Six Things Your Uber Driver Wants You to Know

 

As I’ve alluded to in other comments, I’ve been a driver for Uber since mid-August, with almost 300 trips under my belt. I’m having more fun doing this gig than I thought I would, as the Uber demographic tends to be younger, smarter, and more outgoing than the population in general. Instead of what I expected — passengers sitting stoically, staring at the back of my head — most of my passengers are interesting and fun to talk to.

There are, however, a few things I’d like my passengers to know:

1. Five stars should be your default driver rating. If you can’t do that, tell the driver why. Uber takes the rating of their drivers very seriously — there have been reports of drivers being deactivated when their ratings stay below 4.7 — and higher-rated drivers tend to get more ride requests thrown their way by the Uber app.

My request to my passengers is simple: if you feel the need to rate me lower than five stars, please tell me why before you leave. We’re probably never going to see each other again, so there’s no reason not to be candid. That’s the only way I can improve my customer service and know what’s on your mind. I might even be able to fix your concern before the end of the ride. I’m proud of my driver rating (currently 4.91) and want to keep it for as long as I can.

Also, as a passenger, bear in mind that you receive a rating as well — in fact, drivers are required to rate passengers in order to complete a trip — and your passenger rating will appear on every future ride request you make. I very rarely rate my passengers less than five stars.

2. Don’t pay surge pricing, unless you’re in a hurry. Passengers rightly hate surge pricing, Uber’s mechanism for adding driver supply when rider demand is high. But if your schedule is flexible, it’s almost never strictly necessary to pay for surge pricing. On the driver app, I can see surge zones come and go within 45-60 second intervals; once, I saw a surge zone after a Paul McCartney concert go from 2.7x to 1.5x to, no surge within 15 minutes. If you’re willing to wait before you order a ride, the surge may go away. (In fairness, this is not risk-free, as the surge may also go higher.)

Another strategy is to walk to a pickup location away from the most crowded area. Surge areas tend to be bounded by major highways (e.g., SR-315, I-71, and I-670 here in Columbus). After an Ohio State home game a couple weeks back, I had a couple of passengers walk under SR-315, away from the stadium, and reduce their surge multiplier from 6.7x (!) to 2.1x.

If you do accept surge pricing, though, don’t take it out on your driver by giving him a one-star rating. We don’t set the prices, and we have no ability to adjust your fare, though Uber’s customer support does, and has often been helpful to me and my passengers.

3. Don’t order a ride until your party is ready to leave. We will be there a lot quicker than you expect. When you request a ride, Uber gives the closest driver just 15 seconds to accept the ride; if he lets it go, Uber offers it to the next closest driver, and so on until a match is achieved. Especially on busy weekend nights, you’re likely to get a driver who’s only a few minutes away, and we’ll do our best to get to you just as quickly as distance and traffic allow.

There’s nothing more irritating to a driver than hustling over to a pickup point, then having to wait while a passenger gets out of the bathroom, pays the tab, finishes a drink, etc. Please be considerate of the driver’s time. If you’re at home and the driver is a bit further away, this is less applicable, though do pay attention to the arrival time provided by the Uber app so you can be ready.

4. After you request a ride, keep your phone handy, as your driver may need to contact you. Your location may be hard to find, traffic may be heavy, any number of things. And just so you know, it’s all anonymous: when I call or text my riders, the phone traffic goes through a generic number provided by Uber; I never get your actual cell number, nor do you get mine.

5. You’re not really as funny as you think you are when you’re drunk. Don’t get me wrong, I love my drunk passengers; they’ve made the smart choice to grab their smartphone instead of their car keys, a decision I deeply respect. However, some take it way too far.

6. Tipping is not necessary, but is always very much appreciated. Unlike its competitor, Lyft, Uber doesn’t allow tipping through the app, so tips usually have to be handled in cash (unless the driver has the Square app and a card reader). The rest of the Uber transaction is cashless, so having to handle the tip is often a pain.

That said, if your driver had to drive a long way to pick you up, or if he provided you some extra service — such as running you through a drive-thru, or loading and unloading your bags on an airport trip — a couple of bucks is money well spent and much appreciated.

There are 42 comments.

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  1. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Rapporteur: You’re not really as funny as you think you are when you’re drunk.

    Install cameras and share, please.

    • #1
  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    An interesting and logically explained post, Rapporteur. Thanks.

    It’s interesting that new-ish developments like Lyft and Uber are classed as technology by most people. Certainly the enabling of so many people having cell phones is technology, but the real essence of making these sharing concepts work is not technological: it’s based on willingness for civilian non-cabbies to be part time drivers with their own cars, and public willingness to be passengers in a stranger’s private car. That’s not a “Eureka!” idea: it’s quite possible that people on either side of the equation could have had security concerns, trust issues and the like. But the public accepted it, so now it seems so obvious.

    • #2
  3. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I’m forwarding this to my daughter, a frequent Uber passenger. Thanks.

    • #3
  4. Herbert Inactive
    Herbert
    @Herbert

    Another tip. Use the cell service on your phone to order uber. If you use wifi, uber goes to where the wifi is located. In one of my early rides, the wifi was across the road…

    • #4
  5. captainpower Member
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    Jimmy Carter: Install cameras and share, please.

    I’m pretty sure that’s a joke (especially since it’s probably illegal? and could cost you your 5 star rating), but I think it would be cool to set up a dashcam.

    http://jalopnik.com/why-russians-are-obsessed-with-dash-cams-5918159

    • #5
  6. Dustoff Inactive
    Dustoff
    @Dustoff

    A bit slow on the uptake, nevertheless less I’ve used Uber twice recently and found the service incredibly useful, quick, reasonable and pleasant. Your comments are very helpful in understanding some of the less obvious details and protocol. Gracias.

    • #6
  7. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    This was super helpful.  As a government employee, we weren’t reimbursed for Uber, so it is only recently (after leaving the government) that I have used it.

    I have a couple of questions…

    1.  Can I use Uber to pick me up at the airport?  Would it come to the passenger pick-up place (like when my husband picks me up?)
    2. Can I pre-arrange a ride?  For example if I need to go to the airport at the crack of dawn?  I live out in the burbs, so I’m not sure whose near-by or awake at 4 a.m.

    Thanks for your post.  It’s quite useful

    • #7
  8. John Peabody Inactive
    John Peabody
    @JohnAPeabody

    I rarely carry cash; I was horrified when my first Uber ride ended and I  hopped out of the car, planning to leave a tip through the app.  Whoever you are, Mr. Uber, I would have tipped you, or at least told you I had no cash!!

    • #8
  9. Britanicus Member
    Britanicus
    @Britanicus

    John Peabody:I rarely carry cash; I was horrified when my first Uber ride ended and I hopped out of the car, planning to leave a tip through the app. Whoever you are, Mr. Uber, I would have tipped you, or at least told you I had no cash!!

    I thought that the driver’s tip was included in the fare… my God.. I’ve been stiffing my drivers for years! I’m sorry!

    • #9
  10. Melissa O'Sullivan Member
    Melissa O'Sullivan
    @melissaosullivan

    Uber is one of the best user- friendly new services out there.  I’ve used in multiple countries with the same outstanding result-interesting and courteous  drivers, a super clean vehicle that is far better than 99% of the yellow cabs I’ve had the displeasure to be seated in, a seamless payment procedure..thanks for the insight from the other side of the transaction, Rapporteur!

    T

    • #10
  11. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Having never used uber, what is the star rating system out of? If it is 5, then it is silly that the default should be 5 stars. Just more millennial grade inflation.

    • #11
  12. hokiecon Inactive
    hokiecon
    @hokiecon

    Thanks for sharing. Last Uber I took in New York City was a lifesaver, and much cheaper than a taxi. A 10-15 minute ride only cost me $9! Great service.

    • #12
  13. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Thanks for putting this up.  Though I’ve never needed Uber, I’ve been a huge fan of the concept and am glad to hear from anyone actually trying it out as a driver.

    • #13
  14. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Great post and great timing: I just completed my application to drive for Uber.

    • #14
  15. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    Z in MT: Having never used uber, what is the star rating system out of? If it is 5, then it is silly that the default should be 5 stars. Just more millennial grade inflation.

    There is a trend towards this ‘rating’ for everything from fast food service to auto repairs, and in each case while they beseech me to please fill out the survey, they add  ‘be sure to give 5 stars’.

    I told my mechanic that five stars is the impossible goal, that even very good service only gets a 4 from me.  He told me that a 4 results in a negative rating.

    If the folks in charge of these ratings had any interest in truly finding the level of satisfaction of service, they wouldn’t insist on essentially a ‘perfect 10’ for an average, everything is fine encounter.  If that is the case, how do i record something truly exceptional?

    • #15
  16. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    PHenry:

     

    There is a trend towards this ‘rating’ for everything from fast food service to auto repairs, and in each case while they beseech me to please fill out the survey, they add ‘be sure to give 5 stars’.

    I told my mechanic that five stars is the impossible goal, that even very good service only gets a 4 from me. He told me that a 4 results in a negative rating.

    If the folks in charge of these ratings had any interest in truly finding the level of satisfaction of service, they wouldn’t insist on essentially a ‘perfect 10’ for an average, everything is fine encounter. If that is the case, how do i record something truly exceptional?

    This is exactly the problem, if everything is rated 4.9 stars or better the rating system becomes meaningless. I really believe this unrealistic rating default comes from the millenial generation, which were probably the first to join and use these online rating services. It started in their schooling where A’s were common, B’s were passing, and C’s were failing. It has continued into the work force where they expect praise for mere competency.  I hope the generation following the millenials take a hard curmudgeonly turn, and starts rating their millenial Uber driver with 3’s for average service.

    (This comes from someone born in 1980 that is sometimes included in the millenial generation.)

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    PHenry: If the folks in charge of these ratings had any interest in truly finding the level of satisfaction of service, they wouldn’t insist on essentially a ‘perfect 10’ for an average, everything is fine encounter. If that is the case, how do i record something truly exceptional?

    Last time somebody handed out the evaluation forms and said anything less than a ten is a problem, I didn’t fill it out.  I figured if her organization isn’t serious about how they handle their evaluations, I’m not going to waste my time on them.

    • #17
  18. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    The Reticulator:

    PHenry: If the folks in charge of these ratings had any interest in truly finding the level of satisfaction of service, they wouldn’t insist on essentially a ‘perfect 10’ for an average, everything is fine encounter. If that is the case, how do i record something truly exceptional?

    Last time somebody handed out the evaluation forms and said anything less than a ten is a problem, I didn’t fill it out. I figured if her organization isn’t serious about how they handle their evaluations, I’m not going to waste my time on them.

    I never do the surveys, but if they’re going  to insist on top ratings being the only ones that matter, they should just go to a binary “thumbs up/Thumbs down” system.

    Also, everyone should watch the recent South Park episode about Yelp, “You’re not yelping”.

    • #18
  19. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    The first time I looked into using Uber (in NY last December) I found it more expensive than a taxi. This was mid-day going to the Newark airport. What gives? Is it supposed to be cheaper, a lot cheaper or just faster response?

    • #19
  20. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    A couple of questions, just cuz I’m curious:

    1. Is this a full-time gig, or something you’re doing on the side to bring in a few extra bucks?
    2. Approximately how much income have those 300 trips in three months brought you?
    • #20
  21. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Z in MT

    Having never used uber, what is the star rating system out of? If it is 5, then it is silly that the default should be 5 stars. Just more millennial grade inflation.

    I blame eBay and ratings such as “A++++++++++! Great eBayer!!!!!!!!”.

    We can complain all we want, but it’s rational economic behavior to take a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” approach.  I’m sure some academic has written a game theory paper on the subject.

    • #21
  22. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    PsychLynne:As a government employee, we weren’t reimbursed for Uber, so it is only recently (after leaving the government) that I have used it.

    I’m not surprised that a private enterprise-hating government would deny reimbursements for using Uber.

    • #22
  23. Rapporteur Coolidge
    Rapporteur
    @Rapporteur

    Herbert:Another tip.Use the cell service on your phone to order uber.If you use wifi,uber goes to where the wifi is located.In one of my early rides, the wifi was across the road…

    I really like this one! I never understood why some of the locations show up where they do, but Herbert has connected the dots brilliantly here.

    • #23
  24. Rapporteur Coolidge
    Rapporteur
    @Rapporteur

    captainpower:

    Jimmy Carter: Install cameras and share, please.

    I’m pretty sure that’s a joke (especially since it’s probably illegal? and could cost you your 5 star rating), but I think it would be cool to set up a dashcam.

    http://jalopnik.com/why-russians-are-obsessed-with-dash-cams-5918159

    Actually, after this (language warning), I’d be surprised if every Uber driver doesn’t have a dash cam.

    That video validated something I already do, especially with the well-lubricated pax — the car doesn’t move until I get a destination address, and Waze or Google Maps and I will take it from there. I don’t mind if the pax wants to overrule the directions, which I route through my car radio so everybody can hear it, but I want to have some idea of where we’re going before we leave.

    • #24
  25. Rapporteur Coolidge
    Rapporteur
    @Rapporteur

    Gary McVey:An interesting and logically explained post, Rapporteur. Thanks.

    It’s interesting that new-ish developments like Lyft and Uber are classed as technology by most people. Certainly the enabling of so many people having cell phones is technology, but the real essence of making these sharing concepts work is not technological: it’s based on willingness for civilian non-cabbies to be part time drivers with their own cars, and public willingness to be passengers in a stranger’s private car. That’s not a “Eureka!” idea: it’s quite possible that people on either side of the equation could have had security concerns, trust issues and the like. But the public accepted it, so now it seems so obvious.

    Indeed, but it wouldn’t have been possible without smartphones (a feature-rich sensor package that passengers and drivers are willing to pay for the privilege of having!) and Google Maps / Waze.

    • #25
  26. Rapporteur Coolidge
    Rapporteur
    @Rapporteur

    PsychLynne:This was super helpful. As a government employee, we weren’t reimbursed for Uber, so it is only recently (after leaving the government) that I have used it.

    I have a couple of questions…

    1. Can I use Uber to pick me up at the airport? Would it come to the passenger pick-up place (like when my husband picks me up?)
    2. Can I pre-arrange a ride? For example if I need to go to the airport at the crack of dawn? I live out in the burbs, so I’m not sure whose near-by or awake at 4 a.m.

    Thanks for your post. It’s quite useful

    1. It varies by city. Columbus has no restrictions at the moment on Uber pickups at the airport, but Phoenix and Chicago don’t allow it.
    2. Generally, you can’t prearrange a ride. However, if you find a driver you like, and you have their phone number, you can call and ask if they’re willing to pick you up at a specific time. Your driver should not go online in Uber, and you shouldn’t request a ride through Uber, until your driver arrives. Then, when you request the ride and your driver is online, s/he will be the closest driver and should get the ride request.
    • #26
  27. Rapporteur Coolidge
    Rapporteur
    @Rapporteur

    Britanicus:

    John Peabody:I rarely carry cash; I was horrified when my first Uber ride ended and I hopped out of the car, planning to leave a tip through the app. Whoever you are, Mr. Uber, I would have tipped you, or at least told you I had no cash!!

    I thought that the driver’s tip was included in the fare… my God.. I’ve been stiffing my drivers for years! I’m sorry!

    The company line is that tipping is not necessary, as the driver’s compensation is built into the cost structure. Obviously, both passengers and drivers would like to see that change.

    • #27
  28. Rapporteur Coolidge
    Rapporteur
    @Rapporteur

    Z in MT:Having never used uber, what is the star rating system out of? If it is 5, then it is silly that the default should be 5 stars. Just more millennial grade inflation.

    If a pax chooses to rate the driver, it’s on a scale of 1-5 stars. And yeah, I thought about grade inflation as well, but in this case, every Uber driver who’s not a complete disaster really does deserve a 5-star trophy!

    • #28
  29. Rapporteur Coolidge
    Rapporteur
    @Rapporteur

    skipsul:Thanks for putting this up. Though I’ve never needed Uber, I’ve been a huge fan of the concept and am glad to hear from anyone actually trying it out as a driver.

    I’m occasionally up in your neck of the woods, Skip — and my invite code for a new rider (or driver) at signup time is KWQR94PWUE, which is good for up to $20 off your first ride. Just sayin’ … 8^)

    • #29
  30. Rapporteur Coolidge
    Rapporteur
    @Rapporteur

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:Great post and great timing: I just completed my application to drive for Uber.

    Hope your experience is as positive as mine, Tom.

    • #30

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