As you guys know, there are a lot of reasons you can be deactivated as an Uber driver. Some of the more common ones are things like low ratings or maybe driving while intoxicated. But there are a whole host of other things that Uber has discretion to deactivate you for. One of the things I’ve been noticing is an alarming trend where drivers call passengers and ask where they’re going. It’s something you can get deactivated for, so I want to take a minute to discuss it.
Check out the video, then read the video transcript below.
Why drivers might want to call about the passenger destination
As you guys know, I take dozens of rides as a passenger to talk to drivers and to see what the experience is like from that point of view. Airports are the one big area where I think drivers obviously don’t like doing short rides, so it’s tempting to call the passenger to ask where they’re going.
But it’s also happened to me as a passenger during the middle of the day in downtown Long Beach. I think the reason why I wanted to create this video is that I’ve been noticing it more and more, especially since I’ve been traveling a lot over the next few months at these airports, at LAX, in San Diego. I’ve had this happen to me more than a few times, and some drivers are super obvious about this. They’ll just call you and say, “Hey, where are you going?” Other drivers are a little more slick, though, and they might call you and say, “Hey, I’m confirming your address, right? We’re headed to Santa Monica, right?” And I might, as a passenger say, “Huh? I’m not going to Santa Monica. I’m going the complete opposite direction. I’m headed downtown.” And that’s how the driver finds out where your going without overtly asking “Hey, where are you headed?”
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They’re really looking for those long rides, and they’ll actually cancel on you, which creates a pretty terrible experience for the Uber passenger. I’m not going to snitch them out to Uber, but it sucked having it happen. I think maybe in the future I’ll just say, “Hey, you’ll find out when you come pick me up.” That might be kind of a dick thing to say, but it might be the best solution if you’re a passenger.
Is it a good idea to call ahead?
The real question is, should drivers be doing this? Should drivers be calling passengers and asking where they’re headed? For me, I say no. This is not something that I would do, and honestly I think drivers that are doing this probably should be deactivated for doing it. I’m all about finding ways to earn more money, to sort of hack the system, but this crosses the line for me. There are some reasons to do this, and I totally get it. If you’re sitting there waiting for an airport ride, it obviously sucks to have a really sort ride, but every driver gets those short rides.
Work within the framework Uber has set up
If you have a problem with it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing airport rides or maybe try to take it up with Uber. This goes a little too far for me, and I’ve done videos in the past about the cancellation strategy and taking advantage of upfront pricing or whatever it might be, but those, I think, work within the framework that Uber has set forth. As a driver, you have a destination filter if you really need to head in a certain direction.
One of the things that I think when I first heard about this is that it’s exactly what taxis used to do, and passengers hated that. Taxis would sit there waiting for a ride for long time, and then if you weren’t going the direction or if you weren’t going far enough, they wouldn’t come get you or they would say they’re going to come get you and then take a better fare along the way. I do think each Uber driver has a small responsibility to kind preserve that ride share name. Passengers love this service.
How could Uber solve this problem?
I think there are features that Uber could definitely build to solve this problem: Paying drivers more for short rides or raising the minimum fare. I haven’t really heard of Uber actually deactivating a lot of drivers for this for how prevalent it is. Like I said, it’s not happening on every single ride, but it definitely happens. If you’re a frequent Uber passenger, it’s probably happened to you at least once or twice, especially around airports. It does create a terrible passenger experience, and I can only imagine that if or when Uber does find out, it’s a reason we’re going to see going forward that some drivers are getting deactivated.
I don’t think this is super widespread, but it’s not something that I recommend or agree with. I’d love to know your take on this, if you’ve had this happen or if you’ve seen other drivers do this. Does this cross the line for you? Are you okay with this strategy or do you think it’s going too far? Feel free to like, comment, subscribe to the channel. Look forward to talking soon. Take care!
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