Skip to main content

Uber drivers say that driving for Uber kind of sucks

Uber drivers say that driving for Uber kind of sucks


The life and times of the independent contractor

Share this story

Last December, Uber released a survey that found that 81 percent of its drivers said they were "satisfied with the overall experience" of driving for Uber. That number seemed suspect, coming at a time when Uber's rapid growth was bringing the company into increasing conflict with its workforce of independent contractors. Now a new survey by Harry Campbell, an Uber driver known for his "Rideshare Guy" podcast and blog, suggests that less than half of drivers are happy about driving for Uber.

Campbell sent his survey out to 10,234 drivers who subscribe to his newsletter and got responses back from 453. Of that number, only 48 percent said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "Overall, I am satisfied with my experience driving for Uber." (Uber got 833 responses to its December survey.) Thirty-eight percent of drivers told Campbell they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement. Many of his responses came from Uber's largest markets, like Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago.

Of course, Campbell is not a professional pollster, nor was his survey scientific. As such, the results of his survey may not be indicative of the entirety of the Uber workforce. Uber's survey was conduced by a professional polling firm, but is also only as good as the questions it asked.

38 percent of say they are unsatisfied driving Uber

The lack of satisfaction among drivers is unsurprising, especially coming in the middle of a harsh winter for the ride-share company. Uber recently slashed its fares in over 100 cities. The reduction was meant to combat slower winter months, but it mostly just pissed off its workforce. Drivers, many of whom were lured to the app-based company on the promise of greater flexibility and higher take-home pay, say the fare cuts are forcing them to work longer hours for less money.

Campbell says that if satisfaction continues to go down, Uber may see many of its drivers abscond to friendlier platforms. "They've got a dominant share on the market of drivers right now since they provide the best earning opportunities, but they face some serious risks in the future," he told The Verge via email. "There hasn't been a whole lot of loyalty on either side, and drivers are starting to take notice of other opportunities and go wherever the grass is greener."

According to the survey, 73.9 percent of respondents said driving for Uber was their primary gig, but only half said it was their preferred on-demand service, with the other half saying they preferred Lyft. In other words, drivers say Lyft treats them better than Uber, but most recognize that the money is still in Uber.

Part-timers vs. full-timers: who gets more weight?

Uber says that nearly 50 percent of its drivers work 10 or less hours a week, which it uses to argue against the push to reclassify drivers as employees rather than independent contractors. But Campbell's survey found that those part-time drivers account for only 4 percent of the total number of hours driven for Uber each week. In New York City, Uber recently had to restrict drivers from driving more than 12 hours in a day, out of safety concerns.

Meanwhile the 27 percent of drivers who say they drive over 31 hours a week are actually handling over 50 percent of the hours worked that week. All of which raises the question, who should be given more weight in policy discussions: part-timers who make up a bulk of the workforce, or full-timers who do the majority of the work?