Uber will soon add in-app tipping as an option for New Yorkers, the company announced Tuesday.
The tipping feature already has launched in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston, and should be available in all U.S. cities by the end of July. The make-nice move comes in the wake of a series of high-profile controversies.
“We’ve heard you. You’ve told us what you want, and now it’s time we step up and give you the driving experience you deserve, because simply put, Uber wouldn’t exist without you,” wrote Rachel Holt, Uber’s head of U.S. operations, and Aaron Schildkrout, Uber’s head of driver experience, in an email sent out to drivers Tuesday.
With the new tipping feature, passengers will have the option to add a tip when rating a completed trip. They can choose between preset tip amounts or add in a custom tip, all of which will go directly to the driver. In New York, motions had already begun to get Uber to provide the feature. The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission proposed a rule in April requiring an in-app tipping option, with a hearing scheduled for July 13.
“We are gratified to see that Uber has apparently fully embraced the rules we recently proposed, which, among other provisions, would mandate that in-app tipping be a non-negotiable requirement,” said TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg in a statement.
Uber, meanwhile, is fighting a decision from a New York State labor judge who ruled that three Uber drivers and their “similarly situated” cabbies should be treated as legal employees of the company. Uber also has worked to pay back New York City drivers tens of millions in lost wages after incorrectly docking commissions for more than two years.
The TLC’s action to require tipping was a response to the Independent Drivers Guild, a group representing Uber drivers in New York, which launched an online petition last year requesting the feature. It since collected more than 11,000 signatures.
“Today’s tipping announcement is an important win for drivers and proves that thousands of drivers coming together with one voice can make big changes,” said guild founder Jim Conigliaro Jr., in a statement. “Cuts to driver pay across the ride-hail industry have made tipping income more important than ever.”
The news — part of an effort called “180 days of change” — comes days after the announcement that Uber’s embattled CEO Travis Kalanick would take a leave of absence for personal reasons. Kalanick’s decision came on the heels of a disclosed report from former Attorney General Eric Holder and his law firm, Covington & Burling, recommending internal changes at the company.