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.

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.

I upgraded my iPhone 6s Plus to iOS 11 and now GPS does not work

I upgraded my iPhone’s operating system to iOS 11 when it told me to. Big mistake. Not only did key features of the iPhone change (Podcasts) to less capable versions, the built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) is now junk. It works until it doesn’t work.

When driving for Uber, GPS is very important

If I didn’t drive for Uber, I probably wouldn’t care about the GPS. At least not as much as I do now. When you drive for Uber, the GPS is very important. Not only does it tell you where to go to pick up your passenger, it continuously sends tracking information back to Uber so that it can keep the passenger updated as to your status.

Yesterday the GPS on my iPhone was not working correctly.

The first trip of the day, I picked up a passenger at a nearby grocery store. Uber was sending me up-to-date navigational information to the pick-up spot. When I pulled up to the front of the store, I had to wait a few minutes for the passenger. The reason? Because her Uber ridder app showed that I had not yet left, let alone arrived. Even though the GPS was working for me, it evidently wasn’t sending updates to Uber.

My navigational system has fallen and it won’t get up

On the next trip, the Uber wasn’t sending me navigational information. It was like I was looking at a screenshot of a navigational screen. As I was driving to the general direction of where the passenger was, I rebooted the Uber app and then rebooted the entire iPhone. When it came back up, I had to cancel the ride because I had taken far too much time getting the iPhone up and running. In the Uber settings, I switched from the native navigation system to Waze. I then drove around a bit with Waze up to make sure the screen was updating my location. I appeared to be working, so I went back into Uber and went online.

A few minutes later, I got a passenger request. It was over at Prime Outlets, an outlet mall in Hagerstown off Interstate 70. Right before I got to Prime Outlets, I got a text from the passenger asking me if I was on my way. Great, it sounded as though the iPhone wasn’t sending navigational updates to Uber. I replied that I was and would be there in a few minutes.

I picked her up and drove her home. She was a frequent passenger of mine. After dropping her off, I got another request right away. I began driving towards the new passenger. The navigation system was doing what it was supposed to do, at least it appeared on my end that it was.

About a minute from the new passenger’s location, the passenger canceled the ride. No biggie, since it has been over two minutes since they requested the ride, at least I’ll get the $5.25 cancellation fee.

Where’s my $5.25 cancellation fee?

A few minutes went by and the cancellation fee didn’t appear on my account. It showed $0.00. I then looked at the last trip, the one where I picked up the rider at Prime Outlets. It showed I earned $3.45 for the trip, the bare minimum you can make on a single trip driving for Uber. The trip showed it took 15 minutes, 35 seconds and was 0.00 miles.

I logged out of Uber and went home. Then I emailed Uber support. I told them I should have received a cancellation fee because it had been more than two minutes since the rider requested the trip. The got back to me and stated the cancellation fee did not apply because it showed I was taking too long to get to the passenger. My iPhone was obviously not sending navigation info to Uber.

I also contacted Uber about the $3.45 fare. They informed me that I would need to send them the following:
– Date of trip
– Time of trip
– Pickup and drop-off location
– Fare
– Rider name

Once they have that, they’ll be able to assist me. As much as I’d like to blame Uber for this, the problem is with my iPhone. The problem with my phone is because Apple essentially forced me to upgrade the operating system.

Apple sucks and I hate it

I erased the iPhone and reloaded the OS. What else could I do? I just finished paying off this iPhone. The last thing I want to do is get a new phone. I’d like to roll back the OS to the prior system, but Apple doesn’t allow that.

I wish Apple cared less about protecting the privacy rights of murderous dead Islamists and more about taking care of its existing customers. Just because they release a new iPhone doesn’t mean I want to buy it. By forcing a crappy OS on my two-year-old phone, breaking features I rely upon, doesn’t mean I will go out and buy shiny new iPhone 8. My iPhone was working perfectly fine until the new operating system.

When I do buy a new phone, it will not be a phone made by Apple.

I blame Tim Cook

I know it’s not rational, but I have some major hatred for Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. For some reason, when I was erasing my iPhone and reinstalling the same awful OS, I was picturing him laughing at me.

The laughing Tim Cook is the worst of all the Tim Cooks.

Again, this was not a rational thing to do. I’m fully aware of this. I’m sure Tim Cook is a wonderful person with many redeeming qualities. That said, yesterday I wanted to put him in a rear naked chokehold and watch him go to sleep.

I decided to put the iPhone down for a while and take two Xanax.

Nobody will ever get rich driving for Uber

In retrospect, I think the basis of my anger had more to do with where my life is right now. I allowed myself to get worked up about a missing $5.25 cancellation fee. Nobody will ever get rich driving for Uber. When you drive for Uber, every dollar is important. I now have to go into Uber’s system and find the information about the zero mile trip. They have all this information, yet it’s up to me to obtain it and send it to them.  For what, to get them to pay me a few more bucks?

It sucks to be in that position.