How to Make Your Uber Ride Smoother

Credit: Victor J. Blue / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Taking a few seconds to look for a car to drive you home is always better than standing in the rain for ten minutes trying to flag down a taxi, and that's why some people think Uber is the greatest thing in the world. Of course, there have been some problems with the service in the past as well, but a few simple tips can make your ride a whole lot smoother and less expensive. 

How to make sure you aren't late (or worse)
We've all heard tales of Uber drivers taking passengers far afield, at best, or kidnapping their passengers and harming them, at worst. For those who are worried about the bad press the company has gotten lately for putting its customers in danger, there is a feature on the app that lets your friends and family know your ETA once you get into the vehicle. Or, if you don't want to give the company more information about yourself and your loved ones, cut out the middle man. Use Google maps to figure out how long it will take to reach your destination, and let those you're meeting know where you are. 

How to avoid surge pricing
If you've ever been stranded in the middle of a snowstorm, you know all about what the company calls "surge pricing." Demand for a cab rises, and the price rises with it; sticker shock follows soon after. The Uber app now has push notifications available by request, so that you're aware as soon as the surge happens in your area, even if you're not in need of a cab. This doesn't really solve the problem of how much you'll have to pay when you need a cab the most, but at least you'll be able to opt out and pick another way of getting to where you need to be. 

How to get back that scarf you left in the backseat
It stinks, but it happens to the best of us: you're in a rush, and something falls out of your pocket, like a wallet or a phone or your keys. While it's probably a healthy bet that your valuables are now lost to time, Uber has made it simpler to at least try to fix your mistake. In most Uber markets, your ride receipt has a link for retrieving your lost stuff. Uber has set it up so that you can contact the driver (or the company's customer service department itself, if the driver is not responding) and locate whatever it is you left behind.  

How to get a good passenger rating (because yes, they're judging you too)
A lot has been written about bad Uber driver behavior, but it's also important to remember that you're getting graded, too. A bad passenger rating could mean a driver will ignore your request for a ride, even though the company encourages fare acceptance. Unfortunately the rating system also reveals serious personal biases of the people contracted by Uber; a low rating could mean something minor, like an over-the-top cologne, or something out of your control, like a disability. What should you do to get around this? In general, behave yourself: don't make the driver wait too long, don't get drunk and disorderly, and save that pungent cheeseburger for the couch at home.