Uber and Lyft drivers reveal the most annoying things that passengers do during rides

Uber Lyft Taxi CarInts Kalnins/Reuters

  • Uber and Lyft have taken the world by storm.
  • Business Insider spoke to more than twenty drivers to learn more about what it's like to work for the apps.
  • Topping the list of complaints is smelly food and crumbs, but other pet peeves might surprise some riders.

Every day, an army of nearly four million drivers provide 16 million rides and deliveries across the world for Uber, according to numbers the company provided ahead of its massive IPO.

Those drivers meet all sorts of passengers, both the good and the bad.

In recent months, Business Insider has spoken to more than twenty drivers for both Uber and Lyft (as well as other apps, including Via) to learn about their experience working on the platform.

Together, these verified drivers have provided more than 10,000 rides on the Uber and Lyft apps. Business Insider is publishing only their first names and general work area in order to allow them to keep their privacy.

Every driver we spoke to has had problems with rude or smelly passengers, and tips are often few and far between, even with the addition of a tip function into the Uber app about two years ago. Still, our interviews show a workplace that's highly flexible around a driver's busy schedule, and instant payments are a big plus for those who need the money quickly.

Have you driven for Uber? Have a story to share? You can reach the author of this story at grapier@businessinsider.com.

Here are driver's biggest pet peeves when it comes to the passenger in their backseat:

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Eating smelly foods

Eating smelly foods

Noxious smells easily topped the list, with almost every single driver complaining about pungent food odors

"You get to eat your takeout when you get home, but the smell can linger into the next trips," Michael, who drives for Uber in Virginia, said in an interview. "It's not a huge deal, but if it's something strong it can be annoying. It's also bad when I'm hungry."

Then there's the issue of crumbs. No one wants to get into a dirty car, and drivers don't want to take time out of their day to clean up after you.

Another driver, Matt from Wisconsin, said he doesn't mind going through drive-thru windows for passengers if they ask, but on one condition: "I tell them, we can absolutely go to Taco Bell or KFC of whatever, but you have to wait to open it until I drop you off."

Marijuana

Marijuana

Food smells are a matter of personal preference in most cases, but the odor of marijuana — or even the perception of — can cause even bigger headaches for a driver.

"If you smell like weed, I have to air out the car before picking up the next person," Mahmoud, who drives in Los Angeles, said. "I don't care necessarily, but I have to protect myself. The person who gets in next could complain or say I was driving under the influence."

Other drivers have complained that a complaint by a rider that the car smells like marijuana, or that the driver could be driving under the influence, can get them automatically removed from the Uber platform temporarily. These can usually be resolved quickly, but can still cause an unexpected interruption in somebody's income.

"I've had this happen to me too many times to count," said Toni, who drives in New York.

Disagreeing with the route

Disagreeing with the route

Many riders take Uber to or from their home, where they might know the streets really well. Still, Uber provides drivers with a GPS-based route and encourages them to follow those directions.

"We DO have a GPS," Jenny said. "Some people will try to tell you where to go because they don't like the GPS route, and then will get mad and leave fewer stars when I follow it."

Slamming the door

Slamming the door

In most markets, Uber drivers are using their own personal vehicle to shuttle customers to their destinations.

"There's only one thing that really gets under my skin, even if it really shouldn't, and that's slamming my door," Frank, a driver in Palm Springs, California, said. "It's probably less than one percent of passengers who I'll never see again, but it's still one of those things."

Manners

Manners

Like many service employees, Uber drivers often bear the brunt when it comes to customer service.

"Do not be rude to the driver," Toni said. "Everyone has a bad day but you are in someone's personal vehicle."

Michael, who drives in Atlanta, said he felt a need to provide customer service for passengers, since most have little to no interaction with the company outside of the app.

"We're here to get a customer from point A to point B," he said. "But we're also the face of the company so I'm happy to help answer peoples' questions."

Making female drivers uncomfortable

Making female drivers uncomfortable

Many of the female drivers that spoke to Business Insider said they only work during the day, in order to avoid uncomfortable nighttime encounters.

"I get rude and harassing comments from men in the day, so I don't even want to know what it would be like at night when people are drinking," Jenny, a teacher who drives in Northern New Jersey during breaks in the school year, said.

Not being ready to go

Not being ready to go

Uber drivers are paid for the time between arriving at a requested ride and beginning the trip, but it's not much. Since time is money, drivers can get frustrated having to wait for passengers."

"Be ready when you request the ride," Toni said. "Drivers in my market are only paid less than a quarter per minute to wait, which is not a profit since I could be making more on a trip. It sets a negative vibe for the whole ride."

Not tipping

Not tipping

Uber added the ability for passengers to tip inside the app in 2017 (Lyft previously added a similar option), but drivers still struggle with a lack of tips from many rides.

"Most people do not tip," Jenny said. "I've found they're more likely to tip if I have a conversation, but a lot of people just don't want to tip."

Toni also had a similar experience: "A big sore spot for drivers is the lack of tipping," she said. "An example is the day before Christmas I gave 12 rides and not a single person tipped. It's the lack of etiquette and entitlement passengers have been lulled to feel it is not necessary."

Overall, however, drivers are conflicted about how necessary tipping is (as opposed to other service industries, like restaurants for example, where they are expected as part of a worker's total pay).

"For myself, I never expect it," said Frank. "It all depends on the rider and is at their discretion. It shouldn't be mandatory and it's not what we signed up for. We're already getting paid, so if they do tip it's a plus."

Using an incorrect or inaccurate pickup point

Using an incorrect or inaccurate pickup point

Most addresses are easy to find. After all, there's probably only one house or apartment building at your address. For businesses though, things can get more complicated.

"For ride requests in malls or shopping centers, it's cool to put the address but also the name of the place," Toni said. "Especially when it's not a residence."

Vaping

Vaping

Your Juul might be less noticeable than a cigarette, but it's still annoying for someone who has to smell the vapor long after you've left the car.

"Vaping is a huge thing right now, and people will be in the backseat secretly trying to vape" said Michael in California. "It's very rude and annoying."

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