The idea behind Uber’s rating system sounds great on the surface. At the end of each ride, the driver gets to rate the passenger on a scale of 1 to 5 and then the passenger gets to rate the driver on a scale of 1 to 5. This system is obviously a lot better than the rating-less transactions of old between taxis and their customers.
I mean there’s a reason why most taxi drivers treat their customers like shit and it’s because there’s no accountability.
But Uber’s rating system seems to have solved all that – at least on the passenger side of things. Passengers are now able to freely rate their driver and if they had a driver who was rude, talking on the phone while driving or just an unsafe driver in general, they could rate them accordingly and let other passengers and even Uber know that this driver is not doing a good job.
But as you may have discovered, there are a couple major problems with the current ratings system as it relates to drivers.
Although any kool-aid drinking Uber employee will tell you that they do educate their passengers about the ratings system, that is a lie. I’ve never once gotten a communication from Uber about this to my passenger account and I am a frequent Uber passenger. If I did, then clearly it wasn’t marked in a way that was noteworthy and I suspect many other passengers also missed the memo.
The problem is that drivers are required to maintain a 4.6 rating but many passengers are not aware of this fact. If I’m happy with my experience at a restaurant, I would leave them a 4 star rating. But if you do that on Uber, you’re basically telling the driver that they failed.
No Feedback Loop
Even though I’ve been driving for Uber for over a year, I still don’t receive weekly summaries that list passenger feedback. When I was first getting started, I e-mailed Uber about this and they told me that it was a feature they were working on.
Fast forward one year and it still hasn’t been fixed. I think it should be mandatory for passengers to leave feedback if they’re going to rate anything below 5 stars and then Uber should relay ALL of that information to drivers.
The biggest problem with the current system is that your rating could take a hit and you have no idea what you’re doing wrong. I am very protective of my rating and I hold myself to a high standard but if my rating takes a dip, it’s hard for me to fix it if I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.
Not A Two Way Street
If it isn’t clear to you by now, Uber values customers a lot more than its drivers. There are countless examples of this and it’s also beyond apparent with the ratings system.
Drivers are held to a gold standard of 4.6 stars to stay active, yet passengers basically have free reign. I have picked up riders with average ratings as low as 1 or 2 stars (I was curious to see why their ratings were so low! They turned out to be fine) yet drivers are deactivated if they fall below 4.6.
Doesn’t seem fair does it?
Rated For Things Beyond Our Control
If you’ve ever driven the late night hours or during big events, no doubt you’ve run into problems with passengers dinging you for things beyond your control. Driving drunks around and swerving in and out of traffic is already stressful enough, and I wish that Uber was more transparent with ratings during these times.
If passengers were forced to leave feedback for sub 5 star ratings, you would have some recourse with Uber if a passenger dinged you for surge pricing that is out of your control. I know I experience this most often with passengers who seem to take their frustration about traffic out on me. Dude, I don’t control the traffic, you should have left earlier and then you wouldn’t have been late 🙂
So Why Do Passenger Ratings Matter?
Now that you realize passengers aren’t held to the same standards as drivers you might be thinking who cares what rating we leave them, but here’s why it matters. By rating passengers according to their behavior, you’re effectively giving other drivers a heads up on what to expect. The more information you have as a driver, the better decisions you can make.
We all have our own system of rating passengers and after lots of rides, the passenger’s score is going to be an accurate reflection of their behavior.
Now there are slow times when you may not be able to be that picky with whom you accept, but during busy times when you’re getting requests every 1-2 minutes, it makes a lot of sense to only accept the highest rated passengers.
Now you might be wondering about Uber’s acceptance rate requirement (which is said to be around 80%), But due to the current Uber employee lawsuit in SF going on right now, Uber is being forced to be more lenient with items like acceptance rate since that can be used by the prosecution (it’s actually already been pointed out) as a sign of employee-like control. So even though Uber won’t admit it, you likely have a lot of freedom going forward to accept/reject rides.
So here’s how I’ve been rating my pax lately:
5 Star Passenger
This is someone who comes out within 1-2 minutes of my arrival, has the destination entered into the GPS and is courteous. Although I like talking to passengers, if they don’t feel like talking to me, that’s just fine. I’m here to provide them with a great and safe experience.
4 Star Passenger
Most Uber passengers do a pretty good job but I do end up giving out a lot of 4 star ratings. Here are all the things that will cause passengers to get 4 stars in my car:
- Making Me Wait: This one is frustrating to me because not only can passengers see where I am on the map, but they also get a notification when I arrive. And I usually send a text when I arrive too (there is often a lag with the Uber notification) since time is money baby!
- Not Entering A Destination: I actually got this idea from another driver in San Francisco but it makes a lot of sense. Entering a destination saves you and your passenger a lot of time and hassle. If you have a pre-set text you send out after you accept the ride, remind them to enter the destination.
- Minimum Fare Rider: This might seem like a strange thing to dock a passenger for but I do this more as a heads up to other drivers. Even though it’s technically not the passenger’s fault, if they have a tendency to do a lot of minimum fare rides, that is a passenger drivers should try and avoid.
- Slamming The Doors: I must have soft doors because this one isn’t a huge bother to me but after the tenth time in any given night, I may start rating lower because of it.
- Magellan in The Back: I don’t mind taking directions from passengers but when they start annoying me with turn by turn directions, I get a little irritated. One or two constructive pointers is ok but let me do my job man!
3 Star Passenger
- Bringing Alcohol/Stinky Food/Tobacco Into The Car: I’m ok with transporting/stopping for alcohol and food but I generally ask the pax to put the stuff in the back of the car so they don’t have the temptation to open a beer or so the food won’t stink up my car. This is important to me because even though you may not notice it, smells tend to linger for a long time and future passengers may be sensitive about this.
- Coming Out With 5-6 People: I don’t know why this one pisses me off so much but it does. I think it likely has something to do with the fact that when I was first getting started, riders would offer me a nice tip if I let them all squeeze in and then they would end up tipping me $1 or $2 or just stiffing me completely. People can be so cheap sometimes..
- The Combo Pax: If you do two or more of any of my 4 star dings, then it only makes sense that you’re going to get a 3 star rating from me. So if you make me wait for 3-4 minutes AND don’t have a destination entered, I’m just counting down the minutes until the ride ends so I can tank your rating and leave a snide comment 🙂
2 Star Passenger
I don’t think I’ve ever left a 2 star rating but maybe there’s a passenger who will one day earn this rating from me. To be honest, it’s hard to be just crappy enough of a passenger to get a 2 star rating but not too crappy that you wouldn’t get a 1 star rating. It’s a fine line that you have to walk to get a 2 star rating and no one’s done it yet for me.
1 Star Passenger
I don’t hand out too many one star ratings but there are definitely some passengers who deserve it. Here are a few examples of when I’ve had to hand out a one star rating.
- The Puker: Uh if you puke in my car, automatic 1 star haha 🙂
- The Racist: Even though this incident happened during the party hours and this guy was clearly intoxicated, he definitely crossed the line. And more than once, so I rated him accordingly.
- The Troublemaker: This is someone who I wouldn’t ever want to transport again and is more of a heads up to other drivers so they know to just stay away…
With Lyft, if you rate a passenger 3 stars or below, you’ll never be matched up with that passenger again. But with Uber, there is no such rule.
Sometimes I’ll make exceptions to my rules if I’m in an especially good mood or the person causing all the trouble isn’t the accountholder. I feel bad rating someone lower if their dumbass friend is causing all the trouble.
I Don’t Care About Tipping
I know some drivers will rate lower if a passenger doesn’t leave a tip but that seems pretty dumb to me. Most passengers aren’t even aware how Uber’s pricing works, what percentage of the fare drivers get and whether or not a tip is included. They just know that they don’t need to worry about tip since that’s what Uber tells them.
Related Article: Uber Drivers Now Have A Tipping Option With Vugo
So as long as they meet all the other criteria, they get 5 stars from me. Some drivers have taken the stance that if a passenger doesn’t leave a tip, they get a 1 star rating, but this is really only a teeny-tiny minority of drivers who think like this. I think most drivers employ a strategy similar to mine so the passenger rating is generally a good reflection of what to expect.
Why It All Matters
If you employ a similar system to rate your passengers, that’s great, but you also want to take the information you’re given and use it to make a decision that will help your bottom line. You’ll notice that most of the reasons I’ll ding a passenger directly affect how much money I’m earning and whether you realize it or not, you’re probably rating passengers for a lot of the same reasons.
Uber doesn’t give us drivers a whole lot of information about the jobs we take but this is one way to take advantage of what little information we get. Now obviously you won’t always be able to be this selective but during surge periods or busy times, maybe that’s when you want to be even stricter with who you’ll accept.
I stray from my rules from time to time but generally, I think it’s advisable to only pick up 4.7 rated and up passengers. That doesn’t mean I won’t get a terrible 4.9 star rated passenger once in a while or I’ll miss out on a really great 4.5 rated passenger who’s maybe new to the platform. But at the end of the day, I have to look out for what’s best for myself and you guys should be doing the same.
Drivers, what do you think about the way Uber’s passenger rating system works? Do you have your own system for rating passengers and more importantly how, if at all, do you use your passenger’s rating to make informed decisions about whether or not you should pick them up?
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-Harry @ RSG