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I had a mixture of good and bad experiences when using Uber on a recent visit back to Los Angeles and one of the things that really stuck out for me was how quickly I stopped having much faith in the ratings I was seeing in the app.
If the internet is to be believed Uber drivers live and die by their ratings so they’re incentivized to do their job politely, efficiently and safely.
This is what Uber has to say about low driver ratings…
…and this is what RideSharingDriver.com has to say when speaking directly to drivers:
Passengers rate drivers on a five-star scale, and if your driver rating slips below 4.6, you can be deactivated from the Uber platform.
There seems to be a bit of a difference between what Uber says and what RideSharingDriver has on its website (Uber doesn’t mention a specific rating number anywhere) but the gist is the same – if a driver’s rating drops below what Uber considers to be acceptable a driver can lose his/her job.
Unfortunately, because the internet tells us that Uber drivers can lose their jobs if their rating falls too low, there appears to be a significant number of people who don’t give their Uber drivers honest ratings. There appears to be some sort of sympathy factor built in and I just don’t understand this.
There are a number of well-known bloggers/writers who admit to giving drivers 5 star ratings when they probably didn’t deserve them and who go on to admit that they only drop the rating down when something egregious happens….and they’re clearly not alone.
On the last ride of my recent visit back to LA my Uber driver clearly did not know how to drive a car – he was terrible.
This wasn’t a case of a ride just being bad, it was a case of a driver who had no clue about lane discipline, who didn’t understand how the brakes on his car worked and who didn’t understand that accelerating up to a car that’s applying its brakes is a less than safe thing to do.
Amazingly this driver has had 111 reviews calling his service “excellent” and had 78 five-star reviews at the time of my ride…..
…and what blew my mind was that this guy had an Uber rating of 4.83!
Based on what I witnessed, that rating has no basis in reality.
Had the errors he made on my trip been infrequent or possibly down to a lack of concentration I could put my experience down to a one-off and say that I just got unlucky (we can all have bad days) …but that wasn’t the case.
His driving was atrocious for almost the full 30 minutes I spent in the car with him and it wasn’t one or two things that he did wrong…I lost count!
He. Could. Not. Drive.
I could cite any number of other experiences I’ve had with Uber drivers where their service bore little resemblance to the Uber rating shown in their profile (drivers who didn’t know how to use their own phone, drivers driving dangerously, drivers taking routes that I know to be a long way around etc…) but this was the most recent example and one of the more annoying.
Stop Giving False Ratings – You’re Not Helping
I have no issue giving Uber drivers scores below 5 stars if their service isn’t up to scratch (the drivers are quick enough to score riders under 5 stars so fair is fair) and I genuinely do not care if the driver’s right to drive is apparently at risk.
Why should I care? If the driver’s livelihood is at risk it’s up to him/her to drive safely and to provide a competent service. It’s not incumbent on me to make excuses, look the other way and give a falsely high rating.
Don’t get me wrong…..I’m not going to give a driver a score under 5 stars because he/she doesn’t want to chat or for something equally insignificant but I’m definitely going to penalize them if their driving is poor or if they appear not to know what they’re doing.
Based on my experiences there are Uber drivers out there who (a) have scores way higher than their level of service or driving ability deserves and (b) who shouldn’t be drivers in the first place….and I lay the blame for this squarely at the feet of riders who are scared to score drivers appropriately.
All I heard from Uber drivers in LA was how many of them there are and how hard it can be to make a living because of the competition. I’ve heard the same thing in Palm Springs, the same thing in Sydney and the same thing all around London too.
Well, perhaps if riders actually scored drivers more honestly we’d weed out the useless drivers, there would be a drop in overall driver numbers and the good drivers would actually be able to make a solid living out of their efforts (perhaps we could then put an end to this tipping nonsense too).
The drivers left would actually know how to drive, would provide a safe and competent service and deserve what monetary rewards they get.
Wouldn’t that be a win for everyone who deserved it?