It looks like UberX drivers won’t be making quite as much money anymore.
The Uber Seattle team sent out email notices today to UberX drivers notifying them that as of this Monday, they will have to pay $10 per week for a “device subscription fee.”
Uber said that the new fee is being enforced due to “the steep cost of continuous GPS data on the Uber phone,” which is given to every driver to use to coordinate pick-ups.
“Uber Seattle has previously waived the device subscription fee for uberX partners, but as we continue to grow rapidly, this cost is no longer realistic for us to cover on a weekly basis,” the letter reads.
Uber Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger confirmed the change with GeekWire this afternoon.
One UberX driver in Seattle tells us that he will quit Uber and move to Lyft because of the new charges.
“Instead of forcing us to pay for their data on the locked down iPhone they have us use, why not allow us to use our own phones?,” the driver noted. “I have plenty of data on my phone and it is a lot faster than their slow Verizon 3G data plan they have for the iPhone 4S they loan us.”
Another driver in Chicago voiced his frustration with the new fee on Reddit, noting that the iPhone from Uber does not include text, voice, or data plans.
“Most people who drive Uberx in large markets started out as people trying it out in their spare time, as supplemental income,” Reddit user financingisfree wrote. “They may not drive every day, let alone every WEEK. If you take a week off to go on vacation (or god forbid just don’t drive every single day), you are now losing money, rather than making extra money.”
UberX drivers in Seattle already give 20 percent of each ride to Uber, and this new fee will force them to spend another $520 per year.
“While we recognize this new cost is not insignificant, we want to remind you that this is less than the average fare of one trip in the city,” Uber wrote in the letter.
Lyft, meanwhile, has its drivers use their personal phones to connect with passengers. The company also has not taken commission from drivers for the past three months.
It’s unclear if a driver will still have to pay the new fee even if he or she does not work for an entire week. We’ve followed up with Uber for more details and will update this post when we hear back.