The worst types of Uber passengers (and how to deal with them)

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Rideshare drivers know that the most interesting part of the job is by far the passengers. Some passengers can be a joy to talk to, some can be a complete bore, and a special few will stand out in our minds forever as simply, “The Worst”.

We do our best to avoid these passengers by checking their ratings before accepting the ride, but when you’re working your tail off as a late-night driver, near colleges, or in big cities, sometimes you’re going to have some unpleasant experiences.

It’s just part of the job.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been hanging out with drivers, listening to their best passenger stories, and gathering advice on how to deal with bad passengers.

So in today’s post, we’re going to have a laugh (and possibly a cry), as we look at the 5 worst types of rideshare passengers and give you advice on how to best deal with them.

The Eater

“The Eater” is a normally solid rideshare passenger, which is what makes them so deceptive. They might have a 4.9 rating, but for some reason they pick you and your freshly detailed car to transform into this “The Eater”.

How to spot them?

You can’t spot an eater until you drive up to them and see a pizza box or McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s bag in their hands. They’ll likely already be snacking when you first see them while using their pants as a napkin.

When they jump in your car, don’t expect them to ask if they can eat in your car, and don’t expect much conversation. You should, however, be looking out for hands with just a bit of sauce on your cloth seats.

How to deal with them?

Nip this one in the bud right when they get in your car by letting them know that they need to keep their food in the box or bag at all times. For most passengers, this is enough to keep the sauce stains at bay, but some of the hungrier passengers may need a reminder or two. And don’t for a second let them put their box down.

They have a way of “forgetting” things in your car. Check out the video below for a cautionary tale on the eater.

At the end of the day, these passengers are a pain, but if you’re upfront and explain that eating is NOT OK in your car, you should be fine.

Keep some cleaning supplies in the trunk just in case.

How do you rate them?

The rating for this type of passenger really depends on if they listen and if they leave a mess. If you have a passenger that decides not to obey the rules and leaves an empty box as a gift in your car, they get 1 star… 4 stars if they keep it clean.

The Backseat Driver

Above all else, this passenger is just incredibly annoying. For some reason, they think they know the roads better than the all powerful, all seeing Google and can’t wait to tell you about it.

How to spot them?

It’s impossible to know if you’re getting a backseat driver until it’s too late. But when you get one, you’ll know immediately. From the get-go, you’ll be micromanaged like a 14-year old at their first grocery store job.

At times it will almost feel like the passenger is competing with your voice navigation and you’ll find yourself wondering if all this hassle is worth arriving 60 seconds earlier, IF they are correct with their “shortcut” (hint: they aren’t).

How to deal with them?

Your best bet here is to remain cool, calm, and collected. Yes, this is annoying, but things certainly could be worse. Simply remind them that you do indeed have a GPS that uses all of Google’s superpowers to tell you the very best route to drive depending on traffic conditions.

This type of passenger is likely not to listen the first time, so remain calm and just point out traffic conditions that Google Maps or Waze is alerting you to that are changing the route that you take.

If you’re like me and like to find more laid back passengers that just let you do your thing, think about leveraging events. Passengers leaving concerts, games, plays and other events are usually not in a huge rush so will just sit back and enjoy the ride.

How do you rate them?

This depends on the attitude of the passenger. If they get snarky, they get 2 stars. If they can find it in themselves to take a chill pill, we can do 4-stars.

The Drunk

Possibly the most disruptive type of passenger is the drunk, and for obvious reasons.

If you’re not a late-night driver you may have been able to avoid this type of passenger, but those of us driving after 11 pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday know these folks all too well.

How to spot them?

You can spot an intoxicated passenger a mile away. They are usually in one of three states:

  1. Swaying vigourously in the wind as they wait for you to drive up and stumble to the car.
  2. Leaning on a light pole, nearly completely bent over, visibly one shot away from covering the whole sidewalk with vomit.
  3. Actively covering the whole sidewalk with vomit.

How to deal with them?

The one thing that you want to avoid at all costs is someone painting your car puke orange. Yes, you will have the opportunity to collect a cleanup fee if someone can’t hold their alcohol, but your night will be over and you’ll be spending your time cleaning up a mess instead of making money.

So when driving during popular going out hours you’ll want to be selective about who you pick up.

Passengers #1 and #2 are likely going to be fine. They’ve had a few too many but should be able to keep it together. If they seem like they’re teetering, you’ll have to make a judgment call on if you want to risk it or not.

These passengers are likely going to be either way too excited or immediately pass out. If they are with a group, they’ll likely be the former and will be very chatty. Go ahead and chat with them, but always remain professional.

Some of my best tips have come from groups that have clearly done their fair share of pregaming before going to the bars. So don’t be afraid to chat, but know where to draw the line.

Passengers in category #3 usually haven’t called you themselves, but a “friend” has. This “friend” will try and plop your would be passenger into your car even though they are clearly blacked out and probably won’t be able to get out of your car even if they make it home.

If at all possible, avoid these passengers. They are a safety risk to you and themselves as they can be unpredictable. When you see this, I would recommend telling their friends that they will need to cut their night short and escort their friend home.

How do you rate them?

If they puke in your car they get 1-star + a cleaning fee and probably some unkind words… If they hold it together and are entertaining, let them pass with 4 stars.

If you want to avoid these types of passengers at all costs, adjust your driving strategy away from the late night bar scene to something like airports. You can even use the Gridwise app to check how many passengers you have incoming and the queue length.

Download Gridwise to see airport demand and queue lengths

The Underage Rider

Most TNC’s clearly state that their service is intended for people over 18 and that anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

People don’t care.

They will make you drive all the way to them so you can find their clearly underage kid waiting.

How to spot them?

When you drive up and what looks like a 15-year old is hailing you, you’ve got an underage passenger.

What to do about them?

There are two major camps for how to deal with underage passengers. Many drivers will play it safe, cancel the request, and contact their TNC. This can result in the passengers account being deactivated.

Most drivers, however, will take the approach of picking the passenger up and then explaining to them that Uber and Lyft is intended for passengers that are 18 or older. That will usually result in the passenger saying they didn’t know, which we all know isn’t true. So just reiterate that it’s important for them to follow this rule.

How do you rate them?

1-Star… stop breaking the rules!

The PAX that asks if you can go through a drive through

This passenger for some reason believes that you are their own personal chauffeur. This passenger usually asks you to stop at a McDonald’s or Wendy’s, but sometimes will go as far as asking you to make a pit-stop at Chipotle…

Yes… we’ve seen this happen.

How to spot them?

This is usually a group of passengers that may be heading home from an event, so it’s understandable that they are hungry.

If you pay attention to their conversation you’ll start to hear rumblings of “I’m hungry” and “We should grab something to eat while we’re out”… that’s when you know you’re in trouble.

What to do about them?

When you’re asked to make a pit stop, remember that the bulk of your pay comes by the mile, not by the minute. So sitting in a drive through inching toward the payment window for 10-minutes likely isn’t worth your time.

To avoid this, you can simply state that it’s against Uber’s Terms of Service to make these types of stops. Unfortunately, the conversation is likely not going to end there, so you have to be adamant, but polite.

Some passengers will go as far as offering a generous tip if you stop. If so, the stop may be worth it. You’ll have to be the judge there.

If you do give in and take them to a drive through, make sure you position the back window in front of the speaker and the payment window. Also, don’t expect any food kickbacks, but it’s worth asking!

How do you rate them?

5-stars if you get a food kickback or a nice tip… 3-stars if you just get nagged.

Summing Things Up

We all know some passengers can be an incredible pain, and this is just the beginning of the list. When these situations come up, remember to keep your cool and understand that you’re not conducting brain surgery. One bad passenger or one bad rating isn’t going to make or break you.

Even the worst rides will rarely last more than an hour, and then you don’t have to see them again. So don’t let a bad passenger ruin your mood. Keep your smile, and keep making money!

If you have any memorable experiences with passengers, please share below!

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