There are a lot of great reasons to be a rideshare driver, but at one time or another, we’ve all been frustrated by at least one of Uber’s policies.
Personally, I’ve always had problems getting reliable answers from Uber customer support (although they did call me once!). Not only is it tough to get an answer, but it can also be tough to get a straight answer. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably already well aware of all the positive and negative aspects of driving.
Regardless of where you stand on the Uber experience, at the end of the day, driving for Uber is still a lot better than many other jobs (that’s why so many people do it, right?). Anyone who’s worked in a corporate environment can tell you that clocking in at 9 am and out at 5 pm really does suck. And although you’re not completely your own boss with Uber, it’s pretty damn close.
I know that many drivers (myself included) like to complain about certain aspects of driving, but that doesn’t mean we want to stop working for them. Unfortunately though, Uber does control most of the cards when it comes to whether you’re allowed to stay active on the platform or not and it’s often a challenge to make sure you stay within compliance.
Today’s article isn’t meant to scare you but to let you know about situations where other drivers have been deactivated and how to avoid it happening to you.. Some of the situations below obviously warrant deactivation but some might just surprise you.
The Obvious Ones
There are certain situations and reasons that I think we can all agree on that drivers should be deactivated for:
#1: Safety Issues
Any time you put a passenger’s safety, or even your own safety at risk, you will be deactivated. So if you’re out driving passengers around drunk, molesting/harassing passengers or just a maniac on the road, you’re going to get deactivated.
Passengers won’t always leave comments for their drivers after the ride is over, but you bet if you put the passenger’s life at risk, they are going to let Uber know about it. Additionally, any type of comments related to safety will get flagged/reviewed by Uber staff so expect a swift and quick deactivation if you do anything dumb like drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
#2: Low Ratings
There are plenty of problems with Uber’s rating system but at the end of the day, it does do a decent job of getting rid of drivers who are not up to par. According to Uber, the average driver rating is 4.8 and if you fall below 4.6, you will be deactivated. However, you can pay for a customer service class to get reinstated and given a second chance.
Uber does not do a very good job of providing feedback about your rating, but more often than not, a low rating has something to do with poor navigation skills. New drivers are given some slack on their rating, but it’s best to tackle this problem before your rating starts to drop.
I also recommend that drivers take rides as a passenger so they can experience the app from the customer’s point of view, and we also have ample resources available here if you’d like to educate yourself.
More Reading: Boost Your Driver Ratings
The Not So Obvious Ones
Remember, these are all real situations where drivers have been deactivated by Uber, and they’ve subsequently contacted me about it.
#3: Promoting Competitor’s Services (Including Your Own)
At one point in 2014, drivers were getting deactivated (or at least threatened with deactivation) for this. But due to recent W2 vs 1099 issues, Uber has become a lot more lenient with issues like this. The most common thing that I saw drivers getting deactivated for was passing out Lyft referral cards to Uber passengers. I don’t think Uber has a problem with you promoting other services like Doordash or Airbnb, but Lyft is obviously a direct competitor so they don’t like that.
I actually reached out to an Uber customer service rep about this and he gave me an interesting answer. Here’s the question I asked and the answer I got. It would seem to imply that Uber probably doesn’t want drivers promoting Lyft but they may not be deactivating drivers for this anymore.
You can’t always trust the answers you get from Uber’s CS reps but this seems to imply that drivers won’t be deactivated for promoting competitors.
#4: Giving Too Many Rides To Friends, Family or Yourself
On the surface, this may seem innocent enough but behind the scenes, Uber is fighting a constant battle against fraud. They even have a team at HQ that looks for and deactivates drivers and passengers who are caught taking advantage of the system.
Some drivers use friends, family and even their own passenger account to meet ride minimums during guarantee hours or even just to stay active on the platform. It depends on the severity of the infraction but Uber could deactivate you for doing something like this.
A one off ride to your friend or family member probably won’t be a problem, but a pattern or system of rides is how you’ll get caught since Uber uses algorithms to check for fraud, and then a human reviews each case.
#5: Updated Background Check
This is a tough reason to get deactivated but it’s happening more and more these days as certain states/cities impose new regulations that require Uber to go back and run more stringent background checks.
I’ve gotten several e-mails from drivers across the country who were active drivers with thousands of rides under their belt, but they were suddenly deactivated due to Uber processing an updated background check. There’s not a whole lot you can do in this situation other than try to keep a clean driving and criminal record (even after you become an Uber driver).
Low Acceptance/High Cancellation Rates
Uber now includes a section about acceptance and cancellation rates in their deactivation policy. The good news for drivers is that you will no longer be deactivated for low acceptance rates but you may be put in ‘Uber time-out’ if you ignore 2 or 3 requests in a row.
However, the wording on the cancellation rates is still pretty vague. The policy states that each city has their own maximum cancellation rate, and that each city has their own requirements. So I’d be careful that you don’t accept and then cancel too many rides – basically save your cancellations for when they matter!
I’d recommend trying to keep a cancellation rate below 10%. And if you’re going for one of Uber’s incentive programs (Power Driver Plus, Guaranteed Hourly Fares), they usually have an 80-90% acceptance requirement.
#7 Not Giving At Least One Ride Per Month
The new deactivation policy does not mention a ride requirement, but they have ‘temporarily deactivated’ drivers for this in the past. This requirement is straightforward and easy. To keep your account active simply give at least one ride every month. Also, Uber gives plenty of warning about this type of deactivation and they make it easy to get back on the road if you’re kicked for inactivity.
The Borderline Ones
#8: Speaking Out Against Uber
To be fair, I’ve only heard of one instance of this happening (and the driver was re-instated eventually) but in today’s day and age of social media, you always have to be careful with what you say.
Even if you’re posting in a private Facebook group, just assume that anyone could read what you write. Now that doesn’t mean you should censor what you say, but just understand that businesses don’t like having negative things said about them.
— Christopher J. Ortiz (@ChrisJOrtiz) October 16, 2014
Obviously it’s ridiculous for a driver to be deactivated over a tweet and I doubt Uber would ever do this again, but if you really are causing a lot of trouble for a company on social media, that could affect their image and, in turn, your status with the company.
The Ones That Make Sense to Me But Not Other Drivers
Hopefully that title isn’t too confusing, but these are all situations that drivers have been deactivated for but the drivers were not aware that this was against Uber’s policy.
#9: Having Someone Else In Your Car
There is literally not a single situation in which you can ever have another person (other than your passenger) in your car while driving. I totally understand why some drivers would feel more comfortable or safer with a second person in the car but from a rider’s point of view, this is not acceptable.
There are no exceptions to this rule and if a passenger leaves feedback or an Uber employee happens to take a ride in your car, you will be deactivated immediately. If you don’t feel comfortable driving by yourself, I have some tips for you in this video.
Related Video: Can Another Person Ride With Me While Driving?
#10: Canceling on Airport Passenger Like Me
After my Ireland trip, I landed at LAX and called an UberX from the airport and as soon as the driver accepted my request, I got a text asking for some information. The text actually seemed pretty legit but shortly after texting back, the ride was cancelled.
I can only assume that since my destination was ‘only 15 minutes away’, this driver cancelled on me because it wasn’t far enough. Can’t say I blame him but I can also tell you that this makes Uber look very, very bad. I didn’t report this driver to Uber but I’m sure that a future passenger did.
Some drivers do this though, and if Uber finds out, you will be deactivated. It’s not that hard for them to figure out what you’re doing either, since it only takes 1-2 pax to report you and then you’re done.
#11: Switching Vehicles
This seems pretty obvious to me but I’ve gotten e-mails from several drivers who were deactivated for driving different vehicles than what was listed on their account. There are lots of reasons why this may happen but keep in mind that passengers can see which vehicle is supposed to arrive and they’ll obviously be thinking ‘WTF?’ if you pick them up in a different car.
If you have multiple vehicles that you’d like to use, then a simple solution is to just get them added on to your account. Uber is even offering free vehicle inspections in most cities these days if you’d like to add another vehicle.
Related Article: How To Find Free Vehicle Inspections For Uber and Lyft Drivers
Bonus: Things That
Won’t Shouldn’t Get You Deactivated
Soliciting Tips From Passengers
As of April 2016, Uber drivers can now post a sign encouraging passengers to tip. This is the result of the class action lawsuit in California which Uber has settled. The settlement must still be approved by a judge, but Uber has clarified this policy.
Related Article: I Added A Tip Sign To My Uber: Here’s What Happened
Before this settlement some drivers were threatened with deactivation for soliciting tips from riders. The good news is there is growing support for tipping drivers.
Personally, I don’t ever bring up tipping unless the passenger does, but I think drivers should be free to talk about whatever the hell they want. If a driver truly is soliciting tips from every passenger, I suspect his/her rating will eventually reflect that, and they’ll be kicked off the platform for low ratings.
Rideshare Advertising With Vugo
After posting about Vugo’s new tip option, I received many questions from drivers who were worried about getting deactivated by Uber for displaying ads. Luckily, Uber actually came out with an official statement on rideshare advertising and while they aren’t happy about it, drivers can’t be deactivated for using it.
“It’s not against our policy, but we reserve the right to assess situations on a case-by-case basis to ensure a positive rider experience.”
This isn’t a full list of all the reasons drivers can get deactivated for, but it is some of the most common situations I’ve seen in my experience dealing with thousands of drivers. Are there any other common situations you’ve seen drivers get deactivated for that were obvious to you but maybe not so obvious to others? Please share your feedback in the comments section below.
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-Harry @ RSG
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