If you have the habit of making your Uber driver wait while you take your time getting out of the door, it could cost you. The popular ride-hailing firm has announced that customers who keep their driver waiting for more than two minutes will be charged a penalty fee in more cities.
The late-rider fee system, which has been tested in New York, New Jersey, Phoenix and Dallas since April, will be launched in another 12 US cities "with more coming soon", the company said in its driver blog post Behind The Wheel.
"Your time is valuable, so it's frustrating when riders run late or cancel when you're already at the pickup location," product managers Maya Choksi and Ryan Fujiu wrote in the post. "We've been trying something new: paying drivers for wait times that exceed two minutes. In the cities where we've been testing this, we've seen that riders are more likely to be prompt."
The "wait time" fee is one of several features rolled out by the company aimed at appeasing drivers without raising fares for customers. On 6 June, the company announced a host of new driver-friendly, in-app features amid mounting tension between Uber and its drivers.
According to the post, a new "pause" switch will allow drivers to temporarily turn off new ride requests if they need to take a break or grab some lunch. Another feature called "Driver Destinations" will let drivers specify a location, like the office in the morning or home at the end of the day. Uber will then connect them with new trip requests from riders going in the same direction.
"Driver Destinations is all about making it easier to fit work around your life—not the other way around," Choksi and Fujiu wrote. Currently available in a handful of US and international cities, the tool will soon be rolled out to another dozen US and global cities.
Other new features for drivers include discounts if they ever need an Uber ride, in-person driver assistance locations, Instant Pay through an Uber card and a fuel-finder feature that helps drivers find the cheapest gas nearby.
The new features come after a slew of class-action lawsuits and anti-Uber protests. The company recently settled a pair of class actions brought in by drivers in California and Massachusetts who wanted to be classified as full-time employees rather than independent contractors. The company agreed to pay up to $100m to 385,000 drivers.
In May, Uber announced a "strategic partnership" with Toyota which included an investment from the Japanese automaker.
Earlier this month, Uber received a $3.5bn investment from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, bumping the company's valuation up to $62bn. The next day, the company was hit with yet another class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 5,000 Uber drivers in New York.