Can Drivers Cancel on Uber Passengers Based on Their Destination?

A lot of people are surprised to find out that Uber and Lyft drivers can’t see where riders are headed until drivers physically arrive at the rider’s location and swipe to start the trip. But there may be some times where a rider gets in and you need to cancel the ride, and that can be a pretty tricky situation. How do you handle it?

Today we’re gonna talk about what to do in this type of situation when you need to cancel on Uber passengers based on their destination. And really whether you can even do it in the first place.

Take a look at the video, then check out the video transcript below to see all the points I cover in the video.

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Can drivers cancel based on the passenger’s location?

You don’t know where passengers are headed until you start the trip. In this video I’m actually talking about cancellations after you’ve started the trip. Can you do this or not? Well, Uber actually has a policy on this and the answer is that it depends. I found this in their deactivation policy online and basically what they say, and I quote, “It is not acceptable to discriminate on the basis of a rider’s destination.” What does this mean? We understand how important it is to fit driving around your life rather than the other way around. It’s not a violation of these guidelines to pass on a trip because the trip does not work for you.

For example, interfere with a personal commitment or prior obligations such as a job, doctor’s appointment, school pickup or family event, but canceling trips are using features in the Uber App to avoid receiving trip requests solely for the purpose of avoiding a particular neighborhood due to the characteristics of the people or the businesses that are located there, violates these guidelines and may cause you to lose access to your account. So this is a little bit of a gray area.

Uber leaves a lot of ambiguity in their deactivation policy

Uber is not directly saying that they will deactivate you for cancelling on a passenger based on their destination, but they are saying it’s possible to lose access to your account. There’s a lot of ambiguity here and the reason why is because this comes from this CPUC, which is the California Public Utilities Commission requirement all the way back in 2013 that basically tells transportation network companies like Uber they can’t discriminate and it seems like Uber is actually now applying this policy all across the country. And the way though that they’re applying it is, “Hey, if you cancel on a person for personal reason that you have like, you’re gonna go pick up a friend or something like that, then it’s okay. But if you’re canceling because of maybe their skin tone or you don’t just don’t like the passenger, you can’t do that.”

Cancelling scenarios: Is it ok to cancel in these situations?

I think it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. What I wanted to do was go over a few different situations where you might need to cancel on a passenger and see whether we think it’s okay or not based off of Ubers guidelines. The first situation that might come up where you want to cancel on a passenger is let’s say a passenger gets into your car and you’re on a bonus program, like an Uber quest for example that says, “Do 20 trips in the core area and you’ll get a $60 bonus.”You want to do as many short trips as possible within that area. And let’s say you’re gonna get a ride that’s gonna draw your way out of that bonus zone.

You can tell that passenger, “Okay, unfortunately I can’t do this”, and end the trip, and you mark ‘do not charge the rider.’ This should be okay due to Uber’s policies. Now let’s see another situation. Let’s say you don’t have enough gas or you’re in an electric vehicle and you don’t have enough charge. I would say this also should be okay. Third situation, let’s say you have to be somewhere within a certain timeframe, like picking up your kids from school or maybe you’re commuting somewhere. This also should be okay. This is actually the example that they used in the activation policy.

Now where it gets a little tricky, let’s say it’s a late night, you’re in an area that you’re not that comfortable or familiar with, and you get a passenger who wants to go to a part of town, maybe it’s a less desirable part of town. This seems to be like more of a gray area. This seems to be what Uber’s policy is trying to prevent you from doing. Even if you feel unsafe, it could be looked upon as discriminatory. That’s what Uber’s policy seems to be trying to prevent. I would say that may not be okay.

Let’s say a passenger gets into the car and you just don’t like the color of their skin or their sex or their race or something like that. You can’t do that according to Uber’s policy. You can’t deny a ride and cancel that passenger because of that. So I think that’s pretty clear in their policy.

Even if you have the right to cancel, there could be trouble

Now where it gets complicated is just because you may be in the right according to Uber’s policy if that passenger still complains. What we’ve seen in the past with things like service dogs and some of their other kind of gray area policy issues is that even if you’re doing everything right and kind of following their policies or following the law, we’ve still seen reports of drivers being deactivated or really even being threatened.

If a passenger reports this to Uber, they’re dealing with their customer service representative and the customer service rep might have no idea what they’re even talking about. And so they may say, you know, they may trigger something that, “Oh, this driver canceled because of sex.” It’s putting the situation in the hands of people that don’t really know what’s going on. We’ve actually been seeing reports from drivers in California that Uber is sending a nasty gram, what we’d like to call a basically a threatening email to drivers who have been canceling rides in these types of situations, and even some who haven’t. Now I haven’t heard of a lot of drivers getting actually deactivated for this. And like we saw in Uber’s policy, it says that you may lose access to the app because of this, if you’re doing this.

Do what’s best for you in your situation

I don’t really agree with this since I think Uber is sort of forcing or coercing really through these nasty gram emails for you to take rides. At the end of the day you kind of have to do what’s best for your personal situation. But I can also see the other side of the coin where it starts to get a little bit tricky if you’re denying rides just because you don’t like the skin tone of your passenger or whatever it might be. So I guess what I would say is if you’re super reliant on your uber income, you’ll probably want to use this cancellation strategy sparingly.

What about cancelling based on destination?

You probably don’t want to cancel on too many passengers after you’ve already started the trip. Obviously if you do it beforehand they’ll never know and you can’t get in nearly as much trouble that way. Now, there are definitely times where this can save you a ton of time and money, like that bonus situation where I described. Like if you have to drive two hours south or even an hour south and then an hour and a half back in traffic, I mean, that’s going to be a pretty unprofitable ride.

I think once drivers become a lot more savvy and start to get more cut throat, they start to ignore or cancel some of these rides, and it’s a little awkward. But if you handled it well with your passenger, you’re going to put more money in your pocket. I get why uber has this policy, but I’m never a fan of the way that they tend to bully drivers into taking certain rides, or taking Uberpool or taking certain actions that go against your personal interests.

Where do you draw the line on cancelling?

If a ride is going to cause me to really have a significant bad impact on my earnings, that’s where I would draw the line and cancel on a passenger in that situation. But hey, if it’s just going to a part of town that I’m not as comfortable and familiar with, sometimes that’s part of the job. And you know, being a driver, providing service to people, you need to do things like that. Just understand sort of the risk and your personal situation. If you’re heavily reliant on income and you’re going to kind of really take advantage of this strategy, you have to understand that Uber says right here in their policy that they may deactivate you for this.

Use it sparingly in that situation. Hopefully that clears things up. If you guys do have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave them below or send us an email. All right, drive safe everyone.

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