Was I the last person to find out about this? It seems that even while various web based businesses allow consumers to rate the quality of the products they purchase or the service they receive, some of those providers are rating the customers as well. And in the case of Uber, a couple of bad ratings from your driver may leave you standing around in the snow waiting for a ride which may never come.
People routinely use the Internet to review services from plumbers to hairdressers. Now the tables are turned. Companies are rating their customers, shunning those who do not make the grade.
Hussein Kanji insists he is not a bad Uber passenger.
“I’ve asked drivers to turn up or down heat, to not play music loudly, or to roll up windows,” Mr. Kanji, a London venture capitalist, said. “I can’t imagine why they would lower my passenger score.”
They apparently did. The wait for a ride suddenly became interminable. “For about three weeks, Uber was basically unusable,” Mr. Kanji said.
Customer reviews are a new form of credit report, one that measures comportment instead of finances. Although such ratings have been tried before — eBay was a pioneer — the practice has taken off with the rise of the so-called on-demand economy.
Let me just begin by saying that I long ago lost faith in many customer rating systems on the web. I think they all start off with the best of intentions, and if there were any way to keep such systems “pure” they would be about the best thing ever. Advertising is, by its very nature, deceptive and manipulative. There is no better measure of the quality of products or services than the real world experience of other customers who may be in the same situation as you. The problem is that the vast majority of such ratings systems are so easily manipulated that they can quickly lose their appeal and usefulness. When you go to Google Maps or Yelp or any of a host of other services and leave a rating for a restaurant, you are almost certain to see a huge batch of negative reviews from people in league with competitors and positive ones from those aligned with the owner. (Many of them may never have even set foot inside the business.)
Companies have even taken to launching their own “unbiased” customer driven services which are actually just fronts for the industry. Big money will also seek to get their fingers into the review process from the top or the bottom. There were questions about Rotten Tomatoes back in the day when people asked if the movie production companies buying advertising on the site hinted at some sort of favoritism. Such efforts can and do frequently turn into a mess.
But getting back to the subject of this article, it seems almost unheard of to have the service providers rating the customers and then failing to show up if the customer was too rude or too quiet or asked them to roll up the windows. Seriously? No driver should be forced to show up and pick up somebody with a known history of violence or criminal activity, but potentially rude customers are part of the deal when you enter into any business. Rude people spend money too, and you’re running a business. This obviously wasn’t something cooked up by the drivers because the internal rating system is built into the app they use. What was Uber thinking with this? Leaving customers waiting who have been guilty of nothing worse than asking the driver to turn the radio down while they read their email is a recipe for disaster.
Uber should have a system for reporting incidents of violence and real abuse by riders, and such persons could readily be put on a no service list. But this sounds crazy. At a bare minimum, if they don’t want to pick someone up, the user app should tell them that there is no ride coming for them. Bad idea all the way around.