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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.