The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00064

Submission Number:
David Schwartz
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I drive for Uber and Lyft, with over 1300 rides so far. I'd like to address the ratings/reputation issue. First of all, I believe that the primary use of ratings is to help the platforms weed out bad drivers quickly. A simple yes/no question would be better than a 5-star rating: "Would you ride with this driver again?" ( ) Yes ( ) No, because: [___________] Second, I think the "reputation" thing (in this situation) is a red herring. Here's why: I hear the same comments over and over again from my riders, comparing Uber with regular taxis and cab drivers: * The cars are newer, cleaner, more comfortable, and smell better * The drivers are generally "healthier" (ie., not massively overweight), well-groomed (ie., they don't smell), and they don't look like they sleep in their vehicles * The drivers (mostly) speak good English * The payment system is automated, so they don't have to worry about being cheated by unscrupulous drives * Riders don't have to worry about carrying cash (except if they want to tip Uber drivers, which many do) * Drivers cannot rip them off by taking unreasonably long routes; if it happens, riders can get the fare adjusted quickly * The drivers are more articulate, engaging, and better at conversation (when it's desired) * While waiting to be picked up, riders have a lot more confidence in when their ride will show up (in large part because they can see it on the map as it's moving towards them) * The platform tracks the who/what/where/when of all parties involved in a ride, which leaves riders feeling a lot safer These attributes have come to distinguish services rendered by ridesharing outfits from those rendered by traditional taxi cab services. Every one of these attributes _could_ be addressed by cab companies, but they have not, and probably never will. These distinctions (among others) are what riders of ridesharing services have come to expect, and why they FAR prefer to choose rideshare services over regular cabs. Moreover, I don't think that either Uber or Lyft has figured out that they could charge the same fares as cabs in a given market and riders would STILL choose to use them over cabs. In other words, they are delivering a unique service that distinguishes them from cabs, and while some riders are price-sensitive, I think most choose them for the quality of their service, not for their price. Also, I cannot tell you how many riders have told me, "I don't care what you guys charge, you're still WAY cheaper than a DUI!" This is why I don't think a driver's rating, as a kind of "reputation", matters much to rideshare customers. They have come to expect a certain level of quality, and the various platforms do a good job of maintaining that quality -- mainly through the feedback they get from the rating system. Riders know from experience that bad drivers get cut fairly quickly; they know this because they encounter very few.