Common requests that annoy PCO drivers and polite ways to deal with them.
The five star rating has become a double edged sword. Although it’s still a great way of letting both drivers and riders know that they’re safe, it’s also becoming a common source of fear for drivers, who are afraid about letting their ratings slip if they don’t act in a particular way.
Don’t be afraid!
First thing to acknowledge is that ratings aren’t everything. For your own sanity you can’t always focus on the negative reviews. The Otto Car team also get negative reviews from time to time and when this happens we take a deep breath, understand what’s being said and use it as a way to improve the service we offer to PCO drivers.
With this in mind, we thought that we’d put together a list of common issues that annoy PCO drivers, and polite ways to handle these without offending your riders, and (hopefully) without affecting your ratings.
1.) “Can I play my music?”
This is an area where many PCO drivers are divided. Some drivers welcome passengers playing their music, and actually enjoy being introduced to different sounds and cultures. If you’re one of these people then there shouldn’t be any problem… Enjoy the heavy metal!
Other drivers find music requests extremely annoying, and prefer to listen to their own stuff or enjoy the peace and quiet. If you’re in this second group, and don’t just want to say “no!” (even if you’re thinking it), then you might have success with one of these responses:
1.) “Sorry, I don’t have an Aux cable” – This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. You can’t offer what you don’t have. If you do actually have one then be careful to keep the cable hidden, or a passenger might just call your bluff!
2.) “Unfortunately I can’t get the music to work, but you’re welcome to play something on the radio?” – Usually a passenger is less excited about the radio than their own music, so they will probably refuse this request… but even if they don’t, it’s less likely that public radio will have particularly offensive or loud music. Like this you’re also in charge of the volume, and you can adjust the sound to the levels that you want.
2.) “I’m very drunk.”
Okay… a rider probably won’t say this exact sentence, but there are many tell tale signs that let you know when a potential rider is drunk.
It’s important to note that if you haven’t already let them into the car then you’re fully within your rights to refuse the journey. It’s not your job to take drunk people home. Whether or not you decide to do this is completely up to you, but you should let Uber know why you decided to refuse the trip so that there’s no confusion. Uber is not a platform for drunk drivers or riders.
In our latest podcast (coming soon!), Gig Guy London says that sometimes he walks outside of the car and talks to drunk riders on the street. Like this he’s able to assess how drunk they are without actually letting them into the car. Once they are inside it’s very difficult to push them out, so this is a nice way of dealing with the situation without putting yourself or your car at risk! This is also helpful in offering a human touch, and showing the rider that you’re a normal person just like anyone else.
I lock my doors and get out the drivers side and talk to the passenger. And if they are looking worse for wear they’re not getting in. – Gig Guy London
If they’re already in the car, then sometimes the best strategy is just to let them keep talking. If the rider is drunk and talking a lot then this can get very annoying, but time spent talking is time not spent vomiting! Keeping them distracted can be a good strategy to save your car seats.
3.) “Can you actually drop me off in Slough instead?”
If you actually live in Slough then this might not be such an issue for you… But some Private Hire drivers have experiences with riders who have far or even scary drop-off requests.
Just so you know, you will still get paid for the time and distance that you drive, so don’t be worried about being underpaid for a changed location.
If you really don’t want to drive to a far location, then you’re also within your rights to stop the ride. However, you should ideally consider leaving your passenger in a place where they can easily get a new ride, and where they’ll be safe. This will be well received by the rider, and you’ll probably feel better if you aren’t dropping someone off alone in a dark and empty street.
Some drivers report being told to go to dodgy drop-off locations. Such as dark alleyways, or unfamiliar streets. This can be especially scary at night. If this is the case, then you can go to the nearest place where you feel comfortable and stop the ride there. Your safety is the most important thing, and if your instinct is telling you that something’s not right then you don’t have to go anywhere you’re not sure about!
Anything we missed?
These are just a few of the most common requests that we’ve heard, but we’d love to hear about your personal stories as well. If there’s anything we should include in this list then let us know on Facebook!
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