Uber price cuts: Drivers tell of ‘lower earnings’

Demand for Uber has been surging in places such as Johannesburg. (Gareth van Zyl)
Demand for Uber has been surging in places such as Johannesburg. (Gareth van Zyl)

More Uber partner drivers have contacted Fin24 to complain of how they are allegedly working harder but earning less after the internet ride-sharing app cut its prices earlier this month.

READ: Uber cuts winter fares by up to 20%

The complaints from Uber drivers come after Fin24 on Monday published a letter from a car owner who has been partnering with Uber.  

Fin24 user Niel Smit said he used to have two cars running on the Uber service but that he’s decided to exit the partnership. He said that he also previously partnered with four drivers on these cars and that his vehicles operated on a 24-hour basis.

READ: Uber car owner: Why I'm leaving the service

But amid Uber’s plan to cut fares by up to 20%, Smit wrote that he only has one car and one driver-partner left and that he plans to eventually exit this car from the service:

“We do not make profit and certainly the car will not last until it's financing term has come to an end. The service and earnings do not take into account that cars will deteriorate quickly due to the odd 5000km's driven per month.”

Uber has maintained that its price cuts are carefully thought through and that they are designed to boost demand and earnings for drivers during the quieter winter period. Uber partners with car owners and drivers to share earnings from fares - the internet company therefore does not employ drivers.

In a reply to Smit’s letter, Uber said it is “confident drivers will earn the same or more when the cuts help increase their trips - and we have put in place minimum payment guarantees for driver-partners”. Uber, in its response, also said it would reassess this price change if the results are not what it expects.

In the meantime, more Fin24 users who are Uber drivers have come forward to complain about the price cuts.

Fin24 user Anonymous wrote:

“I am an Uber driver and a hard working person. Price cuts are very, very bad, actually it’s worse. I used to make R8 000 or R9 000 a week now I make R6 000 and I am driving like  crazy. Last Tuesday, I did 17 trips from 06h00 to 21h00 that day - taking was R770.00. This is painful and Uber are taking their full 20%.”

Another anonymous Fin24 user wrote:

“As an Uber driver myself l can tell you this is the most ridiculous business concept l've ever seen - petrol prices go up and the next day Uber fares get reduced. Who suffers the consequences? The driver of course. Long hours, less family time, less income but Uber claims to the world that it’s making Uber efficient. We spend the whole day driving people for free nowadays. Why don't they maybe do promotions on certain days of the week, say maybe weekends? Uber still deduct their 20% fee and despite of all our dissatisfaction they ignore us and think we are mad. Maybe it's time for #Ubermustfall because they dictate and impose staff and drivers always suffer the consequences.”

Fin24 user Dovhani wrote:

“It is not benefiting any one of the Uber partners or drivers. On Sunday I ran a 30 kilometre trip from Orlando East in Soweto to Alberton in Gauteng and it gives me R163 with this new price cut. With the old price it was supposed to be over R263. It is very painful on our side as partners and drivers .I can tell you that Uber is making more money out of us - just imagine a trip from Craighall in Randburg to nearly Delmas towards Mpumalanga that gives your R280? This is exploitation!”

Fin24 user Quinten wrote:

“I have driven for Uber and after paying Uber’s commission, petrol and car rental, I only netted about 20%. When they had a promotion a few months ago, also a 20% discount, I drove around like crazy but made no money. In fact that promotion cost me money because I had to draw money from my savings.”

Finally, Fin24 user and Uber car owner Roberto wrote:

“I have two Uber vehicles, since the price cuts my revenue (after Uber deducts their income) has dropped 20%. My costs remain the same.”   

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