An Uber driver who bought a $46,000 Mercedes explains why he's not earning as much as he thought
Glasgow driver David Dunn told a parliamentary select committee on Monday that he paid £37,000 for his Mercedes E-Class to drive on Uber Exec.
Uber Exec rides are targeted at business passengers and can cost almost double the standard Uber X fare. To justify the higher fare, drivers need to drive more expensive vehicles like Mercedes and Audis.
But Dunn said just 5% of his rides were Uber Exec passengers, forcing him to pick up cheaper Uber X fares.
Now, he said, he's stuck with the more expensive car, the associated costs, and not enough income. He added that after taxes and costs, he didn't earn minimum wage.
"I find myself running about with an E-Class doing jobs for £2.25 - that's unheard of," he said. "Black cabs charge £6 or £7."
Dunn added Uber won't negotiate with him on its 25% commission, and adds that he can't refuse cheaper jobs. "If I refuse a job three times, they penalize you and switch you off."
A second, London-based Uber Exec driver, Syed Khalil, added that he had to work 40 to 50 hours a week to break even, and up to 90 to make a profit.
He said he had spent around £40,000 on an E-Class, which he was repaying in installments. He said Uber charged him 27% commission.
"I have to pay £350 [a month] for car installments, and you must pay £150 for private insurance, you must have that," he said. "Before you start the ignition and have one passenger, it's costing at least £500 a month. That's a fixed cost."
Khalil said he didn't earn minimum wage either and added that most drivers he knew relied on benefits for additional support.
Dunn said it was "very expensive" to work for the platform, and that a flood of new drivers restricted his earnings.
He said: "It's not great. It's got to the stage where it's very expensive for us to work.
"The number of drivers are restricting what you earned before. It's a great platform, no doubt. [But] it's the most expensive booking service for any driver. It's expensive for us, and cheap for the public."
Uber wasn't represented at the committee, although it did put forward one driver with a more positive story.
London-based driver Steven Rowe said Uber drivers who complained "should get full-time employment" if they wanted added job security.
When it came to paying off the costs of private car hire insurance, he added that he "drives carefully".
Rowe isn't paid additional fees by Uber, but a quick Google search on his name shows that he often appears in the news making positive comments about the company.
He added that the flexibility of the work allowed him to pursue other entrepreneurial ventures.
An Uber spokesman said: "Tens of thousands of people in the UK drive with Uber precisely because they want to be self-employed and their own boss. The overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where they want."