Uber riders who are consistently rated poorly by their drivers will risk being banned from the service, under new ground rules the ride-sharing company plans to introduce this month.
Uber's new community guidelines, which come into effect on September 19, state that in order to make Uber "enjoyable and safe for everyone", accounts will be deactivated if a user's average rating sits below a certain minimum "after multiple notifications".
While minimum numbers vary between cities in other regions, Uber's regional general manager for Australia and New Zealand Susan Anderson confirmed to Fairfax that the Australia-wide minimum was four stars.
However, as indicated in the guidelines, she says users will not be automatically booted as soon as they hit that number. Instead they will be notified that they are at risk of a ban if they can't turn it around.
"What we would do for drivers with lower ratings, is send those notifications to them and help them understand what they could do," she says.
Such riders would be sent tips and tricks, and would be reminded of what not to do, and if their rating subsequently increased no further action would be taken. If it did not increase, they would face a ban.
Anderson says that Uber currently has no plans to inform riders about why they get the ratings they get, but that a rider could not make it down to four stars by accident.
"You start with five stars," she says.
"To get to a number as low as four there really needs to have been multiple instances of one star ratings, and complaints from a number of different drivers."
Nine out of ten Australian Uber riders have a rating of 4.5 or higher, Anderson says, and most of them "absolutely understand" that drivers and their cars should be respected, and so most users shouldn’t be affected by the new guidelines.
"But there are a small proportion of riders who aren’t behaving in the right way, and we have no place for that on our platform," she says.
There are a small proportion of riders who aren’t behaving in the right way, and we have no place for that on our platformUber's Susan Anderson
In a blog post announcing the changes, Uber says the system brings minimum requirements for rider behaviour in line with existing minimum requirements for driver behaviour.
At the conclusion of a trip, the rider and the driver each rate each other out of five.
Anderson says that common complaints from drivers that might result in less than a five star review include: riders not waiting where they said they would for their ride, or waiting in an unsafe place; riders not showing a base level of courtesy by saying hello and goodbye; riders asking for long diversions at short notice instead of using the app to plan stops, and; riders pressuring drivers to drive unsafely.
In addition to the minimum star ratings, the community guidelines also says riders can be banned from Uber for damaging the car, for flirting or sexual contact with the driver or other passengers, for abusive language, for
breaking the law while in the car or for contacting or stalking the driver after the the trip is completed.
The guidelines also give tips for maintaining a healthy star rating, including cleaning up after yourself and not slamming the door.