Uber increases its booking fee. What’s a booking fee?

Uber is increasing its booking fee by 20 to 35 cents. A booking fee is a fee Uber charges the rider on each ride. The driver does not receive any of this money. It goes entirely to Uber.

What is a booking fee? Uber says the fee is “to cover safety as well as additional operational costs that could arise in the future.

The booking fee use to be called the safe ride fee. They changed the name a result of a federal class action suit over Uber’s safety claims. Uber claimed that its background checks for drivers was “industry leading.”

Uber’s background checks are not industry leading. In fact, they’re the opposite. Uber has fought against laws that would need fingerprint-based background checks for its drivers. Uber threatened to leave the state of Maryland if it required fingerprint-based background checks.

The Maryland Public Service Commission caved. They decided not to require Uber drivers to have fingerprint-based criminal background checks.

Maryland requires taxi cab drivers to have fingerprint-based criminal background checks.

Uber increases its booking fee. What's a booking fee? - Bent Corner
MODOK, the bioengineered living computer Uber uses to set prices and fees. MODOK also answers all support questions from Uber drivers.

The booking fee increase is hitting markets on an individual basis. Once the bioengineered living computer Uber uses to determine prices decides how much of an increase a market will receive, the new booking fee will be announced to riders in that market.

Riders will always know before a trip begins how much that trip will cost. With Uber’s upfront fares, riders will always know how much they will pay, no matter what the booking fee is. The booking fee is included in the upfront fee.

Drivers never know how much they will receive from a ride until the ride is complete. In fact, drivers don’t know how far a trip will be until the rider is in the vehicle and the wheels begin to spin. A rider’s destination is kept secret from the driver until the last possible second. The reason? Because many drivers would not accept rides if they knew the riders was only going a few blocks. Most drivers lose money on these types of trips.

Drivers aren’t paid to drive to a rider’s pickup point. That means, as a driver, you can drive several miles away to pick up a rider and then only drive them a few blocks.

This has happened to me multiple times. This is one of the reasons I don’t drive for Uber very often.

Uber will not leave Maryland

The Maryland Public Service Commission ruled that Uber and Lyft drivers will not be required to have fingerprint-based background checks. It means Uber will not be removing service in the state of Maryland as they threatened to do if they did not receive a waiver to the requirement. Taxicab drivers and other similar professionals are required to have fingerprint-based background checks.

As an occasional Uber driver, I was hoping the Maryland Public Service Commission wouldn’t cave to Uber’s threat.

Uber will not leave Maryland - Bent CornerAt the very least, Uber drivers should be required to have a fingerprint-based background check. I have no problem having my fingerprints used to verify that I’m not a dangerous criminal. I would welcome it. I’ve lived a crime-free life. I’ve never been arrested. I would like to use this fact as a way to set myself apart from the other independent contractors working with Uber. That’s what Uber drivers are, independent contractors.

I enjoy driving people for Uber. What I don’t like is waiting in between rides. As an Uber driver, you only get paid for the time a rider is in your car. You don’t get paid for the time you wait for Uber to send you a ride request. It’s monotonous and boring. If the pool of available drivers were whittled down because of more vigorous fingerprint-based background checks, it would mean more riders for me. Less qualified drivers would mean Uber would need to pay qualified drivers, people without a criminal record, more money.

I wish the Maryland Public Service Commission hadn’t caved to Uber’s threat.

Uber threatens to leave Maryland over background checks

If Uber is going to do more background checks, do them on passengers. If someone is a sexual offender or a violent criminal, I don’t want them in my car

Uber may not operate in the state of Maryland after December 22, two whole days before Christmas. The Maryland Public Service Commission is deciding if Uber and Lyft need to perform fingerprint-based background checks on drivers.

Uber said it would remove the service from Maryland if the state requires fingerprint-based background checks. Lyft hasn’t indicated that they would do the same. Lyft did point out that no other state requires fingerprint-based background checks.

Lyft doesn’t operate in Hagerstown. If the rule passes, I may have to complete my application with Lyft and commute to places in Maryland they operate. That’s even if I want to continue as a ridesharing driver.

My opinion on this is mixed. My fingerprints are already on file from being in the military. I have no problem with having my fingerprints taken again.

The state contends this type of security check is required to weed out dangerous sexual offenders and other violent criminals from becoming drivers. If Maryland knows there are dangerous, violent people in the community, why don’t they go and lock them up? These people are dangerous. These people are violent. These people were evidently released from prison even though they are dangerous. Are we supposed to believe they only pose a risk when they are behind the wheel of an Uber car?

I don’t think so.

If Uber is going to do more background checks, I’d prefer they do them on passengers. If someone is a dangerous sexual offender or a violent criminal, I don’t want them in the backseat of my car.  Uber has access to sex offender registries. It wouldn’t be all that hard to run checks on people using the passenger app against these lists.

Uber should strive to make their ridesharing service even safer than it currently is. They shouldn’t fight against increased security. If I were running Uber and the state wanted fingerprint-based background checks, I’d counter with not only fingerprint checks, but a DNA sample too. I provided a DNA sample when I registered to be a bone marrow donor, and it was super easy. They run a special q-tip on the inner cheek of your mouth. That’s it.