Why Do Passengers Give 1-Star Ratings? And How to Improve Your Ratings

How to Avoid 1 Star Ratings

No matter how good you think a ride went, receiving a rating from a passenger can be an anxiety-ridden experience. Even if you get a 5-star rating, the anticipation can be stressful.

Of course, receiving a 5-star review feels great. But… the same cannot be said for low ratings.

Receiving a 1-star rating after a trip can be frustrating, and in extreme cases these types of ratings can even be a career-ender if you receive too many.

In these unfortunate circumstances, drivers may find themselves analyzing each step that occurred throughout the ride, hoping to pinpoint the moment that warranted a 1-star rating.

Despite this earnest effort, sometimes the reason for receiving such a low rating is not revealed.

To reduce the odds of this happening to you, we’ll explain what likely went through your passenger’s mind while rating the trip. Then we’ll go over how you can enhance your service to ensure that you are more likely to get a high rating every time.

Let’s get started.


How Does the Uber Rating System Work?

According to Uber, “Riders likely consider a variety of factors when selecting a star rating, including navigation, vehicle cleanliness, and their communication with you.

When riders choose to leave a rating, which is not required, they’re sharing how they felt about the overall Uber experience you provided.”

If a rider goes out of their way to rate you, the chances are that something significant occurred during the ride.

This can range from road conditions to an unkempt vehicle. Passengers are likely going to be understanding about most issues. Having said that, if they feel that the driver could have prevented a problem, such as cleaning out the vehicle, they are likely going to rate poorly.

How Are Ratings Calculated?

Each rating you receive is added up and then divided by the number of rides you have completed. For example, if you have 250 5-star ratings and 250 4-star ratings, your current rating should be about 4.5 stars.

This standard measurement works on a rotating 500-ride window with Uber. As in, only the 500 most recently-rated trips are calculated into your current rating.  Lyft looks at only the last 100 most recently-rated trips, so it takes fewer trips to improve your rating with Lyft.

This may be good news for Lyft drivers who made a lot of mistakes when they were a rookie. But it’s bad news for Uber drivers since that rating history goes much deeper.

There are several trip types that aren’t factored into drivers’ ratings.  They include cancelled trips, unaccepted trip requests and unrated trips.

How Does a 1-Star Rating Affect Your Overall Rating?

As you may recall, new driver-partners start out with a perfect 5.0 rating. Doing so gives everyone an equal chance to get started in the industry.

After a few trips someone will eventually give you 4 stars which will result in a lower rating.  This is normal. But if it continues to decline after you’ve done around 100 trips, then you may have a problem. Depending on the quality of service you provide, a driver’s rating can change from day to day. If this happens, try to focus on improving your service.

You can expect wide fluctuations in your rating during your first 50-100 rated trips. After you complete 100 trips, each trip will have a smaller influence on your overall average.  So your rating should begin to stabilize and not fluctuate as much.

Along the way, big changes in your overall rating will likely decrease. As the number of ride requests you complete increases, so too will the number of ratings you receive.

Due to this, the good news is that one low-rated trip will not have a significant impact on your overall rating.  The bad news is, highly-rated trips won’t have a significant impact on your overall rating either. So, if your rating is low, it will be more difficult to improve it.  But if it is high, it will conversely be difficult to lower it.

One thing you should be aware of though, is that Uber and Lyft don’t just look at your overall average rating.  They may be forced to look at your most recent 10-20 trips if you start getting a bunch of bad ratings in a row.

For instance, if you have a very high 4.95 rating and you suddenly get five 1-star ratings in a row – even though they don’t bring your overall average down much – you can expect to be contacted by Uber or Lyft to see what is going on.  You could be deactivated even with a high rating, if several riders report serious problems with you in a short period of time.

Another thing to note is the duration of time riders have to submit a rating. Ratings can be submitted up to 30 days after a trip was completed.  Because of you may notice that your rating drops on a day when you did not even work.

What Happens if Your Rating Falls Too Low?

In a perfect world, you should be able to provide a high level of service on every ride.  But that’s not always the case.

Lower average ratings will cause Uber and Lyft to send you fewer ride requests and they will eventually lead to deactivation.

Drivers with ratings that are approaching this range will start to receive notifications from Uber and Lyft.

These alerts will warn you that your rating is getting close to the deactivation threshold, and they may give you tips on how to improve your service.

You will be given an unspecified amount of time to improve your ratings and if you don’t, you will eventually be deactivated.

This is discussed at length in their terms of service drivers agree to upon signing up. Deactivation is a last resort, but once it is invoked, it may be irreversible.

Uber and Lyft will sometimes give you a second chance to let you improve your service after deactivation and if you prove that you are able to improve they will let you back on.

What Happens When You Give Riders Low Ratings?

On the other end of the spectrum are driver ratings where drivers rate passengers.

By rating passengers, drivers can inform each other of potentially annoying or even dangerous riders. The passenger rating system keeps the industry safe since passengers are more likely to be respectful if they want to continue using the service. If you see a passenger with a very low rider rating, you might want to consider declining the ride even though it might hurt your acceptance rate.

When should you give a one-star passenger rating? If a passenger is rude or leaves a mess in your car the most common reasons.

All ratings are anonymous, so your identity is protected.

As drivers, we appreciate that the rating system is a two-way street. Good drivers and good passengers should share a mutual respect. Being able to provide positive or negative feedback in the driver app is a great way to make sure passengers maintain that level of respect.

Why Do Passengers Give 1-Star Rating?

Although poor ratings may be due to uncontrollable circumstances, there are plenty of avoidable issues that can lead to a 1-star rating. One unfortunate part of any rating system is that many users are “all or nothing.” Meaning that rides are either rated a 5 or a 1, with few people using numbers in the middle. So in order to receive a 5-star rating, don’t give your passengers anything to complain about. Because even if you provide a good ride but make one minor mistake, you good get a low ride review.

To make sure that you have all your bases covered as a rideshare driver, check out the list below.

Dirty Car

No one likes to get into a dirty car or one that smells bad  – plain and simple. To avoid having to deal with this issue, avoid smoking cigarettes in the vehicle. Furthermore, you should only vape outside of the car. You don’t want this smell to linger on your clothes either. Yes, it’s your car, but if you’re going to be transporting people all around, make sure it smells clean.

Sometimes you’ll carry drunk passengers who will leave a terrible smell in your car.  Right after you drop them off, you should open your windows and let your car air out while you’re waiting for or on your way to your next pick-up.

And don’t forget to clean up the clutter!  We’ve seen drivers who leave all their personal belongings in their cars.  That’s a big no-no. When you’re driving, keep it professional. Leave your personal belongings at home.

Reckless or Dangerous Driving

If a passenger feels as though their life is at risk, they are going to let you know about it. They may not confront you, but they will likely tell you in the ratings.

There is a difference between defensive driving and reckless driving. If you must swerve to avoid an accident, the passenger will likely be thankful you did.

But if you’re weaving in and out of traffic, that is an issue.

For examples of what irresponsible driving looks like, check the list below:

  • Running red lights
  • Missing a stop sign
  • Tailgating or driving too close to the vehicle in front of you
  • Road rage
  • Honking more than necessary
  • Hitting pedestrians

You Made Your Riders Feel Uncomfortable

Making a rider feel awkward is a sure-fire way to get a low rating.  There are many ways drivers can do this and usually they are completely unaware that they’re doing it.

A driver who inadvertently makes riders uncomfortable is usually the last person to know about it.  The best way to tell if you’re making riders uncomfortable is if your ratings keep going lower and you can find no other apparent reason for it.

If your car is clean, you drive safely, and you get passengers to their destinations without any problems, but your ratings are still going lower, it’s probably because you are in some way making them feel uncomfortable.

Since they’re not going to tell you what you’re doing wrong, it might be helpful to get another driver to ride with you and pretend to be your passenger.  Get him or her to tell you what you might be doing wrong.

But don’t just ask any driver to help you with this.  Find a driver with really high ratings – preferably 4.90 or above.  Those drivers will be the best qualified to help you out.

There are locations around the world where drivers have taken advantage of passengers – even going so far as physically attacking them.

It is of the utmost importance that you avoid making your passengers feel uncomfortable in any way.

Examples of things you should never do:

  • Physically touching riders
  • Hitting on or flirting with riders
  • Raising your voice in an aggressive manner
  • Verbally insulting riders
  • Arguing with riders
  • Yelling at riders for no reason
  • Using the GPS to “run the meter”

Empathize with  your passengers. Think about how you would feel if you were in their position and they in yours. If you would not have given yourself a five-star rating for the service you provided, chances are they are not going to either.

In general, your riders want to enjoy the ride and get to their destination while feeling safe. It takes a lot of courage to get into a stranger’s vehicle, especially for a woman. So, keep that in mind and do everything you can to make your passengers feel safe when they’re with you. And sometimes doing everything you can means giving a simple, friendly greeting when they get in your car and then not saying much else for the rest of the trip.  Sometimes less is more!

How to Get a 5-Star Rating for Every Trip

The best way to get better ratings is to give more rides and receive more 5-star reviews for future rides. With Lyft, you can increase your ratings quicker (since they only look at the 100 most recent trips. With Uber, it will take longer because they look at the 500 most recent trips.

Let’s go over how to get a 5-star rating for every trip. To do this, prepare yourself mentally before your next outing by reviewing the following tips.

Look at your current rating. Reflect on the last few rides you completed. Were they positive? How could you have made them better?

Use these tips as an improvement guide.

  • Acknowledge your mistakes and commit to reducing or eliminating them.
  • Equip your ride with treats for passengers. Acceptable items include water bottles, snacks, mints, candy, and phone chargers.
  • Inspect your vehicle. This involves making sure it’s clean and doesn’t smell. Ask a friend or family member to check for cleanliness if you think there might be a lingering scent.
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature in the vehicle. This may need to change based on passenger preference. When in doubt, ask.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. For example, wearing casual clothes is acceptable if you are not driving for Uber SELECT, UberBLACK or UberSUV. If you are you should dress appropriately.
  • Learn to read people.  This will help you determine the type of passenger that is in your vehicle. For example, does your rider want to be alone? Then leave them be. If they want to chat, reciprocate. Improving your emotional IQ will take time, but it’s crucial in any customer service position.

Riders give low ratings for things that were in a driver’s control. There are times when a disrespectful passenger will cross your path. Do not take this poor behavior personally.

Remember that their 1-star rating does not have a significant impact on your overall rating – unless you get several low ratings within a short period of time.  But one bad rating now and then won’t hurt you. Your hard-earned rating will remain high as long as you continue to be professional.

Instead of wishing them harm, focus on how far you have come since your rookie days. Seek out ways to improve in the future using this list.

Key things to take away from this include being courteous to your passengers and keeping your car clean.

Other than that, drive safely and learn how to gauge your rider.

Doing so will help you improve your customer service skills and thus your rating. Not to mention tips! Good luck out there!

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