Uber will start banning riders with low ratings

“Respect is a two-way street, and so is accountability," the company said in a statement explaining the new policy.
Image: A passenger enters an Uber car at LaGuardia Airport in New York
A passenger enters an Uber car at LaGuardia Airport in New York.Seth Wenig / AP file

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By Ben Kesslen and Andrew Kozak

Uber said Wednesday that it will start banning riders with low ratings, a significant change to the company's previous policies.

The ride-sharing giant said that riders who have “significantly below average” ratings may lose access to Uber if they don’t heed the company's advice on how to bring up their scores. The company did not release a numeric threshold for when it will remove users from the platform.

“Respect is a two-way street, and so is accountability,” Uber said in a statement. “Drivers have long been expected to meet a minimum rating threshold which can vary city to city. While we expect only a small number of riders to ultimately be impacted by ratings-based deactivations, it’s the right thing to do.”

Safety risks for passengers are widely recognized thanks in part to a variety of reports about drivers assaulting riders. Uber's new policy reflects concerns about driver safety, which was underscored by video that recently surfaced of a Lyft driver being violently attacked by a passenger.

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The Independent Drivers Guild, a union that represents 70,000 rideshare drivers in New York City, praised Uber's decision.

"Holding riders accountable for their behavior on the Uber platform is an important safety measure to protect drivers as well as fellow riders who may book shared rides," a spokesperson for the guild said. "While most riders are respectful, banning riders who threaten driver safety, spew racist rants, and disrespect or damage our vehicles is the right thing to do."

Uber’s decision is part of the company’s revised community guidelines that are rolling out in the United States and Canada.

The company said that riders who are at risk of losing their access to the app will have several opportunities to improve their score before any action is taken.

Uber said it will not be releasing a minimum rating level that keeps riders out of the danger zone, partly because the score will be dependent on the average passenger ratings in a person's city.

“Each city has its own minimum threshold which is directly related to the average rider rating in that city,” the company said in a statement.

“Ultimately, we expect this to impact only a very small number of riders who have been consistently rated poorly by drivers and, as a result, have a low rating,” the company said, adding that banned riders will also not be able to use the company’s Uber Eats feature.

The new policy comes after Uber’s $90 billion initial public offering was met with protests from some drivers who feel unfairly compensated and mistreated by the tech company.