Not loving your Uber experience? Is your Lyft driver being unpleasant?

As you pull out your phone to tap 3 stars instead of 5, remember one thing: they’re rating you, too.

After all, this two-way feedback is one of the key differentiators between a ridesharing service and taxicabs, along with other advantages: a less expensive ride, requesting a car on your smartphone, seeing the vehicle arrive on an overhead map, and not worrying about cash exchanges when you reach your destination.

READ: 5 Helpful Apps Every Torontonian Needs To Download

So why should you care about a low rating from a driver, anyway? Well, it brings your overall average score down, and while you won’t necessarily be banned by the service if it plummets – being kicked off Uber or Lyft is determined on a case-by-case basis – a low rating could mean fewer drivers will want to pick you up.

Here, we look at how to see your rating, and ways to improve it.

Find Your Rating

The location of your rider rating varies depending on the service.

With Uber, it’s uber easy. After you’ve taken at least five trips, simply open the app and touch the menu icon – the three horizontal lines in the top left corner of your smartphone screen – and your rating is the number displayed under your name, such as 4.6.

Previously, you had to go to the Help>Account section, which required multiple taps.

It’s not as easy with Lyft. You’ll need to ask your Lyft driver for it, contact the company via the app, or send an email with the request.

Note: Once you know your rating (out of 5 stars), you won’t see which driver gave you what. But if your rating was 4.9 before a certain ride, and then falls to 4.78, you can deduce who gave you the lower score.

Improve Your Passenger Rating

Boosting your rider score isn’t rocket science, says Lexi Levin, in Consumer Communications at Uber. In fact, you can make a good impression even before you step into the car.

A few tips:

1. Be on time

“Time is money, and no one likes to be kept waiting,” says Levin. “Always try to meet your driver on time. If you’re running late, call or send a text to let them know you’re on the way.”

Siamak Omanesh, a seasoned Lyft driver, agrees. “Remember, everyone is a 5-star when you request a ride, so to keep it there, the first tip is to make sure you’re not late.”

“If you are, you can easily contact the driver to let them know what’s going on. It’s common courtesy,” adds the 55-year-old, who puts in about 40 hours a week as a Lyft driver — and works full-time at a supermarket, too.

Another issue, says Omanesh, are GPS glitches when your phone is sharing its location with the driver. Therefore, riders should review their map location and tweak if necessary (by moving the pushpin on the map), and don’t blame the driver if it’s not clear.

2. Be respectful

People who use Uber come from all walks of life reminds Levin, therefore “please respect those differences in your conversations and behaviour. We want all riders and drivers to always feel welcome.”

“You’re more likely to get a lower rating if you have your nose up in the air,” adds Omanesh. “Treat me like a fellow human being, as I will to you, and it will be a pleasant ride.”

On a related note, have respect for the driver’s car, says Levin. “Uber drivers use their own cars, so please be careful when opening and closing doors, and try to avoid making a mess. That might mean enjoying your burrito in the backseat isn’t the best idea.”

Omanesh confirms one of his pet peeves is being asked to go through a drive-thru, riders eating in the car, and sometimes spilling food and drinks, and leaving trash behind. “This means a zero star,” he says.

That said, Omanesh understands many use ridesharing services after drinking, so they don’t have to drive. “I’ve often helped drunk people walk up to their doors and use their keys — but there’s no excuse for being rude or messy.”

3. Follow the rules, go with the flow

Another way to lose points as a rider? By not following the rules, says Levin. “Buckle up, don't carry open alcohol containers, and don't ask your driver to speed.”

All three of these scenarios happen every day with Uber and Lyft drivers.

Also, don’t smoke or vape in the vehicle. Don’t even ask if you can. Don’t hit on your driver. Don’t do anything obscene with a special someone beside you. Don’t be obnoxious on phone calls.

This is all common sense, folks. And don’t threaten to rate drivers poorly as leverage.

Omanesh says he can tell if riders are “chatty,” and will do it, “even if I’m not in the mood.” “This is a service industry, so I’m there for the rider.” And if riders want a silent ride or some music, he will comply, too.

“Not all drivers like it, but I’ll also let riders play their own music if they like,” adds Omanesh.

4. Tip your driver (even a little), and other suggestions

While Lyft always offered this, and Uber a little more recently, adding a tip will make the driver happy and will likely mean a higher rider rating from them. Even if it’s a buck or two. Will you really miss it?

Bonus tips:

  • Verify it's the right vehicle before you get in: Make sure you’re getting into the right car by checking the license plate and asking your driver who they’re picking up. This way, you can be sure you don’t get into someone else’s Uber.
  • Give people space: It can be close quarters in a car you’re sharing with other riders. Be sure to respect everyone's personal space. “No one wants to feel cramped, uncomfortable, or unsafe,” says Levin.
  • For those sharing a ride with others, you can’t change your destination or the drop-off order. If you ask drivers to do this, they will likely give you a bad rating. After all, they’re not getting paid to go out of their way for you (plus they risk a bad rating from other passengers).
  • When you get out, say “thank you.”
  • If you check your rating and it’s lower than you like, the only way to make it better is to take more rides and be extra courteous. It may take a while, but that 3.8 can grow to a 4.5 in no time.