Why I’m Obsessing Over My UBER Rating

I’ve taken over 75+ trips on UBER since I joined over 5 years ago. I know I’m not a power user of the service. For us, it has changed the way we travel when on vacation. It’s an additional option to get from point A to point B. We find it extremely helpful to get around cities we don’t know and to get to places not easily accessible by public transportation. If we want to check out that Tiki Bar we heard about, we’ll take an UBER.

I’m pretty lenient when it comes to driver ratings. I understand a driver’s income is directly connected to their rating as they could lose their job if that rating goes too low. Because of this, most of my reviews are 5 stars. I reserve less than a 5-star review for those drivers who really deserve it. The one driver who didn’t know how to get to the airport and I eventually needed to point to each turn only got 3 stars from me. The one who came to pick me up with stuff all over the back seat which he needed to move before we could leave, 4-stars. The only 1-star ride I’ve ever taken was when the driver in Vegas took a deliberately longer route without asking resulting in a charge almost double from what I was expecting. When you do sneaky stuff like that, you deserve to lose your job.

While I’ve always looked at my user rating, I never really thought about it that much.

Until now

Passenger Ratings

UBER hasn’t always listed passenger ratings. At first, they didn’t even show you the rating. You had to jump through hoops in the app to ask them to email it to you. Eventually, it was viewable in the app with a few taps until eventually it was put onto your home account screen. You’d look at it but supposedly it didn’t really matter.

In May 2019, UBER announced that they will start to ban passengers with low ratings from using the service. On the surface, this seems totally reasonable. You have the right to say that people who are truly horrible customers aren’t welcome anymore.

A spokesperson for the Independent Drivers Guild, which represents more than 65,000 app-based drivers in New York, praised Uber’s announcement as a way to protect drivers in addition to riders.

“While most riders are respectful, banning riders who threaten driver safety, spew racist rants, and disrespect or damage our vehicles is the right thing to do,” spokesperson Moira Muntz said in a statement. “For too long there has been one-sided accountability and this is a positive step toward correcting that.”

If you let off a racist rant in my car, I wouldn’t want to be forced to drive you around or risk getting a low rating and end up losing my job.

But what’s a low rating? Apparently, for drivers, anything lower than a 4.6 puts you at risk. That’s a decently high bar and makes me glad that I usually give 5-stars. I’d imagine that most people do the same, that’s why the rating is skewed so high.

So What’s My Rating?

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What the???

I’m a considerate passenger. I always say hello to the driver. I help to put bags in the car when we’re traveling to/from an airport or train station. I make some small talk but not too much. I don’t complain about what they’re listening to on the radio, although I might be judging them a little about it. I don’t talk on my phone in the car. I usually spend most of a ride catching up on emails or chatting with Sharon.

Turns out, my low-ish rating might already be affecting my ability to get a ride. Here’s what a driver said on an article from LinkedIn about why a driver might cancel a ride:

I personally won’t pick up anyone whose score is less than 4.5, and I know drivers whose cut off is 4.75. That may seem harsh, but most drivers don’t give ratings under 5 unless the passenger has caused serious problems. These problems can range from being extremely rude, to damaging the vehicle, to obnoxious back seat driving. If your score is less than a 4.75, most likely you have done something to earn a low score and you need to reassess your own behavior and work on getting your score up

I’ve done none of those things. I always answer when the driver calls. I’ll go to an easier pick-up point or tell them they can drop us off a bit sooner if driving to our location will get them stuck in a load of traffic. I never back seat drive (except that one time).

When we went to Fort Lauderdale, our friends who went on the Brightline train with us had first-hand experience with this practice. His rating is similar to mine. When the UBER driver picked them up, he said, “You’re lucky I didn’t cancel the ride. I usually don’t pick up people with ratings as low as yours.”

I guess the driver didn’t go the UBER class on how to make friends and influence people 🙂

When our friend inquired why his rating might be so low, the driver said maybe it was because he was generally quiet. According to this driver, most drivers like to talk to their passengers, as it makes the day more interesting. A quiet passenger is a boring ride.

Now I’m Obsessing About My Rating

As if I didn’t have enough things to worry about, I’m watching my rating after every ride trying to get back above the 4.75 threshold. The problem is I don’t know what I did to drop below it. Maybe I’m too quiet. Maybe they don’t like when we bring our luggage to the airport (but if you’re picking up at the airport, wouldn’t that be expected?)

If I wasn’t overly self-conscious already, now I have to treat each UBER ride as an interview, hoping I’m acting the way the driver wants me to behave in their car. Maybe a sign saying “I’m chatty” or “Quiet Please” in the back seat would let me know my expected behavior in order to earn 5-stars.

Until then, I’ll be watching my rating. Obsessing after every ride watching the ratings. When they go up, I’ll be like Sally Field.

Sally Field

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

13 thoughts on “Why I’m Obsessing Over My UBER Rating”

  1. “You’re lucky I didn’t cancel the ride. I usually don’t pick up people with ratings as low as yours.” — Comments like this is an instant 2 stars from me. You cherrypick rides and now you want me to appreciate you because you’re gracing me with your service? Lol.

    The drivers are every bit as human as the passengers. You will suffer arbitrarily low ratings from time to time. Play the game for yourself and be true to your own metrics. Life’s too short for you to waste it trying to ingratiate yourself to an Uber driver.

  2. I think they also base it your tip and possibly even your rating. For the record I have taken less than 10 rides in the last 3 years and have 4.69. I would say that I behave like you just not have had a situation where I have had to direct a driver. I have definitely made it easier on the driver by getting to easy to pickup locations and and getting out early when they ask. One day Uber is going to realize that they are turning away money due to dumb actions by their driver’s.

  3. I’m no longer an Uber fan. It’s almost worse than a taxi, which says something. I’m in about the same exact boat as you. Very similar Uber score. I have no idea how my score is so slow on Uber. Shockingly, my score is a 5.0 on Lyft with similar rides, tips, etc.

  4. I really don’t care what they think. I am polite and never, ever make them wait. My rating is 4.78. Not sure what more I could do to please them. I’ve taken about 500 rides maybe. I seriously doubt that I will ever have trouble finding a driver.

    1. I’m part of a group of drivers (300) we don’t pick up riders below 4.7. So be careful with that attitude, and passed 12am. Forget about it we won’t even pick up 4.9s. So I’m not so sure about that. With drivers being more at risk this days. Drivers are fighting back. And with Uber allowing anyone to get a rider account under fake names. We have to protect ourselves.

  5. Hi, This is so true. I was oblivious to my Uber rating of 4.69 until recently a driver told me innocuously that I seemed a decent guy on his ride but was unsure before he picked me up due to my low rating!! I am usually engrossed in an office call or on my emails whilst on Uber rides after the customary exchange of greetings. I hail Uber to transport me from one place to another, not to engage in discussions with someone. Not sure if Uber realizes that Drivers use their whims and fancies to rank passengers as evinced below. All I can say is that Uber needs some good hard nosed competition like they faced in few countries in Asia and lost to be given reality check.

  6. I can so relate to your post. It is beyond me how they can say you must have done SOMETHING to have a rating like that. Like you, I never make them wait, always give a pleasant greeting, make some small talk if they seem amenable, and usually do quiet email work. I don’t smell or make noise, and I always say thank-you and tip (on the app, because my company reimburses me). And I always give them a 5, whether they deserve it or not, because I’m afraid they’ll lower my rating if I don’t.

    I had a 4.9, and I left one very uneventful ride that brought it down to a 4.7. He must have given me 1 star. I obsessed over WHY! What the heck did I do to deserve that. I was friendly, did my work quietly, thanked and tipped the driver. It takes over a month of 5 stars 5 times a week just to get it back up 1/100th of a point (i use UBER 5 mornings a week). I usually watch them do the rating before I get out of the car, and I’m sure that they’ve changed it at times, because even though I saw them give me 5 stars, my rating then went down.

    I hate that I can’t NOT care! There’s a great “Black Mirror” episode about people rating each other called “Nosedive” that a coworker recommended I see after listening to me lament about my ratings. Very apropos!

  7. Let’s do the math:

    75 trips X 5 stars = 375

    75 trips X 4.74 stars = 355.5

    Difference of = 19.5 stars

    That means circa 5 trips with 1 stars, but the rest of your trips (70), that means 93% of the time you got five stars! That’s ok, but if you are worried about this, try to get from the drivers wath makes them give you a low rating. Good luck!

  8. So you left a driver a 1 star because he deliberately took a longer route? How sure are you that he did so? Because I’ve been called out for that (I mainly pick up at airports) riders who have been out of the area for days, weeks getting in the car and TELL me the best way to go. Meanwhile I have already driven 1000 miles that week in that area and know about accidents, street closures, construction and I’m using 3 gps to maximize my time and get to the destination as fast as possible, but you know better( it’s laughable) I drive for a living If I’m going around there’s a reason. Yet I love and the rider tells me know this is better and I now make the situation fun by making wagers that he/she is wrong and 99% of the time they are. You sound very self-entitled to me. I’ve been riding Uber’s for 5 years and my rating has never changed from 5⭐️. Why? I’m always appreciative that someone is nearby willing to pick me and take me from A to B. I get in the car and enjoy the ride, look out the window, play on my phone, small talk if drivers wants to chat. I don’t care what kind of car, I pay no attention if driver turn right on street A instead of B, I don’t stare at his phone or care what his listening to. It’s his car!
    My suggestion for you: you see those yellow cars, they are called taxis. Why don’t you just take those.
    Problem solved.

    1. Know what, when I pick up a ride and the price says it’s going to be $20 and it ends up being $40, that’s a problem for the passenger whether you’re willing to accept that or not. The driver didn’t say anything about going on a different route. We left for the airport in plenty of time even if traffic was backed up. If sitting at a few lights inconveniences you as a driver because you are missing out for a different fare, well that’s not my problem. Maybe I might tip extra knowing we sat in traffic and you didn’t get paid as much, I’ve been known to do that before.
      And I noticed that you left out willingly accepting a charge double for your ride from your list of virtuous UBER rider traits as that was the only thing I ever actually complained about a driver. Of my rides, I can count the number of under 5-star ratings I’ve given. However, if you ever pick me up (which you probably won’t because of my LOW 4.74 rating) you might be on that list because of your willingness to go whichever way you want and listen to whatever you want on the radio because it’s YOUR car.
      End Rant.

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