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.
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?
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.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary