One question we get a lot at The Rideshare Guy is which platform is more ‘fair’ to drivers in terms of ratings. It’s a tricky question, since Uber and Lyft calculate ratings in different ways. However, senior RSG contributor Sergio Avedian was up to the task. Below, he compares the rating systems that currently exist and declares a winner between Uber and Lyft.
We’ve been living in the sharing economy for the past decade. Instead of staying in a hotel, we spend the night in an Airbnb. Instead of renting an office, we started using a coworking space and instead of taking a cab, we use Uber or Lyft.
These platforms all take existing assets and make them accessible to consumers through the use of digital technology. We push a button on our smartphones and a car will show up to usher us to our destination.
However, a sharing economy only works if the participants can trust each other. In traditional businesses, higher regulatory powers such as governments and corporations ensure this trust. In today’s sharing culture, the source of this trust is accountability to the community and between two parties who are brought together by an app. This generally comes in the form of ratings and reviews on platforms such as Uber, Lyft, Yelp, Amazon, Ebay etc.
If someone violates the community standards, they must suffer the consequences of a low rating (making it difficult for them to participate in the specific sharing economy product in the future). In theory, at least, sharing economy-based products become self-policing — or do they?
Overview of Uber Driver Rating System
Riders likely consider a variety of factors when selecting a star rating, including navigation, vehicle cleanliness, and their communication with you. When riders choose to leave a rating, which is not required, they’re sharing how they felt about the overall experience you provided.
Your overall driver rating is an average of individual ratings provided by riders from your 500 or fewer most recent trips (if you’re a new driver). This rating is calculated by adding your individual trip ratings (from 1 to 5 stars) together, and then dividing this value by the total number of ratings you’ve received.
Every new driver starts with a perfect rating of 5. Your rating may fluctuate often until you’ve completed your first 50-100 rated trips, since there are fewer rides affecting the average. As your number of rated trips grows, changes in your rating will be smaller, and one low rating will not have a significant impact on your overall rating. Passengers have several days to submit a rating, which is why you may see your rating change on a day when you do not complete any trips.
If your rating approaches the minimum for your area (no one other than Uber knows this, but staying below 4.60 for a while is cause for removal from the platform), you’ll receive notifications and tips for how to improve it. If your average rating continues to fall below the minimum after multiple notifications, your account may be deactivated pursuant to the Uber Community Guidelines.
I am approaching 4000 rides on the Uber platform, I can easily say that I have experienced all kinds of passengers, and on more than one occasion 1* have been exchanged, but I must admit over 95% of the passengers I have dealt with have been great.
The screenshots above are from May 15, 2019. Please pay attention to the individual rating count of 1-5*. The screenshots below are from November 15, 2019. That is exactly six months, during which time I have given hundreds of rides and rated for, the only difference is one of my six 1* was replaced by a 3*. I practically remember every single 1* I received, all by UberPool Express passengers who refuse to walk to their final destination as they are required to do so after drop off.
I’ve stopped accepting these types of requests for over 18 months now, so how is it that more or all 1* have not dropped off by now, since I have been rated at least a few hundred times over the past six months? Like everything else, I think Uber is guilty of fuzzy math here. During the 180 days of change Uber announced in 2017, one of the items it boasted about was something called Ratings Protection. If something went wrong during a ride that was out of the control of the driver, the low rating received would not be counted. Well, since you see your rating take an immediate hit after the passenger exits your car, as a driver you know who it was that dinged you.
On more than one of these occasions, I contacted Uber immediately to take advantage of this so called Rating Protection. Of course, I would get the customary cut and paste email, explaining how the ratings system worked, that was totally anonymous and that over time the low ratings would drop off. If you care about your high rating, not that it gets you anything extra in the form of increased earnings, keep track of it on a monthly basis by taking screenshots.
With Uber, the driver must rate the passenger immediately after the ride is concluded. A screen like the one below will pop up and prompt the driver to rate the passenger. The only way to get another ride request is to complete the screen, and since we’re all out there to earn a living, most drivers will click 5* and continue driving.
It is one and done – the driver’s ability to change passenger ratings at a later time was taken a way a while ago. This is truly a major handicap, because if rating a passenger is mandatory for the driver, the passenger should be held to the same standard. Passengers shouldn’t be able to hail another Uber before they rate their last driver.
This action may also increase the chances of the driver receiving tips. Uber now allows drivers to thank riders in app for a tip, too, which is a positive development. However, why is the passenger held to a different standard? Not only do they have days to rate or tip a driver, unlike us they have the ability to change their rating. We are powerless against retaliatory low ratings for circumstances out of our control.
However, we can send a note to Uber’s Customer Service Representative (CSR), via an email through the app, by taking the following steps.
Pick the trip that is in question and click on the question mark on the upper right hand corner of the app. You can use a few of the topics to notify Uber regarding the trip in question as seen below.
If you get the vibe that a certain trip has gone sideways, immediately pull over and send a report to Uber. The passenger will probably report you while sitting in your back seat. Never take a chance with your safety; it is your private car, you have the right to kick the passenger out to the curb if you feel the least bit threatened. The sooner Uber gets your side of the story, the better. You still will not be allowed to change your rating for the passenger though.
A few months ago, Uber announced they would kick low rated passengers off the platform. Rude behavior or leaving trash behind could get a passenger booted from Uber.
The company has added ratings-based rider deactivations to its safety policy. Users can now get kicked off the app if they develop a significantly below average rating. I don’t know what the threshold for this action is since transparency is not Uber’s strong suit, but Uber says riders will receive tips on how to improve their ratings and will have several opportunities to improve their scores prior to losing access. I still get a lot of requests from passengers with very low ratings, so I am not holding my breath on this.
I use a simple set of rules when I drive when it comes to ratings. My rule is if Uber will deactivate a driver for 4.60 or below rating, I will not allow a passenger in my car with a score of less than 4.60!
Overview of Lyft Driver Rating System
Your driver rating is the average of your last 100 ratings. If you have less than 100 rides, your driver rating is the average of your total ratings received so far. Passengers rate you after a ride is completed, but it is not required. Cancelled rides and missed requests don’t affect driver ratings.
After passengers rate their driver, they may see an option to tell their driver more about what was exceptional about the ride, like a clean car, great navigation, or a nice conversation. If a ride is less than 5 stars, passengers will be able to flag specific areas to improve.
Passengers may also have the chance to write specific feedback for their drivers, which is shared anonymously. This feedback is optional and not required to finish a ride. Lyft will email you a feedback summary weekly with passenger feedback and flags.
After the ride, you’ll have the opportunity to manually rate your passenger by tapping on the star icon at the bottom of the screen. When the timer around the star runs out, the app will automatically rate the passenger 5 stars. However, if you choose to rate manually, a rating card will appear for every passenger from the ride. Tap ‘Submit’ for each passenger to save any changes you make.
Ratings below 4 or 5 means the passenger wasn’t up to par, so Lyft would want to know why. Use the comment box to leave passenger feedback. Passengers don’t see this feedback, only Lyft does. Rating a rider 3 or lower means you won’t be matched with him/her again. You can also edit passenger ratings from your ride history for 24 hours after drop-off.
Passengers have 24 hours to rate a driver through the Rate & Pay screen once the ride has been completed. Once the 24 hours have passed, passengers must contact support to rate their driver, provide feedback, or change their rating. A driver has the ability to adjust their rating on the rider by clicking “Rate Passenger” tab on the ride receipt which will stay highlighted for 24 hours after the trip ended.
Occasionally, drivers may have passengers who rate poorly when drivers might not deserve it, like if you rightly refused to let a rider bring an open container of alcohol in your car. If you feel a passenger may rate you poorly due to something out of your control, use the comment box after the ride is over to tell us anything you feel is important about the ride or passenger.
These comments let Lyft analyze your side of the story for further investigation into the matter. You may do so by the following steps. Click on the ride in question, at the bottom of the receipt screen you’ll see the help tab. Click on it and you’ll be able to leave detailed notes regarding the specific trip.
The Winner of the Rating Wars And My Take
Ratings are a necessary evil when it comes to the rideshare industry. With millions of rides performed on a daily basis, it is one of the only ways for the driver to voice their opinion about the patrons. I really think it is an unfair system since most passengers don’t even bother to rate their drivers. It is not a two way street. I probably get rated on 30-40% of the rides at most. I think both Uber and Lyft should make rating the driver mandatory for passengers as well.
These days, as a driver, Uber for me is clearly superior in every aspect over Lyft. However, when it comes to the ratings system, Lyft is the BIG WINNER! I love the fact that I have 24 hours to decide what to rate a passenger!
What I have also noticed through testing that, within those 24 hours, every time I manually rate a passenger, Lyft sends them a reminder in the form of a ping. This, in turn, has increased my tip ratio for rides completed to over 30-35% on the Lyft platform. It is also a lot easier to keep a higher rating as a driver on the Lyft platform since only the last 100 rated rides make up your total score, bad ratings drop off a lot faster and give the driver a fresh start!
Readers, what do you think of the Uber and Lyft ratings system? Do you like Lyft’s system more or Uber’s?
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-Sergio @ RSG