Obnoxious Behavior Will Now Get You Banned From Uber. Can Lyft Be Far Behind?
Have you ever asked an Uber driver to go faster than the speed limit because you were in a hurry? Eaten strong-smelling food during a ride? Put your feet up on the dashboard? Flirted with a driver you found attractive? Left a driver waiting 10 minutes for you to get in the car? These and other such behaviors can now get you banned from Uber. And though Lyft has not announced similar measures, it seems highly possible it will follow Uber's lead.
As rideshare drivers recently told the New York Times, while drivers have to pass background checks, anyone with the app can summon an Uber. That means drivers never really know what to expect when they answer a call. They can, and do, give passengers bad ratings for rude or obnoxious behavior. And drivers have long been allowed to decline rides from passengers with low ratings.
But now, in the wake of driver protests over mistreatment and lower fares, and with heightened concerns about rider and driver safety, Uber has stepped things up with statement by Kate Parker, head of safety brand and initiatives, laying out the company's new policies. To begin with, Uber users in the U.S. and Canada will see a full-screen version of Ubers' community guidelines and will have to acknowlede them; if they don't they may lose access to Uber.
But just tapping "I understand" won't be enough. Riders who get a "significantly below average rating" from drivers may now have their accounts deactivated. The need to behave with respect and accountability applies to riders as well as drivers, Parker explains. "Drivers have long been expected to meet a meet a minimum rating threshold which can vary city to city," she writes. "While we expect only a small number of riders to ultimately be impacted by ratings-based deactivations, it's the right thing to do."
Uber hasn't publicly shared information about just how low a driver's or rider's ratings can go before he or she is deactivated from Uber. But The Verge reports that one leaked Uber document from 2015 said a rating below 4.6 could cause a driver to be banned. It also hasn't said whether these new rider deactivations will be permanent, or if not, how long riders must wait before they can sign up again. Uber also hasn't said what, if anything, it will do to prevent a rider from simply creating a new account with a different email address, credit card and/or mobile number.
From the drivers' point of view, the new policy is likely to be a welcome change. It's disheartening, if not surprising, to read about some of the rude, gross, or simply freakish behavior drivers get subjected to by passengers. (If you've considered becoming a rideshare driver yourself, these accounts might be enough to dissuade you.)
The company did say that deactivation shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Riders will be warned when their behavior is earning them dangerously low ratings, and will "have several opportunities to improve their rating prior to losing access to the Uber apps," according to Parker's statement. So if you haven't been told that you're in danger of deactivation, you probably have nothing to worry about.
Still, if you're an Uber user, it's probably a good idea to check your average rating, which you can find underneath your name when you tap the menu bar in the top right corner of the app. And if it's close to 4.6, or lower, you may want to change your ways.