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Since Uber is in control of the dispatch, do drivers trust Uber not to throttle the rate of their rides as they approach/pass the break-even point? Given the shenanigans they've pulled with geofencing around regulatory agencies, I don't think I would trust them, but perhaps if they do have a history of letting people hit the driving incentives, I'd be more willing to give it a shot...

This comment got my gears turning about good ways to split up Uber in an anti-trust case. One possibility is to have Uber A provide dispatch as a service, while Uber B collects fares, disburses driver payments, and provides the front-end UI. Uber B could also set up whatever driver incentives they wanted. Uber A would be a regulated monopoly, and would have to allow other companies to compete with Uber B on its platform.

In this scenario, dispatch would basically be a public utility, and drivers could trust the algorithm not to cheat. I.e. since Uber B and its competitors would be running any driver incentives, Uber A wouldn't even know about it. (And legally shall not know such things.)

I realize this is a half-baked pipe dream, but an interesting thought experiment.

> Uber A would be a regulated monopoly, and would have to allow other companies to compete with Uber B on its platform.

But since Uber B has the brand recognition (through its UI), the question is if there will be a competitor. Nowadays, it seems that consumers converge more and more on a single brand for any service/product, which is probably due to the internet/social media.

>Nowadays, it seems that consumers converge more and more on a single brand for any service/product, which is probably due to the internet/social media.

This only seems true (at least over medium to longer times) for certain classes of product/service, namely those where network effects actually provide real value to consumers. Many products have tried to artificially integrate features that would initiate network affects (for example niche social networks for fitness trackers) but they end up making the product less usable because they're not part of the core value proposition consumers are looking for with that product.

usually "free" products where the consumer is paying in time watching ads and the user can't determine easily how much the "value" actually has changed. ie. no ads --> lots of ads

checkout /r/uberdrivers

so many stories of not getting any rides when they get close to a promotional number of rides. You can't prove it but they are very suspicious that Uber does it

They might be doing that, of course, but given human nature, I'm sure we'd see those stories in either case. Uber has a lot of drivers, and some of those drivers are bound to get unlucky and have this happen to them by pure chance. Some of them will get very unlucky, and have it happen repeatedly. Those drivers will understandably think that something shady is going on. And someone who gets struck by lightning five times might start to think that the sky has it in for them.

There's also a pretty obvious mechanism for selection bias here regarding which type of situation we're going to hear about. Few people are going to write up a post saying "I got close to my bonus, and then I got more rides, and I got my bonus, and it was fine", whereas people who feel like they're getting screwed tend to be very vocal. So the existence of these stories tells us next to nothing.

there's also a market reason why this could happen. Towards the end of the (synchronized) bonus cycle, more drivers are going to be out to complete their bonus requirements, so they'll increase the supply and collaboratively reduce their take.

Yeah that makes sense. Seems like something Uber would want to fix, and it should be pretty easy if they stagger the bonuses. I don't think having drivers pissed off about losing out on bonuses is really in their best interest, even if it saves them a bit of money in the very short term.

Geez, it's like "buy 50 gold coins to complete this level!" but the game is being able to afford food and rent.

It's like working as a stripper. Ask any stripper about "stage fees".

Or as a barber renting a chair at a salon.

There's an important difference in both cases compared to what Uber is doing and that is that Uber is in complete control of whether you will get work.

Moreover, they have much more opportunity to do it since a strip club and barber salon have a lot fewer rented spots (ones/tens vs hundreds/thousands) and there is more ways Uber can be sneaky about it. (Oops sorry it took us 10 minutes to find you a passenger)

OH there's also the fact that Uber has the ability to arbitrage. Since the drivers who payed in are more costly to Uber to send passengers to than the drivers who didn't. Unlike the other industries you mentioned where presumably everyone has to pay in.

Sounds like an episode of Black Mirror.

Black Mirror was meant to be a warning, not a guide.

Either way, people are getting fucked for someone else’s profit/amusement.

Poor Abi...

Everything that Uber is doing to employees, will be done to ALL employees in that not too-distant future.

So in pre-Uber days, they were hungry and homeless as presumably they'll shortly be in London ?

Or they did the same job but worked for a company (or independently) that is properly regulated.

I have absolutely no way of knowing what is true in this case, but I will note that these kinds of observations even in the perfect absence of foul play are perfectly consistent with a number of well-understood cognitive biases.

Surely there must be some kind of statistical method to prove that this is happening, the drivers should start logging and sharing data so someone can analyze it.

This phenomenon is likely due to Uber’s incentives timing out around the same time, meaning many drivers are competing for less trips as promo end nears. It’s highly unlikely they are doing something actually malicious.

One of the problems Uber has is that their past behavior means that they get NO benefit of doubt. Can't get rides around city hall? Is it not enough drivers in the area or is it Greyball? With so many examples of unethical behavior like that now the coincidence/malice scale will always tilt to malice.

Kalanick and the bros did a hell of a job trashing the company reputation.

I didn't pay all that much attention to that particular bit of Uber scandal, but were they using that to actually interfere with Lyft drivers beyond watching coverage areas? If all they were doing was the equivalent of opening the app and seeing where cars were available, I'm actually less concerned about it.

Based on prior behaviour I wouldn't call it highly unlikely.

Or even in-general just prioritizing "non +33% rate" drivers that night to maximize their profits (which is what a company is all about). Whats guaranteeing that the high rate drivers won't just be an expensive worst case reserve pool of workers when demand climbs?

A company is NOT all about maximizing profits. But even if they were there is a difference between maximizing short term profits and long term profits

There might also be another effect in play - as the labor market tightens, I think Uber is looking into ways of boosting the supply of rides from the drivers it already has.

This offer exploits loss aversion on the part of those drivers (once they take it up, they don't want to "lose" and have it not be worth it, so they might end up driving even if fares are low).

I talked to drivers for didichuxing they told similar stories about promotion being not achievable...

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