As smartphones have developed over the years, so too have the apps that now seem to define our daily lives. One such staple of the modern mobile's arsenal is ride-sharing app, Uber

Uber not only revolutionised the way we get around, it changed an entire industry, bringing with it a gig economy where drivers can choose when and how they want to work. But this level of freedom has its downside - their employment is in the hands of a rating system dictated by the unpredictable expectations of the rider.

So how can you justify giving a shitty rating? Let's briefly explore how they work first.

The theory is sound - both passenger and driver can rate one another based on their trip. If a driver's rating drops too low, their account is deactivated and they can no longer work for the company until you meet the standards set them. 

"If your average rating is below the city minimum after multiple notifications, your Uber partner account will be deactivated," says the Uber guidlines. "Your account may be reactivated after you satisfy Uber of the steps you’ve taken to improve: for example, by taking a third-party quality improvement course."

On the other hand, a low passenger rating may only mean you have to wait longer for someone to accept your ride. 

"When your rating is low, the driver will likely take a second or two and think to themselves, 'This rider has a 3.2 star rating. I don’t know if I want them in my car,'" said Jon Hoos, an Uber driver since 2015.

And fair enough. If you're going to be an asshole of a passenger, you probably don't deserve to get picked up. The problem here is the disparity between passenger and driver. A passenger can easily scrap Uber and just grab a taxi, but a driver might depend entirely on the income they make through the app.

It is possible for a passenger's account to be deactivated, but I think we can agree that the stakes are much higher for the other party. 


I'm not saying you shouldn't give a bad rating for poor service. If their car smells like the inside of week-old roadkill, the driver probably needs a stern talking to. The problem is there is unpredictability when it comes to the expectations of both parties. 

Furthermore, Uber does not accurately explain the consequences of doling out a bad rating to a driver, relying on the individual rider to apply their own interpretation of a good or bad journey. 

For me, a driver has to be pretty damn bad to warrant a low score. If your car is clean, you're polite and you get me to my destination safely, that's full marks for you, my friend. But what about people who have higher standards? My 5 stars could be another's 3, where a driver must go above and beyond to earn the all-important perfect score. 

So let's get down to business - when should you give someone a bad rating? 


First and foremost, show some empathy. Imagine if your day was judged on every individual task you carried out. We're all human and we all slip up once in a while, so keep that in mind and consider the possible outcome your rating might have on the driver.

As for specifics, here's what we reckon is worth a lower rating:

 A filthy car - If the driver has clearly made little effort to keep the vehicle to a standard that's comfortable to be in, you can certainly make it known. Just make sure you specify the reason after you select the rating. 

They drive like an animal - This goes without saying, if they can't obey the road rules, be sure to speak up. 

They act inappropriately - You should never be made to feel uncomfortable before, during or after your journey. 

They don't follow directions - At the end of the day, you should be able to request your own direction to the destination. If they go rogue on you or intentionally prolong the trip, that's a fair enough reason to drop the rating. 

And if you have particular feedback, don't rely solely on a rating. Accompany it with an email to Uber customer service and explain why you were compelled to dish out that 1 star. 

And on the other side of the coin, you as a passenger should be doing your bit to be a 5-star passenger. Here's what Uber themselves recommend for riders. 

1. Pin it to win it. Taking a few seconds to make sure your pin is dropped in the right place — or better yet, entering your pickup address — can save time and headaches. Consider busy streets, illegal parking and other places that may make pickups challenging. Entering your destination ahead of time makes everyone’s life easier. And, in case you were wondering: drivers can’t see your destination before accepting a request. 

2. Please don’t pile in. Most cars with Uber can only fit 4 riders. If you’re in doubt about how many people your ride can fit, use this formula: number of seatbelts = number of riders. Have too many people? Request another car so everyone can ride safely. 

3. Time is money. Driver-partners do everything they can to pick you up in as little time as possible. Please try to return the favour by being ready to hop into your Uber when it arrives. You can let your driver know if you’ll be a few minutes late by using Uber’s in-app feature. 

4. Confirm your ride. Want to make sure you’re in the right car? Just confirm your first name with your driver and ask them to do the same before you hop in. Also, the make, model and license plate of your ride will also appear in the app. 

5. Be courteous. Please treat your driver as you would like to be treated and be sure to treat your driver’s car with care. Please don’t smoke, drink or eat on the trip. This not only makes the trip unpleasant for your driver, but for everyone after you as well. If you’re running late, please don’t encourage your driver to break traffic laws like illegal u-turns, speeding or skipping traffic lights.

Photo: Taxi Driver.