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Uber Driver Ratings: What You Can Learn From Drivers With Low Ratings

Are you tired of hearing passengers complaining about the quality of UberX going downhill? When you drive for Uber’s Black/Premium luxury car service, you hear a lot of Uber riders talk about how they used to take UberX, but have since moved to Black/Premium because the quality of their Uber experience has declined as Uber has...

Are you tired of hearing passengers complaining about the quality of UberX going downhill?

When you drive for Uber’s Black/Premium luxury car service, you hear a lot of Uber riders talk about how they used to take UberX, but have since moved to Black/Premium because the quality of their Uber experience has declined as Uber has continued to lower their prices.

Disclosure: Ridester.com is supported by our users. We may recieve compensation from the companies whose products we write about, test, or review. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

After thinking about it, though, I came to one big conclusion: The drivers who need help with their ratings are the last people to know about it.

At the end of this article, I have two pieces of advice to improve your rating that I bet you’ll never read anywhere else, which apply no matter where you drive.

I’ve talked to many Uber drivers who have had poor ratings, and it seems like they all told me it wasn’t their fault. They blame it on the driver rating system, which they swear is rigged. No matter how many times I’ve told them it’s fair because every driver is under the exact same system, playing by the exact same rules, they still say it’s unfair!

So me being me, what did I do? I asked a few of these rideshare drivers if I could take a quick ride with them just to see if I could spot anything wrong and give them some advice for getting better ratings.

Here’s what I found…

Hitting the Streets With Real Drivers

Uber Driver Ratings: What You Can Learn From Drivers With Low Ratings

Driver #1: Smelly Car

The first guy who took me for a ride had an old, moderately beat-up car with cloth seats. I could see where passengers might rate him with 4 stars, just on account of his car. But I also know passengers have gotten used to that kind of car, so maybe it’s not a big factor.

The problem was, there was a moldy odor in his car, one that he obviously didn’t smell anymore, but it was the kind of odor that just made you want to get out of the car as quickly as possible.

He would easily get more 4-star ratings than normal just because of the odor. But the smell combined with the condition of his car made it a certainty that he would get more less-than-five-star ratings than he should.

Driver #2: Bad Driving Habits

The next driver who let me ride with him was a very nice guy, cleanly dressed, decent car, but he had an annoying habit of not slowing down for stops until the very last minute. He would slam on the brakes just before the intersection!

I told him that could cause passengers to downrate him because they feel unsafe.

He said, “What’s that?”

I said, “The way you slam on the brakes just before a stop!”

He looked at me confused and said, “I slam on the brakes?”

“YES!” I said. He said he didn’t realize he was doing that!

Driver #3: Smoker

The third guy I rode with was very friendly, had a welcoming smile, but he wasn’t cleanly dressed, and although his car was nice and clean, he smelled like smoke! And his car had a faint smoky odor.

When I mentioned it to him, he was absolutely clueless about it.

He said, “I smoke, but I do it outside the car and I never let the smoke go into the car.”

I sat down with him and told him the story of what happened when I stopped smoking. I suddenly realized the smoky odor sticks to everything it touches as it wafts by. It gets on your clothes and you can smell it in your closet the next day.

But when you smoke, you don’t notice it at all. You think you’re odor-free, but anyone within 15 feet of you who doesn’t smoke can smell you coming!

The Impact of What I Found

I rode with three drivers, they each had obvious problems and all of them were completely oblivious to what their problems were. Once I pointed them out, however, they immediately saw my point. But that’s not always the case. Some drivers want to argue with you and tell you that you’re wrong – even though they have a much lower rating than you!

In New York, you have to have a rating of at least 4.80 to drive for Uber’s black car service. One UberX driver I knew desperately wanted to drive a Black car so he could make more, but his rating was 4.68. I told him it would be nearly impossible to get that up to 4.80 anytime in the foreseeable future.

That’s a huge deficit and he would have to get several hundred 5 stars in a row to bring it up to 4.80. But, he told me he was working at it and he was determined to do it. So, I offered my advice, which was that he should dress better. This guy looked like a bum. He was super nice, very warm, and friendly, but he dressed like a slob who had lost the will to live!

He told me, “Oh, no, no, no! It’s not my clothes. I’ve always worn these clothes and my rating was 4.75 a few months ago.” Then he added, “People don’t really care what you wear as long as you’re nice and drive well.”

This is one of those things people say and you just shake your head and give up. I will just say this, clothes do matter. In fact, everything matters!

Related: Uber Account Disabled: Surprising Things That Could Get You Deactivated

Accepting Low Ratings

For most drivers, including myself, it comes as a bit of shock when you get your first rating that’s less than 5 stars! We agonize over it.

“What could I possibly have done wrong?”

“Which passenger was it who didn’t give me 5 stars?”

It’s jarring when you get your first less-than-five-star rating, especially if you’re a new driver.

So, I’ll let you in on a little secret… nobody gets 5 stars all the time. There is always somebody who will think your service is not worth 5 stars. The big question, though, is can it be unfair?

At times, yes. But over time, no!

That’s because over time everyone will get the rating they deserve. And the reason is that the people rating you don’t know each other. They didn’t conspire together to bring you down. And they have no way to influence how any other passenger will rate you.

In the end, you are the only one who can exercise some influence on every passenger to give you a good rating. That means that over time after a few hundred ratings have come in, your driver rating is the result of what you have done. Therefore, your final rating reflects YOU!

The Fairness of Uber’s Rating System

We all know that sometimes people will accidentally hit 4 stars when they thought everything about you was perfectly fine, and they really should have given you a 5-star trip rating. Furthermore, sometimes people will have a bad experience with other passengers in an UberPOOL ride and take their frustration out on you with a 1-star rating.

But the percentage of overall ratings that passengers give that are a little lower than they should have been is the same for all drivers. And since, every driver is measured on the same scale, and under the same conditions, it is fair.

If all drivers in a given area have 4-star ratings at least 3 percent of the time, then Uber doesn’t care about the first 3 percent of your 4-star ratings. It’s the difference between you and other drivers that they care about.

It’s the drivers who get 4-star ratings 6 percent of the time that they start to notice. It’s the difference in results between you and all other drivers that makes all the difference, not one individual rating.

In New York, a driver who has a 4.80 rating is considered very good because most New York drivers have something less than that. But in another city, a 4.80 might not be considered good at all. If the average rating in that city is 4.85 or above, then a 4.80 would be considered on the low side of average.

How to Improve Your Uber Driver Rating

Ready for those two pieces of advice you’ll never read anywhere else?

There are thousands of articles online that will give you the standard advice, like offer water to your passengers, add a tipping sign, keep your car clean, and drive safely. That’s the standard advice. And all of that is good.

But here are my best two pieces of advice that apply no matter where you drive:

#1: Dress Like Your Most Upscale Passengers

My first piece of advice is to dress as much like your most upscale passengers as you possibly can. For instance, I work in Manhattan, which is commerce central. It’s all about business, serious business. The people here dress very professionally. Guys wear suits and ties, so I do too.

I don’t dress up as much as they do – because I don’t work in an office – I basically drive a cab! So they don’t expect you to be wearing a jacket and a tie. But when they see my clothes, which are basically the same as they’d wear on a casual Friday, they immediately feel comfortable with me.

And I think that does wonders for my Uber rating (which is 4.90 and is in the top one half of one percent of all 50,000 New York City drivers).

#2: Talk Like Your Most Upscale Passengers

My final piece of advice is about your speech.

You should try to talk as much like your most upscale passengers as possible. If your most upscale riders speak with good grammar, then learn to speak with good grammar if you don’t already. If they don’t speak with perfect grammar, then you shouldn’t either! Imitate their speech.

There is nothing that makes a rider feel more comfortable than to be with a driver who sounds like them and dresses like them. Just doing those two things alone will do wonders for your Uber driver rating.

Do the other stuff too, obviously! Drive safely, keep your car clean, be polite and friendly – and then add these two last things to that – and you’ll be able to avoid bad ratings.

Curious how you can boost your Lyft driver rating? Check out our guide.


Now over to you: What do you think of Uber’s driver rating policy? Do you think drivers are getting fair ratings? Drop your opinion below. Ready….go!


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Jonathan Cousar began driving for Uber in 2013 when the ride-hail company first began operations in New York City. He has booked more than 7,000 trips. In 2014 he created Uber Driver Diaries, which was the first blog by an Uber driver describing the highs and lows of driving as well as offering tips and tricks and information on the industry as a whole. In 2016 Ridester acquired the site, and Jonathan began writing full-time about the rideshare industry and the gig economy. He has also done extensive research into driver issues related to pay and working conditions.

8 Comments

“But the percentage of overall ratings that passengers give that are a
little lower than they should have been is the same for all drivers. And
since, every driver is measured on the same scale, and under the same
conditions, it is fair.”
Complete and utter BS. The one thing you ( purposefully ? ) left out is the prime variable; The pax. Are they already in a bad mood ? Are they already running massively late for work, etc ? Did they not get laid this weekend ? Etc, Etc, Etc…..I’ve been reported UTI for dodging potholes ( for the pax benefit ). I’ve been 1*’d for missing a turn in the boonies of some God forsaken town I’d never heard of in a state I’d never been anywhere near. I’ve been reported for professionalism for requiring seatbelts. 2&3*’d because the highways were gridlocked ( yes, it’s my fault you decided upon an interstate jaunt at noon on a Friday ). The rating system is a joke BECAUSE of the massive variations of pax perspectives and expectations. It’s ambiguous, subjective, anonymous ( BIG issue right there ), unaccountable, etc… the list goes on. The mere fact that it’s completely open to interpretation makes your assertions about it’s “fairness” a rather ridiculous joke. I can get ten 5*’s in a row and not see ANY movement in my overall rating. One single 1* and down it goes an entire point. If it’s so fair and even-handed then explain how I can get those ten 5*’s, tips, positive comments, badges, etc in a row and then suddenly a 1*. What, am I driving bi-polar ? Also, who decided that downrates shouldn’t require explanation ? Makes perfect sense that there should be this system that can and does directly impact my ability to earn but yet requires no meaningful data be attached to it. You know, so I maybe might actually address whatever the Hell the issue MIGHt have been as opposed to the current guessing game

Ex. Got a 1* this AM because I braked and swerved due to some @55hat who swerved into and out of my lane. Of course, the pax had his nose buried in his phone and never caught that guy’s swerve. Only mine. Fair though I guess……

Listen, I gave her a ride where she asked. It wasn’t where she told uber. I was new and thought it was ok. She got a minimum charge aand complained because she did do her original ride called not finishing her ride. I got no fee and she was able to give me one star. I owned a hair salon for 20 years and have a brand new car. I got another one star because she cancelled the ride and I sat until she ordered it again.. she told me uber already charged her. She said she would recall after she called her mom. She did a block from her destination and got a minimum charge and gave me one star and also complained about the price. I had 5 star average until then . Then one very sick gal,I asked to cough in her sleeve . Reprorted me for professionalisum. Naive but I do nothing wrong. Uber told me to cancel rides from scammers and shOuld have took the one home. Don’t tell me it’s my fault. In 20 years having a salon I got one complaint and that lady went to court to sue her cousin and shoot her cousin and lawyer dead. Tis now what we have medal dectors in mn courts

Listen, I gave her a ride where she asked. It wasn’t where she told uber. I was new and thought it was ok. She got a minimum charge aand complained because she did do her original ride called not finishing her ride. I got no fee and she was able to give me one star. I owned a hair salon for 20 years and have a brand new car. I got another one star because she cancelled the ride and I sat until she ordered it again.. she told me uber already charged her. She said she would recall after she called her mom. She did a block from her destination and got a minimum charge and gave me one star and also complained about the price. I had 5 star average until then . Then one very sick gal,I asked to cough in her sleeve . Reprorted me for professionalisum. Naive but I do nothing wrong. Uber told me to cancel rides from scammers and shOuld have took the one home. Don’t tell me it’s my fault. In 20 years having a salon I got one complaint and that lady went to court to sue her cousin and shoot her cousin and lawyer dead. Tis now what we have medal dectors in mn courts