New year, new start….right? For many, 2016 is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start again, all fresh-faced and bright-eyed. Every single trip for an Uber driver is an opportunity for redemption. A chance to right the wrongs of bad trips past. There is no better time than right now to stock up on water bottles and mints; to dust off the old Gregory’s street directory and learn the fastest route from Newtown to Neutral Bay in peak-hour; to brush up on your local knowledge so next time a passenger asks,”know any good bars around here?”, you can rattle off half a dozen top-notch watering holes before they’ve had a chance to say, cheers! Uber drivers, this could be your week to keep a clean sheet and start that golden run of consecutive five star trips to restore your driver rating to where it should be!
Over the past six months I have been inundated with emails from drivers desperate for tips on how to resurrect their woeful driver ratings. I hit the road this week to ask my passengers the top reasons they mark down their Uber driver. Most of the reasons are obvious, some a bit harsh and others downright bizarre.
Here are ten reasons passengers scored their driver less than five stars in 2015:
- Bad body odour
It’s a forty degree day and you opt to take an Uber home instead of a crowded bus or train, only to be slapped in the face by the drivers horrendous body odour. When I was in high-school our year co-ordinator sat down all of the boys and gave us a lesson in the difference between anti-perspirant and deodorant. He stood in front of our grade and announced, in a very serious tone, “Nothing is quite as offensive as stale teenage sweat mixed with a generous lathering of Lynx Africa.” Come on drivers, sort it out!
(2) Dirty car
You’re running late to an interview for your dream job so you order an Uber. Within seconds a friendly-faced driver is on his way to pick you up. The driver is wonderful and even helps you prepare for the interview. You thank him for his services and promise him a five star rating as you leave the car, that is, until you glance down at your freshly dry-cleaned blazer and suit-pants. They are absolutely covered in cat hair. No amount of rubbing, blowing and brushing makes a difference to the million miniscule hairs seemingly ingrained in the fabric. Keep it clean, Uber drivers! I suggest investing in a hand vacuum cleaner.
(3) Not following directions
I can’t tell you how many passengers have recounted Uber horror stories where their driver simply refused to follow the map, which is part of the Uber app, or, completely ignored directions from the passenger. It is completely understandable if a driver makes a wrong turn or misses your street. What isn’t acceptable is getting hopelessly lost when there is a system in place to make sure you get from A to B as quickly as possible. If you don’t know, ask! If they don’t know, follow the map! Simples.
(4) Refusing to go through drive-thru
A passenger earlier in the week told me a story about an Uber driver who refused to take
her through McDonald’s drive-thru at three in the morning after a night out on the town. She was outraged, “All I wanted was an effing cheeseburger meal and some nuggets! I needed them! I offered extra money and even offered to buy the driver a meal as well, but he still refused!”, she yelled at me, still visibly upset at missing out on her favourite drunk food. I’m with drunky on this. It would only take an extra five minutes and you’re being paid for it so what’s the problem? If you’re worried about crumbs in your car just tell the passenger they can’t eat until they get home.
(5) To talk or not to talk
A passenger enters your car and sits directly behind you. Their face is buried so far in their iPhone screen you can almost read their latest text message on their forehead. Their first words are, “ Hi, did you get the address?”, asked in a very flat and serious tone. This is not the passenger to try and strike up a world class conversation with. For all we know they just got fired, or their partner dumped them or maybe, they just don’t want to talk today. That is fine. Get them to their destination safely and on time and you’re a shoe-in for a five star rating. If a passenger sits up front and greets you warmly before jumping into the classic Uber questions which usually start with, “So! What else do you do besides driver for Uber bro? Come onnnnnn! Uber drivers always have some other weird side gig. What’s the go?”, just humour them. Give them what they want. Regale them with your best Uber driver stories and you will be rewarded five-fold.
“I think you are very pretty and I enjoyed driving you home and talking to you. Would you like to go to dinner tomorrow night?” I can’t believe it. Apparently a handful of Uber drivers out there fancy themselves as a contender for the next Bachelor. If you fall into this category, I beg you, please stop pretending your car is the Tinder app. Instead of a simple ‘swipe left’, next time you could end up with a slap across the face. Complimenting you on the cleanliness of your car or your driving prowess is not an invitation to make the final minutes of the trip excruciatingly awkward. Be professional. Treat this as a real job.
(7) No Spotify
Alright, I think this could be a little harsh. A young guy I picked up from Enmore last week said it was an instant three stars if the driver didn’t have access to Spotify premium. “If I’m vibing to Courtney Barnett and want to continue the good vibes in the car and the driver can’t help me with that, like, it’s almost definitely three stars. Even if his chat is top-shelf he’s still getting a three!”, he remarked, before commandeering my stereo to blast Violent Soho’s latest single.
A pair of thongs, wife-beater singlet and King-Gee work-shorts are not acceptable attire for an Uber driver. Yes, I know, Uber drivers are just regular people who have converted their cars into taxis. Many passengers have remarked that ordering an Uber is, “just like getting a ride with a mate!” Still, I think a pair of enclosed shoes and a t-shirt should be minimum standards for a driver. Some passengers couldn’t care less, but I know a few are displeased if it feels like you’re not taking pride in the job.
(9) No Room
Your flight leaves in an hour. You were supposed to be at the airport, well, right now! Your Uber just pulled up and you and your partner lug your bags to the Curb. The driver pops the boot and it’s full. An enormous subwoofer takes up half the boot space and the rest is taken up by miscellaneous items including a cricket bat, walking cane and a garden gnome. You don’t have time to order another Uber so you’re stuck nursing your luggage on the backseat. Your view for the entire ride is a suitcase. Two stars!
“Can you please give me five stars?”, asked in a whiny, desperate voice is apparently a sure-fire way to guarantee yourself less than five stars. Even if your service was impeccable, asking for a perfect score seems to annoy most passengers. I’m unsure if this is a purely Australian quirk, to take someone down a peg, or if passengers in other parts of the world are equally incensed by this request. Ask, and you almost definitely will not receive.