How Edmonton's most uber Uber driver lost his perfect score

In the highly-competitive ride-hailing market, where coveted five-star ratings are nearly impossible to maintain, Samer Sabelleil has a near-perfect ranking of 4.99.

"I said, 'Oh no, you destroyed my rating.' I've been trying to get it back since"

Samer Sabelleil has logged more than 3,500 trips in his bright red Kia Sportage while driving for Uber. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

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Samer Sabelleil may be Edmonton's most uber Uber driver.

In the highly-competitive ride-hailing market, where coveted five-star ratings are nearly impossible to maintain, Sabelleil has a near-perfect ranking of 4.99.

After logging 3,500 trips, one mistake — a rider who misunderstood the rating system — robbed him of his once-perfect score.

It happened a few weeks ago during a particularly pleasant ride, Sabelleil said.  

"I picked up one rider and she was very happy during the trip. She wanted to rate me before she goes and then by accident, she hit the button, she hit one star.

"She rated me one star, and she tells me, 'I gave you a very good rating, Sam, one star."

"I said, 'Oh no, you destroyed my rating.' I've been trying to get it back since then."

'Be human with everyone'

2 years ago
Meet Samer Sabelleil, who may be Edmonton's highest-rated Uber driver. 1:22

Once the customer realized her mistake, she apologized profusely and contacted Uber customer support to remedy her error but to no avail.

When Sabelleil made his own call to customer support a few minutes later, staff on the other line couldn't understand his panic.

"Uber support, they told me, 'Why are you upset? This is the first time we've seen 4.99.'

"I don't think there is anyone in Edmonton who has five stars."

Forever at the mercy of the app, the rigours of Edmonton's rough all-season roads and the opinions of his customers, Sabelleil, 46, has worked hard to keep his reputation impeccable.

His car, a fully-loaded 2011 Kia Sportage, is squeaky clean. Each rider is offered bottled water, mints and gum and their pick of radio stations.

For Sabelleil, every trip is like the first trip. He's determined to make a good first impression. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

And if the customer is so inclined, Sabelleil is happy to talk about the weather, sports or even politics. Advice and personal skin care tips aren't out of the question either.

When one customer recently commented on complexion, he let them know which moisturizing creams he prefers (Clarins and Lancôme).

It's all about respect and treating every customer like they are your first and only customer, Sabelleil said. 

First impressions are important. 

"Every trip it's like the first trip," he said. "The first day when you do any job, you feel very good, optimistic. So I do the same every trip. That's what I do."

There have been strange rides — like the one night when two men were so drunk they forgot where they lived and had to wait for their roommates to wake up to get their address. But Sabelleil doesn't mind.

The work has flexible hours and has helped his family find their footing in Canada.

Driving for Uber helps Sabelleil support his wife as she works towards becoming a family doctor. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

'I like to see people happy'

Sabelleil began driving after moving to Edmonton with his wife and two young children four years ago.

Before immigrating from Syria, Sabelleil worked as a pharmacist. His wife was a doctor.

Sabelleil said his work as a driver has allowed him to care for his children while his wife works to become recertified in medicine.

He hopes to one day go back to school.

In the meantime, he's happy to be on the road, working to earn back those five stars. 

"I like to be the best one in Uber," Sabelleil said. "This is my goal.

"I like doing the best for everybody and I like to do that. I like to see people happy."


Wallis Snowdon


Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca

With files from Nola Keeler


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