Uber in Danger from Five-Star Ratings?

Chances are if you’ve used any ride-hailing services that ask for ratings, you’ve given five stars to those who don’t necessarily deserve it. Although, it may be essential to give your next Uber driver a five-star rating next time. Anything less than a five could cost them their driver status.

Uber isn’t the only driving service under such rating crackdown. One California Lyft driver placed a translation of the five-star system in his car to inform his riders how the stars work. Next to four stars he put how it didn’t mean above average. Rather, it was to an extent: fire this driver slowly, he sucks. Uber responded to this problem by stating it would make riders include an explanation starting in July when they gave a less than perfect rating.

Drastic raises in ratings for peer-to-peer platforms like Uber is more dangerous that it first appears

With ratings more inflated than grades at Harvard, Uber’s ratings are the topic of “Reputation Inflation” a new paper by John Horton, Apostolos Filippas, and Joseph Golden. The paper explains why peer-to-peer platforms such as Uber and Airbnb have ratings that are so easy to inflate. It comes down to the fact that it’s uncomfortable for an individual to leave a bad review to another individual.

In more technical terms, there is a “cost” of sorts to leaving poor feedback. Cost can take a couple different forms. Fear of retaliation from the reviewed, or guilt in doing possible harm to the subject.

If these so-called costs augment over time, then the platform in question will most likely see inflation of rates.

The paper looks at an unnamed gig economy platform. That is, where employers hire workers for specific tasks. Once the job is finished, the employer gives two types of feedback, public and private. The worker sees the public feedback, but does not see the private reviews, nor do others on that platform.

In private, people were more candid. In April 2013, the platform gave the option to leave private feedback. During the time studied in the paper, 15% of employers offered poor private input with only 4% giving a public rating of three or fewer stars. Written comments were also more candid since those were less harmful than a lower score.

Lousy feedback became scarce when private ratings released to workers. With any negativity causing harm to the employee, rates began to skyrocket. In estimation, it will take seven years for the average score to be the highest possible score.