Uber’s New Tattletale Feature: A Necessary Evil?

Filed Under: Uber

Uber rolled out a safety feature yesterday that’s both very necessary, and sure to cause a lot of controversy among drivers.

Setting the scene…

If you take ride shares with any frequency, you’ve probably been in a situation where you had safety concerns about the driver’s actions:

  • Was the driver texting while driving?
  • Was the driver running red lights or stop signs?
  • Was the driver being aggressive or exhibiting road rage?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in this situation, but I didn’t really know how to handle it:

  • If it’s not that serious, I feel uncomfortable asking the driver to change their behavior; after all, I’m in their car
  • In many situations I also feel bad giving them a bad rating (since their ability to continue using the platform relies on having a good rating), unless their driving was truly egregious

Fortunately Uber has now implemented a feature allowing you to tattletale on a driver without making it awkward.

Uber now lets you report safety concerns

For those in the US and Canada, Uber has just added something to their “Safety Toolkit,” allowing riders to report safety incidents during their rides.

Once you’re in the safety toolkit (which you can access by clicking on the blue shield symbol during a ride), click “Report Safety Issue,” and then you’ll be able to share the details of any safety concerns you have about a trip you took.

When you do this:

  • The driver will only be contacted after the ride with the feedback
  • A member of the safety team will contact the passenger

Presumably they aren’t going to fire a driver after one complaint, but this is a good way they can pick up on patterns, should a driver consistently get the same complaint.

This is great for passengers

Uber increasingly has a focus on safety, largely because it helps them with regulators when they’re having battles over their operating license in various cities.

As far as I’m concerned, this is no doubt a positive development. It allows you to share your concerns in a non-confrontational way.

Drivers are going to hate this

Many Uber drivers hate passengers. Now, I assume this isn’t actually a majority of drivers, but rather just those who hang out online and discuss Uber. Some drivers seem to essentially think that passengers are all cheap morons who will do anything for Uber credit.

For example, Twitter user @sergioaved writes how he already received one of these safety notices from Uber, and it went about as well as you’d expect.

Uber wrote to him:

We received feedback from one of your riders expressing concern with traffic maneuvers and phone use on a recent trip.

As explained in our Community Guidelines, serious or repeated claims of poor, unsafe, or distracted driving can result in loss of access to the Driver app.

We appreciate your understanding.

He responded:

It’s a lie for cheap passengers to get $5 Uber credit. It’s fraud committed by Uber passengers putting my livelihood at risk. Over 3000 trips, 4.93 rating, tell that passenger to go screw themselves. Tell that passenger to stop defrauding Uber.

Uber responded:

Thank you for providing additional details. When these trips happen, we are not in the vehicle. As a result, outreach to both parties is standard practice. Our feedback to you isn’t designed to be accusatory in nature. Our goal here is to simply make sure you are aware of the type of feedback you received and hear your side of the story as well.

And he responds:

My records speaks for itself, over 3000 rides, hundreds of compliments and Uber sends me fraudulent passenger garbage, typical Uber. If it’s not an accusation, why are you bothering me with fraudulent passenger feedback. I’m an independent contractor according to Uber, stop being judge, jury and executioner. Go deal with your cheap passengers trying to get a free ride!

So yeah, I’d say this is going to go really great…

Bottom line

I appreciate Uber adding an option to provide feedback to drivers when unsafe behavior is noticed. I would report this not because I’m a passenger looking for Uber credit, but rather because I just want to provide feedback and contribute to any overall patterns for the driver.

I’ll take it a step further — I don’t think Uber should offer riders any credit when they use this feature to report drivers, because I think that creates a counterproductive incentive to use the feature.

Even with good intentions, I fear this will only make some drivers resent their jobs even more.

Riders and drivers — what do you make of Uber’s new safety feature for reporting drivers?

  1. There shouldn’t be any “reward” for reporting an unsafe driver. Just like there are bad drivers, there are going to be bad passengers who are going to abuse the system.

  2. This is why I only use Uber Black. Uber X standards have really diminished and the drivers are sketchy as heck at times. In Brazil it’s often taking your life in your hands using X given the horrid driving, terrible roads, and traffic.

    I would say this is a GOOD thing for Uber X. But for Black the drivers are typically very good and are often professional sedan drivers outside of Uber. No need to put them through this. The odds of a poor Black experience are very low.

  3. This is great, except the reward part, and agree with Stuart that Uber X standards have nosedived over the past year.

    I’ve had some truly dangerous rides, including one who had an iPad stuck to his windshield in the middle of the drivers side and had to peer around it to see the road… while talking in his phone. But I also had an incredibly happy housewife/entrepreneur using Uber to fund a really good invention idea (and she’s auditioning for Shark Tank next month) because her minister husband only gives her a $30/week allowance.

  4. People are gonna hate this, but I WANT an Uber driver to drive aggressively. I’m in Boston, and when drivers are too cautious it takes forever to get somewhere and infuriates me.

    It’s also gonna make drivers in places like Boston and NYC try and figure whether their passengers are locals or from out of town who might have different expectations of how to drive.

  5. @PW
    I currently live in NYC and consider myself a New Yorker. I find uber and LYFT drivers to drive too slow and timidly at all times. I do not think they try to evaluate the client’s background or needs. I am really unable to determine whether their driving skills are low or if it is based on fears of Uber.

  6. There should be a way to share when a car stinks. It is amazing how many Uber cars are so dirty and stink so much you need a shower after you leave the car. Seriously, most cars are disgusting.

  7. All of the examples you gave are serious safety concerns. I take Uber only infrequently and I’ve never experienced those problems. But with the best of intent, Ben I will urge you to speak up immediately if a driver is putting you at risk. That’s the advice I’ve been giving my now young adult children for years in terms of riding with peers. Unsafe driving is a situation where standard politeness must be sacrificed, but one can still deliver the message politely but firmly.

  8. In NYC I would not be likely to report a poor driving experience. The driver could easily track back and do some mischief. I will generally not take the driver’s side but Uber offering a reward for reports tips the scale to likely getting false or exaggerated reports.

  9. They could just have the app use the phone’s front camera automatically record trips. The camera is impartial. It will see if the passenger or the driver is behaving inappropriately.

  10. I think the response from that driver only hurts his case, not helps it. We are to believe that the man who screams at Uber and tells them to screw off when he receives some criticism is actually a calm, cool, collected driver? He should have been suspended right then and there for responding in that way.

  11. I find this policy surprising when Uber is known as being totally unresponsive to passenger concerns. There are myriad scams drivers take part in including cancelling rides as soon as they get notification ( through third party apps) that surge is happening. After a totally absurd ride in which the driver drove my wife in the wrong direction for 25 minutes, extending the rush hour ride by an hour, I almost gave up. The boilerplate responses from the firm were tone deaf and meaningless. Only after I mentioned that Police were going to be called because it might have been an abduction attempt was there any response.

  12. To those who can’t read: the driver talks about this $5 credit, nowhere in the article or the video does it state uber credits riders for reporting. In this instance, credits are only a consideration if a rider enters help center and formally complains. Reporting a safety concern is not considered a complaint.

    As far as the drivers: get over yourselves. I mean, really…I get graded on my job performance every day. You should too.

  13. agreed. remove the credit. anyone who is willing to hurt another person’s livelihood for a $5 gift card is a bad person

  14. My last Uber driver ran a red light, not even slowing down…then giggled and said, “Oh, did I just run a red light?”. He then had the audacity to remind us to tip well and give him a 5 star rating! I reported him immediately.

  15. I’d like to see them try this in Egypt. I know I’m not the only one who has mentioned Uber in Egypt – the driving there generally is pretty insane, and Uber drivers are no different.

    I’ve had any number of hair-raising experiences there, but the worst was when the driver thought it was cool to drive at speed without holding the wheel – and he wasn’t holding it in place with his leg, either. And it wasn’t a straight, flat road as well. The guy seemed so dangerous I was literally screaming at him to stop, which he eventually did.

  16. Safety is good. As an Uber driver with 20,000 rides little bothers me anymore in terms of passenger behavior

  17. “My records speaks for itself, over 3000 rides, hundreds of compliments and Uber sends me fraudulent passenger garbage, typical Uber. If it’s not an accusation, why are you bothering me with fraudulent passenger feedback. I’m an independent contractor according to Uber, stop being judge, jury and executioner. Go deal with your cheap passengers trying to get a free ride!”

    Time to go back to taxis. This is frightening.

  18. “If it’s not that serious, I feel uncomfortable asking the driver to change their behavior; after all, I’m in their car”

    You are in their car which they have chosen to use as a money-making endeavor that involves driving paying customers in their car, so you have every right to speak up. It’s not like you carjacked somebody…

  19. “I also feel bad giving them a bad rating”

    “I would report this … because I just want to provide feedback and contribute to any overall patterns for the driver.”

    What’s the difference?

  20. The rating system is stupid. Why have something go from 0 to 5 stars if everyone gives a 5 or a rare 4? 4.93? People are afraid to give a lower rating. 3 should be average and used most often. People who get 0,1,2 should be reprimanded and removed if it continues.

    This is like the stupid surveys that companies expect people to give them 10s on a 0-10 scale. Really you think you are perfect?

    Get rid of the rating system and instead just have a complaint button if you had a bad ride. And rating the passengers is equally stupid. If a passenger is drunk or causing trouble let the driver note it and the next time the passenger wants a ride, the driver can see it and decide if he/she wants to take the passenger.

    And it is in Uber’s interest to kept the bad drivers rather than get rid of them because they still make a profit off them.

    And lets not forget, it isn’t as if taxi drivers were any better. Most cabs were dirty, smelly, and the drivers sketchy as well. I had once brag about how he had been awake for 24 hours straight. Yeah, really smart and safe.

  21. I agree with other comments that They want their Uber drivers to drive aggressively. I bet we all have friends that we have been in the car with who have gotten traffic violations, maybe even ones that would disqualify them to even be an Uber driver. We still get in the car with them. I’m too concerned if a Uber driver runs a red light, speeds or rolls a turn.

  22. I’m with PW and Donato. I wish there was an option to select more aggressive driving, like Uber Comfort has for temperature and conversation. I doubt Uber would implement this, but it would still be nice. There is little more frustrating than hitting red light after red light because an Uber driver accelerates slowly and drives under the speed limit. Mostly they are oblivious.

  23. Uber s banned in some cities and currently appealing a suspension of their license in London for repeatedly ignoring local laws (including failing to report sexual assaults to the police). What’s the point in this feature if the company itself is rotten and negligent?

  24. Apologies for long comment

    I am an Uber driver and like to think that I am also a good driver ( about 16,000 rides with a 4.97), I don’t the mind the new system on paper but my experience so far is that passengers are not usually good at gauging how bad a certain issue is. ( E.g. I don’t drink ever but someone reported me for seeming drunk during the day. Don’t know why. I work in Houston and it has been rainy weather the whole week. The car looks a little spotty outside even though I wash and vaccumm it everyday but 3 times in the same week people have given me a 4 star and flagged vehicle cleanliness. I kinda feel a little disillusioned because I try on my rating and service quality but passengers still sometimes don’t judge fairly. So I don’t condone the other Uber driver in the comments but do understand the frustrated feeling when you have been given a comment over something I didn’t do and/or can’t help like rain.

    System has to be fair both ways.

    Which is why I also feel saying driver will hate it without further elaboration is kind of misleading @lucky

    P.s. I know that i have a high rating and some people might say that is proof it works but I wanted to point out that safety complaints can be arbitrary and could have implications even if Uber says no. ( I still feel somewhat fearful about the drunk driving report. In the back of my mind I keep thinking what if someone does it again? I never drink but someone still did it.

  25. I also agree with Donato and PW – overly cautious Uber drivers can make a trip twice as long as it should be. Can’t speak for NYC, but like PW I live in Boston, and here you can spend forever at an intersection trying to make a turn if you are less aggressive than other drivers.

  26. To follow up on previous comment,

    To explain how this works internally at uber,

    The report stays in the log permanently.
    Even I convince Uber I didn’t do anything and some how prove it. It’s does not erase it as if it never happened.

    So when 2 people do something without reason to report a driver. That first report will be a negative even if Uber found out in that case it was wrong.

    That’s the scary part for good driver.
    My report on drink driving is never going away and since I know I never was driving drink and have a second passenger say something for whatever reason. That gives 2 strikes and Uber will probably take some action.
    What recourse do I have ( none since if Uber does not give heed to customer complains, driver are not dating better).

    If it was a fair world. Then this feature is absolutely amazing since it will help weed out the bad drivers. But i am sceptical. I don’t know.. let’s see

  27. @lucky I know you do clear up that you believe that most driver don’t hate passengers. I only meant elaboration on why driver would hate the system is necessary. Sadly good drivers do usually get the brunt of downside of reports and features

  28. I am in an Uber driver, and the reporting is not good, I have been accused of not being the driver of my car? Uber sent this high email advising me I am not to allow anyone use my vehicle, I can loose my uber driver app, I was furious being accused without even been asked, I never let anyone drive my car! and why would a rider even get in a car if it is not the correct driver, this snitching method in the app will cause stress on drivers that we don’t need. I have over 7600 trips over 3000 5 * . yet I know riders looking to cash in will use the feature, falsely. Anyone who drives 1000 km a week would say there may be times of hard breaking, and that is part of defensive driving.

  29. What they really need is a way for other drivers to report Uber drivers. Like some of the other commenters, I am in Boston — but I rarely user Uber. When I’m driving, it’s insane what Ubers do, including stopping in the middle of a main road to let off passengers, when they can easily pull to the side.

  30. If that is the attitude of that driver then IMHO they shouldn’t be carrying passengers.

    Looks like he knew he was driving badly and using their phone and didn’t like that a passenger reported it.

  31. Uber need to pay driver better instead of putting nonesense to the app and by the way
    cheaper riders who never leave a tip are most likely to rate drivers bad

  32. I think it’s unfair to say Uber drivers hate riders. Most the time you end up in a driver forum you find us drivers venting. Dealing with the public at large can be…..frustrating. Uber’s rating system unhelpful, and lets face it, not all riders are peaches and cream. Many don’t understand that when you are giving 20-30 rides in a day. By the end your car is trashed. One rider smells like weed, your next 3 riders smell it. Despite the use of air fresheners. Not to mention people with bad hygiene. People sneak things like beers and food into my car. Once had a rider reeking of pot and alcohol complain about the smell of my truck then 1 star me. Another rider lit a cigarette in my truck. Then complained when I said no smoking in my car. Then burned my seat with it. Uber’s $150 cleaning fee would not cover replacing my seat upholstery. So it goes both ways. It boils down to, There are jerks on both sides. However Uber usually sides with riders.

  33. @Doug
    “I have over 7600 trips over 3000 5 *”

    What’s your rating? If you have 3999 5* and the remaining 3601 were all 4* then that’s only 4.53 which is a terrible driver rating and one where I would always cancel, and that’s the best possible rating implied by those stats. I must be missing something.

  34. Hey Snowflakes,

    Lyft deactivated me PERMANENTLY with an even higher 4.93 Rating + over 48 years of Accident-Free Driving that’s so observant that I quicky change lanes when immature ‘little boy drivers’ are tailgating me, not only for my passenger’s protection, but to protect me + my mode of income (my SUV)!

    I do this “Predictive Driving” due to years of avoiding jerk drivers, yet whiney little “Millenial Snowflakes” would LIE to Uber + Lyft about Safety Concerns, because they’re TOO STUPID to realize my “Collision Avoidance Manuevers”!

    Just recently in Denver, on Interstate 225 here in Denver, an Uber Passenger was KILLED because his Uber Driver didn’t practice the “Collision Avoidance Skills” I’ve honed in my 48 years of Safe Driving + his vehicle was rear-ended at a high-rate of speed by a punk driving like a moron, who ran from the accident !!!

    Despite my Collision Avoidance Measures being misunderstood by dumb passengers, Uber sort of deactivated me = until I take some “Customer Kiss-Ass Training”, but why would a professional Driver like me, (with an excellent safety record) want to subject himself to punk-ass Millenials who’d be hard-pressed to be as good, or as safe a driver as I am !??

  35. @BrewerSEA

    I’m an Uber driver and one can have a high rating because every ride doesn’t rate you. So, 3000 5* can be true with a 4.9x rating with a few 4* or 3* ratings.

  36. I disagree with you. I had numerous issues with Uber. I always told the driver I was going to report them unless they rectified the issue to give them a warning. They reported me to Uber. My issues included driving me around the corner and telling me I reached my destination, stopping to get gas, demanding cash instead of using my credit card outside the US, changing the route to increase the price. In hindsight, I will never alert a driver again.

    I think this is a positive step for Uber. The bigger issue is Uber doesn’t have the ability to report an issue while the passenger is in the car. The app doesn’t have Google translate which many foreign apps do. I think many issues occur because of language issues. Plus, it keeps the entire conversation on the app so drivers can’t make inappropriate requests.

    Yes, passengers should receive credit when there is an issue. I cannot fathom that people will make false reports for a $5 credit. This driver sounds very angry which was likely the problem.

    I no longer use Uber. I have far fewer issues with other companies even globally. Uber is a great concept but poorly run.

  37. @brewersea

    my rating is 4.98. 4.99 (2) decline, (0) cancelled

    @Nicholas is correct, ratings are based on 500 rides,

    Where I live keeping your car clean and very difficult during winter time so if a rider doesn’t appreciate a dirty car they could give you a bad review, the car is my office and I keep it as clean as possible but if a Rider gets in and had a bad day himself he may not be in a good mood

  38. @Nicholas / @Doug

    Thank you for clarifying. Do you know if for passengers the ratings are also based on your most recent 500 rides?

  39. @brewersea
    yes, every 500 rides the ratings are updated. similar, the declined is adjusted every 30 days, but with this new option the rider has ability to rate your driving live, if it will have any effect? I hope not, as I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder, for every rider. I think this addition to the rider app was rushed through without any real consultation with drivers, as we don’t work for uber, we are contractors, and although yes there are bad drivers, even before this option, their low ratings reflect it, this extra will give a lot of false and bios results.

  40. I am an Uber driver rating 4.95 Lyft is 5 stars roughly 1000 rides on each platform. I was the victim of a false report the other day picked up the right person. I always always confirm and because they wanted a free ride they lied and said it wasn’t them and Uber took the pymnt back and credited the passenger. There are tons of riders out there trying to get free rides. There are some who enjoy the idea of having power over someone’s job. I enjoy my job and 98%of passengers are good. However there are some that are not. I had a passenger give me a 1*because I tried to avoid a political conversation on a long trip. Nothing I tried to get out of this talk worked. He was in a bad mood n determined. Because I’m not a trump supporter he lied and said my car wasn’t clean he thought I was under the influence and had safety issues .NONE OF THESE THINGS WERE TRUE. all the hassle I had to go thru to prove myself which is crap. These passengers can be deactivated and turn around and go get a gift card an open a new acct. We don’t even have really names or profile pic but yet drivers have to go thru background checks etc. Uber Lyft is far more in favor to the passengers

  41. Stop talking bullshit,about drivers & passenger,my opinion Uber & lyft need to increase price for drivers,as they call per mile & per minute, not the uber commission,this would be a solution,for pleasure commute

  42. Simple. Get a dual camera dash cam. If driver gets fake review, show uber the clip and ban or penalise the passenger

  43. A passenger suggesting a driver drive aggressively or disobey traffic laws is against Uber policy TOS. It can lead to account deactivation if multiple drivers report you.
    If you’re in a rush don’t blame your driver for being late to work. Schmuck of the century Why didn’t you leave earlier ?

  44. I am a not 100 percent happy over this new feature. I have driven for Uber over a year have about 1800 trips in it was not until I made it clear there was no vaping allowed in my car because I am highly allergic to something in it and after I recieved some cleaning fees that my rating started going down. See passangers have the ability to adjust star ratings for up to one year as where drivers have to pick a rating and that’s that. I am a safe very good driver I have tons of excellent comments as well people always saying I am the best driver they have ever had. Well that’s great but my rating unfairly went down because I charged cleaning fees when I needed to do so also because the app malfunctions I think it is off only to ffg ind I get a ride request I accept it sometimes then my low fuel light will come on or sometimes I think I have the app off because I don’t want to get more ride requests in certain places then all of a sudden I get a ping then I either let it go by or I except the ride only to find out it is in a even worse area where I dont feel safe or it us way out the opposite direction I am going. It kind of angers me that passangers can give a low rating but not even state a reason why the rating was low. I rarely will one star anyone you have to really make me upset to give anything other then 5 stars. Even when passangers are way out of line I just suck it up as a annoying trip but still give 5 stars and yes here people will one star over some real stupid things like vaping or as another person said your car maybe a bit messy. Like how do you avoid one star rides if that person is going to one star you no matter what you do. I have also heard of people getting one or two stars because of navigation which 99 percent of the time is Ubers fault because just like Facebook they cant stop messing with and changing the app. So we as drivers pay for app glitches even though we have no control over it. How is that fair. Also what makes me angry is that they will not change a star rating at all ever even if you clearly prove that it was a one ride or two star ride for no reason. I have had issues with the rating system for a long time and the fact that we cant even try to defend ourselves to get it changed is really bad.

  45. Exactly Jennifer,

    As I want to SAY, the 1st New Ride-Share Company (that NEEDS to REPLACE Uber + Lyft) that DOES AWAY with the idiotic Rating System, which Uber is now further worsening by encouraging whiney, little ‘cry-baby’ passengers to make up DO MANY FALSE CLAIMS about Drivers = WILL IMMEDIATELY begin to have Drivers Flock to that Ride-Share Platform !!!

    Because as at least one Attorney representing Drivers + many Drivers will POINT OUT = Drivers HAVE NO DUE PROCESS + passengers can simply MAKE UP FALSE CLAIMS that put Drivers Out of Work + that’s TOTAL CRAP !!!

    My solution would be to FORCE Passengers with legitimate Complaints to PROVE their CLAIMS, either with Police, or the Courts, or TAKE the BUS, or Buy their Own Cars !!!

  46. I’ve had loads of bad Uber rides but don’t fail to give five stars because as soon as I do I’m asked for all sorts of reasons why it wasn’t perfect (and I’m also concerned it would negatively affect my rating, and consequently ability to get a cab). Most services aren’t perfect so I’d think a 4 would normally be a better score most of the time. Uber’s normal rating system is like American tipping – you’re almost expected to give a tip/five star review regardless of how bad the service is.

    This must be a good development, though I agree you shouldn’t be given any credit for it – that clearly incentivises bad behaviours.

  47. When I was between jobs and hadn’t found a new job yet I drove for Uber, while I think Uber as a company sucks to drive for and where I live it ended up not being worth the money, in general, most people were fairly pleasant. I never had to kick anyone out, though I did have one mentally unstable guy. Other than that everyone was either nice or just quiet for the most part.

    Being a rider though, I ride with Lyft on business trips and have only ever reported one guy for hand-holding his phone, driving like an insane person and almost getting hit 2-3 times. I normally don’t complain but I did that one time. In this case, I think having an avenue to do so is helpful. I think there is also a good way for Uber to tie out to users patterns if they consistently are stating drivers are unsafe.

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