Uber's trying to make its five-star rating system a little more fair.
The rating system, which uses customer feedback to determine driver performance, is a pain point for many drivers, who run the risk of getting kicked off the platform if their scores fall too low.
But starting today, Uber is rolling out a new interface aimed at preventing experiences that are outside the driver's control, such as software glitches or traffic, from impacting their overall rating.
If a passenger gives a driver a rating of four or fewer stars, the app will prompt the passenger to say what they didn't like about their ride. If the reason they choose wasn't the driver's fault, the low rating won't be counted toward the driver's overall score.
The update is part of Uber's 180 Days of Change, a project dedicated to improving the Uber experience for drivers. The campaign kicked off in June with the news that Uber passengers would be able to tip their drivers through the app for the first time. Today's announcement comes with a host of other updates, including a phone hotline for drivers that's now available 24/7 and the ability for drivers to correct their own fares in case of an error.
There's one update that Uber passengers might not be thrilled about: Uber is going to start charging for returning lost items. Drivers will get paid $15 from riders in exchange for delivering wallets, iPhones, and other lost belongings to their rightful owners.
These changes follow a tumultuous six months for Uber during which CEO Travis Kalanick resigned, the company underwent two internal investigations regarding harassment, discrimination, and workplace culture, and at least 20 employees were terminated. Uber is also currently fighting a major lawsuit from Alphabet over allegedly stolen intellectual property.
The company has publicly vowed to make itself a better, safer place for its employees, and it's also committed to treating drivers better, too. After all, it was just this year that 200,000 Uber users deleted the app from their phones in protest of its perceived mistreatment of taxi drivers.
In a letter to drivers, US general manager Rachel Holt and head of driver experience Aaron Schildkrout said the company has "reviewed and revised" over 100 policies to make them more "driver friendly." More updates, they wrote, are set to roll out next month.
Caroline O'Donovan is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Caroline O'Donovan at email@example.com.
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