Uber has revolutionized transportation in almost every market where it has become available. No longer must one rely on pre-booked black car services, flag down taxis, or try to figure out public transportation in a strange city. Yet there are several Uber secrets that an Uber passenger might not know. Understanding these Uber secrets can greatly affect the quality AND cost of your ride.
These are the top things I’ve noticed that passengers complain about. Because they don’t know the Uber secrets, passengers will rate their Uber driver poorly for these things. Nonetheless they are factors outside of Uber driver control. In the end, Uber passengers have much more ability to affect their ride than they realize.
I’m a regular Uber passenger, not only in my own town but also in those I travel to. I also started driving for the service last month and have begun to learn the Uber secrets that your Uber driver may already know. Today, I’m spilling the beans to help improve your ride quality and Uber passenger experience.
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 passenger experiences in Manhattan. I discovered that the app did not transmit the destination information I had input to my Uber driver. That has since changed. Now the driver app will give out an exact destination – but ONLY if you input one.
To do this, you need to enter a destination before you request the ride.
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.
Uber Secrets 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. It can sometimes be wildly inaccurate. Because of this, if you know your exact location, it’s helpful to enter that. If you don’t, if you can drag the pin to where you would like to be picked up. You can initially enter an address and then drag the pin 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, the pin drops in the back of my house. That ends up taking the driver to the cul-de-sac behind my home on the next street. At work, it will show my last location in the parking garage a block away. When it pulls a correct address, it’s on the opposite side of the building from where I want to be picked up.
If you are in one location (like a sporting event or neighbor’s house) but will be in another location before the Uber driver arrives, let him know. When requesting your ride, put in the address where you want to be picked up. Don’t put the address where you currently are.
Still, this gets messed up a lot. If I see a green pin dropped (which shows up as “Go To Pin”), I’m almost always going to call or text. This allows me to get an exact address or double check the location. I’ve seen individuals accidentally drag their pin to an empty field over a mile away from where they actually are!
There is one other thing that is also important to know. Your Uber driver cannot change the pick up location in the app once you have requested the ride. This affects the GPS portion of the app. The app’s navigation will only guide us to the original destination even if you call with an updated address. This may result in delays while we try to use an alternate GPS system to attempt to locate you.
Uber Secrets 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 your Uber driver!
3. The 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. It 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, If you see your Uber driver going in circles trying to reach you, it is probably the bad navigation, not driver quality. Its either because we are trying to reach a pin versus an inexact address (see item 2) or the navigation is not accurate.
An experienced Uber driver will often use a GPS or second phone to navigate separately from the app. But often your Uber driver is only using one cell phone. That means they are toggling between their phone’s navigation and the app (which we are required to have up). Keep in mind that your Uber driver is 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 Uber drivers are trying to do it all on one device!
Uber Secrets Takeaway: If you see your Uber 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. Your Uber driver does not have your real phone number. You don’t have ours either!
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 number is, in fact, the same one you see. After your ride ends, we have no way of reaching you if you forget something. That number continues to rotate from passenger to passenger.
So don’t be freaked out that your Uber driver sent you a text. You may think he now knows how to reach you in the future but he doesn’t.
But what also happens is that you technically have our number. Or least if you do were our last Uber passenger. I received calls at 4 am one morning from the last Uber passenger I’d driven earlier that evening screaming at me. She was upset because I couldn’t help her find the Uber driver who just dropped them off. They were drunk and she left her purse in his car. She called me a variety of unrepeatable names. I could only give her generic contact information for the Dallas office. I couldn’t track down her Uber driver for her.
Uber Secrets 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 – our Uber driver rating AND your Uber passenger rating.
At the end of your ride, you are given the opportunity to rate your Uber 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 driver app will automatically be shut off. They can no longer drive until they’ve been reinstated by Uber. This may require taking online training. Or it could involve going in for a car inspection, from what I’ve heard. If it drops lower, they can lose all driving privileges permanently.
I’ve had an Uber passenger give me a 1 – and tell me she was doing it. It was because SHE entered the wrong address. I tried to confirm three times that she really wanted to go there as it was a bad neighborhood. She then tried to blame me for purposely going for a higher fare. This was 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. Those were for a variety of reasons. Not letting them smoke in my car. Or not letting them vomit in my car. Or not letting them put more passengers in the car than I have seatbelts for. I’m to the point that I am not driving at hours where I’m likely to transport intoxicated passengers anymore. Why? Because I can’t afford the ratings hit from an intoxicated Uber passenger.
But… your Uber driver also gets to rate YOU. So if you are that jerky Uber passenger who insists on doing something in our private vehicle that I don’t like, beware. I can give you a bad rating. Get enough of those, you can be banned from the app. Also, if see drivers accepting and then promptly canceling rides with you, you may have a low rating. I haven’t done it yet – but others report they do it, so it could be you.
Uber Secrets Takeaway: Rate fairly, but awarely.
6. Speaking of cancellations – don’t play the multiple ride game.
There is a new rideshare trend in my town. That is for the Uber passenger to request a ride from us at the same time as requesting a Lyft. They let two drivers both come to them. They then cancel the one that doesn’t arrive first. This is particular problem on the college campus near me.
There are a couple of problems with this. One is that if one is an Uber driver, chances are they are also a Lyft driver. By requesting rides from both, all you are really doing is creating artificial surges for demand. That in turn drives up price surges and sends every available Uber driver scurrying toward the surge. Yes, your Uber driver can see the surge on his application map! In the end, you don’t get an Uber driver that much faster. And it may cost you, the Uber passenger, more in the long run if you create an artificial surge.
Uber Secrets 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. This is because we value your business AND we value your time.
If you have other Uber secrets you want to know about, ask away. I just might cover them in a future post.