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This Class Teaches 'Deactivated' Uber Drivers How to Get a 5-Star Rating. Here's What They Learned

Trump Economics

Well-Known Member

As yellow cab riders in New York City dried up, Nichodemus Obih made a bet on himself — and on Uber.

Financially strapped, Obih signed a 46-month lease-to-own plan in June for a Toyota Highlander at $510 per week, he says. When he made $1,500 in his first week driving with the app company, he exulted.

But soon after, Uber deactivated him because of low passenger ratings. He couldn’t make another dime from the company.

Obih, 65, who emigrated 30 years ago from Nigeria, was devastated. He says he remembers trying to explain the financial blow to his three teenage children back in his home country, two of whom were in the hospital with malaria. Obih told them he was struggling to make the car payments, but they still needed him to cover their medical bills.

“They don’t have insurance,” he says. “I’m their insurance.”

Like Obih, 90% of the 80,000 app-based drivers in New York City are immigrants, and four out of every five acquired their vehicle to enter the industry, according to a studyreleased by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission this month. Half of the drivers support children and provide the bulk of their family’s income, the study says. The largest company in the industry is Uber, which routinely deactivates drivers for low passenger ratings.

On a recent morning, Obih and a dozen other deactivated drivers sat in foldout chairs, sipping coffee before the start of a course on how to secure five-star ratings. All were immigrants; just one was a woman. The class, which cost them as much as $70 each, was their only chance to drive for Uber again.

The gist of the course quickly became apparent: It was less about managing the car than the customers — who were often polite, but usually at least a little impatient, and sometimes even drunk or offensive. The drivers would learn skills like how much to talk to passengers and how to respond if a rider passes out from excessive drinking; then the students would put their knowledge to the test in a role-playing exercise.

After each Uber ride, passengers can rate their driver on a scale from one to five stars. If a driver’s average rating drops too low — the threshold varies by region and, the spokesperson says, by driver — he or she risks deactivation. At this point, Uber sends multiple notifications as well as suggested ways for the driver to improve, the company’s website says.

The company does not make rating thresholds public, but observers widely believe that a rating of 4.6 puts drivers at risk of deactivation.

What Drivers Learn
Two long rows of tables and a PowerPoint projector fill the makeshift classroom at the chic Brooklyn office that houses the Independent Drivers Guild, or IDG, a group that advocates on behalf of ride-share drivers in New York City. (IDG receives funding from Uber, and the company requires that deactivated drivers complete either IDG’s course or a similar one before it allows drivers back on the platform.)

By way of establishing his own bona fides, teacher and IDG representative (and part-time driver) Sohail Rana told the students his own rating: 4.92. Then he dove into the advice that’s at the heart of the class. Some was conventional: Get enough sleep, dress well, clean your car daily, and greet the riders with a smile. “They’re bringing us money,” Rana says. “We should be happy.”

Other suggestions went above and beyond: Provide water and candy, follow the rider’s directions no matter what, and open the door for the passenger when you reach the destination. If a passenger talks to the driver, even if he or she asks uncomfortably personal questions, the driver should always respond — but never speak too much, Rana says.

The rest of the advice is precautionary: never touch a passenger, call the police if a rider passes out from illness or alcohol consumption, and install a camera on your dashboard so you can disprove false claims about your driving or conduct.

Obih, a vocal student, was skeptical about whether these tips could prevent low ratings. He recounted driving a young woman through the tunnel that runs from Queens to Manhattan. As Obih emerged into Manhattan, a UPS truck lurched in front of his car, forcing him to slam on the brakes. “If I didn’t stop the car,” he told the group, “I would’ve crushed the guy.”

Obih says the passenger immediately began typing on her phone. He later received a message from Uber apprising him of a customer complaint about a lack of safety, he says. (“Ratings are anonymous,” the Uber spokesperson says. “Neither riders nor drivers see individual ratings tied to a particular trip or person.”)

Rana, who has taught the course once a week for the past year, says he would have stopped the car short as well; after all, a driver can’t control what’s happening on the road around him or her. “If our job was sitting at a desk, this would be the easiest job,” he says later.

Role-Playing Exercise
Near the end of class, it came time for a final test before the drivers would be allowed back on the Uber app: a role-playing exercise. To replicate the seating arrangement in a car, Rana placed two chairs single-file in the front of the class — one for the driver and one for the passenger. He called the drivers up in pairs so each individual could take a turn in both roles.

“Come on Nick, we’ve been waiting for you,” Rana said to Obih, after a pair of drivers-in-training took their seats. “Be the driver first.”

“Good morning; where are you going today?” Obih asked his partner, a young man in a hooded sweatshirt. Obih then asked if the rider would like him to use GPS or follow specific directions, and whether he should adjust the air conditioning. When the fake ride reached its destination, Obih thanked his passenger: “I appreciate your business.”

Then, a surprise: Obih leapt out of his chair, ran around to the still-seated partner behind him, and opened an imaginary passenger door — all with a grin.

Rana congratulated him on a job well done.

After each student took a turn as driver, the class ended. Rana told everyone they could expect to be back on the Uber app within a couple days. “I learned a lot,” Obih says. “As a driver, all you need is the money. I’ll be polite to customers but keep to myself.”

Two weeks later, Obih says driving for Uber has gone “beautifully.”

“I’m getting better and better,” he adds.

One of his children has recovered from malaria, although another remains in the hospital, Obih says. He is still paying back money he borrowed from a friend after his deactivation. He juggles those expenses with car payments and basic needs.

“I’m their father,” he says. “I’m responsible for them. And I’ve got to eat.”



same reason travis k gave for no tip option (dats racist) is the same reasons ratings are garbage

people rate this guy bad simply because hes an immigrant period

same reason both sides abuse ratings, stars because they for little kids

if i get $10+ for the ride and 90% of my rides are $50+ for the hour you get 5 stars regardless of what you did, i simply dont care smoke, drink, eat, be rude

if its less than 10 miles & no cash tip 1 star request unmatch PERIOD every ride hundreds for 2+ years no exceptions i did not get paid its ef you & everything you stand for $4 is unacceptable $5 is unacceptable $6 is unacceptable $7 is unacceptable $8 is unacceptable $9 is unacceptable $10 is round minimum wage to drive a 2000+ pound vehicle 1-5+ miles pick up 100-500+ pounds & deliver it 1-5+ miles with $2.00+ a gallon gas & its $2.50 round here

and riders rate on weather, traffic, price, vehicle type, gender(why you think only 1 woman in the class), ethnicity, they running late, argument with someone prior, they poor, talked to much, didn't talk enough,no aux cord, no water, music too loud, music not loud enough, you avoided an accident....

just a bunch of evil idiots getting rich coming up with overcomplicated ways to steal from people cuz all they really need to do is pay $6ish more dollars on every ride under 10 miles & 99% of issues vanish, but then theyd have to pay labor a legal wage & you can run a successful ponzi scam/ human trafficking app doing that now can they?


Well-Known Member
If drivers are getting low ratings because they are immigrants. Then an algorithm could help balance it out. That being said it is important to be able to speak and understand the rider. So there is also a market for language classes.


Well-Known Member
I don't think being an immigrant has anything to do with anything in major cities like NYC, Chicago, most of Cali etc, maybe down south it would make an impact, I look like an immigrant (both of my parents are) I smoke cigarettes, weed, and vape in the same car I use to Uber (just not while I'm driving Uber except vape, it actually makes the car smell nicer, and I make sure I air it out and spray ozium), I have over 4000 rides and a 4.9 rating and regularly get tipped, I do offer free water to my Uber x customers and charge $1 a bottle to poo (if I accidently take one or I'm trying to meet a quest, I have a sign taped to the the back of the front seat). I also clean the vehicle maybe only twice a month except in winter, then it's a lot more frequent. My vinyl seat covers are attached with safety pins because no covers fit my seats properly and I hardly ever open doors unless they are elderly or handicapped and either require my assistance or just out of respect for the elderly, I always make sure I put and take luggage out of the trunk (to protect my own car)
I have a knack of knowing when a passenger wants peace and quite and when they want to talk, when they want to talk I offer great conversation, talk about events going on in the city, give a mini tour of the city (whatever is in the way to their destination) and give great advice of what to do and where to eat to tourists. I am really friendly with the passenger's younger kids if they are with them and they really appreciate that, it's all about personality and making the pax like you, if you know how to do that you can succeed doing this job without bending over backwards for them.
I would really love to teach that class, I wonder if Uber heard my advice they'd deactivate me or not :cool:



Well-Known Member
WOW! Thanks for doing the math. I was about to do it for myself, after scrolling down a couple of posts. $510 per month x 46 = $93,840, and not even own the 130-140K mile out of warranty money pit at lease end. I’ll say WOW, again!

There's actually 4.3 weeks per month so the total will be $100,878.
True dat, Seal Team 5. I didn’t even catch that. Not only two WOW’s, but let me add INCREDIBLE!!!!!

So the lesson here is, "don't be a foreigner."
Nah, lesson here is don’t be a stupid s#%+.
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