A car with an Uber logo on it drives down the street in New York, U.S., July 27, 2018.
A car with an Uber logo on it drives down the street in New York, U.S., July 27, 2018. Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Uber users who have low ratings may find their accounts deactivated soon. The ride-sharing company is updating its community guidelines for Australia and New Zealand, and riders with four or lower rating may be suspended for six months.

The new guidelines will take effect on Sep. 19. The company will alert riders if their rating is approaching “the city minimum.” It will then suggest ways to help improve their score, including completing a “short education exercise.” If their ratings do not improve, they will be sent two or three further emails to give them another chance. And if they still can’t improve their rating, they will be banned from using the app for six months.

“Your account may be reactivated after you satisfy Uber of the steps you’ve taken to improve. For example, if you’re a driver by taking a third-party quality improvement course, or if you’re a rider, by completing a short educational exercise,” the new guideline reads (via Nine News). “If your account is reactivated, you will need to maintain the minimum average rating for the city or your partner account may again be deactivated.

“As a rider, if your Uber account is deactivated or suspended, you will not be able to access either the Uber app or the Uber Eats app.”

Four out of five may not seem terribly low, but the majority of the population has higher rating, Uber General Manager ANZ Susan Anderson said nine out of 10 Australian Uber users have a 4.5 or higher rating, which means the new system will affect only a “few thousands” of 2.8 million users in Australia and New Zealand.

“Ideally, we don’t want people to lose access, we just want an environment of mutual respect, Anderson told news.com.au. “By trialling these warnings to try and change people’s behaviour, we have found that people do improve their rating when prompted.”

The company also reminds riders about how they can lose access to the app, and these include damaging the car, vomiting in the vehicle, or making physical contact with the driver.

“As a reminder, Uber has a no sex rule. That’s no sexual conduct with drivers or fellow riders, no matter what. And you should never hit or otherwise hurt a driver or fellow passenger.”

The guideline also has a total “firearms ban,” preventing riders and drivers to carry firearms. Uber is founded in the US, where there is currently a tempestuous debate on carrying and owning firearms by citizens.

Uber said the move was necessary to improve passenger behaviour following feedback from drivers. It identified Australia and New Zealand to have the policy implemented in. Brazil also got the same treatment when Uber introduced the policy earlier this year.

“Drivers have reported a number of common incidents to us, for example when riders asked to be picked up in an unsafe location (such as no-stopping zone in a CBD), it makes their jobs very stressful,” Anderson explained. “Conversation is another big one. We are all busy and sometimes we just want to sit there and check our phones. But you don’t have to talk to the driver all the way through the trip, just saying hello and goodbye makes a big difference.

“It’s all about treating people with common courtesy.”