Uber Introduces Tipping in AustraliaUber has sparked controversy by encouraging riders in Australia and New Zealand to tip their Uber driver. Last Thursday, US-based Uber added the new tipping functionality to its Uber and Uber Eats apps. Previously, tipping was only encouraged by Uber in the United States where the practice is already commonplace.

Uber customers in Australia and New Zealand are now prompted to leave an optional tip after they complete their trip or receive their food delivery. Tips can be left up to 30 days after completing the trip. The full tip amount will be passed on to the driver, and Uber drivers will not know whether a passenger has left a tip before giving them a rating.

Uber has sold the move to Uber and Uber Eats drivers as “a new way to say thank you”. Meanwhile, Uber tells passengers that in-app tipping will allow them to show gratitude for “those who go above and beyond”.

Tipping is generally not expected and is often even unwelcome in Australia. Some Australians do tip for exceptional service, but it is not a cultural norm. So it’s no surprise that the move by Uber has generated widespread outrage. Even New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern has expressed concern, saying “I think we generally have an expectation that people shouldn’t have to rely on tipping to have decent wages. It should be built into their wages and their salaries.”

AFF members have weighed in on the discussion. Many are against the idea and say they won’t be tipping in Australia.

I wouldn’t tip this way. Pay a fair rate through the app, if the driver goes above and beyond, slip her/him some cash. At least you know the person it was intended for has it…

I don’t like this at all, I hope drivers don’t rate their passengers based on whether they tip or not. I tip in Australia based on service because I want to, not because I feel i have to. Honestly, most Uber drivers of recent don’t deserve a tip.

But not everyone is unhappy. Some appreciate the option of a formal and meaningful way to reward good service.

I like the idea of the tipping function, always feel funny just slipping some cash to a driver when there is no physical payment transaction. Only those drivers I deem over and above will get my tip though, it certainly won’t be just out of habit.

Since the tipping system was introduced, one Uber driver says that many passengers are indeed choosing to tip.

I have always gone out of my way to provide good service, often receiving passenger written compliments after rides. Tipping was introduced yesterday morning and I’ve received a $3 or more tip on 85% of the fares I did yesterday(10+). On the radio last night I heard people complaining that they’d receive lower ratings due to not tipping, we can’t see what you’ve tipped other drivers and we can’t even see who gave us what star ratings.

While tipping is never expected in Australia, it is common practice in North America. In fact, US airline Frontier recently began encouraging passengers to tip their flight attendants when purchasing on-board snacks. Some US airlines also encourage passengers to tip airport lounge staff. This is not the case in Qantas lounges in the United States, where tipping is not encouraged, although that hasn’t stopped some lounge staff from requesting unsolicited tips in the past.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Tipping Uber drivers in Australia

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]