As with most things touched by smartphones and social media, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are becoming ubiquitous, especially in major metropolitan areas. They’re a great way for drivers to make extra money and have a bit more autonomy over their workdays, while giving all kinds of people safe and easy transportation.
As a means to customer security as well as profit for their own company, Uber has a rather high standard for drivers, and with it the real possibility of deactivation (inability to receive ride requests through a suspended driver account) if drivers commit certain infractions. Uber has faced some controversy on this point, as until April of this year its deactivation policy was vague and incomplete.
This list will be your guide to what to do—and not do—to prevent getting your Uber driver account deactivated.
Do: Drive safely
This one is so obvious it shouldn’t be mentioned. But for clarity’s sake: If you drive like a maniac or under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, not only are you breaking the law but your Uber passenger will report you to the company.
Riders expect a safe, event-free ride to wherever they’re going. Driving erratically or while intoxicated is a one-way ticket to deactivation, and likely a complete ban from the company.
Don’t: Be a jerk
Besides driving under the influence, harassing, molesting, or verbally abusing your riders is a huge no-no. Most Uber drivers are perfectly nice people looking to make some extra money, and most riders are just looking for a lift, but if you’re having a bad day or the customer says something to irritate you, be very careful and wise about how you handle it.
This also goes for making unwanted sexual advances to attractive customers or making otherwise inappropriate, lewd, crude or threatening comments. The customer will report it and there will be consequences.
Do: Drive frequently
This one’s a bit different. One of the appeals of Uber is that it allows the driver to set his or her own hours, giving them a certain amount of freedom over their schedule. But it also requires a fair level of commitment, as drivers who don’t accept rides for long periods risk deactivation for inactivity.
This is simple to resolve, however; just email Uber customer support and ask to be reactivated. Whether you have been deactivated or just to prevent it, a good rule of thumb is to drive at least once a month.
Don’t: Cancel (too often)
Uber assumes you’re working for them because (a) you want to make money and (b) do so by driving strangers to various places around your city. As such, canceling accepted ride requests too frequently creates a hassle for customers, other drivers—and you, if Uber catches on.
The company says excellent drivers have a cancellation rate below five percent. Each city has a maximum cancellation rate, which is calculated by the average cancellation numbers of the Uber drivers there. If your cancellations go above that line, you could be temporarily blocked from the app and if it continues you could be deactivated.
Do: Keep your ratings high
Uber is famous for allowing both drivers and riders to rate each other after the ride is completed. Uber expects high approval ratings for its drivers. Because your rating is calculated based on the average ratings of your last 500 rides (or your total rides if you’re at less than 500), a consistently low rating will set off red flags at Uber HQ.
You will risk deactivation if your rating goes below 4.6. The good news is if this does happen, you can take a customer service course for less than $100 to get a second chance.
Don’t: Abuse guaranteed pay hours
Traditionally, Uber gave people who successfully signed up an immediate $500 bonus. In 2016, they began to change this policy and instead offer “guaranteed pay” to drivers who accepted a certain number of rides during certain high-use blocs of time, which differed depending on the city.
Because of this guaranteed income, some drivers began using their friends, family members or even their own transportation to count towards the minimum ride number, instead of actually accepting requests from strangers. Occasionally driving a friend or family member during these bloc periods won’t set off alarms, but doing it a lot will look suspicious and could result in consequences.
Do: Keep documentation current
Part of security is ensuring drivers are legally able to drive—which most basically assumes all their important documents, like registration, insurance, vehicle inspection, and license are up-to-date. Drivers are expected to keep these documents current, especially the ones with time limits like licenses.
Having these documents renewed and uploaded to Uber at least a week before expiration is the easiest and most timely way to avoid this kind of deactivation. Be aware that these kinds of deactivation, though easily fixed, are swift and frequently without notice, as it’s your responsibility to keep your information up-to-date.
Don’t: Game the system
With technology, there are all sorts of ways one can rip off the company. Uber takes fraud very seriously, and cheap attempts to game them are various and sundry: Accepting hails (like a taxi service), provoking a rider to cancel, accepting a drive with no intention to complete, falsifying or deliberately extending the time or distance of a trip, creating false accounts to increase fares, claiming fraudulent fees or charges (like cleaning), and intentionally accepting falsified or fraudulent trips (such as a rider using a stolen or illegitimately obtained free ride code). All of these things can result in deactivation, usually permanently.
Do: Use the right car
Sometimes an Uber driver wants to use more than one car for their services. This is perfectly acceptable as long as the car is safe to drive (proper registration, insurance, etc.), and the car is registered to your Uber account.
Often, an Uber driver will use more than one car when the car they pick up rides in is not always the one listed on the account. Riders will be understandably put off and confused when the car they requested is not the one trying to get their attention, and drivers have sometimes been reported for this. Make sure to have all the cars used registered with your account and you’re good to go.
Don’t: Drive with someone else
This is an unusual one but understandable: Some drivers are wary about accepting rides from strangers, and prefer having another adult in the car with them while driving.
This is absolutely against company policy and under no circumstances is it permitted. Customers tend to report these kinds of things (or worse, have given rides to Uber employees while having another person in the car), and if so you will face immediate deactivation.
Do: Pass your background check
In some cities, Uber is requiring a far more stringent and difficult-to-pass background check, for both new and veteran drivers. Some have been driving with Uber successfully for a long time and then are dropped because they fail the newer requirements.
There isn’t much that can be done about this, other than maintaining a clean record even after you become a driver, or if you move to a city where the requirements aren’t as strict.
Uber has a stringent policy against discrimination, and drivers will face permanent deactivation for refusing rides to people based on anything protected under “relevant federal, state, or local law,” including race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, etc.
Understandably, not all cars are equipped to be easily accessible or safe for riders with disabilities; Uber is happy to work with drivers to make their cars as accessible as possible.
Do: Watch your mouth (and keyboard)
Both keyboard and tongue can be potential sources of deactivation for Uber drivers. Besides refraining from highly negative, unkind, offensive, or harassing speech while with passengers, it is also a good idea to be careful about what you say about Uber on social media.
While uncommon, Uber has been known to retaliate against drivers who criticize them on Twitter or Facebook. Assume anyone can read what you say and act accordingly.
Don’t: Go outside the system
Uber’s ride system is well-regulated and designed to ensure both safety and efficiency for all who partake in it. Additionally, Uber is the brainchild of particular individuals and thus the logos and other intellectual property are trademarked.
As such, doing things like accepting anonymous rides, accepting illegal street hails, using any of Uber’s logos or intellectual property, harming the Uber brand by violating the drivers’ agreement, or accepting payment outside of the app are all grounds for deactivation.
Don’t: Hide your identity
Besides the normal requirements to keep documentation current, Uber drivers are also expected to use their real names, identifiable and clear profile pictures, and provide other accurate identifying and other information to Uber.
If this information is falsified or otherwise questionable, it creates an unsafe and confusing atmosphere for riders and Uber will take appropriate action. Additionally, allowing someone else to use your Uber account to accept rides in your behalf, or using an unregistered vehicle, is also prohibited.
Don’t: Get a ticket
This falls under the “safe driving” umbrella, but deserves its own mention: Because Uber expects a safe driving experience for its riders, any behavior that violates traffic laws (whether state or local) will be grounds for deactivation. Obviously, this includes your driving record while not using Uber, but be especially careful to obey all traffic laws while actually using the app.
Drivers who get pulled over by a cop for speeding erratic driving—or worse, engage in “serious illegal activity” or become party to it—while on an Uber ride will face immediate deactivation.
If you get deactivated, here’s how to get reactivated…
The possibility of and steps to reactivation differ depending on why a driver’s account is suspended.
- In cases of expired documentation, drivers can simply contact Uber and give them updated information.
- Accounts suspended due to inactivity can be reinstated by contacting Uber and requesting it; just be sure to actually drive every month.
- Low ratings cancellations and others due to poor quality can potentially be reversed by taking a quality improvement course offered in most major cities for a fee (Uber will eventually make the course available entirely online so drivers everywhere can partake as needed).
Because not all deactivations come with warning or explanation, you will have to contact Uber to find out the particulars of your case and what if anything can be done to reverse it. This may be an involved process, so be sure to be patient, courteous, and respectful, even if you feel your questions aren’t being answered or you’re not being helped. Just politely persist in asking for clarity.
Drivers whose accounts are canceled due to serious passenger complaints or grave violations of policy will not be reactivated.
Uber is a great way for good drivers with free time to make extra cash and be of service to their communities. The basic idea here is the same as any on-the-road interaction, or any engagement with other people: Drive safely and responsibly. Be courteous. Be kind. Do that, and not only will you have a great driver rating, but you’ll have the confidence that comes from knowing you’re a good person, too.