Updated: Mar 23
Last few years I tried this few income streams to be rich. One dollar at a time. Up by a dollar life is great. Down a dollar pull the trigger and make sure I am standing behind you. (not really; poetic however) To pay down my credit cards put money away for my savings I did a side hustle using Uber Eats. For me in particular it was and still is, one of the mechanisms to pay down some of my bad debts, have extra cash for savings and have money to invest. I trade my car VW GTI for my mom’s 1.2 L 70hp Mirage for this experiment. My mom maybe races the car on the weekends I will not know until she asks me for a pink slip with no reason. Back to the topic I use the Mitsu because of the 40 mpg city and highway and to fill up the tank rarely exceeds $11. Being that I drove both Uber and Uber Eats for more than two years I can point to some positives and negatives. (only Eats lately because duh…)
Pros: Instant Payout option is a definite pro. I have been short a few bucks or had a negative balance rather than ask my relatives for a quick loan I popped over to my car turned on Uber drove some people delivered a few items and I was able to make enough to cover the negative balance fuel for the night and put some buckaroos aside extra. At the End I use the cash out option which instantly deposits the money for a $0.50 fee. No more waiting until payday while your account collects Insufficient Funds fees like Leonardo DiCaprio does Victoria Secret Models. Work whenever you feel like it. Whether it is 2 AM on Wednesday, 5PM on a Friday or whenever once you press that Go Online Button or Go Offline that dictates your hours. The only limitations are when you feel like it availability on rides/ deliveries or if you are a workaholic you can only do 10 driving hours before the app says “No Mas”. Good Pay in peak times. Speaking of which if you do your Uber on a Friday and Saturday night you can earn as low as $70 and as high as $300 in one regular night. On special nights like Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day that amount can be even higher. I never had the pleasure myself, but other drivers were bragging about $1000 in one night on New Year’s. I personally did Uber Eats on New Year’s Day driving hangover food to people and gotten $400 driving 5 hours tops.
No real Boss just self-governance. You are an independent contractor with a 1099 form at the end of it. Meaning you can accept or decline work freely, deduct car use by mileage. The only thing that can crew you up is if you are a horrible human being and you get kicked off the app for consistently low ratings. Even then you get put on a time out like a spoiled suburban middle-class kid. Relatively Painless Signup is the most 21st Century feature on the app up to a point, more on that later. You upload a picture of yourself, your car’s title, insurance and Jiffy lube inspection. It just makes sure the car is worth driving and does not have wood blocks for breaks hole on the floor and rust holding it together. Magical computer witchcraft happens, you open the app, and you can start driving. You can meet some interesting people. To pass the time especially if driving someone tens of miles you can get into some interesting topics. Met an Irishman, when I say Irish, I mean born in Ireland accent and all. He emigrated to US when he was fifteen and went straight to work and built himself out of nothing. Then there was a party of four where one of the lady’s granddad worked or paid protection money to Al Capone and known him on a personal level nothing but positive stories about the man though. Occasionally you get some people either so friendly they want to invite you over or too drunk offering other stuff. This is not whisper so I will leave it here. App technology is exceptionally reliable. In fact, that is Uber’s whole secret sauce. When you ask them, they are a technology company not a transportation or food industry company. Everything is done through the app to a fault, yes, I will mention that soon.
Cons: Support was bad, gotten worse during the pandemic. When you do have an odd situation, the company expects the app to make everything all better. Even if it is the app who is the culprit. They refer you to the help section which I admit they do have scenarios covering nearly everything. What they do not have is a giant very needed “Other” button. They do have a support number where you either do not get connected or the person on the other end is less than helpful. Don’t try emailing the firstname.lastname@example.org email either as you will get an instant response. Except it says the e-mail is not monitored and it directs you to use the app or call so back to square one. Lots of bad deliveries. If driving in the absolute peak time you are living the dream. If you are not you get an order to go fetch some 7 elven or some coffee for a $2.50 delivery with projected tip where you will drive 10 to cranky person opening the door. Peak times are hard to track as even the surge rate or bonuses cannot predict a peak time always as it relies on previous data so it can be a crab shoot. Bad Tippers as what really grinds my gears. Those “cheepos” will order over $50 worth of food in a dark remote area that is hard to get to and give you a $1 tip. It is at that time you hope they get mayo instead of ranch like they ordered. Bad Customers can be frequent on some nights. Besides the aforementioned latte kings and queens. You get people treating Uber Eats like it is a butler getting you room service. Go up to the 8th floor knock twice. Go to the complicated terminal at an apartment where I will not immediately answer knowing full well you are probably double parked. I drove the damn thing at least ten miles for you least you can do is get your lazy butt and meet me downstairs in an apartment , let reception receive your order at a hotel and use leave at the door feature if you live in a house because I am not catching a deadly virus for a $5 tip. Customers will also complain and give you a bad rating for trivial things like you were driving around trying to find them even though they left poor directions. One customer was angry with me the food was late as apparently the restaurant took forever even though it only took me 5 minutes to deliver it. I do not work for the restaurant I pick up food and I take it slow unorganized restaurants have always been a problem. Lastly, they treat you and your car as hired help, giving you almost inappropriate instructions like carry someone’s bags to the gate at O’Hare. Uhm no. I had a few yuppies around the Roscoe Village area get into my GTi when I was still driving it for Uber briefly. What made me stop using my good car was how thar cattle , because you can’t call these idiots people, piled in 6 in the back dirty shoe marks all over my car and to top it off the just climbed out to the bar and didn’t even bother closing the back door. I could write a few more rants but one large paragraph is plenty too much at this point.
Restaurants staff do not acknowledge you. You must yell to get service once they find out that you are an Uber driver you get worse customer service even those there is a customer the end of this order. Some Restaurants Pizzerias especially do not know what the button that food is ready to deliver button means. I have arrived in places where they were spinning the yarn that the just got the order even though I accepted the order 15 minutes ago and the pressed the ready button. Another one is when they say it will be read y in five minutes that turns into 15-45 minutes. These people really need to get it into their thick skulls that here is a customer at the end of this order and if they will get poor service, they will not order from you ever again. Places really need to have dedicated staff for online order instead of this free for all. Cannot survive with this as main source of income. You just cannot it is too unreliable as a money-making mechanism. Warm outside equals bad day. You do not work certain busy hours, there is less earning potential. Speaking of which making money starts after you discount what it is going to cost you in driving costs like gas and what even you must eat and drink during. If you’re doing more than 2-3 light days a week really think about what it does to your car usage. At the very least it will run your fuel brakes tires and car to the ground if not careful. In worse case the premature wear will cause more money spent on maintenance more frequently. Finally, at the worst-case scenario increased wear can cause breakdowns leading to expensive repairs.
Therefore, Uber leans into the this is the side hustle type environment. Even then this is better suited to people who own either extremely reliable cars to the tune of Toyotas or Honda or cars that are somewhat reliable and dirt cheap to fix which would put you in compact or Midsize in domestic territory, Korean cars or your econoboxes like Scion , Mitsubishi or low end Nissans. If done smartly this can be a good hustle just take the good with the bad. Otherwise might want to try an actual part time job as a secondary source of income.