Don’t Get Banished from Uber! A Guide for Passengers

Uber drivers love nothing more than slapping at nasty passengers with the passenger rating system. How can passengers avoid getting spanked with a 1 star rating and getting banished from Uber? Charles St. Anthony serves you the dirty details.

I often get asked by passengers what they can do to raise their Star Rating, which is situated below their photo in the passenger app. This is the Uber GPA for passengers.

Trust me, Uber and Lyft drivers love nothing more than being petty and downgrading their worst passengers (at least I did). And I downgraded bad passengers gleefully―why let some other Uber driver have to slog through a long ride with someone who was rude, dirty or insufferable?

What can you―as a passenger―do to avoid getting slapped with one star and becoming an Uber Exile? A life banned from Uber is a sad existence. While driving with Lyft, I could spot an Uber Exile from miles away.

Should I pick up a Lyft passenger with a fussy attitude, unpleasant demeanor, and passenger rating below 4.8, I would surmise they had been excommunicated from Uber and only riding the Pink Mustache out of necessity rather than choice.

Below are some tips to how you can game the rideshare world and be an All Star Passenger.

Avoiding a Bad Uber and Lyft Rating

I think the easiest way to raise your rating is to tip in cash.

Lyft and Uber won’t tell the driver if you tipped in the app until after all the credit processing is finished.  That means drivers dole out the passenger rating before the driver knows if you tipped or not.

Do you know how many stars the passengers who tipped me in cash received? All 5 Stars. Something about the gesture and the tactile feel of cash money in my pocket necessarily raised my spirits. So what if you were “nice” to the driver? “Nice” ain’t gonna pay my bills. T-Mobile doesn’t accept “warm fuzzies” in exchange for their unlimited data plan. I expect dinero, por favor.

Also, it pains me to say this, but just be a decent person.

Seasoned Uberistas will know how to read passengers, so it’s OK if you don’t want to talk. Just chill while watching Netflix on your phone in the back. But, if you couldn’t be bothered to say “hello” or “thank you” prepare get a 1 Star lump of coal in your stocking.

We all have bad days, but if you are feeling testy, remember you are in an Uber driver’s property. They are providing you a service at will, and to people who were rude on the phone before I even picked them up, they simply got ditched. “Bye Felicia!” I’d cackle as I sped off.

Related: Uber Passengers Begin to Feel the Sting of Low Ratings

Also, there are people who think they can be just as sarcastic and snarky to their driver as they are to their close friends. Well guess what, heffa? This is my party Corolla, and I’m doing you a favor by ferrying your entitled keister around on a weekend night.

Though I love a spicy joke, if you are directing that sarcasm at me, I’m going to flunk your star rating. In a society where many passengers perceive drivers as being in a lower social class, I felt many passengers looked down their nose at me or treated me disrespectfully. In those cases I gleefully dished them one star with a snicker while imagining them taking their next ride to the airport in a dingy yellow cab. Bon voyage!

Other quibbles that drivers feel varying degrees of sensitivity about include…

  • eating in the car.
  • PDA.
  • loud phone conversations.

Drivers almost unanimously issue demerits for keeping them waiting more than a few minutes at the request spot. Also, if you are taking drugs or offering the driver illegal drugs, then you might be pressing your luck against a 1 Star Whammy. And trust me, drivers that drive at night get offered drugs.

While I drove for rideshare passengers offered me Molly, Tina, Belinda and several other drugs named after ‘80s celebrities. I’m too dainty for prison life, so I politely declined on all counts. It didn’t bother me personally, but many drivers would probably just ding you with 1 Star.

Finally, you should avoid vomiting in the car if you can. That would be a big help. Though Uber saddles passengers with a hefty cleaning charge in the event of chunks blown, I have been forever scarred with the aftermath of a bachelorette party that involved sangria and sushi.

Wrapping Up

Soon the self-driving revolution will begin, and it remains to be seen if the profession of “driver” will exist at all. I imagine for the time being, we will still need a “driving attendant” of some sort while the legalities of the new industry get sorted out.

But take heed! Learn how to maintain and polish your shiny star rating. Or prepare to be banished to Island of Uber Violators for life! Hankering to ride a musty and decrepit yellow cab again? Nah, didn’t think so.

So pony up some cash tips, say “please” and “thank you,” try not to vomit, and watch your Star Rating soar like a great condor. Or at least hit 5 Stars.

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Uber Diva


Wit and humorist. Charles St. Anthony graduated from Columbia University with a degree in East Asian Studies. He lived in Japan for 12 years, and has released several well-received memoirs including San Francisco Daddy and Uber Diva. He now works and resides in Los Angeles.