Harry here. Dealing with passengers is a big part of the job, but at times it seems like we let these guys get away with too much. It would be nice if Uber sent out a rider etiquette e-mail once in a while, but until then, RSG contributor Christian Perea lays down the rules for passengers in his car. Agree with him, or have something to add? Leave a comment below.
Every few weeks some media outlet publishes a guide on how to protect or improve your passenger rating on Uber or Lyft. I think they all suck though because they have click-bait titles and are written by passengers who just ask a few Uber drivers some questions while riding with them.
This of course skews the feedback because the driver is…driving. Remember, the driver wants a good rating too, so they go a little lightly. I am going to give it to you pretty straight and many of you are not going to like how you get downrated by your Uber or Lyft driver. This is the unadulterated truth for all you Uber passengers who want to treat your driver like a human 🙂
1. You Should Manually Drop Your Pin/Pickup Request
Most of you enter your exact address on the Lyft or Uber app. Some are too lazy to do that and you just hit the “GPS” location button. Both of those methods suck and are bound to lead you and your driver to confusion. Let me tell you why.
Google, Waze, Uber and Lyft refuse to admit this, but when you manually enter your address into either the Lyft or Uber app, it will transfer coordinates to the driver’s GPS. When it makes this hand-off, the GPS software routes to whichever road is closest to the coordinates and completely ignores the address you typed in. When you go by “GPS” location, it compounds this problem unless you are literally standing where you intend to be picked up. The result is an often confused driver/passenger pickup or multiple cancellations.
This is especially true for large buildings, hotels, convention centers, and houses that are in the middle of the block. This is the single biggest thing you can do to improve the service you get from Uber and Lyft while helping your rating. Think of it this way, if you were driving and had to pickup “Andy” from the Oracle Arena, and all you had to go with were “Andy” and “Oracle Arena” when 20,000 people are leaving… you would likely be a little frustrated.
Instead: Open the app. Now look around you. Think to yourself “If I were driving a car…where would I want to pullover to the side of the road?”. Then, manually drop the pin on that location by dragging the pin in the Lyft/Uber app. I realize this requires a little extra effort but it will save you a ton of confusion on your driver finding you.
A simple pickup leads to a lower likelihood of you getting canceled on by the driver, or a frustrating and confusing phone call as you play “Where’s Waldo?” trying to find each other.
2. Don’t Make Us Wait
This is one thing that most of the click-bait articles get right. Drivers don’t like to wait. There are several reasons for this.
You see, many of us have been burned by waiting for up to ten minutes only to get cancelled on by the passenger. This is extremely frustrating because that driver just drove to the location and waited on the passenger only to have their time wasted. In fact, they paid to drive to you. They dedicated all of this time to you, only to be told what amounts to “we don’t need you, and we do not value your service.” Yes, we get that cancellation fee (although it can be a hassle at times). No, we don’t feel bad about it.
Avoid forcing your driver to wait in an area where there is a lot of traffic or in an area where they will be blocking traffic. This means that if you live on a busy city street in the middle of a city, then you should be curbside when the driver arrives. If you drag and drop the pin to a safe place to pullover, you will earn extra points from us for being considerate.
Sometimes you can’t make it out on time. We understand. Just text us that you are on the way down and follow through. Communication really helps in these situations.
We also know that sometimes you have friends who are a little slow in getting out to the car. Just tell us you are rallying the troops and let us know its okay to pullover and start the ride. Time is usually about 20 cents a minute, so it’s really not much, but it is a kind gesture. Further, it shows that you respect the driver’s time. It also prevents them from cancelling on you by holding them there 😉
Generally, having us wait is okay if it’s 1. Safe/Legal to be parked nearby and 2. No more than 3-5 minutes.
3. Don’t Ask Us To Break the Rules and Laws
This is probably the biggest thing you can do to get a low rating.
The vast majority of drivers are not cool with you drinking in the car. It is against the law and we are liable for the open container without the benefit of enjoying the drink to drown out your voice. We are liable for overcrowding the car. Don’t offer to tip us extra for breaking the law, as most of us take it as an insult and most of you won’t tip if we do it anyways.
We don’t like being placed into the awkward position of having to enforce these rules. When you ask us to do this, you are asking us to take a legal and steep financial risk for you. We aren’t cool with it and it’s usually an instant 1-star rating plus a safety report to Uber or Lyft’s appropriate channels to get you banned. Wonder why your app won’t work? It may be because you tried this once and got banned from using the service.
Here are some examples of what got people rated one-star in my car or kicked out;
“Can I do this line of coke real quick? I gotta turn up!”- 1-Star (for bringing coke in my car!)
“Sound of beer bottle opening” – Kicked Out, 1-star, Reported.
“We need to pickup another four people.” (My car was already full, and yes they were serious). – Ended Ride, 5-Stars, since they were nice.
“If you don’t drop me off in front of the bar, I am going to give you a bad rating” – Kicked out, 1-Star, Reported.
This also applies to pick-ups and drop-offs. We can’t let you out of the car in the middle of traffic legally (although some of us do). We can’t drop you off at bus stops. Insisting on us doing these things will rattle the driver and make them give you a bad rating.
4. Wear Your Motherf**king Seat-belt!
We are not limousines or cabs. There is no special law that allows us to drive you around without a seat-belt on. We know when you don’t put it on and try to sneak it by us. Sometimes we just won’t bother to care to tell you to put it on because we are tired of telling everybody to act like an adult.
Instead, we will down-rate you for being an undue risk. Again, this action falls on us as we are ultimately liable to get the traffic ticket for you not wearing your seat-belt. Although some cops have been known to give the ticket to the passenger, most do not. Some cops are even nice enough to give the ticket to the passenger AND the driver.
5. Most Drivers Don’t Want to Give You the Aux Cord
I actually enjoy giving my aux chord out because I listen to the same music on the radio, satellite radio, Pandora, and Spottily over and over again. I have found that giving the aux chord to passengers has expanded my musical palette (special thanks to the German dudes I used to drive in Santa Barbara!)
Related Article: How to Add More Magic to Your Uber Ride With Music
Unfortunately, most drivers hate it. So I can’t write this article without mentioning that many drivers hate whatever you play through their car stereo. So tread carefully.
My suggestion is to gauge the driver. If it’s late at night and they seem tired or like someone who would be tortured by Justin Bieber’s new single, just avoid asking. If it’s me or some other easy-going driver, than go ahead and ask. Just try to keep the volume at a max of 75% because we don’t want to blow our speakers.
6. Leaving a Mess/Slamming Doors
I lumped this into a big category because it falls under disrespecting our property. We own these cars. I have had someone leave a pizza in my car on the carpet. I have had doors slammed at full strength. All resulted in poor passenger ratings.
Some special people have peed or vomited in cars when they are especially drunk and if you do this, you should be put down.
Smells and messes are a big deal because we spend a lot of time in our cars. So having to smell lingering pizza, vomit or pee would be similar to your Uber driving coming into your house and leaving a stool sample in your mattress. The smell gets into the carpet, the special foam coating and interior panels that let it really sink in before we can get it detailed. The result is that the smell is still there for as long as you own the car. Then we have to deal with poor ratings because our future passengers smell it too and it puts us at risk for deactivation and poor ratings.
Also, we will charge you $150 if you leave a mess. We don’t feel bad about it. We actually still lose money when we charge that $150 because we have to get off the road until we get the car detailed.
7. UberPool and Lyft Line Shenanigans
You cannot change your destination on UberPool or Lyft Line. If you ask drivers to do this, they will likely give you a bad rating because they are not getting paid to go out of the way and are risking a bad rating from either you or the other passenger. The way the driver sees it, they are going to get a bad rating now from one of their Pool-Line passengers and the only way to get revenge is to give you a bad rating.
The same goes for trying to bring more than the people indicated in the Lyft Line or UberPool. Just don’t. We hate you.
8. Threatening to Rate Us Badly as Leverage
Enjoy walking. Your driver has ended the ride.
9. Drive Thru’s, Grocery Runs, and Your Dog
I love dogs. I have a dog. I let dogs in my car sometimes. Most drivers do not, though, and here is why:
Dog Fur: It is notoriously difficult to clean. After we get 75% of your 4 or 5 dollar ride, we have dog fur in our car and get to face everybody else giving us bad ratings because you were too lazy to actually walk your dog. Oh yeah, and sometimes your dog pees a little bit in the car or scratches up the interior. We have no way of knowing how your dog behaves.
Groceries: I am usually cool with the grocery runs. However, most drivers hate them and will give you a bad rating because it’s kind of a dick move to make us do all of this work for you for such a short ride. You will probably find that many drivers cancel on your requests from the grocery store.
Drive-Thru: We get paid 20 cents a minute to wait in the drive-thru. Then we get to enjoy your drunken food smells as you leave whatever part of your taco you couldn’t manage to inhale in your drunken state of loneliness. All the while, we are missing out on surge rides because you requested this at 2AM when it is finally busy. It is a scumbag move.
10. For The Especially Bad: Public Shaming
For the worst passengers, drivers have been known to screenshot their passenger’s profile pic. Some have been known to secretly record their worst passengers. These stories end up circulating through driver Facebook groups or even on YouTube for the whole world to see. Regardless of how you feel about this, there is a good chance that if you piss off your Uber or Lyft driver, they may put your story and profile on blast publicly to be shamed. It’s shady. I don’t do it, and I think it’s bad form, but the simple fact is that these stories and screenshots are posted all throughout driver forums, and there is no way that Lyft or Uber can regulate it.
After the macing incident, more drivers than ever are also buying dash-cams (here’s a decent one) to record the worst passengers and to protect themselves.
Most of Us are Still Pretty Chill About Ratings
For the most part, your driver is probably pretty cool as long as you respect that they are a normal person and you are in their car. So as long as you don’t leave a mess, belittle us, or ask us to take silly risks, we will default you to a 5-star.
The overall theme to this article may be similar to how you would act in a cab. Respect the driver and their property and they won’t chew you out. If I were to give one rule, just act like you are requesting your grandmother to pick you up from the bar. Especially since there is an actual chance that your grandma might be driving for Uber now.
What do you guys think about the way I want passengers to behave? Anything I missed and if you’re a passenger, feel free to call me an asshole in the comments below.
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-Christian @ RSG