Does it seem like it takes forever for your CA Uber driver to pick you up? It could be because you live far from most Uber drivers, and they’re hesitant to make the trip. But it could also be because your rating is low!

A cab driver in a bad mood doesn’t really impact his rider’s life, unless he proceeds to take the passenger on a…“newsworthy” ride. However, a CA Uber driver has a tiny bit of power to do so.

They rate the passengers. That means you!

Passengers can also rate the drivers, but it’s optional. Drivers are required to rate the customers before they can get back online and accept another fare. If a passenger is bad enough on one of their first rides (or is consistently awful), a one-star rating from a driver can destroy that rider’s odds of being picked up by a nearby driver the next time they call Uber.

Of course, there will always be CA Uber drivers desperate enough that they’ll pick up anyone. But a rider with a 1.4 rating may get ignored by the 20-closest drivers before finding someone in the mood to pick you up. Last week’s blog had some tips and tricks to keep your rating high. Here are a couple little known facts about the rating system.

Rate Your Driver

There are a lot of things Uber doesn’t tell passengers, including what their rating really means to a driver. Most riders assume that a five-star rating system is like a school grading system. So five stars is like an A, four stars is like a B, and so on. And a B is above average, right? So, four stars means the ride was good but not the best, but the driver is still pretty decent. Better than most, right?

Wrong. Drivers get de-activated and kicked off the system if their rating falls below 4.7. This means that any rating other than five stars is actually a vote to have a driver fired. Now, if your ride was an absolute nightmare that had you fearing for your life, then your rating should definitely reflect that. Give that driver the one-star rating he or she deserves so we can get the bad drivers off the streets, send them back to drivers ed, and give more business to the drivers that won’t traumatize you.

However, if your driver was good and your only complaint is that there was no free water available (which comes out of drivers’ meager paychecks, by the way), or your driver was just a little more talkative than you would have liked, then maybe reconsider that four-star rating you were thinking of giving and make it a five. True, one bad rating won’t matter to a driver that’s been with Uber for a while, but it could devastate a new driver’s overall rating.

The 5.0 Dilemma

As a rider, you want to get five stars on every ride so that your rating remains a shiny 5.0, right? Well, mostly…

Personally, as a female driver on the streets of Los Angeles during what I lovingly refer to as the “Drunk Shift,” I would not pick up anyone with a rating lower than 4.6, ever, under any circumstances. In areas where I didn’t feel completely comfortable, either because I was less familiar with the neighborhood or because it felt unsafe in some way, the required rating would jump to 4.8. In those areas, I also wouldn’t pick up anyone rated 5.0.

That sounds crazy, right? But the way the Uber system works, people taking their very first ride are rated 5.0. This means drivers can’t tell whether the person calling for a ride is an amazing paragon of humanity who tips $20 on every ride and has used the system dozens of times, or if accepting that ride is the first step in being murdered. Some drivers just aren’t willing to take that risk.

The best advice I can offer on this one is to wait for a great ride where you are really clicking with your driver. Tell them you’re curious about your rating, and they’ll probably tell you what it is. If your rating is 5.0 and you’ve been using Uber for quite a while, congratulations! You’re probably a wonderful person.

But if you notice that it takes a while for your rides to get accepted despite your stellar rating, ask that driver that you’ve bonded with to give you four stars so that your rating will drop to a 4.9. Despite what you may think, from a driver’s perspective, a 4.9 rating is light years better than a 5.0. Remember, only do this if you’ve already taken many rides with Uber. A four-star rating on one of your first rides will not make drivers accept you more frequently.

Check out last week’s blog for the tips and tricks to increase your rating. Hopefully this information will help foster understanding and patience between riders and drivers. As always, be safe out there!