For a brief, shining moment, Uber riders were able to see what their drivers really think of them.
Some background: Uber, the car-hailing app, asks riders to rate their drivers at the end of the trip. This is actually a two-way street, because drivers can also rate their passengers, though it is unclear how many passengers know about this aspect (which is not a new feature or anything).
On Sunday, Aaron Landy posted this handy guide on Medium outlining just how riders could learn how they were rated by drivers. Uber eventually removed the public option by sometime early Monday morning, but that window still offered plenty of riders a way to see how they are viewed.
Taylor Bennett, a spokesman for Uber, said the feedback portion of Uber trips — providing ratings for drivers and passengers alike — is important for the company and its service.
“That’s why riders are encouraged to rate and provide comments about their experience at the end of a trip and drivers can do the same,” he said. “If a driver’s rating goes beneath a certain level, we will no longer do business with him or her. If a rider regularly exhibits disrespectful, threatening, or unsafe behavior, they may no longer be able to use the service.”
Some riders may not have known that the ratings exist or how they may have altered whether or not they could actually get a ride. Last month, Kevin Roose wrote for New York about what happened when he inquired about his rating:
I asked my Uber driver about my passenger rating — the average of the 1-to-5-star grade passengers receive from drivers after every ride, which is shown to drivers before they agree to take a hail.
“You’re a 4.8,” he replied. “I usually don’t pick people up if they’re a 4 or less.”
One Uber driver told me that although Uber doesn’t normally take action against users with low ratings (though drivers can punish them simply by refusing to pick them up), a driver who rates a passenger lower than a 3 out of 5 stars will effectively trigger a “block” function that keeps that rider from appearing on the driver’s app in the future.
In a blog post earlier this year, Uber noted that riders have “been given a temporary cooling off period or barred from using the app for inappropriate or unsafe behavior.”
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, having the information available publicly seems to make the most sense for people on both sides of the transaction. Just as drivers could (theoretically) learn from lower ratings about what they could avoid doing in the future, passengers could find out about what actions could cost them a ride down the line. Uber has said it is “exploring ways to show the rider’s rating in the next generation of the app,” which has not occurred yet; for now, it says that riders can find their ratings by asking the driver or asking customer support.
Bennett said he could not tell The Post how many riders accessed their ratings nor exactly how or when Uber learned that the ratings were available. Of course, the latter part isn’t particularly mysterious. An endless stream of media members happily tweeted their Uber ratings and shared the “Find your rating!” guide on Sunday night, so from the second Landy’s post went live it was basically a race for riders hoping to find their information before Uber was able to hide it.
So my Uber passenger rating is 4.7. High end of what I expected, especially since I canceled a car just on Saturday.
— Felix Salmon (@felixsalmon) July 28, 2014
How to find your Uber passenger rating: Take the number 5 and subtract the number of times you’ve puked/almost puked during a ride.
— Veronica de Souza (@HeyVeronica) July 28, 2014