Why My Uber Rating is Lousy — and What it Can Teach Us About Solution Provider Rankings

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What’s your current Uber rating as a passenger? Probably in the 4.5–5 range, right?

Most people I know confirm that range. Indeed, my friends and I once compared scores when Uber first granted passengers the ability to see their ratings. We went around the room: 4.9, 5.0, another 5, 4.8, and some ridicule for the guy at 4.6. Now imagine my horror when I was greeted with a paltry, miserable Uber rating of 4.2. An outlier, for sure, but I assumed it wasn’t all that bad.

The low score was vexing. I started asking my Uber drivers how that reflected on me, and several stated they wouldn’t pick riders up if their score were lower than 3.5. My score wasn’t irredeemable, but it was, in the words of one driver, “pretty freakin' bad, dude.” His candor was appreciated, but concerning.

Why was my score so low? Though I’ve had my fair share of late nights, I am never belligerent or rude, nor are the people traveling with me. I have made a couple of late cancellations, but surely two bad scores couldn’t sabotage my rating like that. For a while my question was left unanswered, and I just did my best to boost my score: making conversation, laughing at drivers’ jokes, giving a great tip — you name it.

I was resigned to never knowing why my score was so subpar until a recent revelation.

I’ll pause here and ask our European readers what their ratings are, particularly those from the Nordic region and the German-speaking countries. Are your ratings a bit lower? I’ll bet they are.

This disparity is something I discovered while working on, of all things, the first Spend Matters SolutionMap. Before I began working at this publication, I worked for a software provider and was charged with gathering customer references for SolutionMap. Our customers — based mostly in Europe — were giving us poor scores compared with their North American counterparts. We realized that if the average American were completely satisfied with a product or service, they would likely score it at a full 5 out of 5. Some Europeans who were similarly satisfied, however, would give a rating of only 3 or 4.

The SolutionMap numbers backed up my suspicions. Only after proving our disadvantage to the Spend Matters team did I realize that the same cultural distinction applied to my Uber rating: I have taken most of my Uber rides in Germany and Austria, and thus my score has suffered.

Apparently to get a perfect 5 in Central and Northern Europe, you really have to go the extra mile. And that’s what I’m now doing with my drivers here in the states to ensure my rating only goes up from now on. Proudly, I have raised my rating to a robust 4.4. But in America, that’s still pretty freakin' bad, dude.

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First Voice

  1. Jason Busch:

    Sam, Fabulous story, but unlike Uber, the SolutionMap algorithm now normalizes for scoring biases across geographies. The Q4 release factors into account cross cultural scoring bias by customers, by country and region, so no provider can “game” the results.

    Jason (4.81)

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