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.

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