So it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’ll bet some of you will be taking an Uber tonight. Smart move. I will not be driving you as I’ll be up north with my brother’s family watching the dropping of the eyelids. (At midnight, 2019 will flash in the dark of our closed eyes. All very exciting!)
Most of you will rate your drivers. And I’ve noticed I generally get five-star ratings. What’s kept me from a perfect rating is canceling a few rides, particularly in my early days when I didn’t know the app well, and a couple of rides that did not go well. It happens.
But did you know we rate you as well? Like me, most of my passengers will get a 5-star rating. It’s actually simple with me. Get in and enjoy the ride. Bad mood? We don’t have to talk. Or we can ride in silence. Or we can have great conversation. (Amazing how many people want to talk about the job. It is one of the strangest gigs I’ve ever had, and everyone wonders how it works.)
So what, you ask, will cost you that 5-star rating? And why does it matter?
Well, when Uber sends us fares, we’re told all sorts of things. Is the trip over 20 minutes? (Designed to let us opt out of driving to another city.) What the surge bonus is. How far away the ride is.
And your passenger rating. Yes, we see your rating before you see ours. And while I generally don’t care about anything but distance to you and how long your trip may be, a lot of drivers will take note of your rating. If it’s below a four, there’s a good chance a driver will decline the ride.
But what gets you a bad rating with me? Or what, more importantly, may find you walking the rest of the way? I cannot speak for every Uber or Lyft driver, but these are a few things that will either get you a less-than-stellar rating or kicked out of my vehicle. To date, I’ve had over 1000 rides, have given out maybe six bad ratings, and kicked out only two people, one of whom decided she didn’t want to end the ride. (Alchohol was most definitely involved in the last two cases.)
- No show – I actually have no control over this. The system will rate you if I have to cancel a ride because you were not where you said you’d be or fail to show up. The app gives you two minutes to show get in the car, then charges you for wait time since you’ve now kept a driver off the road. A good driver will wait beyond the three-minutes Uber recommends taking before canceling the ride if they hear from the passenger. But if you ghost a driver, he or she will have to cancel. And Uber tracks that.
- Being abusive or excessively rude – Hey, I get it. You’re drunk. A lot of my passengers are drunk. In fact, on Saturdays between 9PM and midnight, it makes the job a lot of fun. But if you’re going to argue with me that the best way to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport from downtown is through Louisville, I’m not likely to give you a good rating. Also, getting abusive with me or anyone else in the car will earn you a one-star rating.
- Side-seat driving – I put up with this from my wife. I sleep with her. I’m massively in love with her. I can tune her out, and she knows this is going to happen, even when I need to hear it. You are a perfect stranger paying me to get you someplace. Non-stop nagging will get you kicked out of the car. One night, a rider complained about how I held my cell phone while I drove. At a confusing intersection where I needed to make a turn, he yelled, “Hey!” I missed the turn. He took the opportunity to point out I was looking at my phone. I corrected him. Had he remained silent, I would have made the turn. So from that night on, if I miss a turn because you distract me, you walk.
- Yelling at cops – This is generally a bar close problem. After midnight, drunk people become less fun to be around, and after 2 AM, you find yourself wishing you were someplace normal. Like Walmart at that hour. This is the deal, though. If you get abusive with a police officer, particularly if I’m just tooling down the street trying to get you home, you can finish the trip in the officer’s nice, warm police cruiser. You pay me to get home, not get arrested. And believe me, a cop is going to see the Uber or Lyft app and take my side over yours.
- Racist comments – This comes up more than you think. After a couple of passengers shot their mouths off about pedestrians they saw, I began a new system of dealing with it. Make a racist comment, I say, very loudly, “One.” Do it again, I say, “Two.” If we get to three, I’m pulling over, informing Uber that I have an abusive passenger, and ending the ride. And I don’t care if we’re on the notoriously narrow Brent Spence Bridge at rush hour. You’re in my car. You follow not just my rules, but Uber’s as well.
- Sex in the car – Oh, I get it. It’s kinky and fun to do it in the backseat of a limo or a taxi or… Well, a rideshare. Just understand that the infamous vomit bounty ($200 if you leave bodily fluid in the driver’s car) encompasses pretty much all bodily fluids. So it’s only a money shot for me. And since I have cloth seats in my car, that money comes out of your pocket. And Uber keeps track. That said, the one time this was an issue, I will say that the couple was… Um… talented. Left a spotless backseat.