Are You Trending on Uber?

Are You Trending on Uber?

It’s pretty hard these days to find someone who hasn’t taken an Uber ride, or at least someone who hasn’t heard of the ubiquitous ride-share company.  Uber has made strong headway into our lives, changing the way we get around and threatening the “ancient” way of life for city hall-backed, taxi medallion-holders in major cities everywhere.

The app-driven, decentralized ride-share company is hardly the only denizen of the new p2p economy blossoming worldwide.  We now seem to have a “shared” version of everything:

  • Airbnb for vacation rooms
  • Liquid for bicycle rentals
  • DogVacay for well…kenneling your dog
  • Lending Club for peer to peer lending
  • Heal for medical house calls

There’s even a way for you to get someone to do your household chores for you: “TaskRabbit“.

Interestingly, want to know what started it all?  eBay.

You’ll also find it interesting that the one thing each of these shared economy businesses have in common other than their underlying philosophy of collaborative consumption, is that they rely on peer reviews…heavily.  

Businesses like Uber need review systems

After all, what helped Amazon rise to the top, if it wasn’t their amazingly huge customer review database and the trust we learned to put in their star rating system for goods?  The commercial internet is a rough, wild world and someone needs to police it…why not all of us together?

That’s just what’s happening with Uber as well..only it works both ways of course.  You’ve long been well aware that Uber drivers have ratings and you’re probably catching on to the fact that passengers have ratings as well.  In a world that’s gone wrong with civility and politeness towards those who work in the service economy, it’s a welcome development, too.

There’s definitely a need for peer review systems that work both ways

In the shared economy, anyone with some cash can hire out the most mundane parts of life…shopping, driving, cleaning, cooking.  For a short time, we get to feel like we’re living in a Downton Abbey world, with servants at our disposal.

But so many of us don’t know how to treat service people or simply don’t know how to behave in a civil manner towards anyone in public.  We blame our taxi driver for traffic jams.  We stare at our phones instead of saying hello.  We don’t bother to appear on time after calling a cab. We leave our garbage for others to pick up.  (These are common Uber driver complaints, by the way).

The one big difference between those Downton Abbey people and most of us is that they were kind and respectful to their servants, for the most part.  They may have had outdated notions about class, but on the outside they were respectful, and that’s all that’s needed in an Uber-like situation…respect and superficial pleasantries.  It’s pretty much a microcosm of what the world needs more of…civil behavior towards strangers.

Uber sets the pace

If you read the news, you’ll notice a lot of Uber talk.  Uber may not be the first p2p business or even the biggest, but they might just be the most radical and aggressive.  They have to be, since they’re upsetting the status quo for that city hall-taxi medallion fortress of kickbacks, price-fixing, and protectionism we mentioned earlier.  It gets them in the news a lot.

We’ve even adopted the word “Uber” with a capital “U” to stand for any new p2p business.  We talk of the “Uber for dog walkers” or the “Uberization of health care”.  Airbnb is as famous as Uber, but their name just doesn’t lend itself to commonizing and doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way “Uber” does.

There’s another aspect of Uber that’s quite revolutionary and newsworthy as well: their rider review system.  That’s right: drivers get to rate riders, too, on a 1-5 star scale.

And there are consequences.

Riders who repeatedly get low reviews from Uber drivers will soon find it’s hard to get a ride.  Nobody will want to pick them up for fear of ending up with a bad rider experience.  That can mean wasting time parked in front of a rider’s home while she applies lipstick in her front hall mirror.  It can also mean having to clean up vomit left in the back seat after a rider’s drunken journey ends in mishap.

Eventually, riders can get effectively ostracized (blacklisted) for being rude, sloppy, late, or even just for being arrogant.

Uber is trying to get us to behave, and it’s working

The latest development in Uber world is that customers are aching to see their own ratings. Currently, the Uber app does not show these ratings. There are supposedly some hacks out there for obtaining your Uber score, but every time they’re published, Uber changes their code and ratings become hidden again.

People have tried emailing Uber with sporadic luck, so asking your Uber driver might still be the best way to find out what they think of you.

But the best way to think about your own Uber score is simply to stop being inappropriately nasty, rude, or selfish when you’re in an Uber car…or elsewhere in public for that matter.