Uber blacklist: How naughty passengers can be banned

ABC7 I-Team Investigation

Jason Knowles Image
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Uber blacklist
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Most riders know they can rate their Uber driver, but the driver can also rate you.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Most riders know they can rate their Uber driver, but the driver can also rate you. In some rare cases, Uber says naughty passengers can wind up on the Uber blacklist.

Uber driver Oryana Quintero fights bad rider behavior with negative ratings, giving people the low one star if they act up.

"I have given someone a one," Quintero says. "It is a safety issue, they are asking me to disobey traffic laws, disrespecting me as a human being."

Uber drivers rate their passengers from one to five stars on a screen similar to the one customers use to rate drivers. What happens to passengers that get too many low ratings?

ABC7's Jason Knowles asks: "What would you have to do to be banned from Uber?"

"It's very rare that anyone is ever taken away from the platform," says Chris Taylor, general manager of Uber Illinois. "But if a rider makes drivers feel unsafe, they're aggressive, if they're violent, then we have an obligation that drivers feel safe because this is their place where they're providing service."

Taylor says decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. There is no set limit of negative ratings before a passenger is banned from their service. If a passenger is blacklisted, they get an e-mail notification.

"If you have some bad behavior, it's really not going to mean that you're not going to get picked up," Taylor says. "It's really more about us noticing patterns of behavior over time."

Uber says in some cities drivers can view passenger ratings, but not in Chicago because of the city's concerns that passengers be treated equally. That means if you have a poor rating, you won't be stranded or wait longer than other customers but you could find your account's been deactivated.

"We don't really have anything like a penalty box or the B Class," Taylor says.

Passengers who want to know their rating can e-mail Uber to find out. Most riders we talked to say they didn't know they were being scrutinized.

"I mean now that I know that I'll probably act better," says Leigh Cohen.

"I mean if we can rate them, I mean, why not?" says Kirk Black. "They have a community so it's fair for them to give other drives a kind of like a heads up."

Quintero says she won't hesitate to take action against troublemakers.

Uber tells the I-Team it's banned "a few hundred" passengers in the Chicago area, but that's a small percentage compared to its 2 million trips a month.

At Lyft, the ratings system is different. If a rider or driver gives one another a three-star rating or less, they will never be matched again.

Lyft also says it will take action against unruly passengers.