Let me start this blog with a quick disclaimer. I’m not against Uber as a source of income or service, in fact I have been a big user of Uber since their arrival on travel scene. This is simply an opinion piece based on a recent conversation I had with my Uber driver on a journey back from London.
The idea of a second income is appealing to most of us. Regardless of your personal financial situation, the idea of having a ‘little bit more’ is an appealing one. The trick is balancing the time investment with the actual profit. One of the reasons, I believe, Uber has been so successful is their ability to promote the profit/conviction for their drivers to such an extent that it blurs the costs and thus hides the ‘real’ profit.
As a business owner myself it is hard not to appreciate the ingenuity of this PR and marketing campaign – which has somehow kept the attention (in the UK) more on whether they provide a better service than black cabs, rather than the depressingly low net profit for their drivers. However, a rather frank conversation with a driver two weekends ago did make me wonder why so many choose to drive for Uber when there are other alternatives for a second income.
Like the majority of Uber user’s, I yearn for the peace and quiet, which from my experience, is not only my preference but the driver’s as well. However, on this rare occasion, both myself and the driver were in the mood for a conversation. A recent Live Chat conversation with a Free Trial member on my site about the average hourly profit, had ignited my interest in the ‘actual’ hourly profits from other secondary jobs. Fortunately, my Uber driver was willing to indulge me, and the figures that started being discussed left me a little bit shocked.
As it turns out my driver had a part time job outside of Uber, 3 (sometimes 4) days a week and the rest of the time he worked for Uber (or for himself as Uber would have us believe). Rather astonishingly, despite Uber being his self-proclaimed ‘top up’ job, he stated that last week he worked 38 hrs and 39 minutes. I’ve known plenty of people with full time jobs that never came close to that number with regards to ‘actual’ hours worked. From this he said he made £475. Now mental arithmetic has never been my strength, however some basic calculations told me that actually, this wasn’t too bad. I said as much to my driver – to which he responded with a wry, knowing smile. He then preceded to tell me why that figure is essentially pointless to look at when it comes to earnings.
The first, and most obvious expense is fuel. Now, this may of course vary depending on the car, but in this instance, it was a diesel car being driven (at least during my journey) very economically. The total cost of fuel during that week was £70. For the sake of time, I’m going to list the other expenses I noted down below:
- Car rent = £130
- Insurance = £70 (covers driver and passengers) – bit sceptical this was the real weekly cost but I went with it.
- Fuel = £70
- Car cleaning = £30 – apparently this is something people forget about. But he did mention that after 53 trips it is almost a necessity.
The one that stood out for me was the car rent. However, having never considered working for Uber myself I didn’t contest this. I’m sure some of you reading this will contest various points here, but from where I was sat, there was no real reason for him to lie.
So, adding that up, the actual net profit from 38 hours of work was £175. That is an effective hourly wage of £4.60.
Now yes, I accept that not everyone calculates their wage after taking away the cost of travel etc. But I guarantee you, there would be very few examples where the cost of travel, relative to wage is this skewed. Keep in mind, these expenses are just for doing the job….it is not like we are throwing in rent and electricity bills into this.
After all this I asked my driver why he still continues to work with Uber. His answer – convenience. Because he already has another job with set hours (which he seems to enjoy), the second option needs to be flexible.
Of course, running Heads&Heads, I bit my tongue for most of this conversation. Resisting the urge to go full salesman and pitch my website to him. However, when I consider the money you can make from one welcome offer, which can easily be achieved in 30 mins and compare it to what this poor man was making driving people like me around, it did leave me slightly speechless.
Sure, there are pro’s and con’s to matched betting – but surely, we should be seen as at least an option next to the alternatives for a second income, £4.60 an hour driving drunks around or £10 - £15 per hour (on average) sitting at home in your pyjama’s.
So, to my Uber cab driver who accepted my Heads&Heads card, best of luck to you and I hope to one day see you on the forum!