When I was in Santa Monica for my friend’s wedding, I had a shocking and rude awakening.
After getting off the plane, waiting for and taking the rental car shuttle from LAX to the rental agency, and waiting in a 45 minute line, the lady at the service counter asked for my driver’s license.
After I gave it to her, she asked if I had another license.
“No,” I replied, because why would a normal person have two driver’s licenses?
“Well,” she said emotionlessly, “your driver’s license is expired. And no one in LA will rent you a car.”
I was in Los Angeles, the city of 5.8 million registered cars, 8+ lane freeways, terrible public transportation, and I had a lunch date to get to in an hour all the way in Pasadena, which is way on the other side of LA.
I never drive in New York City. We don’t even own a car. In California, where I grew up, your driver’s license lasts for 10 whole years. In New York, apparently only 5 years. Time flies.
I felt like I was stranded on a deserted island, while also dragging around luggage in 90 degree heat.
And then I checked the fare estimate to get from LAX to Pasadena on Uber, and the angels began to sing and golden light shone in beautiful rays between parted clouds.
What would have easily cost over $100 via a Los Angeles taxi, cost $36 via Uber, which was also less than what I paid to go from my apartment to JFK that morning.
My entire time in California, I was driven around, didn’t have to pay for hotel parking, got to zoom by in the carpool lane, and chatted with some interesting drivers and UberPoolers (other people you carpool with for an even cheaper fare), all for about the same price it would have cost me to rent a car those few days.
By now, you can imagine that I Heart Uber.
But back to the title of the post: Uber-ing Your Star Rating.
During all my Uber rides in LA, the drivers would always make a comment about how they were surprised my Uber star rating was so low (4.2 out of 5) even though I seemed really nice.
And here’s the kicker: one driver told me that during surge pricing hours, most drivers won’t even pick you up if you have less than a 4.6! Apparently there is a noticeable decline in clientele below a 4.6 rating in Los Angeles. Luckily for me, it’s different in New York City.
I have no idea which terrible New York Uber driver decided to give me such a negative rating since I try to treat everyone politely and nicely, but now I have to fix something I originally didn’t even think mattered in life.
So here’s how I’ve been Uber-ing my Star Rating:
Every time I finish an Uber ride, the driver has to end the trip on his phone. Once he does, he’s immediately asked by the Uber app to rate me as a passenger.
BEFORE he gets a chance to rate me, I immediately say to him, “If you give me 5 stars, I’ll give you 5 stars.”
I’ve gotten two types of replies so far:
1) “Oh, I always give everyone 5 stars.”
2) “Ok, sure.”
And then I watch to make sure they actually give me 5 stars and that they submit the rating.
Drivers are especially motivated to reciprocate for a 5 star rating, because Uber may deactivate them as drivers if they fall below a certain rating. I’ve heard the deactivate bar may be as high as a 4.7 for drivers.
For some reason, Uber hides your star rating from you, but you can ask your driver what your rating is.
On a side note, isn’t it funny how new technology diverts your attention to previously trivial things?