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Read this before you jump on the uber bandwagon

So recently, I had a smart idea.  If I wanted to have a car to drive around gallivanting or just make a little for myself to cover for the petrol/parking etc, a really smart way of doing that was to sign up as a uber driver.

you’d hear a lot of positive things about driving uber. like how easy it is to make at least $1000 to $2000 a week just by driving people around on YOUR flexible schedule.  The best part is , you only need to be 25 years old with a valid driver’s license to do that.

BOY was I wrong. 

 

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‘UBER’ is an app which  allows consumers with smartphones to call for ride based on their location from Uber drivers with privately registered vehicles to bring them to their destination.  It is slightly cheaper than taking a regular taxi and especially less expensive for Singaporeans to board an uber car during peak hours as uber doesn’t charge peak hour/airport/midnight/CBD surcharges as opposed to passengers boarding a regular taxi.

Social demographic wise, UBER drivers are usually young chaps who are tech-savy and polite though I still do meet the occasional bad egg. Since every transaction is handled electronically through an online system, there is no need for any exchange of money. This 100% eliminates the ‘taxi-uncle-scolding-you-cos-you-only-got-$50-note’ thing.

Also, UBER drivers are obligated to go wherever you asked them to go. There is no such thing is changing shift or the distance is too near/far etc because drivers will not be able to see the passenger’s destination until the passenger is seated inside the car and they swipe the ‘begin trip’ button.

Disclaimer: This may be a complicated story due to the many policies that uber has set in place (though I will simplify them)and many drivers may beg to differ so I want to say beforehand that this is MY personal experience and if yours is a different one then I’m very happy for you!

 

1.Car rental is the root of all evil 

Approximately 70% to 80% of all uber drivers rent a car from one of the many uber-recommended car rental companies namely their top-dog ‘Lion City Rentals  , they have 3 types of ranges to choose from , from their cheapest being $58 to $82 a day, however from my understanding from fellow uber drivers, its not difficult to guess that the cheapest car rentals are often not available, not in good shape and salesmen play on to the ego of driving a more ‘luxurious looking car’

Also, apart from leaving a $1000 deposit for the car, they impose a penalty on drivers if they cannot meet the minimum of 40 trips a week. While not that difficult to do if you have a full-time job and have to OT that week to finish up a project? be prepared to pay the penalty and late fee.

Another option if you’re lucky enough to have it is, to use your own car. but that comes with its own set of problems like increased wear and tear etc

 

2. Petrol scares

The car that I drove happened to be a Nissan Cefeiro . It’s a nice 2L sedan that is super lux and comfortable but watching the petrol meter at the SPC station go up when I’m pumping petrol is like watching a horror movie . to be honest, I can’t remember the mileage but a decent estimate was that after every 12 hour shift for me, My petrol would cost about $45 to $55.   So as mentioned above, car rental can be the root of all evil. Petrol prices are a close second.  Btw, I did not choose this car, I simply signed up as a relief driver ( 12 hour shift)

 

3) Money makes the world go round. 

Uber takes 20% cut from all your trips.  TWENTY FREAKING PERCENT , out of every $100 you earn (maybe 6 trips) . $20 goes to uber. This means that out of every 5-6 trips,you’re literally ‘driving one for the team’  They claim their top guys make up to 5k a month but have they taken out their 20% and their petrol cost and their car rental?

here is my breakdown on how a typical day was like for me.

Drove from about 930am to 1.30am (hours with breaks in between)

Total fares earned: $232.14

Minus 20% ($46.42) : $185.72

Petrol (approx $70) : $115.72

Car Rental ($80) : $$35.72

average hourly earnings: $1.98/hr 

bearing in mind I have not calculated the cost for entering through ERP (you have to pay if you pass through an ERP gantry while otw to pick up a passenger)  your phone DATA 4G charges (you’re on location all the time being online and on the move), your phone holder/air-freshener /water etc as well as your monthly season parking which brings whatever you earned to a deficit.

 

4) Solutions

Granted to be frank, I did not put in a lot of effort into driving . Though I accepted every call, but I would take breaks here and there and went home for a 4 hour nap right before dinner as I’m a firm believer in safety first and like pilots, being a driver can be dangerous and potentially fatal when you’re sleepy on the job.

Uber has several incentives in place for drivers who hit their minimum number of trips per week consecutively for 4 weeks which means they kind of return back their 20% share to you one way or another through various incentive plans. which means that if you truly want to earn money and drive through uber as a living, you have to go all out and work! there is no such thing as ‘driving at your own pace/schedule’

 

5) Referrals

If you ask most uber drivers how it is and whether you should sign up as a uber drive, you’d hear a lot of good things, why?  cos every time they refer someone to sign up as an uber driver, they earn $200 so its unlikely if you express interest in being a driver they say bad things.

Generally when I told the drivers about me doing the math and saying how unprofitable it is and I’ve actually been out there driving, they open up and out come the secrets

 

6) The relief driver platform – potential scam alert!

If you are a relief driver, all you have to do is go to uber to sign up as a driver and get pegged to the vehicle of your main person who hires the car from a car rental company. It’s common that they ask you to spilt the deposit with them in case you fuck up the car or what not but get this : IT IS SUPER DANGEROUS.

I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of parting with $500 even before I started driving some strangers car so I told him I didn’t have enough on me and down the line i’d cover it , he agreed. BUT GET THIS , at the end of every week, uber doesn’t pay you! it pays your earnings to the car rental company who in turn deducts the sum from the car rental fees your hirer agreed on , before paying it out to YOUR HIRER  who can choose not to pay you anything and get away scot-free.

which in my case, dragged on for about 3 weeks with him constantly sending me sob stories, excuses and empty promises. It was only when I threatened to publish his details here that he mysteriously zoomed here in an angry rage to give me my measly $220 from the few days of driving I did which barely covered for the petrol.

 


That being said, Uber is still a great app for consumers to move about especially when there are no cabs and you don’t want to pay ridiculous surcharges. But please! now that you know the difficulty your drivers face financially please please at least leave them a small tip instead of a stupid star rating system where 4/5 stars is considered below average

if you want $10 off your first ride , lol . You can use my invite code : 2wgh1  hahahaha

 

In the meantime, stay cool! Christmas is coming!

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