Uber has introduced a new reward program: Uber Pro that will allow its drivers who score low cancellation rates and maintain high ratings to earn rewards like free college tuition and increased take-home pay. The program is part of the company’s effort to improve its relations with Uber drivers as it will help them to earn more money.
The program categorizes Uber drivers into diamond, platinum, gold, and partner, with drivers in the latter category (partner) required to maintain a cancellation rate of 4% and at least 4.85 rating. It also requires them to earn points on every trip within a fixed 3-month period to gain status. The drivers will unlock rewards and status ahead through points earned in one period.
The rewards include vehicle maintenance discounts, free twenty-four hours a day roadside assistance and cash back on fuel purchases. Drivers that meet the requirements for diamond and platinum status will receive 6% and 3%, respectively, on rates for time and distance. That’s quite a significant pay increase for some drivers. Free dent repair and faster airport pickups are also rewards available to drivers.
Drivers with diamond and platinum status are also qualified for tuition-free online classes at Arizona State University (ASU). They can take entrepreneurship classes alongside English language courses as part of the deal with ASU. Eligible drivers can transfer the ASU reward to a family member if they so wish.
Uber is making the program available to both part-time and professional drivers. But for now, Uber pro will be available for all drivers in Chicago, Phoenix, Seattle, and New Orleans. And 50% of Uber drivers in New Jersey, Denver, Tampa, and Orlando as the ride-hailing giant want to first scale the program before rolling it out nationwide.
While Uber thinks its employment method gives its drivers work flexibility and to be their own boss, some of the drivers want to believe their fortune with the company depends on Uber’s algorithm. As independent contractors, Uber drivers lack the protection and benefits of salaried employment.
In an effort to improve driver conditions amidst raging scandals and lawsuits against Uber last year, the company introduced “180 days of change” program for drivers in the US and Canada. The program allows drivers to message riders and to also earn more money for off-road pickups. It also included new in-app tipping option and feedback layers for bad ratings.
Earlier this year, Uber rolled out a redesigned drivers app after seeking input from its drivers. The new app, which is less cluttered, has better overall earnings tracking method and features that promote connectivity. However, the app has a quicker launch to gamified elements (a widely criticized trick to keep drivers longer on the road), “badges” and “quests.”
Uber head of driver product Daniel Danker, told The Verge that Uber Pro was not designed to discourage drivers from using other apps or elongate their driving hours but to reward Uber drivers for quality service.
“The motivation really is recognizing what drivers are doing on Uber,” Danker said.