Floyd is seventeen years old and despite his family moving from the East Nineties in Manhattan to East 72nd Street, he still goes back to his old neighborhood to get his haircut. When the time comes, he takes Uber to see his stylist Sandy and afterwards takes another Uber home. It sounds normal except for the fact that Floyd is a cat.
Floyd’s owner Peter has a 4.3 Uber rating and these feline commutes may be part of the reason for his below average record. “I call Uber and drop Floyd off at Sandy’s in the morning. When they’re finished, I call Uber and Sandy puts Floyd in his carrier and sticks him in the car. When the driver gets to my building, he hands Floyd over to my doorman who sticks him in the elevator where my live-in nanny is waiting for him in the hallway to take him home. It’s such a New York thing to do but it saves me a lot of time. I get a lot of ribbing from my colleagues for doing it so who knows what the Uber drivers think of the whole thing,” Peter says.
Uber now operates in 581 cities and while it’s common knowledge passengers rate drivers on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, it’s a lesser-known fact that drivers rate passengers in the same fashion. TheRideShareGuy.com, which is the largest third-party entity for rideshare drivers, states that drivers must maintain a 4.6 rating to stay active on the platform. Low ratings could result in temporary deactivation or loss of a job. Passengers with below a 4.6 rating may experience longer waits although it may appear there are drivers near by and in some cases, drivers will take one look at your rating and decide not to pick you up. San Francisco-based Uber driver and Head of Operations for TheRideShareGuy.com, Christian Perea has logged seven thousand rides in the past three years and says he refuses to pick up passengers with less than a 4.6 rating.
As for his below average rating, Peter says “I don’t give a flying ^%#$%# about my 4.3 rating. There are so many Ubers huddled in my neighborhood all the time all I have to do is hit the elevator button in my building, order Uber and by the time I’m downstairs there’s a car waiting for me. Now if I lived on Pleasant Avenue and had a 3.2 rating, I’d do everything I could to protect my rating but in this neighborhood where there are tons of cars waiting around, my rating doesn’t seem to affect me at all. There is always someone willing to pick me up.”
Not everyone agrees with Peter though. Between episodes of Odd Mom Out, Black Mirror and the recent Saturday Night Live skit “5 Star Rating” featuring actor Aziz Ansari, passenger ratings are a hot topic and people do seem to care about theirs and in some cases other people’s ratings too. For instance Elite Daily, the news platform for millennials recently shared an article suggesting people should be required to put their Uber rating on their dating profile because it’s a telltale sign of how someone treats people. Friends and roommates compare scores and Twitter is filled with #uberrating brags and sob stories and passengers like former Disney cast member Ellen Woods of St. Louis says “I’m a little bit offended that I’ve got a 4.58. I do worry about what people think of me. I’m pretty sure my rating went down after I had a group of six with me at the end of a night of partying and I kept insisting that the driver blast One Direction.”
According to information shared by Uber, both drivers and passengers will never know who specifically gave them each rating and since Uber does not provide drivers with formal rating guidelines, everything is up for interpretation. An Uber spokesperson had this to say, "We asked Uber driver-partners what earns riders a 5-star rating and some of the tips they offered include: being polite, making sure you're at the pick-up location you requested in the app and being on time."
What pisses off one driver might not bother another but there are a few things they all pretty much agree on.
Don’t be a Drunken Mess
“It’s a wonder how some drunk people can manage to operate their phone and order a car yet they don’t remember where they live,” says Perea. “I’ve had to call an ambulance for people that lose consciousness in my back seat or drop to the ground like a bag of rocks when they get out of the car. I make like $14 an hour, that’s not enough at 2:00 am for me to be responsible for you not dying. I will definitely give you a bad rating for making me deal with all that. Giving a low rating sends a warning message to other drivers, you know a heads up,” Perea explains. He says he’s issued about twenty 1-star ratings, mainly to drunk or rude people or a combination of the two.
“Shockingly no one has ever puked inside my car. If they get out of the car to puke or puke out the window, it’s an automatic 3 star rating. I had a guy once who was real quiet and suddenly asked me to pull over right away. I did and he got out, he puked real quick and got back in without saying a word. That is a 5 star throw-up in my opinion,” Perea says laughing.
Teajai Kimsey, who goes by the screen name Uberg1rl in the rideshare Facebook group she manages has been driving in Wichita, Kansas since 2015 and has had her share of drunk passengers, some whom proposition her. “One passenger invited me into his home for a scotch and another time a guy said can I see your boobs? I just said I don’t think so, not today and kept driving.” Once she made that drop she gave the guy a 1-star rating. “Giving someone one star lowers their overall rating and warns other drivers to be on the lookout”, says Kimsey. “There are a lot of lemons out there but you also get lemonade, “she says. “When the call comes in it’s like a shot of dopamine. 99% of the time it’s a great experience and you meet someone new and learn something new but sometimes you have to deal with the inebriated passengers who cop an attitude when you don’t know where they live. I don’t have ESP,” she says.
In an effort to avoid the drunks, Kimsey now does more morning pick-ups and refers to herself as the “Morning After Girl” and the “Walk of Shame” driver because she often picks up women reeking of booze still wearing last night’s outfit.
According to Uber’s website, vomiting due to excessive alcohol consumption is grounds to close your account.
Don’t Keep Your Driver Waiting
With all the notifications from Uber about when your car will arrive, there’s really no reason to keep your driver waiting but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Steffanie Rivers is a flight attendant who’s been driving part-time for Uber in Dallas for eighteen months. On rest days from the airline Rivers drives 12-15 hours a week but never at night in an effort to avoid the drunken passengers. Since it’s a side gig she’s not concerned about passenger ratings like many drivers. “People ask me if I look at their ratings before deciding to pick them up but I don’t. The call comes in and everything happens so fast I press the button and accept the job before someone else does. If you order a car, be out there and ready. Don’t have the driver wait more than two minutes. I once had a pickup during rush hour at the Crowne Plaza and the guy gets in and tells me a few more people are coming downstairs. Three minutes goes by, then it’s five minutes and we are sitting in a hotel driveway with the Bellman blowing his little whistle at me so I start maneuvering and going around the block. We keep riding around and the guy keeps calling his friends asking where they are. Finally they jump in the car and start explaining why they were late to him but don’t say a single word to me. I gave that a guy one star.”
Make Small Talk
Perea suggests when you get in the car “Say hello, make some small talk, you know acknowledge they are a person instead of getting in the car and looking at your phone the entire time. Some of these drivers are in their cars fifty hours a week, treat them like a human.” One Park Slope resident and mother of three with a dismal 4.29 rating says “It’s generally faster to take the subway but I use Uber so I can stay above ground and be on conference calls. “I guess I’m not the friendliest, she admits because I’m either talking on the phone or yelling at my kids in the car. Now that she sees how her behavior has affected her rating she says “From now on I’ll be more aware of the etiquette and say hello but I’m not going to have a heart to heart with the driver and I’m probably still going to yell at my kids. The other day my husband and I were in a car and were actually having a conversation with the driver and then he starting talking about how he’s a Trump supporter. My husband gave him a one star rating.”
Don’t Slam the Door
“Most people are used to Crown Victoria cabs but when you slam the door of a Prius made out of aluminum and tin, it’s not the same,” shares Perea. “Drivers hate that”.
According to Boca Raton Uber driver Mike Craig, a member of the Facebook group Worst Uber Passengers Ever “Sometimes they slam the door so hard, the stars fall right off their rating.”
Another member of the same Facebook group is Russell Weaver who claims,
“You can get sick and you're still getting 5 stars. Slam my door and you’ll get between 1 and 3 stars.” One Tampa driver named Calvin even suggested only half-joking that Uber institute a hard slam fee to help minimize the number of passengers who slam car doors.
At the end of the day, drivers want to get their passengers to the right place with minimum hassle and passengers want the convenience of a car on demand.
“Uber is amazing. There are very few situations in my life these days that can’t be taken of by just saying relax, I’ve got this. I’ll call an Uber. Uber has saved my ass a bunch of times, my 94 year-old grandmother’s ass, my dad’s ass and even Floyd my cat’s shaven ass,” laughs Peter who for now is still able to get picked up despite his 4.3 rating.