay gas prices and we’re driving our own car and they probably know that Uber takes a percentage of the rate, but most don’t put two and two together and figure out that Uber drivers really are making minimum wage in some parts of the country.
I am fairly close to the average. Having driven in Dallas and Austin, Texas, I make a fair amount (about $12 per hour), but that still pales in comparison to others in the service industry. This is why you may have heard of the whole Uber and tip debate and why drivers don’t understand why a company that is making so much would be so against drivers making tips on their platform. It would supplement the meager wages and create a happier driver base, all at pretty much no cost for the company.
What I would like to see is a little bit of care for the drivers. In the long run, this will only breed better drivers, ones that will take pride in their work and stay in the industry rather than leave and find better means to make money. In the current economic climate, driving someone around is not a minimum wage job.
On some days, it’s actually quite possible for an Uber driver to lose money. With the cost of gas, wear and tear on the car and the idle time, it’s possible that some days are not even worth coming out for. That becomes a huge problem because more drivers are realizing that they’re better off working for McDonald’s than they are providing a pretty neat service.
So when an Uber driver brings up the tipping issue, we aren’t being greedy or petty. We’re fighting for a chance to offer a service at a reasonable and affordable rate. And for the most part, passengers agree. I have rarely found someone in the United States who gets up in arms about tipping, especially because it is optional. We aren’t asking for a service charge, just for a free chance to receive tips. It really could mean the difference between good drivers continuing and finding different lines of work.
Speaking of tipping, keep a lookout for TipBx, a new app coming your way to support the tipping industry!
I serve many tables on a nightly basis and every once in a while I’ll mix up an order or I’ll do something wrong. It happens. The other day it happened and as I offered to give the person a free drink the guy…. demanded a free drink.
Yep, he wasn’t even listening. Just insisted that he wouldn’t pay. It took all my energy not to laugh out loud and explain, as rudely to him, that I JUST SAID THAT. (Cue my Mickey from Rocky voice). He was so angry and red in the face that he wasn’t even listening to what I was saying. The sad part is that he ruined his own mood, his table’s mood, all for something that he was going to get anyway.
As your server, I’m fully aware that mistakes happen and many times they are directly from something I was involved in. I’ll fix it for you because, hey, it’s my job. But there are ways to address these mistakes and even ways to increase your chances to get freebies.
Here are some ‘Do and Don’t’s:
1. DO: Feel free to talk to the manager.
I’ve always said that the manager is here to serve both of us. He or she is here to run a great restaurant and ensure that customers are happy while also keeping the wait staff safe and happy too. When you’re unhappy and you don’t feel like you can confront me either because I won’t understand or you don’t think we will communicate, by all means, ask for the manager. I will always oblige. Always.
2. DON’T: Use the manager as a threat.
At the same time, don’t use this request as a threat. It’s just condescending. Cause you know what? I know the manager too! And it’s hard to find competent and caring and dedicated wait staff, let alone train them for restaurant specifics, so when you make it as a threat, it’s more empty than intimidating. But it does make you look cheap and rude. Mistakes happen and restaurants want to fix these mistakes so there’s no need to threaten or passively-aggressively attack me. That just makes everyone upset.
3. DO: Point out what’s wrong.
Go ahead and be specific. Sometimes the issue is simply a misunderstanding of a policy. Maybe I misheard you. Maybe I know I messed up, but I’m not fully aware of exactly what it is you want. I’ll always listen to you so go ahead and calmly and politely tell me what is wrong with the meal, policy, menu, service or environment. I do want to help you and I need to know the specifics before I can do so.
4. DON’T: Assign blame me for the kitchen’s mistake.
If your food is undercooked, it’s not necessarily because I didn’t understand your order. It’s likely a mistake at the back of the house especially on a busy night. So it does no benefit if you’re yelling at me for an undercooked steak. Because, here’s the thing, I’ll gladly get a new one for you! But how do you think it makes me feel if you’re yelling at me for an undercooked steak? You know I don’t cook here too, so what’s the point? Likewise, if prices aren’t what you expected or the place is too crowded, these things are out of my control. I can try and help you, but don’t blame me for these issues.
5. DO: Tell me what you want.
Do you want a comped meal? I actually don’t mind if you say it right out. I’m not a mind reader and if you’re polite about it, I’ll be happy to see if I can accommodate you or find the manager who will work with you. If you’re pointing out faults, sometimes it’s hard for me to decipher if you want a simple apology or if you’re expecting monetary compensation. Of course, if it’s egregious I will freely offer these perks to you, but if it’s more grey area, you can ask for it.
6. DON’T: Be rude about it. But be nice about it.
I don’t have the final decision anyway. And I am definitely less likely to fight on your behalf if you’ve told me off or called me something. Service, in this case, cuts both ways. I will fight for you if I feel that you deserve it. But if you’re putting me as an enemy, what motivates me to help you receive any benefits? So let me be on your side.
7. DO: Understand mistakes happen and restaurants are more than happy to compensate you.
Let’s be forgiving. Chances are, you’re not perfect either and you’ve made mistakes at work. Restaurants know these things happen and that your repeat business is worth more than fighting over a measly side dish. So we hope that you know that these things happen and that being mean to a server is not worth the embarrassment. We will fix it if you let us. That sometimes means free meals or free drinks. It really does.
8. DON’T: Take advantage of these rules above.
Don’t ruin it for everyone. If you’re one of those people that take advantage of every little mistake, you’re going to make everyone lose these perks. You’re going to make servers more paranoid and establishments more guarded. Don’t take what’s not yours and you’ll receive your fair share. I’ll make sure of it.
By keeping in mind these tips, you’ll actually get a lot more out of your experience. Remember, your server is actually on your side. We want to keep you happy, not just for tips, but because it is our professional duty. So let us help you and let us show you we’re on your side. You can do that by treating us like teammates.
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