Tech

Uber Eats drivers say a bug is preventing customers from tipping them

Drivers rely on tips to make most of their money.

Horacio Villalobos/Corbis News/Getty Images

Drivers for Uber Eats have reported a bug in the app that they say is making it impossible for customers to provide a tip after their food is delivered. On Reddit, a driver said the company confirmed to them that it's aware of the issue. Uber declined to comment.

"Just had a customer inform me that the app would not allow them to tip," the driver said. "Called support and they said they’re aware this is happening." Many other drivers chimed in saying they've been receiving drastically fewer tips than normal. The issue has reportedly been resolved, though it seems like tips from any orders affected by the bug are not going to be received.

Customers can set a tip before the delivery is made, but many choose to wait until after their food arrives.

Tips are where the money is — Uber relies on customers leaving tips to make up a large proportion of driver earnings, so any bug that makes it impossible to leave a tip can dramatically decrease their take-home pay. The company recently announced it intends to acquire food delivery competitor Postmates, which will bring it to a combined 37 percent share of the U.S. food delivery space, behind only DoorDash.

Because the company doesn't want to make drivers employees, which would be costly, Uber doesn't pay them an hourly wage or offer them a fixed fee for each delivery. As it stands right now, the company argues that its drivers are independent contractors because they have the flexibility to choose which deliveries to make based on the upfront fee and anticipated tip. But the upfront fee they make can often be as little as $3 before tips are factored in.

Especially since drivers are risking their health to do deliveries during a pandemic, and some are relying on the services for income after being laid off, customers have been encouraged, even directly by Uber, to tip higher than normal.

Tipping has caused a lot of issues — Over the years tipping has been a big headache for food delivery startups, with workers often complaining of companies stealing tips or making it difficult for customers to offer them.

Instacart recently had to update its service after it was reported that some customers would promise large tips to entice a driver to accept a delivery, only to yank the tip away after the delivery was completed. Instacart updated its tipping system and said customers will be banned if they consistently use tip-baiting.