How to tell if you're a bad Uber customer

One of the great things about Uber (and Lyft, I believe) is the driver rating system. When you finish your ride, you can (and should) assign the driver a rating between 1 and 5 stars based on your experience. Over time, they build up an average you can see when being matched up with a driver to determine if you want to take the ride. Drivers with consistently low ratings are generally kicked from the service.

But how good of a passenger are you? For users of the service who don’t pay too much attention, you might not be aware of it but the drivers are rating you too. If you’re obnoxious or spill your coffee all over the place or (the classic) get drunk and throw up in their car, you’ll probably get very low ratings. The company generally provides you with your rating if you care to look, but now there’s an even quicker way to find out. If your rating falls too low, they’ll just shut off your account and you won’t be able to summon a driver anymore. (Business Insider)

Have a low Uber passenger rating? The company could soon ban you from the app, it announced Wednesday.

Drivers have long been expected to meet certain minimum ratings to continue working on the platform, Kate Parker, Uber’s Head of Safety Brand and Initiatives, explained in a blog post. Now, passengers will be expected to uphold their side as well.

“Riders may lose access to Uber if they develop a significantly below average rating,” the company said. “Riders will receive tips on how to improve their ratings, such as encouraging polite behavior, avoiding leaving trash in the vehicle and avoiding requests for drivers to exceed the speed limit. Riders will have several opportunities to improve their rating prior to losing access to the Uber apps.”

You might be expecting me to launch into a tirade over how this is a bad thing, but if so you’ll be disappointed. Honestly, I can’t see anything wrong with this at all and they’re not violating anyone’s rights. After all, the gig economy works differently than traditional brick and mortar services open to the public. You don’t have to accept a ride from anyone if you don’t want to. And the drivers don’t have to accept the notification that pops up when you’re trying to summon one. They’re driving their own cars, so it isn’t like going into a public story. It’s a cooperative system where everyone engages (or doesn’t) by mutual consent.

I’ve been using Uber for several years now and I’ve managed to maintain a five-star rating. In case you’re worried about yours, here are a couple of tips so you don’t get the boot. First and foremost, unless the ride was really terrible, tip the driver. Even if it’s a buck or two. And even more to the point, tip in cash. I never tip on the app. Handing your driver cash (that they don’t have to declare unless they want to) always makes an impression, so keep some fives and ones with you when going out. I sometimes make a point of telling them why I don’t like tipping on the app and they always seem to agree.

Also (and this one should be easy), don’t be a jerk. Berating the driver over the route they took to pick you up or whatever will just set a bad tone and probably get you a lower rating. If you have a chatty driver, make the effort to engage with them, at least for part of the ride. If they’re silent type and give you short answers to any questions or remarks you have, take the hint, sit back quietly and enjoy the ride. It’s not hard.

And finally, as was pointed out in the linked article, don’t leave a bunch of crap in the car. Take your empty coffee cup and sandwich wrapper with you when you go. They have to clean their cars for every shift, and again, remember that it’s their personal car. If you leave it full of junk you’ll get a low rating.

Avoid those simply mistakes and you probably won’t get kicked off the app. If not, you’ll be back to taking yellow cabs. And you remember what that was like, right?