5 min read

    5 min read

    I don’t know about you guys but I won’t even try a new restaurant these days without reading the Yelp or TripAdvisor reviews first.  It’s not that I don’t trust my own judgement but if there’s a resource available out there that will help me make a more informed decision why not use it?

    I think we all fear trying the unknown because we’re worried that we may not like it.  But by reading reviews and checking ratings ahead of time, this process should filter out a lot of the places that might not be up to par.  If everyone dislikes the food at a certain restaurant, then we are likely to come to the same conclusion too.


    As an Uber or Lyft passenger, you can’t quite filter out the bad drivers but you can rest assured that bad drivers won’t remain on the system very long.  With Lyft, you need to maintain a driver rating of at least 4.6 (so a 4 star rating is actually a bad rating for drivers).  And similarly with Uber, you need a rating of 4.5 or higher to stay active.

    Even though drivers have to go through background checks and with Lyft a test drive, there are still a few bad apples that will undoubtedly fall through the cracks.  The ratings system is designed to catch those bad drivers and eventually remove them from the system.

    But is This a Good Thing?

    In theory, the rideshare ratings system sounds like a good thing.  Good drivers will get good ratings, and bad drivers will get bad ratings and eventually be disqualified from driving.  But what about those times when drivers are rated unfairly or for something beyond their control?  A few things come to mind that are beyond a driver’s control but the one thing that sticks out in my mind is a driver’s race or even sex.  This is something that we as drivers can’t control yet there are bound to be some passengers who will rate differently based on this aspect.

    I don’t know how big the effect of a driver’s race is on their rating but I think it does matter.  It’s human nature to want to associate with people of similar skin color, that’s why you find a lot of the same racial groups living in the same area and hanging out together.  That’s not to say that racial mixing doesn’t happen and that people who live in neighborhoods of predominantly one race are racist, it just means that most people are more comfortable associating with their own race.

    Who Has the Advantage?

    Whenever I have to put down my race on some official government form, I generally put caucasian.  Although I am about 1/3 Chinese, caucasian is the race that I most associate with since I was born here, only speak English, etc.  I’m also no fool though, I know that this puts me at an advantage when I’m driving for Uber and Lyft since a majority of the passengers are caucasian, American born, English as a first language, and so forth.  Basically all of the things that line up with my background.

    I actually started off as an Uber and Lyft passenger so it’s also no surprise to find that I have a lot in common with most passengers.  I think this gives me a small advantage over other drivers who may not speak English very well or who weren’t born in America.  Most passengers probably only care whether you’re a good driver or not, but there will always be some who subconsciously (or consciously) rate you lower because you are different from them.

    Why This Matters

    Surely there are going to be a few drivers rated unfairly for their race but is this a big deal?  I think it is because not everyone has the luxury of driving for Lyft and Uber as a second source of income.  For some people, this is their main source of income and they can’t afford to lose it.

    I’ve heard stories of Lyft and Uber drivers being de-activated for low ratings and that worries me.  It could be that these drivers are just bad drivers but it could also mean that they were rated unfairly.  I would rather have a couple bad drivers stay on the road than to lose a couple good drivers though.  Going forward, I think it would be a good idea for Lyft and Uber to institute some type of review board that would allow drivers who have been deactivated to re-apply.

    (I actually just took a class from a third party rideshare company that works with deactivated drivers in the Baltimore area to get them re-instated with Uber – podcast interview to come)

    But for now, there’s nothing like that in place.  I still think that any driver out there can get high ratings but it’s probably also true that some drivers may need to work harder than others.  In the Facebook groups online, I often see drivers complaining about low ratings and to be honest, I have no idea why they are getting low ratings.  But I do know that complaining about it is never a productive solution.

    If your ratings aren’t as high as you’d like them to be, then it’s up to you to figure out what you can do better.  Maybe you need to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to make up for the discrepancy.  I’ve always been a firm believer that the only person you can truly depend on is yourself.

    We could probably argue back and forth whether race plays a part in your driver rating.  But either way, there are still plenty of other things that you can control that will give you a high enough rating to be one of the top Uber or Lyft drivers.

    Readers, do you think your race or even your sex affects your rideshare rating?  If yes, what have you done/are you doing to mitigate this effect?  Please leave a comment but keep it respectful 🙂

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    Harry Campbell

    Harry Campbell

    I'm Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I'm a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.