One driver has even told me (complete with pictures) of ending up with a bullet in his car after unknowingly taking a passenger to an area with a reputation for drug deals.
Yet until Thursday, Uber hadn’t laid out specific behavior that makes a passenger a five-star rider versus what’s not tolerated inside a vehicle (hint: using Uber for criminal activity is a big violation).
Here’s what Uber’s new community guidelines say are some of the reasons riders could lose access to their account:
Damaging drivers’ or other passengers’ property. For example, damaging the car, breaking or vandalizing a phone, intentionally spilling food or drink, smoking, or vomiting due to excessive alcohol consumption. Physical contact with the driver or fellow riders. As our community guidelines make clear, you shouldn’t touch or flirt with other people in the car. As a reminder, Uber has a no-sex rule. That’s no sexual conduct with drivers or fellow riders, no matter what. And you should never hit or otherwise hurt a driver or fellow passenger. Use of inappropriate and abusive language or gestures. For example, asking overly personal questions, using verbal threats, and making comments or gestures that are aggressive, sexual, discriminatory, or disrespectful. Unwanted contact with the driver or fellow passenger after the trip is over. For example, texting, calling, or visiting someone in person after a ride has been completed. Remember, in most countries you can call and text your driver directly from the Uber app without ever having to share your personal phone number. This means that your phone number stays anonymous and is never given to the driver. Breaking the local law while using Uber. For example, bringing open containers of alcohol or drugs into the car; traveling in large groups that exceed the number of seat belts in the car; asking drivers to break local traffic laws such as speed limits; or using Uber to commit a crime, including drug and human trafficking or the sexual exploitation of children.
To be clear, not all of these are grounds for instant disqualification from Uber, and the company says it will investigate problematic behavior as it’s reported. At the same time, any behavior involving “violence, sexual misconduct, harassment, discrimination, or illegal activity” is something for which you can be immediately banned from using the car service, the company says.
“Most riders show drivers the respect they deserve,” Uber’s head of North America, Rachel Holt, wrote in a blog post. “But some don’t – whether it’s leaving trash in the car, throwing up in the back seat after too much alcohol or asking a driver to break the speed limit so they can get to their appointment on time. This kind of poor behavior is not OK, which is why we will take action against passengers who are rude, abusive or violent.”
In case you’re wondering just what Uber drivers think of you as a passenger, it’s easy to check your rating directly in the app.