Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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The gig economy has been my ticket to decent earnings and flexible schedules in order to allow travel. I substitute teach and drive for ride share and delivery services. After four years of driving, I have come to the conclusion that Uber sucks. Why Uber sucks will be detailed in this post.

Why Uber sucks

The pot of gold in Chicago, which is more money to travel was helped by driving Uber, Lyft, and Door Dash

How do travel bloggers travel

Everybody asks travel bloggers how they can afford to travel so much. The answer varies widely from blogger to blogger. Some monetize their blog effectively, some had or have corporate jobs with flexible and generous time off, some are able to work remotely and travel as they work. Some do a mixture of the above.

Corcovado National Park Costa Rica

Trips to Costa Rica and elsewhere financed by Uber and Lyft

Started driving rideshare five years ago

I used to work as a Claims Examiner for Allstate Life Insurance Company. In January of 2017, I quit that job, and I started to drive with Lyft a month or two later. I was a substitute teacher during the day, but I needed something for the summer and to make a little extra during the school year. I chose Lyft at the time because they were promoting a bonus for your first month. For two years, I drove with Lyft exclusively.

Chevy Trax

Bought a new Chevy Trax for rideshare use

A couple of years later, I signed up for Uber. I kept hearing that Uber was busier and you could make more. Several Lyft passengers informed me that the rate at the airport was twice as high for an Uber. This made me wonder if Uber drivers were making more.  I was not really happy with Lyft’s bonus and surge structure. They mostly did away with surges and rarely offered a bonus.

Saturn ion

I have used income earned from driving my car to fund my travels

Signed up for Uber in August of 2019

In August of 2019, I made the plunge and started driving for Uber. I realized right away that it was easier to make more money with Uber due to better surge rates and bonuses. It was also much busier. Much less down time in between rides compared to Lyft. I started to drive with Uber 90% of the time and with Lyft 10% of the time.

One month after driving with Uber my account was suspended

Uber suspended my account after one month of driving. No reason or explanation by Uber for the suspension was provided. Calling on the phone with representatives from India and the Philippines proved fruitless. Another difference between the ride shares is Uber’s customer service for drivers is absolute garbage. Lyft is much better and easier to get a hold of someone.

Bali Rice Terraces

Some of the cool places I have seen thanks to earnings from rideshare – Bali rice terraces

I went in person to one of the driver hubs, and they were able to tell me they were doing a background check. I already cleared a background check in order to drive in the first place. It is mandatory that all drivers pass a background check. All that they could tell me at the hub is they were doing a background check, and they could provide no further explanation.

Two weeks later, I was cleared to drive again. This blatant suspension of my account without care for my earnings was shocking. What company hires someone and then a week later says you cannot work for two weeks while we investigate? I am a teacher with a squeaky clean background, so I am not sure what triggered a second background check in a month.

Driving rideshare

Driving rideshare has been a ticket to traveling the world

Why Uber sucks – Account deactivated a second time

Several months later, my account was deactivated permanently. My driver rating was over 4.9, but I had received a couple of infractions for driving too fast or breaking too hard. Every driver gets these from time-to-time. They are a good reminder that not everyone is in a hurry and some prefer a safe smooth ride.

I never received any warning that I could be deactivated. Then, I got an email from someone in India saying I was permanently deactivated and the answer was final. Again, there was no clear reason for the deactivation. There was no warning, and no way for me to plead my case.

Car park

My car used to fund travel parked at a cross-country ski trail

I have never been fired for any job in my life. At that time, I thought I was doing a good job for Uber. Not only was the loss of earnings a blow, but it was also a blow to my pride. I pride myself on the work I do, and I think every employer who has ever had me as an employee would vouch for my competency and character.

Why Uber sucks – Reactivated a month later

Whatever my past sins were, they were not bad enough to sustain a permanent ban. I received an email that my account was now active, and I could continue to drive. Once again, no explanation as to why I received a ban in the first place or the rational of why my account was restored.

I stubbornly refused to drive for Uber for several months, but the lure of bonuses and surges, soon had me crawling back. For two years, I had no complaints with Uber, and I amassed an even better rating of 4.96. I began to do Uber Eats deliveries as well. It is a nice change of pace from driving passengers although the pay is not as good. I earned a 98% rating with by delivery.

Driver deliveries during the Pandemic

When the Pandemic hit in March of last year, I stopped driving all together for three months. Fortunately, Chicago Public Schools paid me a weekly salary through the end of the school year even though I was not working. When that ran out at the end of the school year in June, I reluctantly started driving passengers again.

 

Uber eats

Uber Eats delivery – Wikimedia Creative Commons – By shopblocks – https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/34719224782/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90768475

I drove from June to the end of October driving passengers and doing occasional deliveries. With masks and the windows down, I felt safe and never got Covid. When the temperatures started to get cold in November, and the case numbers started to explode in Illinois and across the nation, I shifted to delivery only in November.

The best move I made during this time, is I also signed up for Door Dash. Deliveries do not pay as much as driving passengers, so I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a second delivery service.

Why Uber sucks – Uber Eats account deactivated

Every once in awhile, I would get these messages from Uber Eats saying I did not finish a delivery. It warned me that this could be fraud. Every delivery that I picked up, I dropped off where the customer requested.

Uber moto-bike

Uber Eats driver – Wikimedia Creative Commons – By Wistula – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83781712

I called Uber support to question this, and they said it was an automated message when a restaurant reported that I did not start the request after picking up the food. They told me not to worry. Sometimes, I would forget to start the trip after picking up the food at the restaurant and would do it when I got in the car.

These warnings popped up from time-to-time, but I did not worry about them because I was confident that I delivered every item as requested by the customer in the app.

Not the first time I was accused of fraud

One time while on a Quest bonus (a bonus given after a predetermined amount of rides during a specific time period), I dropped a young lady off at her home. Two minutes later I got another request, and it was for the same address where I just dropped off the girl.

Bernie Madoff

Uber treats drivers as if they are all Bernie Madoff – No respect – Photo in Wikimedia Public Domain

It was for the same person. She apparently came home to take out the dog or something and immediately requested another ride. Since I was the closest driver, I got her second request too. Later that day, I got a warning from Uber accusing me of fraud and said I would be deactivated if I continued perpetuating fraud.

Giving the same rider two rides tripped a red flag because they thought I was cheating on the bonus Quest by perhaps having someone I know request two back-to-back drive. I found it very offensive the way they treated me.

You are no longer eligible for deliveries

I was doing deliveries a couple of weeks ago, and for some reason I was getting no requests even though I was in a busy neighborhood at a busy time. I checked my account messages, and there was a message saying “you are no longer eligible for deliveries.” There was a link with more information.

Why Uber sucks

Account deactivated. Click on the contact support brings you to a link with all the reasons for deactivation

The link went to a page which listed all the possible reasons for suspension of delivery capabilities from sexual misconduct to fraud. My ability to drive passengers is still active, so I know that it would not be for any reports that I am a danger to society.

After 15 minutes, I found a link that allowed me to appeal the decision. I got a text message the next day stating they could not restore my account with a link. The link was the same link to all the reasons one could be deactivated.

Uber text

Uber denying my appeal with another link to the same vague list of reasons

Why Uber Sucks

Three strikes and you are out Uber. Uber sucks, and I want to tell the world why. It is ridiculous that they can stop your ability to earn without even telling you the reason for your suspension. That is the down side to the gig economy. There are so many people needing this income that Uber does not care about its people.

I have driven with Lyft and Door Dash, and they are much more transparent with drivers when there is a problem. I may not earn as much with those two companies, but I feel they are much more human. They seem to respect their drivers more.

Rodney Dangerfield

Uber treats us with no respect – We are the Rodney Dangerfield’s of rideshare – Wikimedia Creative Commons

It is absolutely heartless for Uber to suspend a 4.96 star driver with a 98% satisfaction rate for driving deliveries during a Pandemic without any justification, cause, or chance to appeal. I was able to broadly appeal, but since I did not know the exact reason why I was suspended, I could not effectively defend myself.

Why Uber sucks is it is un-American

In America, we are innocent until proven guilty. Uber is un-American for the ability to turn off once ability to earn with no reason given and no chance to appeal. If you are reading this, everything bad you have heard about Uber treating their drivers is correct. Stop using Uber and Uber Eats and migrate to Lyft and Door Dash. I have always defended Uber from naysayers, but no longer.

Uber self driving

Uber self driving car – When all drivers will be deactivated – Wikimedia Creative Commons – By Diablanco – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52458534

Advice for drivers

My advice for drivers is to always make sure they are signed up for more than one rideshare service at any time. Since we are not employees, we do not have the safety of continued employment and can be terminated at the whim of the service. Through all these difficulties with Uber, I had Lyft and Door Dash to fall back on.

Adventure on

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