Do You Tip App-Booked Taxi Drivers?

By Gerald Lynch on at

When flagging down a London black cab, you can be certain of two things -- you'll get to your destination as quickly as the roads will allow (thanks to the driver's time studying The Knowledge), and you'll have a wallet-whacking fair to pay. You'll probably tip for the service, but rue that final drink that cost you missing the last train home.

App-booked taxis provided by the likes of Uber and Kabbee are, in my experience, a different affair. Cheap and cheerful, you get what you pay for -- while I've never had an unpleasant Uber driver, I've basically had to direct them to my destination turn-by-turn, including those that had a sat-nav.

If the service gets to your destination, by any means, should you tip the driver?

It's a question worth asking particularly of the app-booked taxi services, some of the appeal of which lies in the cashless nature of transactions. Drivers know you won't ride-and-run once you get to your destination, and you can be sure that you don't need to make a pricey extra stop at a cash machine along the route. It's part of what keeps the services cheaper, but few offer an in-app option to tip drivers, either.

According to Uber's website:

Being Uber means there is no need to tip drivers with any of our services.

Kabbe has a similar stance:

There is no obligation to tip the driver; it is your choice. Tips are made in cash rather than through the Kabbee payment system.

Of the three cab-booking apps that I use, only GetTaxi offers an in-app tipping prompt -- without one, you may not even consider tipping at all, even if the driver goes above and beyond the call of duty. (Note that Uber adds a 20 per cent tip by default if you choose to use one of its premium "TAXI" class cars).

So, do you tip your app-booked driver? Does decades of ingrained social anxiety and obligation to the tipping cause mean you still hand over some extra cash? Or does a (usually) diminished service mean that it's quite alright for the apps not to offer a tipping prompt?