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9 min read

    9 min read

    Is Uber now letting passengers rate us while on the ride? Senior RSG contributor Sergio Avedian seems to think so – and he has proof. Below, how Uber is taking passenger safety seriously – but leaving drivers in limbo as usual.

    Recently, Uber has started adding some safety measures to its app to protect drivers. Uber is even testing voice recording trips to add to those safety measures for drivers globally.

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    However, Uber has recently taken a turn for the worst (in this driver’s eyes) by adding a feature only available for passengers. This new feature will allow passengers to report bad driver behavior outside Uber’s Community Guidelines – while they are in the vehicle, during the trip!

    Quick tips to avoid getting low ratings from passengers:

    1. Know your city
    2. Read the car
    3. Become a highly effective driver
    4. Get a dash camera!
    5. Sign up for Lyft 

    If you read the Uber Safety Report from last year, you are aware that out of approximately 6,000 assaults, 50% of the cases violent acts were perpetrated on the drivers, meaning the driver was the victim.

    Has Uber done enough to protect its drivers? I definitely don’t think so! Uber does not care for the driver, it only cares for the goose that lays the golden egg – the passenger!

    If you are a veteran driver or a newbie, you know how important passenger feedback is as well as for you to keep a high rating. You expect to get treated with respect by your rider according to Uber’s Community Guidelines.

    But we all know there are enough unscrupulous and cheap passengers out there with different ideas. They expect to get limousine service on an UberPool trip.

    It is well known in the driver community that a lot of these riders would not hesitate to fraudulently report an innocent driver to Uber in order to receive a credit for future use.

    I am not saying that all drivers are great. In reality, due to the high turnover of Uber drivers, the quality of cars and drivers has been on the decline. Uber usually does not deduct rider credits from the driver pay, but it also does not hesitate to issue these credits.

    Uber is allowing passengers to snitch on their drivers during the trip

    Until now, simple passenger complaints could only be posted with Uber support after the trip ended, but now Uber is adding a new feature to the passenger arsenal.

    I am really fearful about this streamlined, live, ‘click a tab and send negative feedback about the driver’ to Uber. I don’t think there is anything positive that could come out of this for the driver.

    Uber updated its app to let riders discreetly report instances that may not rise to the level of an emergency, but still made them feel unsafe while on a trip. The examples that Uber gives in the following video include “harsh braking,” “inappropriate remarks,” “texting” or a driver who isn’t paying attention to the road. But I’m sure many people who use Uber can come up with a lot of creative ways to use this new reporting feature.

    The incident reporting tool is located in the app’s Safety Toolkit. Someone from Uber’s safety team will follow up with both the passenger and the driver at some point after the ride has ended.

    The following video by Uber explains the process clearly!

     

    Why is Uber doing this? Is it to make themselves look like they’re a safer service to the riders? According to Tracey Breeden, Head of Women’s Safety and Gender-Based Violence Programs at Uber:

    “Feedback has been a part of the Uber experience since the beginning. However, our research shows that riders may not consistently report experiences that make them feel uncomfortable due in part to being distracted after the trip.

    When you are meeting friends for dinner, going right into a business meeting or coming home to family, reporting something like harsh braking or inappropriate remarks may not be top of mind. By creating an additional reporting channel, we aim to encourage people to share feedback when it’s convenient for them, which helps us better pinpoint issues and guide our work on helping to develop safety solutions.”

    I got flagged by a passenger already

    I drive on a part-time basis these days but the other night, I decided to set my Destination Filter (DF) to my house after having dinner with a friend.

    I generally do not pick up base short rides, but this is one that I did because it was on DF.

    As you can see, it was less than 2.5 miles and less than 7 minutes in duration. I pull up to a house around 8:45 PM and a couple walk out. The woman gets in and I greet her as usual, but the male is holding a red plastic cup. Anyone over the age of 18 knows what’s in a red plastic cup – and it’s typically not water.

    I have never allowed anyone with an open container of alcohol in my car – not only is it probably illegal in your state, but it’s also not safe for you, your record, or the cleanliness of your car if they spill it!

    I told the male passenger I wouldn’t be able to do this ride unless he either finished his drink or dumped it on the curb. The woman in the vehicle told me other drivers ‘let them do it all the time’, but I politely said, I would not be able to oblige.

    The male passenger chugged the drink, threw the red cup and got in. After I dropped them off at the sushi restaurant they were going to, I ended the trip and wished them a good night.

    As a veteran driver, you know you are about to get rated down because I had the ‘audacity’ to ask adults to not break the law in my vehicle.

    I immediately went to my rating screen and saw the following:

    I paid no attention to it until I received a message from Uber Support around 11pm PST.

    I immediately recalled the conversation I had with my friend Jay, who was unjustly and permanently deactivated a week before Christmas, 2019 due to a passenger reporting him for DUI. The man is 74 years old, grinding and supporting two kids and has COPD. The medicine he takes gives off an alcoholic smell, but I know for a fact that he does not drink.

    Did Uber contact him for his side of the story other than some garbage cut and paste mail? No, and just like that, he is GONE!

    My Exchange with Uber Customer Service – Always Assert Your Rights!

    I have gotten dinged by passengers for various reasons in the past, and have seen that message before, but when I received a follow-up from Uber CSR, I paid attention to it and responded accordingly.

    To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even know that Uber had added this new, live reporting feature to the passenger app, but it didn’t take too long to figure out, because I was one of its first victims!

    As you can see, I did not take the accusation lightly. I am told not to use my phone, but how am I supposed to not use the phone and drive for Uber and respond to a stacked ride request?

    Personally, I hate texting and driving, and I never do it. But I like using Google Maps over the garbage Uber in-app navigation, and how am I supposed to toggle between the two without touching my phone? The following screenshots are self-explanatory!

    The back and forth continued for a solid hour. I try to nip these things in the bud and forcefully interject my point of view. One thing you should know is: don’t be afraid, you are most likely emailing a robot!

    THE END! I think the AI robot gave up!

    What Can Uber Do to Fix This?

    Drivers are in a tough spot here. Of course, if things go sideways during a trip, your safety is paramount. Make sure to follow our driver safety tips, like pulling into a well lit area and contacting the police.

    I suggest to Uber management to put the same type of live reporting option in the driver app. As of now, we can only do it after the ride ends, but by then it is too late.

    It is always better to take the first shot when dealing with an unscrupulous passenger. Bring back changing the rating for the passenger within 24 hours like it used to be, like it still is with Lyft.

    Passengers can now punish the driver with a smile on their face sitting in the back seat acting like everything is cool! I think this will be weaponized by a lot of unethical, cheap riders.

    My recommendation to Uber? Stop playing with drivers’ livelihoods to placate the unscrupulous, cheap passengers. Stop playing judge, jury and executioner!

    How Can Drivers Avoid Situations Like This?

    There are several steps drivers can take to avoid getting low ratings (and potential deactivations) from Uber. Here are our top recommendations for staying active on the road, no matter what type of rating you receive from a passenger!

    1. Know your city – knowing how to get to places quickly, efficiently and safely will go a long way to keeping passengers happy – and getting grumpy passengers out of your car faster!
    2. Read the car – is your passenger in a talkative mood, or do they get on their cellphone right away? Not every passenger (or driver, for that matter!) wants to talk, whereas others don’t mind asking and answering questions. Greet the passenger when they get in and assess their response – if they’re chatty back to you, it’s probably okay to engage. If they hop on their phone immediately, feel free to focus entirely on the quiet ride.
    3. Become a highly effective driver – what differentiates successful drivers from average ones? Following a few certain habits – read the seven habits of highly effective rideshare drivers here.
    4. Get a dash camera! We say it all the time here on RSG, but get a dash camera. If you’re in the right, but get deactivated due to a grumpy passenger, there’s nothing better than bringing your dash camera footage into a Greenlight Hub and getting reactivated immediately.
    5. Sign up for Lyft – if you are temporarily deactivated from Uber, make sure to have a back up like Lyft so you can continue driving.

    What do you think, is this good for safety? Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Chime in the comment section!

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    -Sergio @ RSG

    Sergio Avedian

    Sergio Avedian

    Sergio has been driving Uber and Lyft for about three years. He has over 4500 rides on both platforms, mostly on Uber. Sergio has a degree in finance, and worked on Wall St. for over eighteen years. In his free time, he still trades stocks and derivatives for himself and a few friends. He is also a PGA certified golf instructor, teaching golf is his passion. Sergio is married with two wonderful kids who take the rest of his afternoons/weekends between their soccer practices and golf tournaments.

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