Thinking of driving for Lyft? Something to first consider

One of the things to consider before driving for Lyft is they have no problem asking you to take trips guaranteed to make you lose money. Case in point, the trip they sent me on the other day.

Lyft sent me 21 miles away to pick up a rider who wanted a ride from his house to a liquor store around the corner. I drove him to the store and waited while he bought beer. He then got back in the car and I drove him back to his house.

The entire round trip from his house, to the liquor store, and back to his house was less than a mile. Lyft was aware of this when they dispatched me to pick up the rider 21 miles away. Riders enter their location and where they want to go when requesting a ride.

Would Uber do this?

Uber handles issues like this differently. If a driver has to drive an extended distance to pick up a rider, they pay the driver for the inconvenience. Lyft doesn’t do this. Considering how Lyft’s business model seems to be based on imitating everything Uber does, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Lyft starts paying drivers in a similar fashion.

Until they do, don’t allow Lyft to send you far away to pick up a passenger. The only reason I accepted it was because I was worried about my acceptance rating so I’d be eligible for the weekly promotion.

That’s never happing again. Before driving for Lyft, this is something to think about.

Lyft weekly guarantees are a waste of time

One of the things I do to augment my income as a freelance web developer is drive for Uber and Lyft. Oddly enough, it works out well. When I don’t have anything to do for a client, I go out and drive strangers around in my car. It helps pay the bills. One of the things that annoy me is Lyft weekly guarantees.

Because Lyft, or as I like to call them, Fake Uber, doesn’t have enough drivers in Western Maryland, they’ve been running Lyft weekly guarantees, promotions to get people like me to drive more. Last week they guaranteed $200 if you drove at least 20 riders and had a 90 percent acceptance rate. That means you accepted at least nine out of every ten ride requests.

Because I made more than $200 last week driving for Lyft, the promotion didn’t kick in for me.

This week, Lyft has been running a similar promotion. Drive at least 25 rides and maintain a 90 percent acceptance rate and you are guaranteed $270.

I’ve been trying to meet that goal. Normally I log into both Uber and Lyft and take the first request I get and then go offline on the other rideshare service. This week, I haven’t even been logging into Uber. I’ve been driving for Lyft the entire time.

As of this afternoon, I have 27 rides for the week, but my acceptance rate is only 87 percent. That’s three percent below what I need for the $270 promotion.

This makes no sense. I’ve only declined two (2) requests this entire week. One was a passenger I already drove that day. He was both rude and he smelled bad. The other was a passenger who’s ride was going to take longer than 45 minutes. Both Uber and Lyft tell you when a rider needs to go somewhere far away. That almost always means they need a ride to Baltimore or Washington DC. When you’re participating in a promotion like this, it doesn’t behoove you to go on long trips. You want short trips. You want the kind of trips you can do a lot of in a day.

This week I’ve been offered 29 trips and I’ve accepted 27 of them. That works out to be over 92 percent. The problem is Lyft is showing that my acceptance rate is at 87%. I tried emailing them and it was a complete waste of time. This was their response:

Welcome to Lyft Support, as I understand the importance of having clear information and your Acceptance Rate inquiry deserves real attention and accurate solutions, let me be the one who can fix it for you.

Richard, I would love to help you change your Acceptance Rate, however, we are not allowed to do so due to Lyft policies. Therefore, I would recommend you to keep driving and providing amazing ride experiences!

I didn’t ask to have my acceptance rate changed. I asked how they determined my acceptance rate was 87 percent when basic math shows it should be over 92 percent.

It’s a lesson learned. From now on, I know to ignore Lyft weekly guarantees. If you satisfy their requirements for the incentive, they’ll just monkey with the numbers so you magically don’t qualify. There’s a hard record of the number of drives, but there is no hard record showing how many ride requests they’ve sent you. They can simply manipulate that as they see fit so it comes out in their favor.

Your Lyft acceptance rate is whatever Lyft wants it to be.

Update

I only drive Monday through Friday, so my week with Lyft is officially over. I finished the week with 31 rides with an acceptance rate of 89%. I earned $256.78. My guess is that if I earned $14 more, my acceptance rate would have magically shot up to 90%, qualifying me for the guaranteed $270. If I earned $14 more, I would have earned more than the guaranteed $270.

From now on, I’m not going to worry about the Lyft weekly guarantees. I’ll just drive and let what happens, happen.

Two men arrested for not buying anything at Starbucks

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross is defending the actions of his police officers after they arrested two men for refusing to leave a Starbucks after not buying anything. The two men are black.

From CNN:

The employees told officers the two men wanted to use the restroom but were told the facilities are only for paying customers. The Starbucks employees then asked the men to leave, but they refused, Ross says.

Officers responded and asked the men three times to “politely to leave the location because they were being asked to leave by employees because they were trespassing.” When the men again refused to leave, they were arrested “without incident,” Ross says.

The men were taken to a police station and released when it became clear Starbucks didn’t want to press charges.

Driving for Uber and Lyft, I often find myself sitting around waiting for a ride request. I try to stay in my car parked in a public parking lot. McDonald’s is a favorite choice of mine to wait for a ride request. Sometimes I go through the drive-through and get a coffee, sometimes I don’t.

I’ve never been asked to leave while just sitting in my car in the parking lot playing Candy Crush or reading a book, but if I was, I’d do exactly what was asked and leave.

That’s the thing. I cannot imagine being asked to leave by someone from McDonald’s and not doing what they asked. I really cannot imagine cops “asking” me to leave and not leaving. Police carry guns. I always do what people with guns ask me to do.

I’ve never walked into a Starbucks and just sat down and not bought anything. I guess I’ve always thought it was an unspoken agreed rule of living in a civilized society that you buy something before sitting down in Starbucks. Does Starbucks need to put up signs stating that its limited seating is for paying customers? I guess they do.

A big part of this story is the two men were waiting for a third man to join them. Did the two men tell anyone at Starbucks they were waiting for someone to join their party?

I’m not sure that the two men were black had anything to do with the incident. Then again, the two men were asked three times to leave Starbucks by the police and they refused all three times.

I’ve been told by groups like Black Lives Matter the police will murder black men without provocation and when they do commit murder, they are not held legally responsible. Because of this fact, black men are fearful of the police. It doesn’t seem these two men at Starbucks were at all fearful of the police. If they were, they would have left.

This incident could have been easily avoided. Even if they didn’t like coffee, they could have bought a $2 bottled water or a $5 cookie. If I didn’t know better, I’d assume the two men wanted to be arrested. That would just be silly, right?

Update

Protesters have been pouncing on Starbucks. The guy with the megaphone is so woke, looking directly at him is like staring into the Sun.

My Uber Week in review – July 30 – August 5 2017

I completed my second full week of driving for Uber. When I refer to a full week, I mean Monday through Friday. I even took a Lyft request, doubling my grand total of lifetime Lyft trips to two.

All in all, I had a good week. All of my passengers were pleasant and most seemed to want to talk. I’m always up for conversing, so I like it when passengers want to talk. I met some interesting people with fascinating stories to tell.

Here’s a snapshot of my week:

My Uber Week in review - July 30 - August 5 - Bent Corner

I didn’t have any long trips down to Baltimore (last week I had two), but I still made about what I made last week.

There was one trip that really irritated me. It was nothing the passenger did. It was caused solely by Uber and my stupidity. I was parked near the Valley Mall waiting for a passenger request. It had been slow all day and it was hotter outside than Satan’s armpit. After a long wait, I was finally sent a request and without fully looking at it, I accepted it. Big mistake.

My Uber Week in review - July 30 - August 5 - Bent CornerIt turned out the passenger was 23 minutes away. Even worse, they were across the Potomac River in Martinsburg, West Virginia. According to Uber, I’m not authorized to pick up passengers in West Virginia. According to Uber, my Maryland car inspection only allows me to pick up passengers in Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia.

When I arrived at the pickup spot and the passenger got in the car, I found out they wanted to go to Winchester, Virginia.

Most passengers don’t realize drivers never know where passengers are going until they get in your car and you begin the trip in the app. I didn’t understand is why Uber sent me the request. Why didn’t they send a driver based out of Martinsburg or Winchester?

Contacting Uber support can be a waste of time

After dropping off the passenger in Winchester, I then had to drive back to Hagerstown without compensation. Later that day, I contacted Uber support about it. What a frustrating waste of time. I couldn’t a straight answer. According to Uber support, if I didn’t want to take a passenger to Winchester and deadhead the fifty miles back to Hagerstown, I should have “politely” refused to drive the passenger. This, after they got in my car.

Huh?

That was idiotic advice. I’m supposed to drive twenty miles away to a different state, a state I’m not even authorized to pick up passengers in, and then tell the passenger to get out of my car and try again?

I asked the Uber support person why they sent me and not a Martinsburg or Winchester driver.  No answer. When I asked Uber support if I was now authorized to pick up passengers in West Virginia, I got no answer.

I finally gave up trying to get a straight answer from Uber support. I wasn’t getting any answers and I was only getting more annoyed.

 

It’s hard to drive for Uber with a throttled iPhone

Friday was a really short day. Not because I wanted it to be, but because AT&T throttled my unlimited data down to dial-up speed. My unlimited data had reached its monthly limit and would stay throttled until the following day when the account began its new month. Uber sent me only one passenger request Friday. I canceled the second the app gave me the option. The passenger would not come out of his house. I received the $5.25 cancellation fee. I’m going to start doing that from now on. If the passenger doesn’t show up within the time allotted, I’m canceling.

Adding the Lyft ride to my Uber total, I made a little over $250 for the week. Thanks to the $0.54 per mile deduction the IRS allows, it was all tax-free. Not too bad. I won’t get rich driving for Uber or Lyft, but it helps pay the bills. I also sold a WordPress plugin through my business website. Every bit adds up.

Lessons learned this week

  • Look to see how far away a passenger is before accepting a ride request in the Uber driver app. If they are more than ten minutes away, do not accept it.
  • Don’t even try to get into multi-message conversations with Uber support. If they fail to properly address your concern with the first message, don’t waste time with more messages. It’s not worth the aggravation.
  • AT&T unlimited data has its limits. Go over your monthly limit and they will throttle you down like you are connected to a dial-up account.
  • Don’t listen to music through the Uber app. It uses a lot of data. Plus, it’s very repetitive. I must have heard Soft Cell’s Tainted Love at least 47 times last week.
  • As soon as the app gives you the option of canceling the trip because of a rider no-show, take it.

Lyft adopts clear policy on service animals

Lyft has followed Uber in making it crystal clear that its drivers need to accommodate riders with service animals. As a driver, you cannot refuse service to someone because they are accompanied by a service animal. Uber made you agree to their service animal policy when you logged into the Driver app. Lyft sent out an email to its drivers that explained the policy.

Here’s the meat of the email:

Lyft adopts clear policy on service dogs - Bent Corner
Neither Lyft or Uber is doing anything outrageous here. It appears they’re just following federal law, specifically, the Americans with Disabilities Act. That said, I do think some people abuse the law and pretend their pet dog is their service animal, that their pet dog assists them in some way. You see people in stores with dogs all the time that are not trained service animals. I was at Home Depot a month or so ago and a young woman had a pit bull with her. The dog was not trained in any way. She could not control it. I’m sure the employees at Home Depot have been trained not to challenge anyone when they’re accompanied by a dog, no matter how ridiculous it looks.

I’m not a dog person. Not really. It’s not that I hate dogs. I just don’t like animals that bark, growl, or bite. It just so happens that dogs bark, growl, and bite. Dogs kill people all the time.

That doesn’t mean I would ever refuse a rider who was accompanied by a dog, whether it was a service animal or not a service animal. I drove an Uber passenger down to Washington D.C. a while back who was accompanied by his cocker spaniel and it was one of the best rides I ever had. The dog was a total gentleman. He didn’t bark, growl, or bite me, so I had no problems with him. If all dogs were like cocker spaniels, I would probably be a dog person.