Read All About It: Our Exclusive Interview With an Uber Driver
Uber is the $40 billion ride sharing app that has changed the way we view transportation. Since 2009, they have slowly been putting taxis out of business and gaining traction in over 58 countries. So how does one become an Uber driver and what are the pros and cons? I sat down with 25 year old, Omar, an Uber driver of three months, to find out.
Q: What initially interested you in becoming an Uber driver?
A: “The cash… and a job where I could be my own boss and make my own schedule seemed very appealing to me.
Q: What do you like most about being an Uber driver?
A: “Meeting the people. It is definitely fun. I always do my best to give the best experience that I can. I remember in Arizona, I took Uber and that was when I first heard about it and experienced it. It was Halloween time and the driver had a fake skeleton in the passenger seat that was dressed in a suit and tie and a top hat and it was entertaining, so I wanted to get involved in that aspect.”
Q: What do you like least about it?
A: “I keep my car clean and have a fun time, but I do constantly find footprints on my seats and other messes. Unfortunately, people keep leaving it dirty. That’s definitely the worst part of it. Obviously, if there is something big like someone throws up in your car or something, Uber will compensate you and you can get it cleaned and detailed and everything, but it comes out of your pocket. So, it’s more like a reimbursement as well as the gas. If you really want to see a decent profit margin from driving Uber you have to put in some serious hours. And since Uber is prepaid, people don’t often feel like they have to tip you.”
Q: How do you actually get paid?
A: “When a person needs a ride, Uber uses GPS to locate the passenger. A picture pops up on your screen and your phone beeps and gives you 15 seconds to accept or decline the ride. Then, the app stays on so that you can locate your passenger and take them to their destination. At that point, it is based on time, travel, and the distance to their destination. After that, everything is set up on direct deposit and withdrawal.
Q: What is the hiring process to become an Uber driver?
A: “I was actually very surprised at how extensive the process of becoming an Uber driver is. You apply online, but it’s very interesting because there are specific requirements you learn about and a third party does a background investigation. After you pass the background investigation, your car has to be inspected. It has to be a four door vehicle and you have to take pictures of the car; the front, back and inside. You also have to take it to a contracted shop to have it inspected and get forms that say your car meets all the requirements. Then, you have to create a profile and upload a photo and information about yourself as well as send in photos of your driver’s license, registration, insurance, and lots of other files. They send you an instructional video with questions and answers on how to be a good Uber driver. They also give you the option of using your own phone or they can send you a phone to use for $10 a week. They send you hands-free devices, a car charger, and everything you need device-wise. Then, you wait until they activate your phone and you’re ready to go out and drive.”
Q: What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you while you were driving?
A: “I’ve met some pretty cool people. A good friend of mine was able to give a ride to a drunk anchor from Fox 13 news. Personally, I had this one family that was traveling and asked me if I could take them to Yellowstone and go on a vacation with them. They offered to pay for everything, but unfortunately I had work and school. Otherwise, I would have totally gone.”
Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to become an Uber driver?
A: “It’s a great way to make some money, but you have to be serious about it. You have to put in time and effort. They always have perks for driving certain miles and having certain ratings and that’s all great but you have to meet them. Take it seriously and it can pay off. Then of course, always be mindful of the people you are picking up. Stick to people you are supposed to pick up, don’t pick up their friends at some other location. Follow the rules because they are there for your safety and their safety. I would definitely recommend treating it like it is your own business and making sure that at the end of the day, you are actually profiting from it.”
Now you know the process and the ups and downs of becoming an Uber driver. Could jumping on the ridesharing wagon be the next great opportunity that you are looking for?
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