The confusion about unaccompanied minors on Uber

Uber does not allow people younger than 18 to sign up for or have an Uber account.

This is what Uber says:

A rider must be at least 18 years of age to have an Uber account and request rides. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older on any ride.

As a driver-partner, you should decline the ride request if you believe the person requesting the ride is under 18. When picking up riders, if you feel they are underage, you may request they provide a driver’s license or ID card for confirmation. If a rider is underage, please do not start the trip or allow them to ride.

I will never ask a rider to see their ID card for confirmation. The reason? Because I cannot imagine a situation where I believe a person requesting a ride is under 18. Uber says I should ask for an ID card if I believe the rider is under 18. I tend not to believe in things that are not substantiated by evidence.

If a person has an Uber account they must be 18 otherwise they would not have an account. Remember, Uber says:

A rider must be at least 18 years of age to have an Uber account and request rides.

Knowing this, why would I believe a rider is a minor? Why would I ever feel they are under 18? Uber states in black and white that riders must be 18 to have an account and to request rides.

Also, I don’t know how to read ID cards. Living in Maryland, I suppose I could find out a rider’s age if they present a Maryland driver’s license, but then I would need to do math involving the rider’s birthday. That seems like a lot of work, especially when I am not being paid for said work. Uber does not begin paying me until the rider is in my car and I begin the trip in the app.

The confusion about unaccompanied minors on Uber - Bent Corner

What if the ID card is not a Maryland driver’s license? Living and driving in Western Maryland, riders can live in West Virginia or Pennsylvania. I have no idea how to read a West Virginia or Pennsylvania driver’s license, nor is it a skill I want to learn.

What if they do not even have a driver’s license? They are requesting an Uber. They very well might not have a driver’s license. What would I do then? If I wanted to learn how to read each and every type of ID card people may have and then ask people for their ID cards, I would have become a professional cigarette salesman.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Asking for an ID card is an unnecessary intrusion to someone’s personal privacy. It is also a thing someone prone to power trips would enjoy doing if given the opportunity. A person’s ID card not only has their date of birth, but it also has other information a person may not want anyone to know. For example, a person’s full legal name, their sex, their height, and their weight. People should never show their ID card to a complete stranger, especially without a valid reason.

As an Uber driver, I am aware of the fact that many Uber drivers are creepy.  Some even have YouTube channels and publish videos they record of people without their consent.

Considering how creepy some Uber drivers are, showing your ID card to one seems like an especially bad idea.

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.

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.