Ride-sharing services have become a popular alternative to taxis and public transportation. Taking an Uber is great when you’re traveling, out for a night of socializing, or otherwise wanting or needing to get where you’re going without driving yourself. But this option is still new, and many people wonder what the rules are and what the proper etiquette is in some situations.
Can you ask your Uber driver to turn off the radio? Of course, you can ask! In most cases, a reasonable request will be welcomed and followed immediately. In some municipalities, ride-share drivers are subject to the same rules and regulations that govern taxi drivers. In those cases, you might be able to make demands. But that isn’t the case everywhere, and you shouldn’t need regulations anyway.
The most important thing to remember is that your Uber driver is a human being. If you treat him or her with respect, you’ll almost always get the same in return. When they are driving, they are working, and some people like to listen to music while they work. If you want quiet, a different station, or some other accommodation to make your ride more comfortable and enjoyable—ask politely.
Asking Your Uber Driver About the Radio or Temperature
A lot of people are more familiar with taking taxis than they are with using ride-share services. At the same time, many younger riders are so comfortable with ride-sharing that they can be a little too comfortable making requests or demands of their drivers. There is a simple rule of thumb that can guide all of your ride-sharing experiences, whether you’re new to it or a long-time user. Be a decent person!
There are cities where Uber drivers have to follow the same rules related to passenger comfort that cab drivers follow. These locations are the exception rather than the rule. You won’t need to worry about whether you can force a driver to do something or not if you approach each request as just that—a request.
Uber drivers are contract workers driving their personal vehicles, not employees of Uber. Each Uber driver has his or her unique approach to providing riders with a comfortable experience. It’s in their interest to do so, as their customer ratings are an essential part of their ability to keep working for the service and earning money. At the same time, in most cases, nothing is forcing them to consent to any of your demands.
Good ridership doesn’t have to be – and should never be – complicated. Remember what your Mom or Grandma told you—”You get more flies with honey.”
When you use a ride-sharing service in a city where the driver has to follow the same rules and regulations as a taxi driver, you’ll be able to “tell” them to adjust the temperature of the vehicle, open or close windows, and change the station or volume of the radio.
Even if you’re in a location where you have the legal right to tell a driver to make adjustments, you’re probably going to have a better ride experience if you ask politely rather than making demands. At the end of the day, a driver can terminate the ride and leave you standing on the sidewalk if they feel you are unreasonable. Sure, you can give them a bad rating, but that won’t get you to your meeting on time.
Tips and Ratings
If there is a “good” source of leverage that you can use to add additional heft to your requests to an Uber driver, it is the system of rating drivers and the related ability to tip drivers through the app. As independent contractors, the drivers want to keep their ratings high to remain in good standing with the service. A driver with a low rating might have their privileges suspended, which would cost them money.
You should never have to threaten a driver with a bad rating or mention that you’ll withhold a tip to get them to respond to a reasonable request. Many drivers will ask you about temperature and music preferences as soon as you get into the vehicle. Those who do not ask are usually open to making changes to accommodate your comfort. All you have to do to find out is ask.
If a driver refuses to change the radio or climate settings when you ask politely, you’ll have to decide how important it is to you. If you’re a reasonable customer and the driver is providing poor customer service or being rude, you should feel free to report that in your rating and comments. You should also feel free to let that factor into your decision about whether and how much to tip.
Some people think it’s a good idea to offer a bigger tip to get a driver to do something they don’t want to do. You should not have to pay more to get a radio station changed or turned up or down. If you’re making a reasonable request, that should be enough. If your request is unreasonable, throwing money around to get what you want isn’t enough to change an unreasonable request into a reasonable one.
Try to Think of the Big Picture
Using a ride-share service instead of a taxi is a step away from the “Corporate America” way of running a business. If you want to negotiate something with an Uber driver, you won’t get very far by threatening to complain to their manager or call the office—they don’t have one. You can complain to Uber, and in most cases, they’ll err on the side of keeping you happy rather than backing up the driver.
If you approach your ride-sharing experiences as a service that you pay for, one that is provided by a professional who deserves respect, then you’ll probably never have a problem getting what you ask for. If you think that hailing an Uber through your smartphone gives you the same status that a celebrity has over a limo driver, you’re just not getting it. Anyway, in most cases, stars treat the people who provide them with valuable services with the respect they deserve.
A good piece of advice to follow when you’re using Uber, any other ride-sharing service, or doing anything else where you interact with other people for that matter, is—be a decent person. Treat people with respect, and they will respond in kind. If they don’t, you can deal with that by deciding how big a deal you want to make of it. Going into any interaction, assuming people are beneath you, is a recipe for headaches and bad karma.
The modern economy is trending in the direction of more opportunities for people to work for themselves by finding customers and clients through the technology of smartphones and computers. If this trend continues, more of our business dealings will come to resemble the relationship that we have to the Uber drivers who pick us up in response to the request we make on our phone.
Learning how to treat gig-economy workers with respect and how to get them to treat us with respect is an excellent opportunity to get ahead of the curve on adjusting to this trend. It’s always better to be considerate and on board with the expectations of the current culture. Why wait, give it a try the next time you hail an Uber, and see if it doesn’t result in a more pleasant experience.