Uber Drivers Say That When They Turn Down Ride Requests, They Get Timeouts

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Just like when your mom told you to go sit in the corner for refusing to pick up your toys, Uber drivers say that when they repeatedly turn down ride requests, they’re given timeouts.

CNNMoney spoke with drivers who say that after they’ve refused a few ride requests, they’re locked out of the Uber system for up to 15 minutes.

One driver said he usually gets put in four four-minute timeouts by Uber every day, because he refuses to accept UberPool rides. The company contends that the carpooling service is a boon for drivers, as it means less wait time in between requests.

But while UberPool may be attractive to passengers — who get a discount for sharing their ride with others along a similar route — many drivers don’t like it because they say the system means more work, but not necessarily more pay.

Other drivers complain that their ratings take a hit when they pick up UberPool passengers: riders can get grumpy when the driver goes out of the way to drop off another person first, or if they’re sitting next to a stranger they just don’t like, and take it out on the driver with a low rating.

“They do it begrudgingly,” Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy, a ridesharing blog, told CNNMoney of drivers that drive for UberPool. “They’re basically doing the same trips, but now they have two people in [their car] and they get paid about the same amount.”

Drivers also say it isn’t always clear exactly when and why they’re put in timeout. Uber didn’t offer details about timeouts, but its policy says if drivers have a low ride acceptance rate they may be temporarily logged out of the app:

“If you are consistently not accepting trip requests, we will notify you that your ability to remain online may be at risk,” the policy reads. “”If your acceptance rate does not improve, you may temporarily be logged out of the app for a limited period of time.”

Critics of Uber’s stance that drivers are independent contractors point to the practice of timeouts as further evidence that the company actually treats drivers like employees.

“True independent contractors have the freedom to decide when they want to work and what kind of work they want to do,” Benjamin Sachs, a Harvard Law School professor told CNNMoney. “By giving drivers timeouts, Uber is exercising the kind of control over its workforce that employers exercise over employees.”

How Uber punishes drivers who refuse to use UberPool [CNNMoney]

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