UBER is slowly being tax and “fee’d” to death. At what point is too much, too much?

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I really hate the latest APP updates!

If you use UBER you get it. It has changed the way I travel in so many ways. I have used UBER all over the world and loved almost every single ride. But the concept is dying and dying not so slowly. In my family’s home town of Gothenburg Sweden what we call UBERx is gone (they called it UBERpop). There was no way to control the tax so it is over. It was a HUGE savings over a taxi or other choices but now no more.

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Really? $5 Chicago. #FAIL

Chicago, being Chicago, now has a $5.00 pickup fee for the “privilege” of using UBER from O’Hare. Thanks! One more reason not to fly from Chicago (like I really need more reasons to avoid ORD to begin with).

In case you missed it Atlanta i.e. ATL has now approved UBER for airport pickup – for a fee/tax! Great. Just great!

Now let me say I am not trying to get into any kind of a political discussion because that is not what this blog is all about. My point is the concept of the low cost model of UBER, domestically, is being killed by airport tax and politics. How sad.

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These are great for tipping!

As you read this please understand I am also on the side of the drivers. I have blogged before that they are truly underpaid by UBER and I do tip UBER drivers with cash since, unlike the LYFT app, you can not pay them digitally. But giving more money to the airport or some city that UBER operates in is not helping the drivers at all.

The big question is do any of these fees & taxes impact me as a user in choosing ride share vs. all the other choices – that is, maybe a rental car (that could take much longer and cost more) or public transpiration or even long term parking. It is reaching just that tipping point for me.

Looking at the entire travel space this raises so many issues. Having seen the impact that ride share has had on rental cars I see the fee / tax issue as a plus for them in returning renters them. But at the same time I see folks gaming the system to still save money like taking some kind of shuttle off site and then requesting an UBER ride. Not very efficient and a huge pain that I think most will avoid but I bet it happens.

I really don’t know where it is all going to go. I will still, on any given day anywhere in the world, take an UBER over a taxi. To me, a taxi is the last choice I ever want (again, at least domestically). And depending on where I am in the world I feel the same or close to the same.

Personally, without going off the rails, I would love your thoughts on this. Are airport taxes & fees enough to move you away from using UBER as you have in the past? At what point is UBER no longer of value to you? – René

 

 


 

20 comments

  1. Go and speak to the various taxi companies who wait for passengers. You’ll find that every single one of them has to pay a fee to pick up. You’ll also find this for taxis that are NOT based at the airport.

    Why should Uber be any different?

  2. Uber should have never been about able to cheat on tax/fees. You are using airport infrastructure so you should pay for it just like the taxis. Now whether $5 is too high is debatable however I think it’s fair as long as everyone has to pay it.

  3. I love UBER for the convenience of requesting rides through an app. And knowing your car and drivers name (and ratings) ahead of time.

    But UBER has skirted around rules and regulations that the taxi industry has had to deal with and now it’s starting to catch up. I don’t like that there is a XX dollar fee for various things like the privelage to pick up or drop off at XX airport but that’s the rule. Why should UBER (and subsequently its riders) not have to pay those fees?

    I had hoped that UBER would inspire? (Maybe not the right choice of words) the taxi industry to get into the 21st century but alas it has not. I would have loved to have seen the taxi industry ban together to create some sort of app to hail cabs but alas if they have its few and far between.

    I also have a friend who is a cabbie and he despises UBER. I try to avoid the topic because I use it but I see both sides of the story.

    Just my two cents

  4. Airport and other “tourist” taxes are ways for communities to get money from non-voters. Every hotel bill and rental car bill includes some kind of recovery tax these days. No doubt, AirBnB will get hit with these, too. The question for me is the balance between cost (is a client paying?), timing (do I have to wait with 50 other people also hailing Uber – as has happened to me at MDW and ORD, and convenience (I still have not fully mastered the Uber App vs just walking out the door to a waiting taxi). The other question I have investigating is what kind of insurance protection I have as an Uber or AirBnB customer. Since a non-professional is using their vehicle or property for commercial purposes, I bet their own insurance would negate any coverage should an accident hurt me, the customer. Does any insurance company sell “users insurance” yet?

  5. Okay, then what about my wife who picks me up at the airport. Should she pay a fee?

    Why some people taxed and others not?

  6. It’s just another tactic that the government and government sponsored entities (like the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority or MWAA) use to pad their budgets and generate revenue to spend dubiously. MWAA charges Uber/Lyft $4 but doesn’t; allow them to use the taxi infrastructure so its 100% free money for MWAA. They charge $25 a day to park in garages that were long ago paid for. Dulles passenger traffic is stagnant because their enplanement fees are in the top 3 in the USA ($25 per passenger) In return, the part time administrators of the airport pay themselves $300,000 a year and fly business class to seminars in exotic locales to learn how to operate airports (!) Is it any wonder that people are fed up with the way the government is run? The Port Authority of NY and NJ is worse. Bottom line: why all the junk fees? Because they can.

  7. Maybe the bottom line is that government just plain taxes everything too much! It has always pissed me off (excuse my language, Rene) to look at my hotel bill and see that there are fourteen different entities charging a tax simply because they can. Same with my cell phone bill. I don’t even live in the city that my phone number is based from and I’m paying it taxes. Agreed, it is my fault for not changing my number but who knows, maybe the taxes In my new city would be higher. I have to live within my means; why can’t the government do likewise?

  8. I think it is fair for UBER to pay if others are paying too. The fact that there is competition being allowed in industries that were previously monopolies forever should be reason enough to celebrate. UBER is as much about user experience and convenience rather than just about cheaper prices. In fact, I now find with UBER’s “disguised” surge pricing that their fares are not quite as competitive as a year or two ago but would still choose them (or LYFT etc) over a conventional taxi, when possible

    For years Amazon took advantage of selling things to people without them not having to pay sales tax which was one of the reasons so many B&M retailers and mom and pops were driven out of business.

  9. I don’t know why Uber doesn’t set up shuttles to offsite locations for passengers arriving just like rental car companies and hotels do. I think people will find ways to avoid paying the premium for airport pickup. My wife is arriving at SNA right now and we were talking abou this exact topic this morning. She’s going to catch a hotel shuttle or rental car shuttle off site and give the driver 5 bucks rather than give it to the airport via an Uber fee. She’ll come out ahead, the shuttle driver will come out ahead, Uber comes out neutral.

  10. The concept of Uber and Lyft are good from the concept of competition and hopefully getting the monopolistic taxi industry in some cities to also compete. However, the taxi industry does have some legitimate points concerning insurance protection for you as a consumer if hurt, maintenance and bonded drivers. Also, taxis pay a fee for airport pick-ups and drop-offs, which are to help defray the costs of the airport facilities.

    Now for the innovations both Lyft and Uber have brought concerning the use of the apps for all the information about the drivers and location and time to pick-up as well as cost before hand is great as a consumer. I have not seen those same innovations in the taxi industry in the US but amazingly in Quito Ecuador all those are possible for a taxi. I was a visiting friend and it was late so our friend got his phone out and used his app for a taxi and got several replies before accepting one. He told us the taxi number, the drivers’ name and showed us a picture of the driver. So it can be done and Quito is a city of some 2.7 million people and has lot of taxis with government mandated meters so the competition is for ridership not fares unless you are a tourist that does not know the most direct route then maybe the ride can be more expensive but the rates are still low versus US rates.

    As to the concern about where the fees go when it might seem facilities are paid for but it would be hard to find an airport that has not renovated or expanded facilities in the last five years and since in most cases it is user fees that are used to pay for them to level some of the playing field the ride sharing industry should pay the fees as well. For me the taxi and ride sharing industries offer some different services taxis the ability to walk out and get in and leave while ride sharing offers many times lower costs and better information that the apps provide. I personally like the ride sharing once in a city since mass transit from the airport for me can be less expensive and in many cases quicker but since that is essentially a major city benefit it is good to have alternatives.

  11. At LAX there is a fee for Uber and Lyft but also for taxis. Even the hotel, parking & rental car shuttle buses pay it as do shared ride vans (“Super Shuttle”)

    I think this is fair, so long as it is not specifically aimed at Uber/Lyft.

  12. Everyone whining about Uber taxing pick ups at airports seems to ignore that this is a small proportion of rides anyone will take using Uber. Not every municipality charges Uber a big tax for airport pick up, and even those that do allows every consumer the choice to use a taxi or Uber still as they choose. Uber still is tremendous for ease of getting around anywhere else besides an airport pick up, including dropping off at the airport.

    Governments always charge business a fee/tax on anything on which they can make a profit. There’s nothing wrong with that. The only reason we have airports and other public infrastructure on which we all depend every day (including Uber drivers and passengers) is because of taxes.

  13. René,

    I personally prefer Lyft to Uber and use it wherever they offer service. I can give the tip through the App and get bonus Amex points. I live in South Florida and both services now are supposed to pay the airport fees that Taxi’s and car services use. For all other things, they are still much cheaper than using a Taxi.

    In NYC avoiding the long cab line at JFK or LGA makes Uber or LYFT a viable alternative. Also in NYC, Uber has partnered with the NYC Taxi Commission and you can use the Uber App to hail a Taxi and then pay the taxi directly. I used this to go to the airport from my hotel on a rainy day. NYC Taxi has a flat rate to the airports regardless of traffic, something you dont have on Uber.

    @Glenn, about insurance, Uber has a $1,000,000 liability policy that gets put inforce when the driver picks you up and ends when they have told the App that you have been dropped off. Lyft has something similar. My kids take Lyft to school everyday as they are not allowed to take their musical instruments on the bus. One of the drivers lives in our neighborhood and wants to have us just give him $10 in cash to take them to school. I declined, knowing that any additional coverage would not be in place.

  14. 1. Fees are there no matter what you take when it is on airport grounds…it is a wash for the customer

    2. I drive for Uber, my insurance is in place as well as an insurance policy that Uber has from the second I hit start until you arrive.

    3. Take an Uber you have provable details about the driver, the car and background.

  15. @Gregg G. and Jim,

    Thanks for the Uber insurance tip. I feel more likely to use them now. Anyone know about AirBnB insurance? I can imagine a house fire or burglary and losing possessions, or even injury or death.

  16. The ONLY thing I like about Uber is the ability to “thumb” a ride from wherever I am at that moment.

    I do NOT like the randomness of whether or not I get some serial killer or creep. OK that is rare, but there are much more common Uber scams.

    If some agency would simply act as a taxi-broker so I could use an app to summon any nearby taxi that’d be what I’d prefer. Then goodbye “gypsy cabs”.

  17. The taxes are unpleasant, but apply to cabs as well. My issue with Uber is the lack of transparency on the surge pricing. I want to know if I’m paying 4.5 times normal rate when I’m vising another city where I don’t know what the normal taxi rates run. I don’t just want Uber to say that I’m paying a little bit more.

  18. MSP just recently eliminated its airport fee for uber and lyft users and changed the pick up location to streamline it…just a bit of positive news anyways

  19. I think in some places Uber is still cheaper than a taxi or private car, but I agree with the premise that in many places there is no cost advantage to using Uber anymore because of government regulation and taxing. The only advantage is that you’re less likely to be ripped off in Uber because of its technology. A local taxi could still take the super-long way, claim its credit card machine is broken, or whatever.

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