“This Uber/Airbnb/restaurant was really great,” you think to yourself, as you sit down to write a review. You type up everything you loved about the ride/apartment/meal, and then you hover your cursor over the star ratings. “Well,” you think, “there’s always room for improvement!” or “This was great, but not literally the best ride/stay/meal I’ve ever had” and then you give 4/5, or 9/10 stars.
Don’t do that!
It may seem counterintuitive, but rating services is not the time to impart your always-room-for-improvement mentality. For Airbnb hosts, Uber drivers and many other people, star ratings are a huge part of their business and anything less than perfect ratings looks subpar.
I spoke to an Airbnb and VRBO host who’s been frustrated by glowing, 100% positive reviews that come with four-star ratings. Both services give hosts perks for strong ratings, and those perks, in turn, help her attract more business. On Airbnb, it’s not just a high average rating but a high proportion of 5-star ratings that contributes to “Superhost” status, which is an important part of enticing renters to choose a given listing.
She said, “I really don’t think people realise how much those 5 stars matter to hosts and also Uber and Lyft drivers.”
For Uber and Lyft drivers, ratings just a few tenths below a perfect 5.0 can mean probation or even termination. The disconnect between how riders and rideshare companies interpret star ratings can be dangerous for drivers caught in the middle.
Gig economy ratings are not a place to fight grade inflation. If things were great — all satisfactions met, nothing wrong, perfectly nice — then leave a perfect star rating. If you have feedback or small quibbles, you can share those with your host or driver, or leave qualifying information in the body of your review. Perfection is unattainable in practice, but should be common in reviews and ratings.
Oftentimes, someone’s livelihood depends on it.