Dear Uber Driver (An Open Letter)

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Dear Uber driver*,

(* or Lyft driver or Curb driver or yellow taxi/black car/pedicab driver… I’ve been in dozens of your cars in 2015 already and the lines are blurring so this is really for all of you)

How’s it going?

Listen, I know its tough out there with the lowered fares (or bogus bonuses, unfair competition, passengers trying to cheat the system, weather, or whatever other monkey wrench your organization has thrown your way today).

I feel your pain.

Lately I haven’t been driving as much as I’ve been riding.  In fact, I’ve only completed three rides since figuring out that I wasn’t even netting minimum wage.

But the new low fares make it more attractive to take Uber or Lyft now than to pay to park (whether downtown at my office or at the airport) so it seems like I ride everywhere and thus wear the weird hat of being both one of you and one of THEM.

I’ve had close to 60 rides in the last two months as a matter of fact – on Uber, on Lyft, via taxi and black car, and even one in a pedicab – and I’ve gotten to see what the best of the best looks like.  And I’ve also seen a lot of things that make me shake my head.

I see it like this – if you want to succeed in the long range and see the market prices adjust, the service has to be something consumers are willing to pay for.  Otherwise it’s nothing more than glorified hitchhiking for a fee.

I think there is a lot that companies can do directly that would improve the services for both drivers and passengers.  But there are also a few things you – the driver – can do too. In the past, I’ve shared with passengers the things they should know or do to make the experience better.  And now, I’m passing on the favor to you.

I feel like I’m a decent passenger (and my 4.9 passenger rating seems to back that up) and I know I’m a good driver (4.91 after eight months) so my worlds align pretty well.

Here are ten things you should do if you want your passengers to have the best experience possible in your Uber/Lyft/taxi/hovercraft/rickshaw:

1. Understand how both sides of the app work.  I’m surprised how many drivers have never seen the user interface for their brand’s software or taken a ride as a passenger.  For example, when I comment to an Uber driver that I can see them driving down the wrong street or driving in the opposite direction of my pickup location, they seem shocked that I know where their car is.  On Curb, some drivers don’t even understand that there is an actual app involved and not just central dispatch.  Learn how the interface works and your ratings will improve.

2. Stop calling me.  Nothing annoys me more than pointless calls from drivers.  Calling me to say “I’ll be there in five minutes” is a waste of my time when I can see the five minutes on the app (see number 1!).  Calling me immediately to tell me you have arrived is a waste of my time when the app tells me you are arriving (see number 1!) and is going to set a bad tone when I need to set my alarm and grab my things and make my way out of the house.  That’s difficult to do when I’m stopping to answer my phone so I’m going to be annoyed before I ever open the door!  Park and cool your heels for 30 seconds.  (Uber drivers, the training video that you supposedly watched tells you to wait five minutes before calling to avoid ratings hits… heed that advice unless you are truly worried you are in the wrong place!)

3. As an addendum to #2, don’t screen me if you DO call.  When you call me under the guise of verifying my address (which I entered in the app), I know what you are probably going to ask next – “where are you going”.  I’ve had more than a couple of rides cancelled right after a driver hangs up if I haven’t given you the “correct” answer (which is apparently “the airport” or some other place with a longer/larger fare).  If you only want to drive to and from the airport, apply to be a limousine driver or become a frequent traveler, because that’s not how this works.  Also, all you are doing is encouraging passengers to lie.  (“Oh, I need to go to the airport but first I need you to swing by this other location.”)  Let’s not go there.

4. Pick me up where I ask to be picked up.  This isn’t about those dropped pins.  I hate the dropped pins.  This is about you deciding to park a half block away despite having an exact address entered.  And even if you do because you are confused, when you see me coming out, pull up to meet me.  Don’t make me walk up the street towing my luggage because you didn’t want to look at the house numbers.  It’s especially annoying in bad weather so just don’t do it.

5. Drop me off where I ask to be dropped off.  It’s equally annoying to have you stop the car two houses away from where I live after I’ve said “it’s that grey house on the left with the blue front door” or to go to a different spot at the airport terminal after I’ve said “upper level, second door please!”.  And don’t get me started on how I regularly have to walk a block back in the correct direction because the “right here please” gets ignored on my work commute.

6. Don’t lie.  I’ve heard some of the most ridiculous driver lies lately.  Just blatant rubbish, either out of not knowing the company policies and/or making things up to avoid following them.   I will call you out on your lies as a fellow driver if I think you may honestly not know.  And I will report you after the ride ends if you do know and are still perpetuating untruths.  Here are some of my recent favorites:

“Uber won’t allow us to accept rides that are less than a mile in distance.”

“We are required to follow Uber’s GPS – I can’t drive you the way you want to go.”

“We aren’t allowed to make stops anymore.  If you need to stop for any reason, you have to request a second ride – but don’t worry, I can wait for you and do the second ride too!”

7. Learn to read people.  If I climb in the backseat and pull out my iPad and start answering emails on the way to the airport, its a pretty good sign I don’t want to have an involved conversation about your grandchildren.  And if I take a phone call from a client, it’s not your cue to turn up the radio loudly.  And asking me seven times if I want water/gum/mints/hand sanitizer when I have said no the first six is just annoying.

8. Remember that your riders are not a captive audience for whatever you are pitching.  Please don’t try to convert me to your religion, sell me a car, hit me up for a job, ask me to read your manuscript/resume/manifesto/Bible, or hit on me.  That last one in particular gets really icky when you have picked me up or are dropping me off at my house.  Just don’t.

9. Take a critical look at your vehicle.  The battered torn stepped on Kleenex box floating around the backseat.  The trash in the seat pockets.  The trunk full of junk.  The tacky stuff hanging from your rearview mirror.  And the smells.  Oh, the smells.  Make it a point to sit in every seat in your car every day before you drive to make sure that what the passengers are experiencing is ship-shape.  And hide the pine tree air fresheners (if you must) in a seat pocket or under the seats.

10. If you dislike Uber, talk about that with other drivers, not your passengers.  No one you are driving genuinely cares about the rate cuts or bonus issues or how you feel about the other companies.  This especially applies to taxi drivers complaining about Uber ruining their business by charging less.  And for goodness sake, enough about the damn tipping already.

I know this is a lot to process… and if you are thinking “my car, my rules”, it may make you a little angry too.  I get that (trust me, I hated when Uber decided to use Spotify to give riders control over my stereo!).  But the “my car, my rules” mentality stops when it conflicts with the rules of the service or the comfort of my passengers.

These guidelines are my own rules for how I rate my rides at the end – and how I determine whether there is an issue that needs to be reported to the service.  And if you do all these things, I might even give you a tip!

Safe driving… Uber on… fist bump, whatever your lingo,

Me.

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.

More articles by Jennifer Moody »

Comments

  1. Someone who is supposedly a driver should know better. Pickup locations are often wrong. Often it is simply not possible to pickup or drop off at the locations requested. Uber’s system is often slow to notify pax of arrival. I’ve had multiple times where pax have received the notification that I was arriving 5 minutes into the trip. I’ve cancelled trips as no show, only to get a call several minutes later asking where I was, and asking why I never told them that I had arrived.

    • Send a text if you are that concerned about it. I d had some drivers call me 3-4 times before in ever in the car. I think it’s over-correcting to assume that addresses are always wrong or that passengers never get notified of arrivals. I always get a notification.

    • I am going to agree with both you and Jennifer on this…
      Because in the end, there are valid points to both, but neither always fits the bill.
      Examples:
      Sending texts: Not reliable from my experience. Many have claimed to have sent me a text and nothing came through. Many times I have sent a text and no response or acknowledgement. At least when you call, you know if they got the information.

      Calling before or almost immediately after arriving: While I understand the rider’s perspective, if you are NOT outside standing where I can see you and I’m sitting at the pin (perhaps the address has a RANGE instead of s specific address) then I am calling almost immediately. I’m not waiting to find out not only am I sitting in front of the wrong place, but you are in fact 3-7 miles away. Has happened MANY times. Uber points to the riders / the riders claim no fault of their own. What are we to do?

      The best we can do,

      Unfortunately, sometimes… these same situations are cause for a driver to cancel and cut his/her loses before being dinged with a bad rating simply because the rider is watching our every move on the app and thinking they know better than what we are dealing with in actual traffic or road conditions.

      I truly believe in giving my passengers the best experience they can, but at the same time (and as a driver, you should know this) it;s hard to please everyone. Especially if they have developed their own list of pet peeves they are waiting to check off if they think you match up to one or more. Just as it is bad policy for a driver to assume a rider is going to screw them over, etc… the same is true for riders who have no patience and a ton of expectations of their drivers.

      I think both riders and drivers could learn something about giving each other the benefit of the doubt and starting from square one… and still be willing to give in a bit if things start off on a bad footing.. Mistakes happen. But own up to them if you are the one making them, including if you are being a jerk to your driver or vice versa.

      Uber already makes drivers feel unappreciated when they adjust your fare without any notification to the driver and you find out days later when ‘something doesn’t look right’, or they fail to credit the driver for that 10 minute cancellation, or the 5 times your promo code was used (and you watched it being entered) yet it’s doesn’t get applied to your account… or when Uber places unrealistic rating expectations (during bar hopping hours) to qualify for guaranteed rates – just to name a few. It’s bad enough having Uber walk on us, than to have riders walking on us and our vehicles simply because they wanted free water and we didn’t have any that day.

      So in the end, I cannot stress enough how important it is, to have riders that are just as gracious and forgiving as you are of them. A few less assumptions and expectations and a lot more appreciation for both sides. Fair enough?

  2. Thankfully, I have not come across most of these. I take 8-10 rides a week and apart from the usual confusion of the pick up point, I have not encountered these.

    I remember this Uber driver always telling to me abt how Georgia sucks compared to NY. I just told him “Go for it then”
    End of conversation…

  3. You calm to be a driver but you sound more like a customer , I’ve been driving for the company 8 months now and half of the rider are rude disrespectful and racist, i don’t no about other drivers but i go above and beyond for my customers and a lot of times it’s not good enuff so here is some of my rules 1. If u request an uber be ready before the uber driver arrive because most places won’t allow us to park there then you have to worry about a phone call or text. 2. It takes less then one minute to type in the correct pick up address there for drivers don’t have to waste time and gas because uber don’t pay for that. 3. Be respectful to your driver 4. If you request an uber car don’t bring 6 or 7 people with you to pal up in people cars and stop getting mad when a driver refused to take them many people its not safe and against the law , stop being cheap and request an uber black you all going to split the fare anyways. 5.Stop thinking we drive around an uber vehicles because we don’t we are soley responsible for are cars maintenance, gas and insurance. 6. If you request a ride and have a driver show up then change your mind just cancel the trip its simple. 7 If you are racist and you no your driver is black or from a different country cancel the trip that will avoid you from getting bad ratings.8 .If you get in my vehicle and don’t type in a drop off location don’t expect me to no automatically no where to take you i’m not a cab driver i don’t no the hole city. 9. Don’t asked me to turn my radio all the way up then your screaming over it to ask a question. 10. Stop acting like uber drivers are not human being we not slave you can keep your little 4 dollars it won’t help me pay one bill.

  4. An Uber driver tried to pull one on us last night. As soon as we got in the car, he “accidentally” terminated our ride and had us pay the difference between the cancel fee and the fare in cash. Luckily, this was our return trip, so we knew exactly what the fare should be.

  5. While I agree with some of the points the fact is a lot of customers are rude. One of my first Uber rides, I waited 10 minutes before calling someone to ask them if they would be on their way down, only to have them take an additional 7 minutes to come down. Given it took 4 minutes to get to their pick up, a grand total of 21 minutes for a 5 dollar ride. The guy was just an asshole and wore an obnoxious amount of cologne, he was practically a cliche of a business person. This ride set the tone for what most future rides were: entitled people who treat you like the help. They have minimal social skills and really do treat drivers like they are subhuman.

    I’m fine with the rider who wants to be left alone to their personal device. I take routes they request. I never call unless it’s at least 5 minutes since I’ve arrived. My car is immaculate and before I start driving I Fabreze my car in case the scent of the drunk hipsters is still lingering. This is all common sense. But the only thing I’ve learned in my hundreds of ridesharing rides on both Lyft and Uber is its a platform for mostly white people to act in ways that I’m sure would mortifying their mothers if they could see them.

  6. I have been a driver for about a year now, one of the first since Uber launched here in DFW. From your blog I can tell you are one of the snoody passengers that I absolutely HATE!!! First off, if you don’t want your driver to call you, then make sure you are waiting for them on the curb, as you should be! Screw Uber’s video that tells us to “wait 5 minutes”! I don’t have 5 minutes to wait for you to get ready, that’s my time that Uber wants me to work for free & that’s why they don’t care!!! I won’t wait for you, so be ready. (The only exception to this is on weekends or events in the Uptown area where there are a sea of people and I need to make sure I find you in a timely matter, so you better answer or I’m leaving you!)

    Another thing, who are you to think you have an option about what items are hanging from my rear view mirror? Get over yourself, I am not hiding my air fresheners just because you don’t want to see it!

    Lastly, I love how you have this list of pet peeves for drivers. So let me ask you, if you have a “perfect experience” by your standards, do you tip the driver for a job well done??? Probably NOT, since I’m sure that you believe that it should be the standard & the driver shouldn’t be rewarded for greatness. I simply cannot handle riders like you!!! Go jump off a bridge you freak!

  7. Wow! What a B word. Please stay in DFW. I’ve never had a passenger like you. I guess I’m just lucky. I do know you type though. I really feel for the man or woman who would have to put up with your rules. I guess the drivers who have to put up with your attitude for a mear 10 to 15 minutes should feel blessed that you will be leaving so soon. God bless and please seek professional help!

  8. Jennifer,
    Uber is not a cab business, it is a ride sharing service. Stop expecting a cab/limo or even higher level service. Not esp that you are paying half the price of cab. It just doesn’t add up. Waiting for 5 min unpaid for a $5 ride when I drove 7 min to get to you, just doesn’t make sense. I tell my passengers you need to be already out when you call for an Uber Ride. I dont want to put the mileage on my car, work the hours and still make less than minimum wage.

    I also cant believe that you must NOT be disturbed by calling you when I arrive at the pick up location. More reasonable wait time is 2 min and not 5 min anyway. Most places around town wont let you park curbside and wait. I will have to keep circling which takes gas not afforded by your $5 ride after uber commissions, $1 safe ride fee, car maintenance, high insurance premiums and my expectations of earning more than min, wage atleast.

    #6. I will make a McDonalds drive thru stop. I do not want the smell in my car so other passengers like you are not complaining about #9. Also I do not like being told “hardass” when I refuse to wait while you order take out from a restaurant. A drunk couple told me that.

    #7. Read drivers. I get asked same questions 20 times a day by riders. “How do you like driving for Uber? I hear Uber drivers just drive for fun and socializing” Answer: I work for money. I do not work so I can slave for entitled people like you. I have a family to feed and bills to pay.

    Act like you are in ride sharing program car and not $5 a mile Executive Movie producer limo from the 80s. One of my uncle drove it back then, he got tipped $200 for waiting an hour. You are paying $5 for less than a mile journey. Like the other driver said, keep your $5. Buy yourself a starbucks!

    Bye

  9. valid points from the original author and follow ups…I just started driving and was a rider before driving, so my comment is this: as a rider, feel free to tell me if you need to work on your smartphone or tablet. I will not be offended! As a driver, you need to consider how you want to be treated if you are the rider. Too many people think they are entitled to something…just use good manners! If you weren’t taught good manners by your mom, then get online and research it instead of complaining about something someone wrote to try to help you!

  10. I would say as a driver in the city of san francisco where the market street no stopping and no turning between 3-8 street it affected my rating riders doesnt have gratitude and sometimes i drove people from all walks of life gay drunk criminal hippie and some people that has no business riding on somebody’s car because they fail to act as a human tell would want to get out on the curb at no stoping sign street and some are so racist they rate you not on how to drive but the color of you skin because you dont belong on their list of trusted driver because you not the same breed as th shm

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