If you have been driving for any amount of time, you have likely encountered at least a few of these situations, if not all. Ideally, we want the person or group of people to be ready to go, be where they say they are going to be and have some common sense. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. How we handle these situations can help reduce the stress on ourselves and prevent the emotions from escalating. As we discuss each of these situations, I will propose how best to address them or, at least, how I address them.
Too Many Riders
This is the easiest one to address with riders although has the greatest potential for argument. If you think “what’s the big deal?” when cramming too many people into your car, you definitely want to rethink that position. Are you insured for those pasengers since you are breaking the law with too many passengers? Who is going to pay for the ticket if you get pulled over while having too many passengers? The bottom line is it just isn’t worth it.
As I pull up to a group, I count the number of people every time. If I see more than 4, I ask a member of the group “how many?” If they say five or more, I tell them I can only take up to 4. If they protest, I tell them I am not insured if I take too many passengers.
For most people, this is enough for them to relent, but occasionally, people will persist. They will say things like “I will give you nice tip” or “it’s just a short trip”. Stick to your guns. I tell them I won’t risk their lives for a tip. This shows you care about THEM and it isn’t about you, the driver.
If you say it is about their safety and well being, and focus on that, they will be more willing to just say “OK”. The best response I hear is “if you won’t take everyone, I will cancel.” Because we all know threatening the driver like this makes us all change our minds, right? I let them know if they want to cancel, that works for me.
It is actually best if they cancel because if you end up taking a few people from the group, it is possible they could give you a low rating. You can also let them know that you’re willing to wait with them until another UberX comes and they can all go together. This was one of the strategies Rez gave on Episode 5 of the podcast on how to deal with unruly passengers.
Related Podcast: Providing The Ultimate Experience With Rez LaBoy
Handling this situation with concern for their well being is the best rule and one most riders won’t argue with.
Too Far Away
I don’t like it when the request is over 10 minutes away, but I really hate it when the ride request is over 20 minutes away. We have two basic choices when presented with these types of requests. We can either not accept the ride, or accept the ride and hope the passenger cancels. The first option is not good for our metrics with Lyft and Uber. Of course, Sidecar drivers don’t have this problem since we can set our pickup radius.
Not accepting rides can affect our qualification for the guarantees since there are minimum acceptance percentages, so keeping track of how many ride requests you don’t accept is a good idea. If you’re not going for any type of guarantee, it’s ok to cancel these types of requests as long as you keep your acceptance rate high. Make sure you stay offline for a couple minutes afterwards so that the passenger gets another driver instead of you.
This one has to be my biggest pet peeve. It is our biggest time waster. It never helps to drive to a location only to find out we aren’t where the passenger really is.
My general rule for this situation is to recommend the rider cancel the ride and re-request another driver. Of course, if they are just a minute or 2 away, I will go and pick them up. The other exception I will make is if the person calls me prior to the pickup to tell me where they are or if after calling them, they are very apologetic. I am a sucker for apologies.
Related Article: Top 10 Ways That Uber and Lyft Passengers Are Gaming The System
Occasionally, I will be in a real good mood and break this rule. Every time, I am sorry that I gave in. Each time, the riders were either angry drunks, not ready or try to fit too many people in the car.
If they don’t meet one of those required exceptions, I suggest they cancel the ride and order a new one with their correct pin point. Call it “tough love”. They will learn to double check the pin point if they get charged a few late fees.
Rider Isn’t Ready
I am somewhat sympathetic to riders for certain situations. When I was a block away and the rider didn’t expect me to be there that fast, OK, I get it. When the app isn’t updating my ETA, OK, I get it. But when you are waiting for 2 minutes and then call the rider only to have them say “Ok, I am on the 15th floor and I am on my way down”… Well, that just doesn’t cut it.
Knowing how you will personally handle different excuses or non-responses is important. The procedure I follow is this:
- Two minutes after hitting “arrive”, I call the passenger.
- If the person doesn’t answer the phone, I text the passenger after another minute
- If still no response, I will make one final call after another 2 minutes.
- If I get a response with the first phone call and they haven’t arrived within 2 minutes, I call them and tell them I can’t wait longer than 5 minutes.
- If I get a response with the final phone call, I tell them it has already been 5 minutes and I can’t wait any longer.
I am pretty strict about the 5 minute time limit. It is up to you what your process is. Many people text before arriving which does work well. Just don’t forget to look at your clock when you arrive so you can start keep tracking of time.
This is a strict rule in my car as it is against the law for passengers to have open alcohol in a car. If someone is bringing a drink into my car, I ask them if there is alcohol in it. If they say “no”, I let it go. If they say “yes”, I ask them to dump it. This is similar to the too many riders issue. The passenger isn’t going to bail you out of jail because they had open alcohol in your car.
I had one specific instance after which I started paying a lot more attention to the drinks people were bringing into my car. I picked up 3 guys who had obviously been drinking. They got in and I drove them without incident to their destination. The guys seemed nice enough. I got my next ride request and started driving to that pickup point.
While on the way, I noticed the smell of beer wasn’t going away. In fact, it seemed to be getting stronger. When I got to the pickup point, I got out and checked the backseat. I found that one of the previous riders had spilled their beer on the floor of the backseat. Thankfully, I have Weathertech Floor Liners. All I had to do was dump the beer out of the floor liner, spray it with some cleaner and wipe it down. Problem solved, but one I wished I hadn’t had to deal with in the first place.
The moral of the story is: Don’t let people bring open containers with alcohol into your car.
Do you have any situations that you have had to deal with that I didn’t cover here and how did you handle them?
-Scott @ RSG
Scott Van Maldegiam
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