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.

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.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever

I don’t know why, but yesterday was the worst day I’ve ever had as a part-time Uber and Lyft driver. It was like somebody came to Hagerstown and gave everyone who didn’t have a car a free one if they agreed to delete the Uber and Lyft app from their phone.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

I had a total of five drives yesterday for a total of $22.47 not including cash tips. For some reason, the few riders I did have were being quite generous with the cash tips.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

All five rides were with Uber, not Lyft. I don’t even know if Lyft was working yesterday. Normally as soon as I get a ping from Uber or Lyft and I accept the ride, I go to the other app and go offline. I got to the point yesterday where I didn’t even bother going offline in Lyft. What was the point? It was like Lyft forgot I existed yesterday.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

Not getting many drives meant I spent a lot of time sitting in the car reading. We had a wonderful spring day in Hagerstown yesterday. It got up to 95 degrees. That’s right, 95 degrees. The perfect temperature for sitting in the car reading a book. It’s not August, it’s May. Whatever happened to four distinct seasons? Is that just not a thing anymore?

To make matters worse, I didn’t sell any WordPress plugins yesterday. I did get a promising email from a WordPress developer asking if I would be available for future freelance work, so there was that shining moment in a day full of economic darkness.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

Not driving people around yesterday meant I had a lot of time for other stuff. I stopped in at Walmart while still logged into Uber and Lyft and bought a magnetic dry erase board and a white t-shirt. It meant I spent more money in less than ten minutes than I earned yesterday.

I haven’t read many books on business, but I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

And so goes the life of a professional freelancer. It’s a lot of hit and miss. Yesterday was pretty bad, but last month I made more money with selling WordPress plugins, integrating eCommerce onto websites, and rideshare driving than I’ve ever made working at a real job. Last month was a very good month. Yesterday was a very bad day.

Update

After writing this post on Friday I went out and made $134.56 just from Uber and Lyft. That doesn’t even include the cash tips I received. This one-day success more than made up for Thursday’s meager earnings. I guess all I have to do is complain here on my blog about not making enough money and poof, the following day I will rake it in like I’m Thurston Howell III.

Thurston Howell III

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.