It has been six months of Uber Pro Diamond for me. Of course, I have all the requirements in order. My cancellation is 0%, my acceptance is 97%, my rating is 4.96, the points are always over 1800, my ride count is over 4200, and I have an array of rider comments that make my heart swell.
The goal was never to be a Diamond driver. I just worked hard and landed in it. Now, every time I call Uber support I hear the praise in the rep’s voice
“And I want to thank you for being a top driver in your city and a Diamond Pro!”
Benefits of Uber Pro
I do not feel like I have accomplished anything. It does not make me feel good. Sure there are some fringe benefits. Who wouldn’t want a consistent income of over a thousand a week, not waiting long at all at the airport queue, discounts on gas, and the opportunity for my kid to take online courses with Arizona State University (not the most reputable school, but free is free).
Other benefits include free roadside assistance, free dent repair, CarAdvise discounts for maintenance, three ride promos, week-long and weekend quests. Just recently, Uber also added Fair Credits for Uber Pro. It’s a lot, right?
Am I just unreasonable, why would I not like these? I love people, and driving, which is why I became an Uber Driver. Obviously it is all good, but why am I not feeling right?
This is like a marriage with a passive-aggressive partner. I know there is something wrong but it is seemingly going great, then I get a gut feeling of uneasiness and want to discount it. I try to think that this is all picking at details.
The devil is in the details.
Knowing that a low cancellation rate is required for Diamond status has me regimented to accept almost all the rides given to me.
This means that I do not drive later than 10 pm and having to cancel rides because people can barely stand up without help. I do not do well with drunk people. Additionally, I do not drive between 2-3:30 pm when schools let the kids out, so I avoid driving minors and having to argue with parents on the phone.
How I Keep My Cancellation Rate Low
It also means that I avoid areas with schools if I sign on at 4 pm. Avoidance is strategic to create a routine that decreases the chances of an encounter that warrants a cancellation. By having this in place, it allows a bit of wiggle room for the unexpected cancellation without jeopardizing the rate greatly. All it takes is four to five rides per week to be canceled for the Uber Pro Diamond status to wither to Platinum or Gold.
Knowing Which Type of Riders to Avoid
Cancellation also relates to locales. Some areas in all cities have riders of volatile propensity and by that I mean, concentration of bars, party famed streets, drug areas.
For example, every time there is a Cub’s game in Wrigley Field in Chicago, two hours before the game the traffic is insane and two hours after the game everyone is alcohol poisoned. Not ideal, and therefore I avoid it. Hubbard Street in downtown Chicago from LaSalle St. to State St. is full of drunks from Thursday evening (happy hour for them, not me) to Sunday night.
Acceptance is another factor for Uber Pro. I have set the queue to stack rides on top of each other so I keep busy and not have idle time. That means more rides, but it also means that I have no choice. That gives Uber an edge. The rides can be long, which often are, so it impedes the number of rides I can do per shift. Therefore, making the Quest impossible to fulfill.
We are asked to choose a Quest on Sunday night for the week (Monday 4 am to Thursday 4qm.)
If 60 to 80 rides were picked, the algorithm is set to not get the Quest this week by adding long rides that eat up the time on the platform. For example, if I work on Monday and get four long rides and three short ones, I only have seven rides that have taken six hours to complete.
If the same happens on Tuesday and Thursday, I am far away from the 60 desired rides for the Quest. However, there are some weeks that everything seems to work like a charm. There are pools rides when I need to complete the Quest out of nowhere, no long rides for days, and everything falling into place.
Understanding the Algorithm
I strongly believe that this is not the work of celestial objects, positive vibes, and frequencies of white light. It is the work of programmers who regulate what I do after he/she has gathered data on me — Uber Maria. Heck, they know what I like to make every day, week and month.
When the question is posed to support for feedback I often get an answer that is an insult to injury, “it is the luck of the draw.” If I do not choose a Quest, one is chosen for me, which turns out I will not fulfill consistently because of the types of rides I receive.
I highly doubt that any corporate entity and especially a data company left anything dependable on luck. For example, last week, I signed on and inched my way downtown Chicago. An hour passed, in the middle of a rush-hour without a ride.
I called support and expressed concern that the app was down (a better reason than to complain I am not getting rides.) The rep explained the app was working and did not know why I am idle. I thanked her and within seconds the pings came to a normal ride schedule. Luck? Did I get lucky?
Another issue is the ratings. Uber wants great service given to riders so it can maintain repeat customers. Since they cannot take the pulse of each driver and know our personality, moral composition, and disposition, the rating system is a neutral way to keep everyone in check.
Unfair Rating System
The unfair part of the ratings is a blindfolded one way street against the driver. Although we can rate riders, we only have a few seconds to do it because if we have stacked rides and need to drive to the next pick up, we won’t spend too much time rating the rider.
On the other hand, the rider has plenty of time rating their driver. We cannot see who rated us well or badly either. Because of that, we strive to be at our best behavior at all times.
Driving for Uber for over a year now has taught me ways to get 5-star ratings every time. Even in the face of utter and complete disrespect, we disarm and neutralize situations instead of standing up to a wrong.
Ratings force by design and for some reason favor the consumer, not the provider. Although the claim is that riders who have low ratings are expelled from the platform, I have encountered riders with incredibly low ratings still using Uber.
I brace myself and walk on eggshells until I know that the ride won’t be a threat to my rating. On the flip side, we cannot have low ratings and lose the ability to drive if we drop too low.
Compare Yelp ratings for restaurants by patrons. A person who gives a bad review becomes the focal rating while the restauranteur scrabbles to make it right by commenting below (usually in an apologetic manner.)
Getting that 5-Star Rating
The power of rating a driver by the rider is immense. I cannot help my stomach turning when a rider boasts, you get 5 stars. It makes me think that any person has been given permission to rate me however they like and a 5-star rating is a prerogative out of the goodness of their heart is handed to me.
Sometimes that 5-star rating replaces a tip. I wonder if the bank can accept star deposits.
Since Uber has molded me the way they want me to be and I have done so willingly, why is it that they have not created a sub-category where riders can request the drivers they want for a fee that we completely keep? Instead, they keep the booking fee that used to be called safety fee. Last time I checked 5-star hotels cost more, Zagat-rated restaurants have higher prices, 3-Michelin chefs charge astronomical prices for their food.
Excellence has a higher price.
How to be an Uber Pro Diamond Driver
If you would like to be a Diamond driver reverse-engineer your way there. Read all the requirements for that status and create a strategy that meets the requirements.
Carefully engineer a routine of avoidance tailored first, to your personal liking and then to Diamond status. Know that Quests and ride types are the work of math and algorithms along with historical data you have provided by simply working. Pay no emotional attention to Quests and praise, it is all nonsense. If you observe consistent income per week, take that and forget the rest.
The psychological part of feeling like a passive-aggressive person (programmers under direction by Uber executives) is micro-managing you is part of the gig. It is something I have realized and came to terms with.
If I did not, I would not work for Uber any longer. The upside is the consistent income, at least in Chicago. Yet knowing all this, and being suspicious of some of Uber’s practices, has created distrust. It has resulted in a sense that the accomplishment isn’t mine but the design of someone else who forced it.
A tug of war with Uber does not pay, what pays is Diamond status which you can take to the bank. Be safe and get to Uber Pro Diamond as quickly as you can.