these fall below the 4. 6 passenger ratings cut and receive
the email of death. A much larger percentage of drivers go
AWOL simply because they did the math and realized after
expenses they weren’t making any where near what Uber
had suggested they would.
★ UP AGAINST THE APP ★
Uber collects all the data, sends you reports, and deposits the funds in your bank account (as a part-timer, driving
mostly on weekends, I typically will make between $100 and
$400 a week, before expenses, by the way), and that’s that.
It’s you against the system. I’ve never even met somebody
from Uber corporate, other than a few stray passengers in
my car. If it wasn’t for the passenger interactions, it would
be a thoroughly dehumanizing experience. If you’re driving for the money, expect to be disappointed. But if you’ve
got a curiosity about people, you can’t beat it. Quite simply,
driving for Uber and Lyft gives you an amazing peek into the
back crevices of our society.
Like all passengers in life, Uber drivers learn to bow
★ BONUS! ★
down to circumstance. Drivers recognize in each passen-
ger the power to sentence you by tapping one to five stars at
the end of the ride. It’s passengers’ power to pass judgment
on you — digitally transmitting their feelings through the
automated systems — that control your fate. Uber and Lyft’s
fully automated rating system is the faceless dictator in a
driver’s life. Yes, it’s useful, but it’s not well conceived. To
penetrate markets, Uber must ensure that ratings are seen
as reliable, because it’s the basis of the “trust and safety”
that they use as their calling card with passengers, drivers
and regulators. Ratings are anything but fair. They’re doled
out by passengers who all bring their own standards and
biases to the transaction. That is the bane of being a driver,
because you know that some passengers are so upset about
something else that nothing you can do will satisfy them —
and you’ll be dinged.
Bonuses and rate guarantees are the carrot Uber uses to get
you out on the road. Sometimes you think you met all the
requirements, but you didn’t. It’s usually a waste of time to
plead your case to some customer service representative
halfway around the world, because “the system” knows all.
Case in point from t wo weeks ago: I’ve been driving six hours
on a Saturday evening expecting to make a guaranteed $35
an hour. A few minutes before midnight — after a drop-off in
downtown Tiburon — I get a ride request 25 minutes away
in Fairfax. No way I’m driving all the way to Fairfax. It’s in
the opposite direction from my home. I wait 15 seconds and
let the request expire.
Oh damn. What did I just do? My passenger acceptance
rate just dropped below 90 percent. I just lost more than $100
because I no longer qualify for the hourly guarantee. So it goes.
★ ILLEGAL CARGO ★
About one in five of my ride requests in Marin comes from
a teen. I get the most teenage requests from Redwood, Tam
and Drake high schools. Just one problem with this: it’s illegal. Yep, this comes as a shock, especially to parents who
just assume that giving their kid an Uber account is the
responsible thing to do these days. Sorry — it’s expressly
against Uber and Lyft terms of service and California Public