Do not commit fraud when canceling because of an unaccompanied minor

Unaccompanied Minors has been a hot-button issue with many YouTube Uber and Lyft drivers. The YouTube channel Dustin is Driving published a video entitled, “Uber-This Is What Happens When Unaccompanied Minors Try To Scam Drivers For A Ride.” It features a video from Dave the Uber Slave, another Uber driver who makes YouTube videos.

Do not commit fraud when cancelling because of an unaccompanied minor - Bent Corner
Dustin Nicol from Dustin is Driving.

Just how does the unaccompanied minor attempt to scam Dave? By requesting a ride using his Lyft app and then expecting to be driven to his destination. In other words, doing what millions of other people do when they request a ride. This is somehow a “scam.”

In the video, Dustin said Dave handled the situation perfectly. I strongly disagree. Dave displayed terrible customer service skills in dealing with the unaccompanied minor. He speaks to the minor through a slightly open window while the 15-year-old stands in the rain. The minor cannot hear him. Dave speaks to him in a condescending, passive-aggressive way, recording the entire encounter for his YouTube channel.

Do not call passengers names

Dave Zambie from Dave the Uber Slave.

Dave says things to the rider you should never say to a customer. At one point, he calls him a brat. That’s not right. There’s a way to deal with an unaccompanied minor that’s both professional and not at all combative.

All Dave had to do was explain the policy, apologize for the inconvenience, cancel the ride, and leave. That should all take no more than 30 seconds.

When canceling, he should have canceled due to an unaccompanied minor. It’s one of the reasons Lyft presents to you when canceling a ride. Did he do that?

Dustin incorrectly states that Dave had to sit there for five minutes to get a cancellation fee. This is false.

When canceling an unaccompanied minor request, do not commit fraud

When you cancel a ride because of an unaccompanied minor but fail to select the correct reason, instead indicating the rider did not show up, you are attempting to defraud Lyft. This is against Lyft’s Terms of Service. From section 10 – Driver Representations, Warranties, and Agreements:

f. You will not attempt to defraud Lyft or Riders on the Lyft Platform or in connection with your provision of Services. If we suspect that you have engaged in fraudulent activity we may withhold applicable Fares or other payments for the ride(s) in question.

Drivers attempt to defraud Lyft because it pays an automatic cancellation fee to the driver when a rider is not where they said they would be. The driver must wait at least five minutes before canceling to collect this fee.

Lyft will still pay you for canceling because of an unaccompanied minor, but you will need to contact customer service to get the fee.

Contrary to what Dustin said in the video, don’t lie when you cancel a trip. Remember, driving for Lyft or Uber is a privilege, not a right. You are an independent contractor. They can deactivate your account for almost any reason.

You should always strive to do better

You should always be thinking about how you can do things better. I replay trips in my mind and try to find ways I could have done them better. Guess what? I almost always find things I could have done better. That’s because I’m not perfect. I’m a human being.

Once I find something I could have done better, I try to incorporate it in future trips. I like to think it’s one of the reasons I have high feedback ratings in both Lyft and Uber.

It is a dangerous time to be a Lyft or Uber driver

Lyft driver 39-year-old Kristina Howato was dropping off 20-year-old Fabian Durazo at his destination when he began stabbing her. She was able to exit her vehicle, but Durazo followed her and continued to stab her.

She was taken to the hospital where she and her unborn child were pronounced dead.

It is a dangerous time to be a rideshare driver - Bent Corner
Fabian Durazo

Durazo fled the scene in her vehicle. Police were able to catch him because Howato’s vehicle was equipped with onboard GPS.

Lyft responded to the incident by issuing the following statement:

We were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of this tragedy, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims. The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority. The passenger’s account has been permanently deactivated, and we are actively assisting law enforcement with their investigation.

Lyft permanently deactivated the killer’s account? They are not messing around. It’s one thing for Lyft to deactivate his account, but to permanently deactivate it? I’m sure Durazo will spend years on death row reflecting about his permanent Lyft deactivation and wish there was a way he could get them to reinstate his account.

As an Uber and Lyft driver, I often think about the inherent dangers of picking up complete strangers in my car and driving them where they want to go.

Sometimes passengers do not even need to get into your vehicle to evoke a feeling of danger.  Uber once sent me to an abandoned house on a dead-end street to pick up a passenger. No one showed up so I eventually canceled. While waiting I could not shake the feeling someone was watching me, trying to decide if I was an easy target to rob. It may sound paranoid, but I could not think of a valid reason someone requested a pick up at such a house.

It is a dangerous time to be a rideshare driver - Bent Corner

There are things Uber and Lyft could do to make things safer for drivers. I simply do not believe Lyft when they claim safety is their top priority. Their top priority is maximizing profits. Safety will only be a concern if it affects their ability to maximize profits. This is why I hope Kristina Howato’s family sues Lyft for creating a situation ripe for her and her unborn child’s murder.

Anyone who has driven for Lyft for even two weeks can site the things Lyft should be doing to make things safer. For whatever reason, Lyft has decided not to do those things. Kristina Howato’s family needs to make them pay for that. That is how you create meaningful change in an economic system based on capitalism.

You have to sue the bastards.

Lyft changes driver pay rates for Western Maryland

Lyft announced last week that they are adjusting the Western Maryland driver pay rates. They were increasing the per minute amount by 65 percent and decreasing the per mile amount by 16 percent.

Without even doing the math, I approved of these new driver pay rates. I’ve always believed the per minute amount was far too low. I routinely have passengers who want to make a “quick” stop. I don’t mind stopping, I just want to be adequately compensated for the stop.

Most of the trips I drive in and around Hagerstown are the low mileage, high minute variety. Although there aren’t many miles from one end of Hagerstown to the opposite end, it can take time to go from one end to the other. This is especially true if a lot of cars on the road. It’s even worse if there are school buses on the roads dropping off kids and parents who want to speak to the bus driver.

Lyft changes driver pay rates for Western Maryland - Bent Corner
I hate school buses.

The old Lyft driver pay rates

Lyft changes driver pay rates for Western Maryland - Bent Corner

I wasn’t aware of the fact the penalty for the scheduled trip wasn’t the same as the standard canceled trip penalty. I had to cancel a trip because the rider failed to show up and I received only $7.00.

The New Lyft driver pay rates

Lyft changes driver pay rates for Western Maryland - Bent Corner

The new Lyft diver pay rates went into effect yesterday, December 17.

Everything stayed the same except the per mile amount dropped from $0.96 to $.8025 and the per minute amount increased from $0.1275 to $0.21.

If you apply the old numbers to a hypothetical 5 mile, 10-minute trip, it works out to be:

Base Rate:  $1.2375
Miles: $4.80 (5 miles x $0.96)
Minutes: $1.275 (10 minutes x $0.1275)
Total: $7.31

Apply the new numbers to the same hypothetical 5 mile, 10-minute trip, it works out to be:

Base Rate:  $1.2375
Miles: $4.01 (5 miles x $0.8025)
Minutes: $2.10 (10 minutes x $0.21)
Total: $7.35

In conclusion

Lyft changes driver pay rates for Western Maryland - Bent Corner
I drive strangers around in my car for earthly riches, not glory.

I will not see much of a difference in the amount Lyft pays me to drive strangers in my car. If I see any difference, it will be on trips that take longer because the passenger wants me to stop at Dollar Tree to do some quick Christmas shopping. On trips like these, I’ll be making more money than I would have made before.

Want to try your hand at driving strangers for Lyft? Click this link to get started.

What to do when a Lyft passenger does not have a car seat for their child

Lyft Car Seat

If you drive for Lyft, I’m sure you’ve found yourself in the following situation: you arrive at the passenger’s location only to find out they have a small child, but they don’t have a car seat. Lyft requires passengers with small children to have a proper car seat.

From Lyft’s Help Center, under Children (17 and younger):

We’re happy to give kids a ride as well as adults as long as your children have the proper car seats that fit legal requirements in your state and city. Plan on providing your own car seat for children that require one.

Even though Lyft requires a car seat for children who need one, too many parents don’t have a car seat. If you cancel the ride because of a lack of a car seat, Lyft will not compensate you.

Unlike Uber, Lyft will only pay you a cancelation fee if the rider is not at the location they requested. This is not right. You’re adhering to local laws and Lyft’s own policy, yet you’re not properly compensated for it. You have to handle a rider with a small child, but without a car seat, a little differently than you would with Uber.

Ask the passenger to cancel the ride request

After explaining to your rider you cannot give them a ride without a car seat for their child, kindly ask them to cancel the ride. Wait for them to cancel the ride. If after a few minutes of waiting and they have not canceled the ride, call them through the app and ask again. If they refuse to do so, cancel the ride after the timer in the app ticks down to the point it allows you to cancel the ride. Make sure to select “Passenger is a no-show” as the reason.

Until Lyft changes its policy, this is the only way you’ll be compensated. Technically, it’s valid. The passenger did not show up at the designated pick-up point with a required safety device for their child.

New York City to cap the number of Uber and Lyft drivers

New York City has become the first major municipality in the United States to put a cap on the number of ridesharing drivers allowed to exist within its city. From CBS News:

New York City is hitting the brakes on fast-expanding ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Lawmakers on Wednesday approved a proposal to freeze new licenses for car service drivers for one year, becoming the first large city in the U.S. to impose such restrictions.

This is a very bad idea. It’s anti-consumer. By limiting the number of Lyft and Uber drivers available to riders, the taxi industry can now go back to raking in the money it was able to subject consumers to before ridesharing became a thing. The taxi industry has had years to establish itself as a positive entity in the market. They failed to do that. In fact, they burned a lot of calories doing the complete opposite.

Taxis suck and I hate them

People generally hate taxis. I sure do. The last time I used a taxi was in June 2008. We were back in California on vacation and the night before our flight to Maryland, we stayed at the Burbank Holiday Inn. The reason we stayed there was that it is close to the Burbank airport (3 miles) and offered a free shuttle service to the airport. We discovered the next morning that the free shuttle service didn’t start till 6:30 am. The problem was we had to check in to JetBlue at 6:00 am. We had to take a taxi. I called one and when the driver arrived, he informed me in an eastern European accent that he would take us for a flat $20.

I didn’t have a choice. He drove us to the airport without the meter running. The ride took only a few minutes. Taxis aren’t allowed to drive passengers without the meter running. I promised myself I’d never use a taxi again.

Getting an Uber or Lyft in New York City will be harder with each passing day

Uber and Lyft rely on a business model that depends heavily on constantly adding new drivers. The reason for this is drivers generally don’t stick around very long. It’s not like they turn in their two-week notice or call to have their driver account deleted. They just don’t drive anymore. You can go months without driving and then log in and start accepting rides again like nothing happened. I know this because if done that.

Unless Uber and Lyft make major changes to the way they manage drivers in New York City, getting a rideshare driver in New York City will get a lot harder.