Why doesn’t Uber just add a tipping option?
A new petition from the Independent Drivers Guild — a pseudo-union created as part of a larger deal with Uber’s New York office — is asking New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission to mandate that Uber add a tipping option.
Since the company’s inception, Uber has wrangled with drivers who have chastised its executives for not adding a tipping option when taxis and its main competitor Lyft allow for tipping.
Lyft, in fact, has used that fact to its advantage and promoted the feature as a means to attract drivers away from Uber.
The debate even entered courtrooms when drivers suing Uber for treating them as independent contractors instead of employees argued that the company intentionally misled riders to believe that tips were included in the fare.
The company line is typically, “Riders tell us that one of the things they like most about Uber is that it’s hassle-free.”
There’s no definitive way of quantifying if and how many riders stop using Lyft because of the tipping option, but anecdotally most people seem unbothered by the feature while drivers often tout it as a sign that Lyft cares about them.
Uber doesn’t encourage or prohibit cash tips, but it seems easy enough for the company to simply add the feature.
For its part, Uber has previously argued that one the benefits of their service is that drivers are not frequent targets of robberies, since they don’t carry cash.
Offering a tipping option within its app might help Uber’s PR issues with critics and drivers. It’s also easy enough to add, technologically, particularly since the company recently redesigned its rider app.
Still, at the end of the day, adding a tipping feature may not change rider behavior at all. But in that case, Uber wouldn’t be to blame.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.