Six Uber Secrets You NEED to Know THIS Weekend

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Uber has revolutionized transportation in almost every market where it has become available.  No longer must one rely on prebooked black car services, flag down taxis, or try to figure out public transportation in a strange city.

Yet there are several Uber secrets that a casual user might not know about the service that can greatly affect the quality and cost of your ride.

These are the top things I’ve noticed that passengers complain about – and will rate drivers lower for – despite them being factors outside of driver control.

I’m a regular Uber passenger, not only in my own town but also in those I travel to.  I also started driving for UberX last month and have begun to learn the Uber secrets that drivers know… and I’m sharing them with you to help improve your ride quality!

1. Your Uber driver does NOT know exactly where you are going.

That is, not unless you put in your exact destination.  In July, I wrote about one of my bad Uber experiences in Manhattan when I discovered that Uber did not transmit the destination information I had input to my driver.  That has since changed – and now the Uber Driver app (which is what we use to do all of our Uber business) will give us an exact destination – but ONLY if you input one.

To do this, you need to enter a destination before you request the ride.

UberX

If this does not pop up automatically, you can go into the fare estimate part of the app before requesting the ride.

There is a dropdown menu once you start typing that will let you select where you are going.

UberX

Takeaway:  Enter an exact address (or select the name of the business you are trying to visit. 

2. Be certain your pick up location is accurate.

The “pin” that drops for your pickup location is derived using your phone’s location services feature and sometimes can be wildly inaccurate.

If you know your exact location, it’s helpful to enter that.  If you don’t, if you can drag the pin to the nearest intersection where you would like to be picked up.  You can initially enter an address as well and then the pin can be dragged to a more accurate spot on the screen.

I have noticed that my location is rarely accurate when I request a ride – or sometimes its too accurate.  For example, if I’m in the back of my house when requesting a ride and don’t input my address, it tells the driver to go to the street behind my home (which does not provide access to my street).  Sometimes at work, it will show my last location in the parking garage a block away because my location is hard to determine.  And occasionally when it pulls a correct address, it’s on the opposite side of the building on a different street corner than where I want to be picked up.

UberX

This is my first attempt to request a car. The green pin is a block away from where I am right now. The blue location indicator shows me closer to where I am. I have accidentally dragged the green pin in the app – that is where the driver would go to pick me up if I requested the ride now.

UberX

I entered the correct address and my location is accurate (except that blue dot is my 31st floor office) – so I have dragged the green pin to the door where I’d like to be picked up so the driver can come to the correct location.

Most important – if you are somewhere (like a sporting event or neighbor’s house) but plan to migrate to another location before the driver arrives, when requesting your ride, put in the address where you want the driver to come to, not the address where you currently are.

Still, this gets messed up enough that if I see a green pin dropped (which shows up as “Go To Pin”), I’m almost always going to call to get an exact address or double check the location, as I’ve seen individuals drag their pin to an empty field over a mile away from where they actually are!

It’s also important to know – your driver cannot change the pick up location once you have requested the ride, which affects the GPS portion of the Uber app – so even if you call and change it, the Uber navigation will only guide us to the original destination which may result in delays while we try to use an alternate system to attempt to locate you.

Takeaway:   Enter the correct and complete pick up address if you can – or make sure the pin location is accurate for where you plan to meet the car!

3. The Uber navigation system isn’t that great.

In fact, its pretty bad.  In my town, it tries to take me down roads that have been closed for two years and does not have some of our newest fastest shortcuts visible.  But if we have the app open as we should, it’s the default map that will show up and if you see us driving in circles trying to reach you, its either because we are trying to reach a pin versus an inexact address (see item 2) or the navigation is not accurate.

Most drivers used to use their own phones to navigate separately from the Uber phone and app.  This was great because could have the Uber app open but still navigate independently (and take your calls/texts if you were trying to reach us.  But Uber recently started charging us $10 a week to lease the Uber phones so many drivers promptly returned to avoid those fees.

So now many drivers are using their own cell phones which means they are now toggling between their own phone’s navigation and the app (which we are required to have up) unless they have onboard navigation in the car or another separate form of GPS.  And we are also taking your calls/texts about your ride on that same phone – it ends up being a lot going on at one time, while we are supposed to be driving!

I’m lucky to have hands-free calling and also onboard navigation… but other drivers are trying to do it all on one device!

Takeaway:  If you see your driver on their cell phone, they probably aren’t texting and driving – they are trying to get you from point A to point B.

4. We don’t actually have your phone number – and you don’t have ours!

If your Uber driver calls or texts you to confirm your pick up location, all we see is a generic phone number assigned to us – the same one you see.  After your ride ends, we have no way of reaching you as that number continues to rotate from passenger to passenger.

So don’t be freaked out that your driver sent you a text and now knows how to reach you – he doesn’t.  But what also happens is that you technically have our number as it turns out, or at least if you were our last passenger.  Before I turned in my Uber-issued phone, I received calls at 4 am one morning from the last passenger I’d driven earlier that evening screaming at me because I couldn’t help her find the Uber driver who just dropped them off (drunk, apparently) because her friend left her purse in his car.  She called me a variety of unrepeatable names because I could only give her generic contact information for the Dallas office and couldn’t track down her driver.

Takeaway:  If we call or text you, please answer – chances are, is related to issue 2 (we can’t find you)!

5. Ratings really DO matter – ours AND yours.

At the end of your ride, you are given the opportunity to rate your driver on a scale of 1 to 5.

Those ratings are really important.

If a driver’s rating falls below a certain threshold (which can vary by city), their Uber app will automatically be shut off and they can no longer drive until they’ve been reinstated by Uber (which may require taking online training or going in for a car inspection, from what I’ve heard).  If it drops lower, they can lose all driving privileges permanently.

That threshold is relatively high too – in some cities with more drivers than passengers, it’s rumored to be as high as 4.6 or 4.7.  So every rating less than a 5 can jeopardize a driver’s ability to stay on the road.

I’ve had a passenger give me a 1 – and tell me she was doing it – because SHE entered the wrong address (and after I tried to confirm three times that she really wanted to go there – it was a known bad neighborhood – tried to blame me for purposely going for a higher fare, even after I “ended” the ride and drove her five miles back to the right location for free).

I’ve also had a lot of intoxicated passengers give me lower ratings – for not letting them smoke in my car, not letting them vomit in my car, or not letting them ride six passenger in my four passenger car without seatbelts.  I’m to the point that I am not driving at hours where I’m likely to transport intoxicated passengers anymore because I can’t afford the ratings hit.

But… we also get to rate YOU.  So if you are that jerky passenger who insists on doing something in my private vehicle that I don’t like, I can give you a bad rating.  Get enough of those, you can be banned by Uber.  Or you may see drivers accepting and then promptly canceling rides with you because of your low rating.  I haven’t done it yet – but others report they do it, so it could be you.

Takeaway:  Rate fairly, but awarely.

6. Speaking of cancellations – don’t play the multiple ride game.

I’m told that the new thing to do in my town is to request Uber at the same time as requesting other transport (Lyft, Curb, etc.) and then cancelling the ones that don’t arrive first.  This is particular problem on the college campus near me.

I have a couple of problems with this.  One is that many of the drivers for one service are also on the others – so all you are really doing  is creating artificial surges for demand – which in turn drives up price surges and sends drivers scurrying to the source of the surge.  In the end, you don’t get a driver that much faster but it may cost you more in the long run.

The other problem is that we as drivers do not get paid if you cancel unless we have already arrived to pick you up.  This is also why you will often see a notice that your driver has arrived while he is a couple of blocks away, especially if you are on one of those ambiguous pick up areas (like I described in point 2) and/or you haven’t been answering our call/text to find you.  We’ll slide to arrive so that if you jump in another car, we at least still get paid for the cancellation.

Takeaway:  Play the multiple ride game at your own risk… you’ll pay for it in the end.

These are just a few of the things your Uber driver wants you to know, because we value your business AND we value your time.

If you have other Uber secrets you want to know, ask away – I might cover them in a future post!


About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last eighteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 47.5 US states. Although she averages 200 days a year on the road, she loves to return to “the homestead” in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and cocktail mixology.

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  1. On #1, if I enter the destination when I request the ride, do the drivers see the destination before the pickup? If so, should I be worried that drivers may not want to take that trip? Maybe it’s to a location they won’t get a return ride from, or maybe it’s just a few blocks and not worth their time? Might I get a quicker pickup if I keep the destination secret?

    • We don’t see destination when accepting a ride. Only your first name, a street address where you are, and how many minutes away that is. We have less than 15 seconds to accept or it goes to the next driver.

      We don’t see destination until you are in the car and we hit “start ride”.

    • So like I’m 16 years of age and I’m trying to ride uber will they let me ride or no? Also if I put my debit card in will I get like a email or something or what?

      • Wow, I’m in the same boat. I’m also sixteen. I want to surprise a friend but Uber is the only source of transportation available and affordable for me.

  2. “This is also why you will often see a notice that your driver has arrived while he is a couple of blocks away, especially if you are on one of those ambiguous pick up areas (like I described in point 2) and/or you haven’t been answering our call/text to find you. We’ll slide to arrive so that if you jump in another car, we at least still get paid for the cancellation.”

    Generally it’s unwise to admit to publicly admit to fraud.

    • It’s not really “fraud” when you put a pin in the middle of Texas Stadium (where there is no “road” driving straight through) or a pedestrian-only bar district or a college campus. If I have arrived at that general area, then I *have* arrived. That’s separate than “starting the ride” which we cannot do without you a) getting in the car or b) with your approval, if you are running late.

      Also the “your Uber is arriving” message is automated when we get within 2 minutes away. The driver does not control that.

      • Uber drivers keep pulling into our driveway to pick up a passenger- it has become a great Nuisance! We are a married couple living here. We don’t have any affiliation with the company or have ever used them . How does this stop ?

  3. I can see the driver’s phone number, can I text them before the ride? I have sent text messages and I never seem to get a response nor do they acknowledge. i try to make it helpful for them to spot me, especially at busy locations such as the airport or a downtown NYC street corner. I sometimes text “Blonde lady with red dress and suitcase”

    • Absolutely… I find any extra information I get to be extremely helpful in locating the person I’m picking up. I always try to say “thanks” so they know I got the text too.

    • It won’t, provided you cancel before the driver has started the ride. And yes, I’ve actually had people get in my car and then decide “oh, never mind, I don’t want to ride after all – at that point, you are the driver’s mercy..

  4. Yesterday passenger give me wrong pick up add I reached what navigate guide I was waiting after 5 MTS I called waiting outside he cursed me u are not right add he give me new add how should avoid because it happen before navigate give me wriong pick up add and he gave me rating 1

  5. Can Uber take the same passenger to three places in one trip and return them back to pick up, like multiple errands in one trip?

    • In theory, yes. I have done it as a driver and passenger. Some drivers refuse to do it, however, especially if there is a waiting time involved, because the pay to sit idle is literally pennies per minute.

  6. After four no problem Uber trips over the past few weeks I have not been able to set up a pick-up and trip destination so I had to call a taxi instead of wasting more time. This has been very frustrating. Today, just now at 12:10 PM I realized that my iPhone battery needs to be recharged. Since I will not have access to my charging hardware I will need to defer entering the data that Uber needs to take me from 1180 Beacon Street in Brookline, MA 02446 to 70 Wellsl Avenue in Newton, MA 02459. WIthout my battery functioning I won’t be reachable now on my iPhone but I can be reached at 617 232 6900 immediately.
    I should note that even when my iPhone battery was fully charged I could not contact Uber to request a ride at that time either. Please advise me how I might proceed to get Uber to do this trip for me. I suspect I am not the only one who has had this problem. Please advise me how to proceed.

    • Mike… the only way to request an Uber is to use your iPhone to request one. Those who drive for Uber are all independent contractors and can only take rides filtered from the system. As I’m located in another state, I unfortunately cannot help you.

  7. I was able to get an uber driver bc the add payment option continues to pop up- I added 3 extra cards which were all good including my PayPal – I had no customer service number to call and forced to walk back to my hotel at a late hour with no help.
    Very disapointed and frustrated

  8. HI

    My Location Access is on after it Uber app unable to find my current location.
    Map is also not coming,

    LOCATION NOT FOUND Message is Showing

    Please help me

  9. Hello Jennifer,
    Thanks for the little secrets, these are very interesting things I was not aware of. I am from Chicago and will be in LA for 6 weeks doing an externship and I figured I might as well use my free time to make some cash so I am interested in signing up to become an uber driver. However, whenever I try to sign up on uber’s website, it gives me some sort of error message telling me I am not authorize to see that page and tells me to log out and try again. I have uber already but as a passenger and somehow it asks me to use a different email and phone number to become a driver. Do you happen to know what I need to do to circumvent this issue? Also, let me know if you can refer me.
    Thanks
    Frank

  10. Both the rider and driver education needs to improve. I had the rider app on my phone for a long time but never had need for it so I have no experience as a rider. I have now become a part time driver. As a driver, there is very little detailed information about how the system works and you need to, pretty much, rely on “on the job” training. This does not promote excellent customer service. I was unaware the customer could move their location on their app. Having been led to the wrong house behind the right house on numerous occasions I have learned to ASSUME the pickup location is incorrect. I have had to drive as much as 20 minutes extra to reach a client at the other side of the cow pasture from where I was directed. I realize GPS accuracy is going to vary from system to system, but in comparison to Google Maps or even the awful Apple Maps, Uber’s is far worse. I have emailed Uber to find out it they recommend calling the client prior to the pick up to verify location, but I have not received an answer yet and, at any rate I don’t think that is a satisfactory solution. Riders would probably find that annoying.

    • As a veteran to Uber X, since Sept 2013, the training is available. As a uberXpert, I’ve trained and spoke to many new drivers, and have given sound tips on what to do and not. Also, it doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out the process of being a driver. Granted, orientation for me was different than it may be now, but it’s self explanatory. The down fall has been the navigation system, but I rely on my own as well. Overall, the training is simple, give great customer service.

    • Oh, by the way, it is wise to call your customer in advance to verify location of pickup if lost or to confirm that you have arrived at the correct location. A customer is only annoyed when you can’t find them.

    • Hello Milford,
      I’m also a new Uber partner and I make it a habit to call each passenger and ask if they have any special pickup instructions. I also ask a description of the pickup location, house, apartment restaurant.
      If it is a busy area I ask what they are wearing and if there is a safe place to pull over.

      Hope it helps.
      UberSafer,
      Brian

  11. what happen when a uber user does not have their address destination or if he change his mind on destination while is on the way?

    • That happens… if they know the name of their location but not the address, we can usually find it. And if they change their mind, we can reroute. And occasionally a passenger really does NOT know where they are going – I had one of those last weekend. He didn’t know his pick up location and I waited several minutes at a hotel a half-mile away. And then he told me the wrong name of the bar he wanted to go to so we went 10 minutes out of the way.

    • I was wondering if anyone could tell me if you have to enter your destination address when wanting Uber. I have only used a couple of times. I have an elderly mother who now has an iPhone and should not be driving. She is capable of hitting the uber app and it does ping on her house address. Can she just request the car service and tell them when they call her where she wants to go?

  12. I was wondering if any one else has had this problem in Lousiana, I live in a small town, an when I’m away from the house I try to log in to uber to start driving but I get a pop up that says “you are not approved to drive in new Orleans” but I’m not in new Orleans at the time just wanted to see if any one was having these problems I want to get out of my little town an work but I just can’t log in to get on line any suggestions??!

    • You need to be approved to drive in each market you want to drive in. If you want to drive in a different market, set up a profile and get approved there and then you’ll be able to drive!

  13. In the real world, how do the Uber driver and passenger find each other if the pick-up location is crowded, e.g., after a sporting event or concert? Some people here have suggested telling the driver what you are wearing…but t-shirt and jeans doesn’t really help. What do you do if you don’t stand out from the crowd? Does the Uber driver tell the passenger what kind/color of car he/she is driving?

    • Hello Jeff.
      You bring up a good point as this happens often in crowded areas. I suggest sending a text to your driver with your description of yourself as well as a pick up location which may be less crowded and easy to find, I. e. “Corner of xyz street and other street” or parking lot row 20 spot 15.
      Hope this helps

  14. Hi, I’ve never used Uber so far but I’d like to know when does Uber charge for the ride… the moment somebody completes the order on the smartphone? The moment somebody enters the car? Do I pay directly to drivers own bank account, or to Uber’s and then Uber allocates this money onto drivers account?

    Another question is how does Uber know that some of his drivers won’t pick up a customer and not charge him/her as he should, but to charge him/her illegaly instead (money directly in his pocket)? Uber won’t even know about that ride. How does Uber control that?

    Thanks

  15. Please can you guide me- I would like to drop my daughter to her class on über from home and after dropping her would like to come back home in the same car. How can I convey that from my app?

    • Hello. As far as I know the only way you can do that is to make an arrangement with the driver for him/her to be near the drop off/pick up at the time your daughter gets out of class and have the request send at that time. Uber will request the driver nearest the pick up location, so unless the driver agrees to be back in the same spot there is no guarantee you will get the same driver.

  16. Can you sign up for Uber if you don’t have a cell phone at all? Can you just use your home phone number? Believe it or not. …not everyone has a cell phone! How can someone sign up without one?

  17. I just recently started driving & I guess I figured out early what it took you a minute to figure out. I love the leather in my car & usually stop driving around 9pm to avoid the drunk folks. I drove this morning for the 1st time & was surprised how many people use ridesharing to go to work. I have been turning the app on as I leave my office (I have a full time job) and have managed to really supplement my income just on my ride home. It helps living downtown Orlando, I get a lot of locals coming & going to work and if I get near the touristy areas I am constantly pinged. I didn’t know that people were pinging multiple apps at a time, if I get a rider who cancels, a lot of time they will ping a 2nd time and now I know why. I initially would decline their 2nd ping until I realized it was affecting my acceptance rates, now I will accept & if they cancel a 2nd time, I turn the app off for a few minutes. Thanks for the tips, good stuff for us newbies.

    • Hello. my brother put my number to verify his account in Uber. Can he track my location whenever i’m hanging out with my friends?

  18. I don’t know if you have done an article Uner corporate accounts, but I have noticed I will get a customer cancilation and get redirected to what I think are VIP pickups. And the customer has already seen my car. I use a high line vehicle and my name is now known to the customer. Hope I don’t see them again in fear of getting a low rating.

  19. How to log out from the UBER application on the smartphone? once I have finished my ride, because it consumes too much battery.

    Can someone tell me?

  20. Hey I do have a question, see every time I get in a car with a driver who tells me I gave him a different pick up address than my home, I get confused. I know my home address is stored in the app, and I always pick it from the list rather than just using the pin. Still, I want to know why after the driver picks me up I can no longer see my pickup address. I don’t need to change it, bUT I’d like to know if I really did put in the wring address. Don’t get me wrong though, I have checked my home address many times only to find its correct, yet some drivers, like the one drivinge as I type this comment, simply go to the wrong address then say oh u gave me the wrong address. So yeah, how can I see or check the pickup address once I’m on my ride ?

    • Likely, the address is wrong on his Uber map. You can ask him what address he thinks he picked you up at, then text your drivers and tell them to pick you up at that address because their map is inaccurate. A good driver will get close and start looking at physical house numbers instead of relying on GPS.

  21. It appears Uber-X and Medstar Health has been short-lived for the WDC area. I scheduled an Uber-X ride for an appointment from MedStar’s web site (still there incidently). I assumed the Uber-X is for medical and includes a wheelchair lift. Anyway, I received the webpage confirmation, a mobile phone reminder, the option to estimate the cost. But it was a no show on the part of any Uber-X driver. I phoned MedStar to get a phone number for Uber-X to no avail and was told the contract with Uber-X and MedStar is currently on-hold although advertised all over the web. Also, why is there ever a phone number listed or available for Uber’s Corp office? It seems to me Uber and Uber-X should be held to some higher standards, especially when you’re dealing with someone’s health and missing essential medical appointments.

  22. re Uber navigation: looking at the trip map after completion of the ride, it shows pick-up point A correctly, then driving for about 1 mile in the right direction towards drop-off point B. Then it looks like the driver turned around went into the complete opposite direction following highways, main roads and side roads. After about 5 miles there is a sudden stop and from this point C a straight ca. 10-mile long line across the entire city through parks, malls and stadiums to point B where the trip was ended. Does anyone know how that is possible?

  23. I am in Manhattan for 5 days. 1st 2 uber rides went well. The third I was going back to my hotel. I put in my address and got picked up. I noticed the driver was using Google maps. About 2 miles from our hotel he shut it off and turned it back on. Then a minute or so later he said we were at my destination , but we weren’t. He said I had input some address on Cliff St. but my hotel was on Pearl st. He basically said he was all done and to get out. I complained to Uber and they gave me a refund. Today the same thing happened. I requested an uber to 320 Pearls st. and got picked up. On our way I asked the driver about my problem from yesterday and he said well we aren’t going to 320 Pearl st today either. The address he had receiced was St. James Place.
    So something is screwed up with the Uber system. On my phone uber said it was finding my destination near 320 Pearls St. and the uber drivers app said St. James Place.WTF

    • Hey Clifford, makes no sense why that would happen. Unless NY rules are different, drivers get paid based on the mileage driven. Destination entered doesn’t matter at all. You could go somewhere completely different….you would be charged accordingly, and your driver will be compensated.

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