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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Uber Update

Uber has become synonymous with ridesharing. It's even a verb now - "Ubering". (Kind of like how Kleenex is a brand but that's what we call tissue.) Which is too bad considering the myriad of scandals plaguing their company - which of course is all their fault.

Casually scrolling through The Apprepreneur's posts, there's scandal after scandal; it's becoming almost commonplace at this point.

But there are two things I hate most about Uber - and Lyft, because even though Lyft seems to stay out of the limelight, their app is no better than Uber's. 

1. Google maps. Or lack of an efficient GPS map of their own. Several things are dangerous and stupid about using Google Maps - and it's not the same exact Maps that you would get if you were to plug in an address yourself; one integral difference I noticed is that Google will have you go up and around a block to make sure you end up on the right side of the street, which is probably where the cool factor ends, because Maps will more often than not send you down dark back alleys to find your passenger when they're in the front of their house, not the back. And because Uber's GPS map leaves a lot to be desired, Google operates independently of the Uber/Lyft apps which causes problems of its own as well. It will 
A. Tell me I've arrived (at an apartment or retail complex) before I found the right spot so my map disappears. (Then I have to rely on Uber's pin) 
B. Run in the background even if my rider cancels or I drop them off early so I have to go back in and shut it down (while driving, usually!) and 
C. Is too eager and tells me I've arrived before I physically do. If I need house number 1370, it will say I've arrived at house number 1365. I've learned to drive another couple hundred feet or so every time.
Maps makes me look like an idiot in front of my passengers. I'm probably calling or texting them 80% of the time to ask where they are because I'm on the wrong side of the house or in another parking lot. Sigh.

2. Their rating system causes a buttload of problems. If Lyft wants to stand apart from the pack and be better than Uber without much effort on their part, it would be to revamp the 5-star rating system. There is post after post about what they could do to improve it, including explaining to passengers how it works (and how a low rating can get a driver kicked off the app), forcing them to either type in or choose a reason why they give anything less than a 5-star rating, and not counting low ratings for things not under our control, like traffic.

But the real reason it needs a revamp is because of something I have now experienced as a driver and should never have had a chance to occur. I got my first creepy drunk passenger. He made my skin crawl. And he sat in my front seat. It was 6:30 at night. It wasn't even dark; and he was already plastered. He smelled like weed when he got in my car, stared at me for an uncomfortable amount of time, and mumbled something about me being beautiful. He asked me if I was drunk. Before we reached his house, he asked me if I was smoking weed because it smelled like weed in my car (Duh! From you!). Then, when I reached his house, he invited me to dinner. Um, no thank you. And you know what my response to him was, besides my answers being curt and short? To be nice. And why? Why didn't I kick this man out of my car? After all, my safety should be my number one priority. (I did have a taser and I considered pulling it out but I wouldn't take that step unless and until he tried to touch me.) Because he could give me a bad rating. (Here is an article about it, it's a long read but a good one if you're interested.)

You see, Uber (and to some extent, Lyft as well) does not allow you to dispute any ratings. Passengers don't have to give a reason why they gave you a sucky rating, and there's no way to get rid of it once you have it. Once you reach a 4.6 average, you are kicked off the platform, and it takes a hell of a lot to get you back on once that happens. I read that it takes somewhere around 19 5-star ratings to offset one 1-star rating. It's ridiculous. 

And obviously it doesn't have to be as serious as sexual harassment. It could be something stupid or simple, like telling them to turn down their music because you can't hear the directions, or asking them not to smoke in your car, or any etc situation. They can give you 1-star ratings willy-nilly, and that's just wrong, especially when it has more to do with your ability to drive than the passengers even know. Guess what - you can give them 1-star ratings as well, but does that affect them? Nope. If a passenger's star rating is low, you can choose not to pick them up, but then that affects your acceptance rate (although that doesn't matter anymore like it used to) So there's no winning for the driver in any scenario. The only plus, I suppose, is that if you give them a 1-star rating, you won't be paired with that passenger again. Wooptie do! It's not like *they* get kicked off of Uber for being assholes. Hell no. Uber wants all the passengers it can get. Drivers are a dime a dozen.

UPDATE: Uber is going to trial with Google for stealing its Waymo secrets. I'm probably not thinking as far into this as I should, but I hope they crash and burn and die. Then only Lyft will be left, and it will allow other ride-hailing services to come forth from the ashes. It means two things: Not as many drivers are using Lyft, so if Uber crashes, demand will be high, at least for a few days while those people scramble to get signed up for Lyft; and I'm ready. (As an already full-time employee can be. Hopefully they crash on a weekend lol) But that also means monopoly. And as most of us know from being forced to sign up for Comcast, monopolies are never good for the consumer. Hopefully it doesn't all go to Lyft's head as they reel from all the profits. 

Uber needs a good kick in the dick to stop acting like they're above the law. Even if this doesn't cripple them beyond repair, it better get them going in the right direction. 

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