I spoke to an anonymous man who started driving for a living in 2014 and works for both Uber and Lyft. He has experience driving passengers throughout New Jersey and shared all of the insider secrets he's learned — but most passengers don't realize. Here are his tell-all details about Uber and Lyft and what you need to know before requesting your next ride.
1. The ratings you give seriously matter to drivers.
"If you rate us less than five stars, it's as if you're asking the company to fire us slowly. Drivers are deactivated if their rating falls below 4.5 or 4.6."
2. No matter what, you will get rated and what drivers say about you is important too.
Drivers have to rate you before they can pick up the next ride, and the driver will definitely deduct stars if you make them wait or are unpleasant. "If a passenger rating falls below 4.5, many drivers will be hesitant to pick them up. If your rating is below 4.0, it will become more difficult to get a ride at busy times. New drivers don't pay attention to ratings, but give them a couple of months of bad passengers and they all start paying attention."
3. There's a guaranteed way to get rated five stars.
Although this isn't an official company policy, if you tip in cash instead of through the app, your driver will always give you five stars.
4. Tips especially matter when you ride-share.
Tips are even more important when you pool or ride-share because drivers don't get compensated for the additional stops while the companies profit from them. "Most drivers hate Uber Pool and Lyft Line. The driver is paid as if he only took one ride although it's actually a longer ride because you're picking up and dropping off passengers as if you're a bus. For example: a driver picks up a passenger on Uber Pool and that passenger is charged $12. The driver then gets another request to pick up someone else and their ride is also $12. The driver only earns for their time in miles, so he or she could only make $5 (if nobody tips) on the ride while Uber got $24."
5. Despite what people think, drivers have to follow the same laws — and won't get in trouble for you.
Some drivers have dash cameras in their car recording the rides, so if you refuse to put on your seat belt in the back, break open-container laws, or try to get away with not having a car seat and their car gets pulled over, they can show the cops and you'll be the one to get a ticket instead of the driver.
6. Your driver talks about you.
There are a variety of closed Facebook groups for Uber and Lyft drivers from different communities. Although this can be a great resource for advice and connections, it's also a platform for drivers to vent about their awful customers and post pictures from cringe-worthy experiences.
7. Some drivers actually like it when you cancel.
After you've requested a ride and your driver is en route, you'll typically be charged a $5 cancellation fee. Although Uber keeps a percentage of it, Lyft gives it all to the drivers. "Some drivers prefer the cancellation fee to a local ride because at the current rates you make the same money for not driving the passenger as you do for driving the passenger."
8. If you leave something, you might not get it back — but not because it was "stolen."
If someone leaves something in the car, it's usually "a big pain in the butt" for the driver because they often go out of their way to return something without the person tipping or even saying thank you. "Many drivers will simply dispose of whatever a passenger leaves in the car including cell phones, keys, and wallet. This is because they're tired of going out of their way and losing money to return an item to someone who will not compensate them for their time and effort. A driver can't get into trouble if they 'can't' locate something that you lost, but new drivers will usually go out of their way to return lost items — but after they're burned several times, they no longer do it."
9. However, there's a way to pretty much guarantee that your stuff will be returned if you forgot it.
It all comes down to that cash tip again. "Drivers do remember the passengers who tip in cash because they are few and far between. Those people are far more likely to have their items returned, but if a passenger is rude or disrespectful, they will certainly never see their item again."
10. You're most likely driving with a new employee.
What they call the "churn rate" or turnover is very high among drivers. The majority of drivers on the road are doing this job less than six months and will most likely quit before the end of the year because they are operating at a loss.
11. You're doing more than just wasting their time when you make them wait.
Drivers pretty much don't get paid when you make them wait, only $0.10 a minute in most markets, so you really are impacting their bottom line.
12. Drivers aren't making as much as you think.
"Both Uber and Lyft give upfront prices to passengers that can be as much as 60 percent higher than the amount your driver receives. The payout per mile in New Jersey is approximately $0.65 to the driver."
13. Drivers hate traffic just as much as you do.
When you're stuck in traffic, drivers only get $0.10 a minute (and in some markets less) for the additional wait time, so don't think they are secretly trying to hit traffic or aren't just as annoyed because they're getting something out of it.
14. Drivers "salivate" for surge and primetime rides.
When Uber and Lyft charge riders more because of higher demands is when drivers have a chance to make considerably more money. The app will show drivers where surge zones are on the map, and if the surge is two times the price, that's how much more the driver will earn. "Many experienced drivers will only work the surge and won't take anything at the regular rates because they are too low to actually make money. These drivers learn their market and know when it's likely to surge. These experienced drivers study this to get an idea of when it's likely to surge."
15. When you try to scam the company, you're really just scamming the driver.
"Passengers have figured out that if they rate the driver poorly and complain about the ride to Uber or Lyft, they will get credit for a free ride. Many drivers have fallen victim to passengers who are scamming for a free ride and not only does it affect the driver's star rating, but sometimes Uber will take the money back and a driver will have to argue to get paid."
16. The company plays dirty.
"I started with Lyft in April 2014 and then I was 'sloged' by Uber a week later. 'Operation slog' was what Uber called their program to recruit Lyft drivers and generally harass Lyft by requesting rides and then canceling them. An Uber corporate representative requested a ride on Lyft when Lyft was giving out free rides during their lunch. This representative got in my car and offered me $1,000 to do one ride on the Uber platform and then guaranteed me $40 per hour for the next two months. He said that he didn't want me to stop driving for Lyft but every time I turned off Uber to take a Lyft ride I would be losing money."
17. Having both apps can save you money.
"Passengers should have both apps because Uber surges more often than Lyft so during times of surge, they can check each app to see which one has a better price. Uber surges more often than Lyft, so at those times it would behoove the rider to choose Lyft."
18. One company is definitely better than the other — at least to this driver.
"Lyft is also a socially conscious company that donated free rides to breast cancer patients to go for their chemo, donated free rides through Dress for Success to help women in need get to job interviews, and has a program where for every dollar a passenger tipped in the app, they donated $1 to Meals on Wheels. That's just a small example of the type of socially responsible things that Lyft has done compared to the ethically questionable things that Uber has done over the years."
19. You're getting a good deal, so there's no need to complain about it and ruin a driver's day.
"Uber rates in most markets are about what it cost in 1974 to take a taxi in New York City. I think that's pretty damn cheap, and it doesn't get much cheaper than that to have someone pick you up in a clean car. We have a lot of passengers behaving badly or treating us poorly and it's become a major problem."