Today is day 15 of my proof of concept to see if driving for Uber would provide a satisfactory ROI (return on investment). As a Friday, my final day in theory should be a good one. The quest that has been out since Tuesday and only included morning rides would end today. With 11 rides left to complete between 6-10am, a miracle would need to happen for me to achieve it. On average, I get 2 rides per hour, to get the quest I’d need 2.75 rides per hour.
It was clear in the first hour the miracle would not be happening and I could kiss the chance of getting the $100 quest bonus goodbye. I spent the first 1.5 hours driving around burning fuel. Put 30+ miles on the car moving from neighborhood to neighborhood in hopes of a rider. Hotels, nothing. Rental car places, nothing. Residential areas, nothing. Cherry Creek, nothing, Capital Hill, nothing, Uptown, nothing, Wash Park, nothing, and so forth. Eager to get rides and the bonus, I chose to desperately drive the entire “idle” time rather than sit still, which in this case would have had the same outcome but would have decreased my odds of a ride exponentially.
It was 7:18am before my first ride request came in (I’d started around 6am). Two Canadians from the Four Seasons hotel downtown heading to the airport. They mostly kept to themselves and it seemed they were colleagues here for some sporting event that seemed related to their business. As soon as one of them started asking about edits to the other, the dynamics got interesting. The senior guy asked with kid gloves, practically dancing on egg shells, yet the junior guy still got insecure and ruffled. All I could think was I don’t miss egos and insecurity in the work place. Why couldn’t it go like this – hey the X report needs edits – ok, cool, I’ll do those when I’m back. Instead it was a 5 min ping pong of trying to keep junior’s ego in check and junior trying to defend himself for no reason. Dropped them off 40 min later for an un-boosted $23.09, no tip.
Despite having been on the road now for 2 hours, only making $23, there was no re-match at the airport. I’d have to eat the $4 in gas and 30 min of time getting back to the city. Why does that matter? Well let’s forget about the fact the first hour made nothing and only focus on the airport run. It’s 1.5 tanks of gas to/from the airport. I made $23 less 30% in taxes $7 less $4 in gas which leaves me $12. With a return fare, it would average around $20-22/hour (it’s 30-40 min to the airport). With no return fare, take $12 – $4 in gas to get back = $8 / hour. Factor in the hour of no rides, and at this point I’m making $4 / hour. Get why it’s frustrating?
Heading back into town I got a ping in Montbello, a neighborhood well known for crime, shootings, and gang activity. It has regentrifying areas, but historically it’s been a rather rough area of town. Having made squat today, I accepted the ride, got my pepper spray ready, and prepared to cancel if the person seemed sketchy. Turned out to be a teenager heading to a farm outside of the metro area beyond the furthest streets of the city limits, in farm country. I got $10 for that ride, but was left 30+ miles in nowhere eating both gas and time to return to civilization. In other words, I netted nothing for that ride.
A half an hour later when I returned to the more urban areas, I got a ping from a guy in the Mayfair neighborhood heading into downtown. We didn’t talk much, partly because I was a bit less thrilled about my morning, but also because he was focused on his cell phone. Nice enough guy, dropped him off 13 min later for an un-boosted $5.12. Still 4 miles from home, at this point, eating the 20 min and the gas, I was so done. It was 9:30am, the quest was ending at 10am, the boost already ended at 9am, and with 8 rides left to get the quest in 30 minutes it wasn’t even worth wasting more gas or time to try.
The morning was a colossal waste of time to say the least. I burned $25 in gas, spent 3 hours of my time to get 3 rides which made $37.55. In other words, I made $37 – $25 = $12 / 3 hours = $4 / hour. This doesn’t factor in the opportunity cost of other things I could have been doing, or the wear and tear on my car, or the cost of my car, insurance, or parking. Let alone the 30% the IRS will take from me in taxes. So after such an unsuccessful morning, I decided wasting more time in the afternoon wasn’t necessary, I’d given every ounce of spare time up to complete this proof of concept and it was time to lock it down. Full financials will come out tomorrow, overall summary to follow later.
More to come,
PS – if you’re interested in joining Uber, you can use my link to get a sign-on bonus (plus it gives me a bonus too!): https://partners.uber.com/i/sarac13944ui