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Cancelling Trips after 5-minute No-Show Limit

Interpretation of policy: “A driver must cancel a rider’s request for a ride if they have been a no-show 5 minutes after your arrival.”

Ok, so maybe that’s not exactly what it says. But the automated system in place automatically grants you a fee for the ride getting cancelled after that 5-minute window. Did you invent the Uber system? Are you a managing director of the company who has a say in the operations of the company? Most likely not. So then why take it into your own hands to be lenient with the policy? It’s there for a reason. The longer a rider makes you wait, that rider is now taking a driver away from the road that could easily be picking up a needy rider that is desperate for a normally-priced ride.

“Normally-priced ride?” Yes. Surge-less. Standard rate.

“What does cancelling a ride have to do with the surge rate?” As a driver, your job/goal is to transport as many passengers by continuously taking requests as they come in. While you’re sitting still waiting for a passenger to take their time, there are more riders requesting rides that are actually ready to go. When this wait time starts to build up and you multiply that with exponential effects, you get surge pricing going higher and higher.

“Do I cancel every ride as soon as it gets to 5 minutes of wait?” Uber seems to leave this to the driver’s discretion. In my opinion, it’s left to be implemented into my strategy of making as much money as I possibly can. I actually have a sand timer that I flip when the app has notified the rider that I have arrived (about 5-10 seconds before the driver gets there). It lasts for 5 minutes. Once that sand is out, I cancel the ride.

“Do you use the timer for every ride?” That is where the strategy comes in. There are many factors that are accounted for and have been practiced. What you want to weigh is if you can make as much money on the ride as you could in the amount of time it will take to cancel the ride, acquire another ride, and arrive at the next location.

“Wow that sounds complicated.” Not at all. Here’s how I figure it:

  1. Was this a request for an X or XL ride? (POOL is excluded because you’re supposed to cancel that ride after just 2 minutes) If the ride is an XL ride, I would most likely hang on for several more minutes because the rates for XL are almost double in Massachusetts than for X.
  2. If it is just X, what is the surge of this ride? Anything above 1.3x, I try to hang onto as long as possible. If it’s 1.3x or less, the 5-minute timer is rolling and I’ll be cancelling right at or shortly right after the 5-minute mark. Keep in mind, I always do everything possible to try to get the ride. I send the rider a canned text stating that I am right outside their location and that I have the door open for them.
  3. If the surge is 1.3x or less, but the distance I travelled to get this rider was over 5 minutes… When you had to travel anything in the direction of 10 minutes for a rider and the surge was 1.3x or less, that means the number of people requesting rides is dropping quickly and the surge is going away or gone for that area. If it’s going to take you potentially another 5-10 minutes to get to another rider, then it’s worth hanging onto this ride longer and waiting for the rider to show up.

Why bother cancelling the ride at all?” #1. You make money when done properly. #2. It allows the rider to potentially complain to Uber about the cancellation fee. #3. When the Rider complains, if it is the first time hitting the time limit, Uber support may refund them. However, they will not keep doing that moving forward and Uber will explain that to them. Thus, the rider is getting trained to be a better rider for the system. If you don’t cancel rides when appropriate, you are enabling them to continue the behavior of requesting rides when they’re not actually going to be ready in time.

UberX vs UberXL by number of people or level of comfort

Taking UberX allows you to request a ride that will fit a minimum of 4 passengers in addition to the driver. However, sometimes, it’s just nice to get a little bit more space if you have the extra money. Rather than splurging on UberBlack or UberSUV, which are both great service but have a price tag along with it, you may find it more appealing to request UberXL for a more spacious ride even if it’s just you or you and another person.


I’ve driven dozens of people in my Dodge Grand Caravan who’ve requested UberXL just to have more space. Even more 4-person only rides of XL because stuffing 3 of the 4 people into the back seat of a smaller-sized sedan doesn’t work out so well to keep people comfortable.

If you request an UberXL ride inadvertently and you didn’t mean to, it is not your driver’s job to know, just because it’s only you, that you really meant to just request UberX. It is assumed by drivers that you wanted to have the next notch up of service all to yourself.

Transportation of Alcohol

Transporting alcohol in most states is only legal by means of a closed container. You may not enter a vehicle with an open container. Though, there are those of you who are out there that will try.

I don’t understand this. What I don’t understand more is the level of intensity of anger the rider or more likely group of riders in this case gets to because the driver asks them not to bring in open containers.

You know it is illegal. You know the driver would be putting their career on the line… just for you to have a ride with drinks in your hand?

Please respect the driver and their livelihood and don’t even ask to take open alcohol containers into the vehicle. You’re more at risk for having those spill anyways and your driver will have no problem gathering pictures of your beverage spill, submitting it to Uber, and waiting on them to decide on a cleaning fee in order to prevent dried up alcohol smell in the car.

You’re risking it for everyone involved. Don’t do it.

Surge Price vs. Taxi Cost

Surges go up. Price of Uber rides goes up. In the city of Boston, the rates of taxis are lower for rides more than a mile when the surge ends up over 2.2x. If you’re near a taxi stand and it’s easy to grab one, by all means, help us out and grab a taxi. There’s no need to crazily over spend. Taxis are never going to go away. They’ll always be around, however, just not dominating. That is why Uber also has UberTaxi in major cities so that you can request a taxi right through the app. The surge is not applied to the taxi fee (Though I have no source for that, so correct me if I’m wrong) and therefore may be beneficial to you this time around.


I did try to get a taxi in a rainy mess one rush hour evening for 45 minutes because the Uber surge in my area was at 3.6. Insanity! NEVER goes that high! My Uber driver was 40 minutes away! (Really? On the app? No, there was an accident on one of the main roadways causing loads of traffic which he had to sit in it get to me.) So I tried to get a taxi. 20 minutes of running around in the rain trying to get a taxi. So ridiculous! So I folded…. Went to grab some food, waited 45 minutes and returned fired up that the surge was now a mere 1.3.


It CAN be worth the effort to go grab a taxi, but even with the cost difference at about 2.2x+ being cheaper for a taxi, it is still worth getting an Uber just for the ease of use and safer way to request a ride.

Being a 5-star Rider

There’s a decent percentage of the Uber-rider community that is unaware that the drivers actually rate the riders as well. I have personally ridden with drivers who tell me they give all riders 5 stars. “Woah, wait a minute… WHY?!”

If you want to give every rider 5 stars, then sure… go for it. But that is not helping the general population with improving the efficiency of using Uber. There are several effects on the pricing of Uber rides based on low-score riders.

A typical less-than-5-star rating would be given when a rider makes the driver wait for several minutes. When a driver is waiting, that’s causing the entire amount of time that driver is taken up to be extended. This causes surge pricing to happen when it’s multiplied by several riders in a dense area.

When you’ve requested a ride, you should be prepared to be ready within a minute of requesting. Once the rider is on his way, you should drop off about 25% of the minutes for the estimated time of arrival. If they’re 12 minutes away, expect them there in 9 minutes. This is due to the worst-case routing estimate by Uber’s GPS. However, a large majority of drivers use Waze or Google Maps which routes a with a slightly better estimated arrival time.

There are many other factors to being a 5-star rider, many of which are covered in other training links. One of the more common lower-score ratings comes from using UberPOOL and whining about picking up other riders or asking your rider not to pick up other riders on the way. This is 100% no allowed and all riders must understand that UberPOOL isn’t cheap for you because Uber is giving you a deal… it’s cheap for you because they’re algorithmically placing you on routes with other riders. Changing pickup and drop-off locations is not allowed, nor are stops on the way.

You can learn more about using UberPOOL here.

Smoking in Uber Vehicles

Smoking in a driver’s vehicle, whether enforced by Uber policy or not, should be absolutely forbidden. Here in Massachusetts, we have the 4th lowest percentage of smokers in the country at 16.3%. That means that 84% of all other riders we take don’t smoke, can’t smoke, have an allergy to that smoke, or just cannot stand the smell.

As a smoker, I’m sure you’re aware, but if you’re not, everyone else is definitely aware, that the smell of cigarette smoke sticks to everything and is quite potent. One rider smoking in the car will definitely affect the next several rides no matter how much you try to keep the smoke out the window.

Drivers are not willing to risk low ratings by several riders in a row being privileged to the odor of nicotine in the air. However, in more suburb/rural areas, they will potentially fold and accept the smoker-ride because they could be 10-15 minutes away from another ride coming their way at that time of day.

Leave the habit out of the car. And you really don’t have to be a jerk to “stick it to’em” by sucking in your last drag, getting in the car and then pretending to get it to blow out of the car. You’re looking at getting yourself a 1-star no matter what you end up doing along the rest of the ride.

Top drivers spend a lot of time making their vehicles are taken care of, clean, and odor-neutral. There is no reason they should feel the need for their rating to be affected because they have to say no you smoking in the car. As a rider asking this question, you should expect your ride to be cancelled on the spot and your driver to drive off.

Entering Your Location Accurately

Entering your location accurately is the only way the driver will be able to find you without having to call you. There are 3 ways to enter in your location and your destination:

  1. Pin Drop Tool: Accuracy: low. (Pickup Location Only)
    • The Pin Drop tool is a very good way to get an estimate of where you are. However, the reliability of the accuracy is limited due to the need for the rider to really pay attention to which street the tip of the pin is actually pointing to. Many people seem to put the head of the pin at their location rather than the tip itself. Which, in a dense array of streets like Boston, could put your driver a few blocks and up to 10 minutes away due to all of the one ways.
  2. Entering in the address: Accuracy: Medium-high
    • Putting in the address manually is the most common way to get your location and destination to the driver. In residential areas, this is the only option. The occasional problem with this is that there are several different cities and towns that have the exact same street names. You must pay attention to which city is showing up when you select the street name in the search results. To be most accurate with this method, you should start typing out the city name as well before selecting the address from the search results.
  3. Entering in the name of the place: Accuracy: High.
    • When you enter the name of the place you’re at, the GPS coordinates of the location are used from the information database rather than the mailing address. Here is an example of accuracy. Say you want to go to Uno Pizzeria & Grill on Boylston St in Boston. You decide to put in a little extra effort and go find the address for of Uno’s in an attempt to be helpful and accurate. Here’s what happens when you enter in the address:Rider - Entering your location - Pic 1Notice that the pin location is closer to Public Alley 441 than it is to Boylston St? Here’s what happens: your driver is given a set of directions to get as close to that pin as possible.  That means, up Exeter St and then they’re directed to drop you off on Public Alley 441. This is a problem because the driver knows you don’t want to be dropped off there. Now, the next choice is to either get dropped off at the corner of Boylston and Exeter and hoof it to Uno’s or have the driver navigate all the way around the next block. Either way, you’re not going to be thrilled and will not want to give the driver 5 stars. All the while, this could have been avoided by using the name of the location instead of the address.
    • Here’s what it looks like when you enter in the name instead:
      Rider - Entering your location - Pic 2
      Notice that the location is more accurately closer to Boylston St. So instead, the driver will receive directions to get you right to the front door of that location. And everyone will be much happier!