Uber will now charge riders extra for being late – but will the ‘wait time’ start even before a driver arrives?

Some Uber riders in Singapore are up in arms, after the transportation technology company announced that it would be charging riders a “wait time fee” when they show up more than three minutes late for a pick-up.

A statement published on Uber Singapore’s website announced that the fee, launched today (Oct 4), was introduced to “ensure that our driver-partners get their due for the time spent on the road”.

The move sounds like a great idea, especially since late riders can cause a lot of inconvenience to drivers who arrive on time.

But not everyone was pleased with the new measure, and they took to Facebook to air their concerns.

Some riders complained that they often encountered late drivers, and suggested that Uber implement a waiting fee to be paid to waiting riders instead.

A number of users were also concerned that the waiting time would begin even before the driver arrives at the pick-up point.

That can happen if there if the app wrongly indicates that the driver has arrived. For example, the app indicates the driver has arrived even though he/she is stuck in heavy traffic near the pick-up point, travelling in the opposite direction, or on a different road nearby.

In response to some of these questions, a representative from Uber Singapore said that riders can utilise suggested pick-up points provided by the app to avoid any delays or disruption. They can also edit their pick-up points after requesting a ride if needed.

The company also clarified that drivers are not able to trigger the start of the waiting time. “It is automatically triggered when driver-partners arrive at the pick-up point in order to start the countdown timer,” the spokesperson said.

But what if the app wrongly indicates a driver has arrived?

When asked if the app could make such an error, Uber referred us to its blog entry on its Mapping Feature.

The innovation is used on Uber cars to collect data such as traffic patterns and precise pick-up and drop-off locations, and is meant to provide accurate information such as driver location and estimated time of arrival.

It’s only the first day that the rule has been introduced, and we’re not so sure if most Uber riders are brand-loyal enough to stomach it. We’re also not sure that Uber Singapore has done enough to address some of the concerns riders have voiced.

But given that the fee has been kept low ($0.20/min prorated on uberX), it could be useful for keeping drivers appeased at times when riders are unintentionally delayed.