We can’t pay them more

This is quite a weird story:

Uber, facing a chorus of criticism from its drivers for refusing to add a tipping function to its app, is mustering a provocative argument:

Tipping is inherently unfair because of customers’ unconscious racial biases.

The transportation network company’s stance is based in part on an academic study that found white restaurant servers earned larger tips, on average, than black servers who provided equally good service.

The popular ride-hailing service is under pressure to add a tipping option to its smartphone app after it agreed to pay up to $100 million last week to settle a class-action lawsuit by drivers who alleged unfair wage and labor practices. As part of the settlement, Uber has agreed to clarify that tips are not included in its fares — an important concession that drivers hope will prompt more passengers to add a gratuity.

It is probably true that riders might tip differently depending on race (although as drivers note, they also might tip differently depending on sex, age, and many other things), but there is something Uber could do–they could raise the rates they charge customers a bit or take a smaller share themselves, leaving more to the drivers. Obviously, Uber doesn’t want to do either of these things, but there’s no reason a reporter shouldn’t mention these options.

The article does note:

Drivers also pointed out that customer bias could affect their ratings in Uber’s zero-to- five-star ranking system, which the company uses to identify, retrain, and sometimes even “deactivate” poor drivers.

Which would make the ratings system inherently unfair, so I assume Uber will get rid of it.

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