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Monday, February 22, 2016

Riders Manipulate Rating System

On two ridesharing platforms, Uber and Lyft, the 5 star rating system keeps track of drivers based on rider service. Ridesharing companies turn a blind eye to their drivers, instead protecting ridership. The rating system is critical to drivers; therefore, maintaining a good overall rating is the best way to stay active as a ridesharing driver. Give or take, riders are known to manipulate this star rating system.

Following a trip, drivers must rate every rider to move on. Otherwise, drivers are blocked from accepting future trips. In contrast, riders have up to 24 hours to rate their drivers. At any time, riders can change their mind to submit a low rating. It is unfair that ride companies allow this much time to pass, without at least closing out the ratings for these particular trips within a specific time frame, such as 5 minutes.

What if a rider doesn't get a future ride that day? Has a poor experience? A rider can go back and rate past trips within a 24-hour window. This is horrible for drivers trying to keep a high score because riders realize that drivers are dependent on keeping their score as high as possible. These riders can manipulate this star rating system to deactivate drivers.

Lyft riders are notorious for causing driver deactivations, an action Lyft would rather sweep under their Pink Mustache to avoid negative publicity. So many Lyft drivers are exposed to problem riders.

Riders influence ratings to make a statement. Make no mistake that riders submit extremely low scores for minor issues, mostly for Uber pin drop problems, talking too much, not driving fast enough and for showing up late to airports, workplaces and meetings. Clients input wrong addresses, but blame drivers for driving to these locations. Riders monitor drivers on the app; however, they still watch as drivers travel to wrong pickup locations.

Drivers lose valuable time to riders. They must wait outside of workplaces, bars, clubs, restaurants, concerts, and game venues for extended periods of time. Furthemore, drivers are expected to re-route to new pickup locations many miles away. This occurs after driving 5-20 minutes following ride acceptance, and another 5 minutes waiting outside of the wrong pickup address.

When riders express anger over pin drop issues, guess what? Riders rate poorly to report Uber and Lyft internal app issues that have nothing to do with their drivers.

On one occasion, an Uber driver was manipulated into waiting around to complete a third trip. When another person (another person used client account) who invited the driver to wait around this shady home, they later changed their mind to tell this driver to leave. The Uber client didn't know their driver had left, so their two female friends probably didn't get a quick ride back home.

What happened after this request to send the driver away? They rated their Uber driver extremely low on two previous trips completed an hour prior. The driver reported this problem to Uber. However, the ride giant downplayed this event (told driver they are highly rated and can boost score) and eventually changed the driver dashboard to block monitoring of real-time ratings. Now, drivers won't know if their clients will bend the system to hurt them.

As a result of this 24-hour rating window, riders manipulate drivers to accept larger parties beyond their seating capacity, sneak in drinks, use drugs, rush rides, and bad-mouth drivers. There is laundry list of client manipulation to accommodate or receive low ratings.

The ridesharing platforms would operate much better without this 5 star rating system. This star rating system has hurt many drivers, causing them severe financial problems post-deactivation. Lyft drivers who got unfairly deactivated were blocked from re-applying with Lyft. These drivers were told to stop driving at night because they knew that drunks rate poorly. This ridesharing platform maintains the worst group of riders in the industry.

Vomiting riders will make a mess in vehicles to influence drivers. Keep in mind that no ridesharing company will reimburse drivers for lost time. Cleaning fees are mostly absorbed into the clean-up process, restoring vehicles back to pre-vomit condition.

Riders are quick to rate drivers low for taking an Uber-influenced route. Uber app problems continue to hurt drivers in the rating department. If the route is good, a client may say that is nice of Uber for providing the best route on their app. On the flip side, riders rate low on bad routes where they believe it will cost them more money. At $.15 per minute and $.85 per mile in the East Bay and South Bay, riders are not losing much money. It is when riders drop pins far away, input wrong addresses, and make drivers wait that impact driver earnings.

Poor riders on two occasions actually ended the trip on the Uber driver app. They crossed the line to touch a driver's phone without permission. They submitted 5 star ratings on their behalf. This poor behavior is what drivers experience driving on ridesharing platforms.

If trips are not closed out the moment destinations are reached, clients are known to submit low driver ratings. A 2-5 second delay in closing out trips will cost a rider a penny. These clients still occupy vehicles, but they need to get their personal items ready and may have luggage in the trunk.

A trip is still active until the client departs the vehicle. There is no efficient way to end trip at airports, because helping client with luggage could cost drivers another ride request. During promotional periods, acceptance rates represent a major qualifying condition.

Right now, clients have an advantage with manipulating the 5 star rating system. We identify these clients/passengers as entitled riders. They also get cheap rides at the expense of drivers, who must absorb low pay under these tough moments. The best way to fix rider manipulation is to hold these riders accountable for their actions, like drivers.

If riders cause a driver to get a parking ticket, threaten drivers, and adopt other troubling behavior, they will be warned and eventually undergo a lockout for a specific period of time. Since clients expect a pickup in red zones, on prohibited streets (Market Street in SF) and/or at tough pickup addresses where they make drivers wait and can get tickets, ridesharing companies should take action. Repeated vomit episodes from same clients must be dealt with swiftly.

Riders manipulate the 5 star rating system for their personal needs. There are no repercussions for hurting drivers. By bending the star system, clients can customize their impossible standards. Telling drivers they must accept extra riders or face low ratings may put them in a bad position to get into serious trouble with legal authorities. If an accident occurs, drivers may face legal responsibility.

In a past Napa trip, a client retaliated for not being able to use a coupon at the cutoff time. They responded to this disgust by giving their driver a 2 star. What this client failed to notice is that taking the most common route would have extended their trip another 45 minutes due to traffic along Highway 29. They helped this client to reach faster, but then they were unfair to submit a low rating.

This is an example of an entitled client who is willing to take high risks and rate a driver with low stars if they don't reach a destination on time. A client made a mistake on their flight time. They assumed their United Airlines flight to Brazil departed at 7:30am. Upon logging- in online, the husband realized his wife couldn't be checked-in since departure time was 7:00am.

The husband told his driver to speed up faster. Under rainy conditions, this driver couldn't honor this request to speed. However, the driver said he would do his best to reach in time. The driver was told again to be 10 times more aggressive at the airport. He was instructed to speed within the airport zone. In the end, the driver received a low score.

Watch out for these types of riders. They are quick to judge. If they show no interest in socializing, stop talking. If told to speed, drive at the speed limit. If asked to follow their directions, do so. Show urgency to reach destination, but also stay safe. A small percentage of clients are ready to submit low ratings. Be very careful; please these clients the best way you can without breaking any traffic laws.

Client view 4.9 drivers differently than 4.8 drivers. Don't beat yourself up if your score drops from 4.9 to 4.8. It is impossible to figure out all riders. The rule of numbers in ridesharing is that out of most riders, a large percentage will be fair with rating you 5 stars. A majority of riders have no idea drivers can rate them, too. This is where the rating system gets tricky.

As drivers, you are also empowered to rate your clients. Give your clients what they deserve. Respond to their manipulative tactics with teaching them how to be fair. If clients exhibit bad behavior that ruins the ridesharing experience, rate them with low stars. Don't worry if clients have high scores, just do what is right to protect your fellow drivers.

Happy Ridesharing!