Uber Is Now Banning Riders With Low Ratings

Filed Under: Travel, Uber

Ride-sharing app Uber has revolutionised the way I travel. I use it all the time, all over the world, and it is especially handy in those cities where I either don’t speak the language, or fear I may be ripped off by taking an ordinary cab. I can’t remember the last time I took a regular cab, but it would have only been in a city that did not yet have Uber.

When you order an Uber you will see various details of your driver, including their Uber score (rating).

Drivers with low rating are banned from driving for Uber, and this motivates drivers to give good service, take the suggested route, not speak on their phones the entire journey, etc.

Each ‘rider,’ i.e. customer/passenger taking an Uber, also has a rating which is given by each driver at the end of each ride. While these ratings were previously hidden (or at least difficult to find), over time Uber has made these ratings more visible. In the same way that drivers are motivated to provide good service to maintain a good rating, riders are now motivated to be ‘good passengers’ in order to maintain a good rider rating.

This includes things like being punctual when the Uber arrives, being courteous to your driver, not choosing an unsafe collection point, and not leaving rubbish in the car. Drivers can choose not to collect riders with very low scores.

I don’t take a huge notice of my Uber rating, but it usually sits around 4.7 out of 5, and I’m happy with that. I have a friend in London who is the most courteous Uber rider I have ever seen — he always sits in the front seat, and always has a long chat to the driver. When we took an Uber in Amsterdam together one evening by the end of the journey he had engaged in so much conversation with the driver, that he wished him and his new wife the best of luck for the upcoming birth of their first child.

His rating is around 4.95.

Riders with low ratings

Uber is now banning riders with low ratings in certain countries for a period of six months. This has so far been rolled out in Brazil, and will also take effect in Australia and New Zealand next week. Uber has not revealed which countries they will introduce this policy in next.

If Uber riders do not have a rating of at least 4.0, they will not be able to book Uber rides for six months.

Uber has told the BBC that there are 2.8 million riders in Australia and New Zealand, and only a few thousand have ratings of under 4.0, with 90% maintaining a rating of 4.5 or above. So this will only affect the worst of the worst.

Riders with these low scores will receive several warnings before their ban commences.

Bottom line

This is a fair policy and a good idea. If riders only want drivers with good scores then it should work both ways and this benefit should be given to drivers as well. Pay and other working conditions for Uber drivers have slowly but steadily deteriorated — they shouldn’t have to drive passengers who can’t show basic courtesy as well.

I can’t imagine how badly you would have to behave to have a score fall below 4.0?

What do you think of Uber banning low scoring riders? What is your Uber score?

  1. Do Uber drivers generally prefer riders sit in the front seat? I always go to the back because I assume that is what the driver would prefer, but I have no strong preference.

  2. I think this is an unfair policy as drivers tend to give low ratings to people taking short trips from an airport. This isn’t the rider’s fault but i’ve been told several times by drivers that i will receive a 1 star rating for only going a few miles from the airport

  3. Mine is 4.94. I think I am a near perfect Uber rider, I get in, say hello, stay quiet and get out. the perfect rider would be the ones that always tip.

  4. It’s not a fair policy as there are no guidelines for what a rating should be. I used to stay quiet. but noticed that was getting me 4’s instead of 5’s – as though I was there for the driver’s entertainment. Sure enough, I started making small talk and my rating started inching back up.

    Given there’s no consistency in the rating system, how can penalizing low ratings be fair?

  5. I’m based in Hong Kong. I once heard from a uber driver that they will def give one star to those having “undesirable destinations” (on the other side of the harbour, short trips, midlevels etc) to let their peers know not to pick up these trips.

  6. @Mark: I remember the bad old days of cabbies locking their doors and flat-out refusing to let you in if you said your destination wasn’t sufficiently far. Uber and Lyft should flag any 1-star ratings by drivers of riders and analyze trip attributes that might make the rating suspect (especially if the rider doesn’t have a history of bad ratings). I’d love to see drivers penalized for punitively giving bad ratings due to short trips, and riders having those ratings be stricken from their records. Not sure how much human intervention that might require, of course.

  7. I do think it’s fair if Uber only uses the most recent 6 months or the most recent 50 rides or something like that.
    I currently have a 4.50 but was at 4.2 last year. I’m not sure why since I always tip and I’m always on time, etc. I do prefer to use uber pool and whenever I sat in the front seat, I’d say 70% of the time the uber drivers here in NYC just default to give every rider a 4. Perhaps it’s regional? Not sure.
    From this reddit thread, apparently Uber drivers in NYC tend to rate their riders lower even if they’re courteous, on-time, etc.

  8. FYI: Drivers are the key to Uber’s success. Riders will always need rides, but if there are no drivers, it falls apart. Need to keep the drivers happy. (I’m not a driver).

  9. A friend of mine had his ratings plummet from around 4.75 to around 3 over a short vacation in Cape Town. Maybe drivers expected a cash tip, maybe they didn’t like that he was there with his husband.

    I also had drivers get very upset when my trips from the airport in the US turn out to be only about $30 worth – they were clearly hoping for a much longer trip after waiting in the airport ride share pool area.

    Bottom line, drivers give 1 star ratings for random reasons. I can see banning a rider for an actual verifiable infraction such as trashing the car. Otherwise population in some cities may turn against Uber in favor of the good old regulated taxis – and I am sure a lot of city governments are just waiting for an excuse to ban Uber.

  10. For short drives from the airport, I’d suggesting giving a substantial cash tip (like $5 or more). It might not be fair, but it may be necessary to avoid being low-rated by some drivers.

  11. I have a real problem with the Uber system for rating drivers. The default seems to be that 5* is the normal rating you should give a driver, but I always give a 4* unless the driver has gone out of their way to make the trip good (either with a nice chat, or water, or helpful getting bags out etc). The problem is, this apparently reflects badly on the driver.

    So, if 5* is the norm for a good trip (i.e. the car was clean, they got you to the destination and were polite), then how do you reward excellence?

    I therefore taken to not rating at all, as I find the system is badly designed.

  12. I have never taken uber, only ubereats. But the ratings go across as well.

    Let’s have survey: what percent do you tip? I tip zero.

    Also uber customer service sucks. Just truly horrible. They make no effort to solve a problem, just create a lot of noise. Will never ride uber. Never.

  13. I hate the way ratings systems have evolved to essentially become 5* or nothing. It’s a 5-star rating system but the fact that 90% of riders are above 4.5 points to the fact that there is no actual distinguishing across the ratings scale. Tripadvisor too has become junk because everyone just gives 5/5 if they had a satisfactory stay at a hotel. The vast majority of TA hotel ratings are 4 or 4.5 which has effectively made the rating system pointless and hurts the actual great businesses which deserve 4.5 or 5.

  14. My issue with Uber is that drivers can accept, then cancel a ride but when I see who my driver is, I have no option to cancel the trip. Seems a bit one sided to me. I’m not a heavy user of Uber but my score was 5.0.

    I’m guessing in one case the driver didn’t want to do my trip because it wasn’t long enough or it was to/from somewhere out of his way (it wasn’t a safety issue).

  15. For the 100th time, they don’t know if you tipped until after they give you a rating. So no, tipping doesn’t impact a rider’s score.

  16. I tip in cash. I’m a tipper but nothing ludicrous, just round up and bit more. I’m not American. My rating is 5.

  17. I had 4,7 and a driver in Auckland “warned” me to get lower and told me that he would usually avoid riders as me. 4,7??? Crazy. I made a new account with another phone and still have 5.0 now

  18. Total BS!!!!! Uber has no control how drivers rate riders. I consider myself a good rider, I am clean, engage in conversation if it makes sense, sit on the rear seat since I noticed many Uber drivers have their personal belonging on the front seat, I am polite, use their car as if it was mine (my car is pristine) so no food, beverage, close the door softly, etc… I don’t tip and will not consider tipping (my personal opinion). My rate is 4.66 and never goes up. Whatever!!! There is Lyft, taxis, buses, etc… if one day Uber decides I am not a good rider. BTW, I have seen a huge increase in drivers cancelling rides after you waited 5 to 10 minutes for them to show up. Totally ridiculous.

  19. 5 star rating is pretty awful. They’d have a better metrics just by providing bad/good binary selection instead. I mean, the only meaningful range in the rating right now is between 4.0 and 5.0 — This is a typical case of business decisions made to bandage a problem rather than fix the underlying cause.

  20. Ridiculous. There is zero consistency in Uber policies, have gone off it myself and prefer the smaller companies and street cabs. Many drivers feel entitled, it’s not a favour they are doing, it’s a job and rider is paying for it. For sure, rate goes down in USA when you don’t tip in cash, but if you want a boost in your rating, do tip cash. Most drivers don’t even say hello anymore or get out to help a woman with the bags. In many countries, it is not cheaper than taxis, and taxis are allowed to use the bus lane, and actually know where they are going. Meanwhile Uber drivers are on the news today for abusing teenagers.

  21. @Davisson: +1. At this point, I agree that they should scrap the 5* rating system and just replace it with a binary good/bad. When anything less than a 4.5* rating is considered “bad”, it’s clear that no one is actually using the full range of the 5* rating system.

  22. While it should be a given to be polite and respectful towards your Uber driver, I believe it is wrong to rate paying customers. You could get bad ratings for dubious reasons, many of which were highligted in the comments. More than that, this system could modify your behaviour : if your rating is poor, you could be more inclined to give big cash tips, take a longer ride instead of relying on public transport for part of your journey or make small talk with fake smiles even if you’re not in the mood or tired. Not a good system in my opinion.

    However, there should be an option for drivers to report a customer if something serious happened, for exemple with pictures of a trashed/damaged car or with a brief explanation of a very inappropriate behaviour. Uber could then decide to give a warning or suspend the account if necessary…

  23. @James you are getting good at this. @Lucky should double your pay. So many heated topic lately. You are getting lots of reaction.

    Uber is created rotten people and managed by rotten people. This is a dumb move by Uber.
    Uber drivers ARE cab drivers. You remind me of Miss @Siobhan_ODwyer, oh sorry Dr. O’Dwyer, that drivers are feeling like an entitled bit*h and needs love (tips) from PAYING riders.

    There is a reason Uber fails in Japan.
    The only reason Uber survives is because cabs are shittier.
    Remember that, the day you become as shitty as a cab, you lose your job.

  24. Use urber mostly in nyc.5*
    Used one to airport in miami late and surly put my own bag in trunk loud irritating spanish music.told me he didn’t speak english and spoke it perfectly all cheered up after a 300% tip.
    These people don’t make eough money and you know how much more a rregular taxi cost so lets be generous to our fellow men .

  25. TPG has a great expose on the bizarre stuff drivers can do. I had a 4.94 rating and then suddenly in Mexico it went to 4.6 after I had a driver with whom I was perfectly polite (as always) evidently didn’t like my destination and gave me a 1.

  26. I can’t believe this, people boasting much less caring about their score.
    Who the hell cares what some leased Camry driver thinks of you? What’s next, every service employee rating customers and then turning away those who don’t pass muster? So much easier to just take a cab, so what if it costs more and maybe the driver might be an ahole, you’re only with him for a short while so no big deal, at least you’re not being rated. Seems as though many people would give their driver a BJ if requested to get their rating up. It’s just a ride somewhere, not a long term relationship for Christ sake.

  27. Then Uber should be really clear about how the scores are calculated (remember that they worked to hide them for so long).

    This also means that long-time riders with a decent score will take much more effort to displace (not necessarily a bad thing, but … )

    Also, this process has always been full of grade inflation. who gives 5/5 for a ride when nothing exceptional happens?

  28. Why can’t everywhere be like Japan? Taxis are reasonably priced for shorter trips, drivers are always courteous and help with bags, 0 expectation of tip, none of that crap where they take you for a ride to hike the fare (or at the very least, it is far less prevalent in my experience), and none of this guest rating crap to give them an excuse to not serve you for not tipping, not talking, or only taking a <2.5km trip.

  29. Uber’s existing model is fundamentally bad business dynamics in trying to manage two counter parties at arms-length.

    Uber describes self-driving cars as an existential business issue and they are correct – they are just trying to survive until it becomes mainstream (whenever that might be).

  30. As an Uber driver do it as a side gig, the rating system is the one thing I really dislike about the whole concept. Uber says that if a drivers rating drops below 4.6 they’re in danger of being dropped. What that means is if you give your driver anything less than a 5, you’re telling Uber that the driver shouldn’t be working for them. Since, the Uber app only allows you to rate in whole numbers, this leads to ratings inflation which consequently defeats the intended purpose.

    My default rating for riders is 5 unless there’s a complete meltdown of some sort. Drivers can’t base their ratings on how the riders rate or tip them since the driver can’t even see any change in their rating until they first rate the rider. I’ve also had tips from riders show up in the app several days later, so as a driver you can’t assume that you didn’t get a tip just because it didn’t immediately show up.

  31. Uber’s transformed from a fantastic service with clean cars, good drivers, and no expectation of a tip to a mediocre experience with mediocre cars, foreign drivers, and not only the expectation of a tip – but a rating punishment if you don’t.

    Uber is a shell of its former self.

  32. Aren’t Uber drivers classified as independent contractors? Wouldn’t multiple providers enacting a system where someone is blackballed in order to raise profits be collusion?

    This is a very tricky situation. I could see a system where a driver marks a passenger as “undesirable” and cannnot be matched with that particular rider. But to be excluded from the entire system? That reeks of over reach. Unless the system for rating is completely clear and open to the public, this could bite them in the ass.

  33. Mine’s 4.94! I get in, am polite, say hello, stay quiet, and thank my driver when I leave. Never have tipped. I think the perfect 5 score is for someone like me, but who tips I guess. oh well

  34. @Rbn

    HA! My wife and I learned quickly, at least here in NYC and in order to keep the driver from RACING off with our child unbuckled, to keep one door OPEN while buckling up our child (now children) so they don’t pull that crap. Until we started doing that it was probably 90% of time the driver would just take off.

  35. This is totally ridiculous. So they’re saying before 4/5 is ‘bad’? Their scoring system is completely broken – 3 should be an acceptable ride with more awarded for excellence and less for a poor experience. They’ve totally skewed the perception of things. It’s akin to the tipping system of 15-20% being expected even if service isn’t that good! (and I know that tipping thankfully doesn’t affect Uber).

  36. You say that you appreciate this system, but I see it as discrimination lawsuits waiting to happen. What happens when the transgender individual gets several 1 Star ratings from conservative uber drivers who are uncomfortable with the individual? How does uber know what the reason for their ratings are? This really doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

  37. Uber has its good days and bad days
    Lately I can’t get a car at some destinations
    due to technical problems with The App
    Let’s face it Uber had already put many taxi drivers out of business
    And I had a reality check as I said to the Uber driver recently who wasn’t very good
    I generally prefer Uber to taxis
    And then he blurted out he was a former taxi driver
    So low and behold former taxi drivers are entering the Uber system so it’s juts a matter of time when Uber starts sinking badly as that nice driver becomes a reject taxi driver 🙁

    Unfortunately some passengers have no clue how others perceive them in or out of a taxi
    But personality one that others perceive as a good person /desirable customer comes a lot from personality respect kindness and gratitude something that many lack in and out of an Uber vehicle.My score hovers at 4.89 when I get the Uber Email
    And because I value Uber to a fair degree despite what needs to be fixed with the company
    I make a considerable effort to be an above average passenger if I can

  38. Everyone complaining about less than white-glove service is calling UberX and paying $7 for a 20-minute ride to the airport.
    If you want the old Uber experience, it is still alive and well in UberBlack, which is how the company started.

    I remember when a ride to the airport from anywhere in PHL was $45, whether it was 5 minutes or 30 minutes. A couple thousand rides later… get in, shut up, and get out without messing with shit.

    Also, if you sit in the front seat when alone you’re a weird dude. No Uber driver cares about what you have to say at all unless you’re buying or selling drugs.

  39. I generally “people hack” my rating. As I get out of the car, I say “five star, of course”, and 99% of the time they say “and for you as well”. Now, I don’t know if they make good on that promise, but my rating is currently 4.83, so I think it gets them thinking about giving me 5-star too.

  40. They don’t make it easy, eg meet the driver in some poorly sign-posted corner of an airport. I rarely use them on arrival.
    I have used them a few times in smaller US cities and have been quite pleased to get female drivers, usually African-American, always polite and good drivers.
    AFAIK I’ve always given and received 5.0, but maybe no more than 25 total trips.
    Rating cab drivers…it would be more like 2.5

  41. That’s really unfair for someone like me. I don’t speak much because I am deaf. I will tell you where i want to go and I am quiet the whole way. If I am docked with a low rating because I don’t speak and “unfriendly”, the company might get sued.

  42. It’s all headed to driverless cars. Uber knows this and is pushing hard on the tech to do it. For them, problem solved.

  43. Unless you meet to use your amex Platinum credit just go with Lyft. Uber has a much shadier pool of drivers.

    The prices are pretty much the same but Lyft has a history of treating it’s riders and drivers better. I’ve had several issues with Uber that have gone unresolved and only one with Lyft that resulted in a reversed cancellation fee, an apology and a ten dollar credit

  44. The ratings are meant to protect passengers and drivers.
    Do you really want to be picked up by a low rated driver?
    Most drivers are in the 4.8 to 4.95 area.
    If you see a lower rated driver, you better try to get somebody different.
    The car may stink, or be filthy, I have seen those cars.
    The driver may drive in a manner that could put your life at risk.

    As a driver myself, if I see a rider rated under 4.7 I will absolutely not pick them up.
    The later in the evening, the higher my standards become.
    A 4.75 maybe absolutely fine in broad daylight, but at 2 in the morning after the bars close that same person may be an absolute nightmare.

    In the last week I had a 4.7 open a beer in my car.
    A very nice lady with a 4.9 rating, brought along a passenger who without warning lighted up a marijuana joint in my brand new immaculate car.

    People are people, a good person will be good whether they are a driver or a passenger.
    A terrible person will make for a terrible driver and a terrible passenger.

    This rating system has many flaws but it is to protect decent people from having to deal with the rude, inconsiderate and downright dangerous morons.

    That moron could be your next driver, or my next passenger.

  45. Uber cares about the money only when it comes to customers. In their perspective; a customer is always right (as long as he or she pays). In no way a customer may be banned because of their rating. The rating issue is extremely exaggerated and is always subjective. Even drivers with low rating do operate as long as they cash easy money to Uber. I drove for Uber and I take Uber as a passenger. As a passenger, it’s the same for me as taking a taxi (you don’t get to rate taxi drivers). My primary concern is to get from one place to the next. As a driver, the stars are not as shiny as a university diploma. I got rated badly a few times without recognizing what happened. However; I strived all the time to provide a good service even to those who misbehave in a certain way. Does a customer rating concern me after the ride? Nope the cash does!

  46. I am in the middle of a big monologue with Uber since they only reply with automated messages have no direct customer service.

    On a recent trip to Brazil my rating dropped drastically, for no apparent reason. All my trips were good and I rated all my drivers with 5 stars and tips. I can’t say why, all of them rated me badly. Maybe because I spoke English during the rides? I don’t think I’ll ever know. But I now have a horrible rating and all Uber tells me is: “Thanks for reaching out, Your rating is an average of all your trips taken so far, and one low rating won’t have a significant impact on your overall rating.” They have emailed me the same message at least 5 times. Very frustrating to be stuck on a Black Mirror episode with HAL replying back to me: “I’m sorry, David. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

  47. “Nice review James. Riders will have several opportunities to improve their rating prior to losing access to the Uber apps. For too long there has been one-sided accountability and this is a positive step toward correcting that. The rating system works to make sure that the most respectful riders and drivers are using Uber. For more on this, the following links may be useful to understand more on the rating process->

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