What gets a low Uber passenger rating?
February 19, 2016 10:26 PM   Subscribe

My driver today was confused as why my rating was low (4.5). I take Uber a lot, at least 3-4 times a week. I'm sure I've cancelled a couple times or I've been late, but I've never done a horror story (trying to smoke, throwing up, etc.). I also never had a bad driver experience.

Only thing I can think of is that my card rejected Uber rides a couple of times and it was a couple days before I found out. Most my Uber is in NYC, so there's times where I've been stuck waiting for an elevator or have been late, but which I've apologized. In any case I don't really care what happened, does it impact anything? I always cringe win a driver asks me to rate 5, should I ask that too?
posted by geoff. to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
At one point recently, my rating was like a 4.5, 4.6 and a driver told me that was totally normal. I had no idea why mine was less than "perfect," either. Don't sweat it as long as Uber's working for you. I doubt that you've missed out on rides because drivers thought you were a POS.

Though yeah, making drivers wait is pretty sucky for them. Try not to do that. Apologizing doesn't make up for lost revenues.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:56 PM on February 19, 2016

Making the driver wait will deservingly get a less than 5 rating. They have places to be, and time is money for them. I Uber every time I'm in NYC, and I don't make the drivers wait for me. I usually wait to call them until I'm actually outside ready, or when I'm almost there. Sometimes they're just around the corner. Their job is to get to you as quickly as possible, and your job is to be ready when they arrive.

I've also had a few drivers tell me that they rate people who are friendly and talkative higher. I personally find that annoying because I'm an introvert and almost never want to talk to the driver. Also, I'd bet that there are drivers who do the opposite. So I basically ignore that; if they want to mark me down for it, fine. But it's a data point for you. I almost exclusively ride Uber Black or Uber Lux; I'm not sure if UberX drivers feel differently about this (I'd assume that Uber Black/Lux drivers are more accustomed to passengers who don't want to talk, but I have no data to back this up).

I know one time I got a low rating because the driver and I completely failed to communicate about where he was to pick me up. In my opinion, this is totally his fault. The pin was on the right spot, and when he called, I tried to give him directions, but he didn't speak great English and it was noisy, so we had a hard time. He was clearly pissed off when he picked me up. I gave him a low-ish rating and I'm sure he gave me one too. I suppose I could retaliate by complaining, but it didn't seem worth the trouble.

My rating was 4.7 last time I checked.
posted by primethyme at 11:38 PM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

I inquired to Uber about the low rating of a driver who was exceptional to me. I asked how the rating system worked, and here's what they said...
xxx (Uber)
Jan 18, 20:12


xxxx here, stepping in. Thanks for getting back. I appreciate your time.

I completely understand your concern about ratings. If you ever feel that a driver-partner was rated unfairly, while it can be frustrating, it will not have significant impact on their overall rating or account standing.

Rating is the mathematical average of the driver-partners last 500 rated trips. Cancelled trips or trips that were not rated by riders have no effect. As a result of this being the average of so many trips, a single or even a few bad ratings will not have a major impact on rating, especially as driver-partners continue to complete trips.

This works both ways. If a driver-partner is consistently providing a high level of service, the rating system actually serves to protect them as it provides more information to Uber about quality. This means that a single complaint or ‘bad week’ for that driver will not unfairly impact our view of him/her. It’s also a two way street. Allowing partners to rate each rider also ensures all members of our community meet a high standard.

On the other hand, if a driver-partner is providing a below-acceptable level of service, over time this will show in the ratings and will let us know that we need to get in touch to see where there is room for improvement.

Hope this helps. If there's anything else that I can help you with, please let me know.

Kind regards,

posted by nickrussell at 3:45 AM on February 20, 2016

Uber driver here. Nthing those who've said that 4.6 isn't that low. I wouldn't think twice about picking up a passenger with that rating, as opposed to a 4 or lower. As far as why that's your rating-when you say "I'm sure I've cancelled a couple times or I've been late", please understand that your driver does not get paid for the time and distance they spend driving to pick you up, or the time they spent idling outside waiting for you. It depends on the passenger, but I absolutely have given a lower rating to those who cancel or make me wait a long time (5 minutes or more) and cause me to lose money. In the future, should you be late, tipping your driver will tip the scales in your favor for a good rating. I am always so delighted to get a tip that unless said tip is accompanied by egregious sexual harassment (as a female driver, this is commonplace) I always give the passenger 5 stars.

As an aside, Uber etiquette for all: please tip your driver and rate them fairly, keeping in mind that if we dip below a 4.5 we are deactivated immediately. I think a lot of people choose a 4 star rating for a good driver because they imagine that 5-star service involves something above and beyond (rolling out a red carpet? a foot massage? champagne?).
posted by sparringnarwhal at 5:44 AM on February 20, 2016 [10 favorites]

Like other have said, the occasional cancellation or making the driver wait will ding you.

Also, a few months ago I was taking an Uber and the driver commented that she was surprised by my relatively low rating (then also 4.5) since I was perfectly pleasant to her. She said that some drivers really don't like quiet passengers (which I usually am) and rate them poorly as a result. Since then I have made an effort to make some small talk in the car, and my rating has gone back up. (So that's at least two data points, mine and primethyme's, suggesting that gregariousness may positively affect your rider rating.)

As an aside, Uber etiquette for all: please tip your driver...

With all due respect, Uber makes it pretty clear that tipping is *not* standard/expected. The fact that there is no in-app way to tip makes this pretty clear, as does their policy that drivers only accept a cash tip after reminding the rider that tipping is 100% optional (source). So if you really expect a tip and think that Uber riders who don't tip you are rude or violating some unspoken etiquette rule, you might want to consider driving for Lyft instead.

posted by schroedingersgirl at 6:42 AM on February 20, 2016 [25 favorites]

A driver recently ask me, rather aggressively, why my rating was so low. The only reason I could imagine is that my elderly mother uses my account for very short trips to and from the grocery store. But if anyone has to help her with bags or getting in and out of the car she always gives them a few bucks in cash to thank them for their personal help and make up for the short distances. We rely on uber a great deal in my household. I was very concerned about the low rating, until the driver started pushing Lyft for whom he also drove.
posted by ezust at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2016

schroedingersgirl, I never said that I thought passengers who don't tip are rude. I do think a lot of passengers are mistaken about how much money Uber drivers make (not a lot). While official company policy may be to reluctantly accept cash tips, Uber is not exactly a stand-up employer, and all the drivers I know gratefully accept tips. I would absolutely prefer driving for Lyft, but that is not an option in my area.

I think that the fear of drivers giving passengers a low rating for being quiet is overblown. It seems to me that passengers fall into one of two categories: chatty (often they will sit in the front seat) or quiet and introverted. As long as you are reasonably polite, I will give you a 5 star rating. Trust me, when you have had passengers do things like proposition you for sexual favors, swear at you when you refuse to carry more passengers than your car can hold, throw up in your car, etc. etc. you are not going to rate someone low for being quiet, as long as you are treated with a modicum of dignity.
posted by sparringnarwhal at 7:15 AM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I had a 4.5 before I realized that when the drivers were calling my cell, they were being told my number was non-functional (thought it was). It took a few calls to my cell company and Uber to get it sorted out, but my scores have been up ever since.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 7:19 AM on February 20, 2016

How do you see your rating? I just poked around in my app a bit and can't find it.
posted by pearlybob at 10:20 AM on February 20, 2016

Never mind. I found it. I'm a 5, but I'm a big talker.
posted by pearlybob at 10:21 AM on February 20, 2016

The reason for a 4.5 rating is that you do not give them tips, though tipping is completely against the Uber policy and their entire cashless transaction model. I used to use Uber, was a model passenger, and discovered I had a 4.5 rating. I did not tip because Uber said it wasn't necessary. Then a driver called my attention to my low rating, and offered to give me a high rating, angling for a tip. That was when the penny dropped for me. I stopped using Uber that very day, emailed them to let them know why they would never again get my business, and switched to Lyft. I always leave a tip, and have a 5.0 Lyft rating. Coincidence?
posted by Atrahasis at 1:06 PM on February 21, 2016

Response by poster: I had a 4.5 before I realized that when the drivers were calling my cell, they were being told my number was non-functional (thought it was). It took a few calls to my cell company and Uber to get it sorted out, but my scores have been up ever since.

This! I changed it and my rating has gone way up. Keep in mind by waiting I don't think I've ever been more than 5 minutes. Its mostly not being outside as the driver pulls up. So I doubt this is the issue.

Also as a heavy user of Uber, cancellations will inevitably happen. It is life after all, I hope and assume this is built into their rating system. I'd rather pay a fee and compensate a driver, it is unfair if they don't get compensated.
posted by geoff. at 4:44 PM on March 4, 2016

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