Uber Eats has had a problematic history with how it treats its drivers, but a recent viral video demonstrates how many issues their behavior really raises.

Uber Eats driver Smithson Michael, as he’s been identified from his TikTok account, recently went viral after he posted a video of himself crying after receiving a measly $1.19 tip. This tip was received after driving to a client for over an hour.

After receiving $1.19 in a tip, and $2 from the app, Michael netted a little more than $3 for over an hour’s worth of work. (The federal minimum wage, as of this writing, for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour. Many states also have minimum wage laws — in New York, for example, the minimum wage starts at $12 per hour, and a $15 minimum — already in place in New York City and its five boroughs — is expected to be enacted statewide by October 2021.) However, Uber Eats drivers are considered self-employed contractors for the company, not actual Uber Eats employees.

“I got a $1.19 tip and $2 from the app. What’s that? That’s not even enough to cover gas,” Michael said in the viral video. “Homeless? I’m there. This and I’m sitting here and it’s gone, four months behind. There’s no way I could pay for that.”

@deliveryguy100##helpme ##ubereatsdriver ##traction ##positiveforce♬ original sound – Smithson Michael

Both restaurants and Uber Eats delivery drivers have complained about Uber Eats’ exploitative power structure, with the former claiming that its costs are prohibitively expensive for “mom and pop” shops and the latter getting exploitative treatment as Michael has.

Despite many think pieces explaining how Uber Eats can do better by its drivers — not the least of which involves actually paying drivers for their work and guaranteeing a minimum for each stop — the company has done little. In fact, the company continues to insist that they offer a path to financial freedom for those looking for a “side hustle.”

On the flip side, there’s been much discourse around tipping and how customers tipping low, or not at all, affects drivers financially.

“I just wish people knew what it is was like, I wish they understood what it was like to drive for these services,” Michael pleaded.

Some viewers in the comment section echoed his sentiment.


Others put the responsibility on the company, “I always tip well but let’s be real… Corporations are to blame.”

So the question, then, begs itself: Are low wages to blame, or are customers not tipping enough?