My first few days as an Uber driver returned the expected result that all my passengers had rated me as a 5. I knew they would because why wouldn’t they? My car is almost brand new, very clean on the inside and out and I’m a very chill, nice guy. I also know well the area where I drive and I rarely take a bad route. I greet them cheerfully. I provide water in all the passenger seats. And I can talk or not talk to them depending on their mood. You have to assess the passenger’s mood. Some people very obviously do not want to talk when they get into your car and with those passengers I keep pretty quiet, other than the initial greetings.
So for the first week I was proud to have a unanimous 5-star rating! But something happened in the second week. I checked in with my ratings at the end of a “shift” and was stunned to see that it read 4.5! What in the world happened? No doubt in my mind that the Uber computer must have screwed up. I clicked on each trip’s detail section and saw that under “Client Rating” every passenger (or so it appeared) had rated me a 5.
A 4.5 – that’s well below the 4.7 that Uber requires its drivers to
maintain. After giving all of what I thought was this great service, I
was in danger of being eliminated!
A few hours after I checked the rating the first time, I checked it
again. I hadn’t taken any trips in the meantime. The rating had
changed to a 4.7. Ah, so that was it – their computer was screwing
things up with the ratings. Another hour later I checked again (again
with no trips in between) and it had dropped down to 4.6! How could the ratings change when you hadn’t made any additional trips for more than a day?
It turns out that there is no time limit your passengers have to rate you. They can rate you anytime up until the next time they take a trip – which might be three months later for all we know! But the next time they take a trip they’ll be forced to leave a rating for their last trip – if they haven’t done so already. That’s why you may see your ratings change even if you haven’t done any driving for a while. This seems pretty unfair actually because how can passengers be expected to remember how their last trip went if they don’t rate it until maybe a week, two weeks, three weeks or maybe even three months later? Lyft gives passengers 24 hours to leave a rating. And if they don’t – then they don’t get to. That seems much more fair.
On New Year’s Day, 2014, after driving all night the night before, I
checked my rating again. It had risen to 4.7. But, when I clicked on
the detail of some of the trips, I noticed something very disturbing.
Under that section called “Client Rating:” for several of my trips it
said, “Driver failed to leave a passenger rating.” Huh? Not possible.
You have to leave a passenger rating when you end the trip or else you can’t move on to the next step on the driver app and make yourself available again.
But, what piqued my curiosity is that this message seemed to indicate that the “Client Rating” was not the client’s rating of the driver, but the driver’s rating of the client! Which would explain why they were all 5’s. Because I had rated all my clients at 5. (Why wouldn’t I? They all paid, they didn’t get into fights and nobody had thrown up in the car).
By the next day, all these error messages had disappeared and had been replaced with 5’s – which is what I had rated all my passengers. Since the error messages disappeared, I knew something was going on with their computer systems. Which left me unsure as to what “Client Rating” really means. Did it mean the rating the client gives the driver, or the rating the driver gives the client? It turns out that it means the rating the driver gives the client. Which makes you wonder why they don’t call it “Driver Rating”! And it makes you wonder why they bother to even tell us – since we already know how we rated each passenger.
There was one client with whom I had accidentally made a wrong turn and ended up going two blocks out of the way. But I told him I would turn off the meter before we arrived at his destination. And I turned off the meter 4 blocks before we arrived. I’m pretty sure he would have given me a 10 if he could have, because he was very happy about that.
Other than that, I haven’t had a single client so far express even the slightest bit of dissatisfaction, so I still have no idea whether the average Uber is reporting is accurate or not. I’ll assume that it is and that maybe sometimes people just give you a 4-star rating because they figure you were pretty good and they see 4 stars as fine.
I’ve done some off and on freelance driving for a traditional car service and I know all of my customers have reported back to them that everything was fine. That’s why they keep using me. But it’s possible that if these same customers had been given a 1-5 star rating system to use, they may have just tapped on the 4 or the 5 thinking that either was equally good. But it sure brings down your average when they hit the 4!