Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Second Rate Life

More and more folks in the new crowdsourcing economy are finding out that customer ratings are now just as important as business ratings, and on the largely unregulated frontier that if you get pegged as a "problem customer" then your life is going to be very, very difficult

But the new platforms let reviews go both ways, and vary in their transparency about the process. Yelp is straightforward: Businesses can post replies to critical customers. On Lyft, the second biggest of the new cab companies, passengers are vaguely warned that “a low star rating” means requests for rides may not be accepted. Uber does not mention passenger ratings at all in its user agreement but noted in a blog post that “an Uber trip should be a good experience for drivers too.” 
It does not seem to take much to annoy some Uber drivers. On one online forum, an anonymous driver said he gave poor reviews to “people who are generally negative and would tend to bring down my mood (or anyone around them).” Another was cavalier about the whole process: “1 star for passengers does not do them any harm. Sensible drivers won’t pick them up, but so what?”

Even those who know Uber best appear surprised by how easy it is to fall from grace. “I was at a 5 for a long time, then I had a string of 4 stars,” Travis Kalanick, the company’s chief executive, recently told San Francisco magazine. “I don’t know what happened. I think what happened was I was a little stressed at work. I was not as courteous as I should have been.” 
Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the rental economy — taking its cue from the Internet in general — sees everything as either horrible or great, with little room for nuance. Lyft nods to this when it tells passengers reviewing drivers that ”anything lower than 5 indicates that you were somehow unhappy with the ride.” Drivers can be dropped from their services when they fall below 4.5, but it is unclear what it takes to get banned as a passenger. 
“Have riders been given a temporary cooling-off period or barred from using the app for inappropriate or unsafe behavior? Yes,” Uber said in a blog post, adding that it wanted only “the most respectful riders.” It declined to be more explicit.

So what happens when Uber or Lyft refuse you service because of ratings you can't see and have little control over?  What happens when there are drivers that intentionally rate certain people as bad passengers regardless of how they act?  It's a system that can be easily abused, and if you don't believe it, take a look at the comments section of any of the online articles I link to.

What happens when the comments section of the internet determines who gets service as a paying customer in general?  Uber and other companies like it are leading the way, but what if we get to the point where people start using this to blackball people they don't like?

What happens when your grocery store or your kid's school or your place of worship decides to take up this philosophy?

Something to think about.

Bibi's Bailout Bonanza

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping that congressional Dems can get him out of the gaping chasm he put himself in over his plan to visit Congress, and so far his pleas are falling on deaf ears.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office confirmed Thursday that he had called Democrats and “other friends” in Congress in recent days, and that he “reiterated that the survival of Israel is not a partisan issue.” 
Mr. Reid, a strong supporter of Israel, said in an interview that he had had a candid conversation with Mr. Netanyahu. He said he had advised the prime minister that the speech, scheduled for March, had become such a problem that some Democratic senators had backed off their support of the quick imposition of new sanctions on Iran. 
“It’s hurting you,” Mr. Reid said he told Mr. Netanyahu. “I said: ‘You have to understand this. I’m not telling you what to do or what not to do, but you have to understand the background here from my perspective.’ ” 
“It would have been wrong for me to say, ‘Don’t come,’ ” said Mr. Reid, who is recovering at his home in Washington from a serious exercise accident he sustained Jan. 1. “I wouldn’t do that.” 
Ms. Pelosi said late Wednesday that when she spoke with the prime minister, she had stressed that the speech “could send the wrong message in terms of giving diplomacy a chance.”

Gosh, it's almost like this too-clever-by half plan to "put Obama in his place" was such an overt insult that it blew up in Bibi's face. Doubly so since John Boehner is running as quickly as he can away from this so that Netanyahu and his ambassador to the US are the ones left holding the bag here, as Jeffrey Goldberg points out talking to Ambassador Dermer:

Goldberg: Democrats (including, and maybe especially, Jewish Democrats) believe that the prime minister is sometimes disrespectful to the president, and they worry that your government privileges its relations with the Republicans at their expense. Assuming you believe this is wrong, why is this wrong? 
Dermer: The prime minister and the president have disagreed on issues, but the prime minister has never intentionally treated the president disrespectfully—and if that is what some people felt, it certainly was not the prime minister’s intention.

Nobody believes that. There's every indication that Bibi flat out despises President Obama and if Bibi going around him to speak to Congress as a foreign leader openly undermining the foreign policy of a sitting President isn't intentional disrespect, there's very little that does qualify.

And now the guy is scrambling to try to find some way to save his own ass, because he full well knows what the consequences are as the Palestinians decide to take their grievances to the International Criminal Court rather than the UN. He knows he needs the United States, and right now nobody will give him the time of day.

Can't say he doesn't deserve it.
Related Posts with Thumbnails