1. 4 Is Not a Good Rating
4 is not a good rating. It's not like your company's ratings of employee performance, where 4 is Outstanding and 5 is Walks on Water. For Uber, 5 means it was a good ride with no major problems. 4 is so bad that a driver with an average rating of 4.7 or less risks being disqualified from driving by Uber.
I've heard of a rideshare car that has a chart taped to the back of the front passenger seat: "The Rating System Explained."
5 stars: Got me where I needed to go.
4 stars: This driver sucks, fire him slowly. Too many of these and I may end up homeless.
3 stars: This driver sucks so bad I never want to see him or his lousy car again.
2 stars: The car is filthy and dangerous and the driver was doing 180 in a 60 zone.
1 star: I was threatened with violence and then physically assaulted.
Uber is introducing a facility for riders to select a reason for their rating and have assured drivers that poor ratings for reasons outside their control (surge, roadworks etc.) will be disregarded.
2. I Don't Know What You Look Like
I don't know what you look like. If you are standing on a busy footpath looking at your phone or chatting to a group of friends, I have no way of knowing you're my ride. You, on the other hand, have been told by the app the colour and the make of my car and its registration number. The app has even told you that I've arrived. Please, please make yourself known to me in time for me to stop and pick you up. Smile and wave works well.
I once got a call to a road that had several units in it, along with a number of restaurants in a cul de sac off the road itself. I tried the restaurants first. Drove slowly past a group of people talking to each other. There was no recognition or acknowledgement so I figured it had to be one of the units. So I drove all round the street but no luck. I tried calling the rider, of course, but it went to voice mail and I left a message. So I thought I'd try the restaurants again. The group that was there before had dispersed, except for one couple. They were my ride. They were quite annoyed that I had driven right past them before and hadn't stopped to pick them up!
3. My Car Is a Sedan That Can Seat 4 People Plus Me, the Driver
My car is a sedan that can seat 4 people plus me, the driver. It cannot fit 3 large surfboards plus 3 large surfers. Equally, it cannot legally fit 5, 6 or even 7 people.
Both of these things have happened to me. The surfboards and their riders were simply not possible. But I had to drive to where they were to find out. With the more than 4 people, I didn't know until I stopped how many they were, I was already holding up traffic - and they were all girls. I made a snap decision and let them in. But I was worried all the way during the drive that I'd be pulled over by a cop and charged. I wouldn't do it again and the lesson I learned from it is to think through possible scenarios in advance and know in advance how you're going to handle it.
On the other hand, having six girls in the back seat plus one in the front was sorta fun.
4. It's Really Unsafe for Me to Stop in the Middle of the Road
It's really unsafe for me to stop in the middle of the road, especially if I'm in a line of traffic. I risk being rear-ended at worst or pissing off the drivers behind me at best, which I'd prefer not to do. Please move to somewhere I can pull into (even if it's a loading zone or a handicapped parking space, at least it's out of danger and we'll only be there for a few seconds.) Oh, and move there before calling me, so the GPS knows where you are, not where you were.
5. If It's Night Time, I Have Great Difficulty Seeing Street Numbers
If it's night time, I have great difficulty seeing street numbers and the navigation app doesn't tell me exactly where you are. I understand that you want to stay in the house until I arrive, but the app tells you where I am and when I've arrived. Please check the app and walk out of your house as I arrive (or even a few seconds before, how good would that be?) so that I'm not in a darkened street wondering if I'm anywhere near you. If you can't do that, at least have your phone on, so that I can call or text you and we'll organise it that way.
And if the pickup is at a restaurant or a resort, please enter the name of the restaurant or resort rather than just relying on the pin drop. It will make both our lives easier!
I'd love to hear your feedback on these thoughts. And if you as an Uber driver, have other messages for Uber riders, please leave a message.