When dealing with customers, clients, or passengers, it’s inevitable that you will run into passengers who are less than ideal from time to time. The same is true when you drive for a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft. In most cases, the situation can be simply unpleasant or irritating. In others, the situation can become uncomfortable or even dangerous.
The best way to deal with these situations is to be prepared. First, brace yourself for the fact that you will have unpleasant people in your car sometimes. Then make yourself aware of the worst rideshare passengers and what to do about them so you have a plan before you pull up to the curb.
As a rideshare driver, you know that you make money while you’re driving, not while you’re waiting. So, when you arrive promptly at the pick-up location only to find that the passenger isn’t there, it’s easy to let your mind turn to how many passengers you could’ve picked up if you weren’t waiting for this one.
This is an issue that, fortunately, rideshare companies have covered. Uber has a policy in place that fines passengers who are two minutes late. However, try to have grace for passengers who are frazzled or rushing. Everyone has bad days. You’ll probably get a good rating or a tip out of it, too.
The Backseat Driver
You are a professional driver but Uber passengers don’t always remember this fact and may proceed to tell you how to do your job. This may already be irritating, but what can be more irritating is passengers who backseat drive and then decide to give you a low rating because of it.
There isn’t much you can do about the passenger in the moment. Most drivers simply smile and attempt to accommodate the passenger as much as possible, and then give the passenger a low ranking once they’re out of the car. If the driver is nitpicky to the point that they are causing you discomfort, you can ask them to stop, and if they don’t you can cancel the ride and ask them to leave. A passenger can’t put a negative rating on a canceled ride.
Slobs come in many forms. A sick or drunk passenger who throws up in the back seat. An office worker whose coffee flies out of their hands. A child who drops their snack all over the floor. Whatever “the slob” looks like, their rides always end the same way—a huge mess to clean up.
Most rideshare companies charge cleaning fees to passengers to help drivers get the mess cleaned up. This is especially valuable if you’re driving an NYC TLC Rental.
The size of the fee depends on the mess. Smaller messes such as soda spills may be a 20 dollar fee, while major messes, especially ones involving bodily fluids, may go as high as 150 dollars. Damage to a car can lead to a fee as high as 250 dollars. As a driver, it’s important that you document the mess via dashcam or phone camera to help file your report.
The Rule Breaker
There are rules in place about who and what is allowed in the car for a reason. But some passengers still try to push the envelope, and this can be hard to deal with as a driver. Here’s how to respond to some of the common rule breakers.
You must be at least eighteen years old to get an Uber without an adult. And although rideshare drivers aren’t required to ask passengers their age, there have been instances where underaged riders have gotten hurt and it has come back to haunt drivers. If you expect a rider is underage, ask them to show ID. If they can’t, you should not start the ride.
Kids Without Car Seats
As a rideshare driver, you are required to follow the local laws. In New York City, that means kids under four years old need to be in safety seats and kids under eight need safety restraints. Even so, you may find a family that will try to bring their kids in the car without a car seat. As a driver, you can still get pulled over if there are kids without proper car seats in your car. If the family doesn’t have a car seat, you are within your rights to turn them down.
Depending on the time and day, this may be your biggest clientele. After all, if a person is unable to drive their own car, the responsible choice is to call an Uber or Lyft. Typically, these passengers are fine, if not a little unruly or incoherent. But there are a few scenarios with drunk passengers that may be challenging to deal with.
The first is passengers that try to bring open alcoholic beverages in the car. In most states, New York included, you can get pulled over and ticketed for having open alcohol in the car, even if it isn’t yours. If a passenger is holding a drink when they approach the car, you should tell them to throw it out before they get in. If they smuggle a drink in the car and you realize it during the ride, you can report the passenger to Lyft or Uber.
As we mentioned earlier, the rideshare company will give you a cleaning fee if a passenger throws up in your car. But you can take precautions to avoid this before the ride starts. Ask a passenger how much they’ve had or if they feel sick at the start of the ride and remind them that you are willing to pull over if they need to throw up. You can also leave vomit bags in the car and inform the passenger of this fact.
These passengers may or may not be drunk. Either way, they are the ones who make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe during the ride. These are people who may be rude, make threats or inappropriate comments, or try to touch you. Rideshare companies value your safety as the driver and do not tolerate this kind of behavior in the car.
If a rider makes you fear for your safety in any way, you should absolutely stop the ride and tell them to leave. If the situation continues to escalate, contact law enforcement immediately. Once you are in a safe place, contact Uber and report the incident. Having a dashcam installed is a great way to give you an extra level of protection if these situations arise.
Knowing what to do about the worst rideshare passengers is a skill that you develop the more you drive. Ultimately, you’ll find that most riders are nice people. Learning how to deal with the bad eggs will help you appreciate those passengers more.