My Experiences Driving for Lyft

When it became obvious that Uber could not complete my background check (see previous post), I decided to resort to Lyft. In my early days of rideshare, I’d driven both platforms. This was almost seven years ago, and both Uber and Lyft provided decent income. I had settled on Uber, and drove exclusively for them for the next six years or so.

Unlike Uber, it was easy to get approved for Lyft; their background check (less extensive than Uber) only took a couple of hours to complete. I was also offered a generous bonus for returning to Lyft: $700 if I could complete a set number or rides within a two-week period. This was easy for me, as it was my full-time job.

Everything was downhill after that. I soon found out that Lyft was taking about two-thirds of the fare that passengers paid, and sometimes much more. One woman was charged $60 for a trip to the airport, due to heavy traffic. Of that, my take was only $14. I started telling passengers of this at every opportunity. Every day, at least one of them would tell me that they would switch to Uber; they had previously been under the impression that Lyft treated its drivers better.

I discovered that Lyft hadn’t raised its pay for drivers in over six years. A short ride (typically anything less than 8 minutes or so) nets us $3.75 – and this will vary from state to state. It doesn’t matter how many miles we drive to pick up the passenger; unlike Uber, Lyft does not pay anything extra for long pickups (at least not in Oregon). If I happened to be in a “surge zone” when accepting the ride, I could get an extra $2-$3 dollars for a trip, sometimes as much as $5. During peak hours, typically late at night, there were more generous bonuses – but I refused to drive at night, partly due to the increased crime and partly because of poor visibility. It’s noteworthy that Lyft is an extremely woke company, and strongly supports the policies that lead to higher crime. More on this later. Here’s a typical text from Lyft:

As stated, Lyft doesn’t pay for long pickups, but this doesn’t stop it from sending us ridiculous requests such as this one:

This is a good place to point out that Lyft fudges (IE. LIES ABOUT) pickup times. If the app claims that it will take 18 minutes to reach the passenger, in reality, it will take 20 minutes or more – which translates into almost half an hour of driving for $3.75.

It gets worse. Lyft’s built-in navigation program is so bad that it’s actually dangerous to use, at least for me. I was forced to use Ways, which works much better. Unfortunately, alternative navigation programs cover up the Lyft app – which means that when new requests are added to the queue, while I’m with a passenger, I can’t see the details unless I manually open the Lyft app. This creates a distraction as I’m driving, and it can happen repeatedly, often as I’m merging or making a difficult turn. If I don’t manually view the Lyft app to see what they’re sending me, I will have accepted the request by default – and we get in trouble if we cancel. At least Lyft does not currently hold us to any particular acceptance-rate; we can reject as many requests as we want, apparently with no consequences. I do suspect that a low acceptance rate leads to fewer requests being sent our way. I can’t prove it, but it definitely appeared that way to me.

At first, I was driving my own (hybrid) car, and it got excellent fuel economy. Due to the fact that I was a seasonal driver, I decided to sell my car, and rent one. Originally, I was going to rent a Tesla from Uber. That didn’t work out, and I ended up renting from Lyft. The process for renting a car, as stated in the app and on the Lyft website, is erroneous. If you follow those instructions, you’ll never get a car. The only way I found out about this was by physically visiting the rental location and speaking to the staff there. They explained how it really works, and, after a week or so, I was able to rent a car from them. All they had available was conventional gasoline cars. I ended up getting about 30 miles/gallon. The staff at the rental location were helpful, courteous, and accommodating throughout the three months I rented the car.

The poor pay meant that I cursed Lyft every day I drove for them. It’s a greedy, soulless, immoral corporation masquerading as a socially responsible, progressive, force for good. From what I’ve seen every Lyft office has an outdoor game prominently displayed near the entrance, as a way of saying, “We’re a fun company to work for.” I’ve never seen anybody actually USING those bean-bag games. Inside, there are rainbow flags, and other symbols of wokeness. Every gay-pride parade has a Lyft booth. If Lyft spent less on rainbow flags and other virtue-signaling, perhaps it could pay its drivers a fair wage. Lyft associates contribute heavily to the Democrat party and Democrat politicians. They do not contribute to Republicans.

I made the above point, about virtue-signaling, to many passengers (most of whom were leftists, being Portland). They were overwhelmingly receptive. I had destroyed their naivety about Lyft, and reaffirmed their conviction that corporations rarely care about the working man. It gave me great satisfaction to work AGAINST Lyft even as I worked “for” it.

It’s not only about unfair pay. It’s also about a systemic lack of honesty from Lyft. I already mentioned how they fudge pickup times – but they also consistently lie about “average wait times” between rides. Here’s what I’d typically see on my screen after dropping off a passenger (the top sum is my earnings for the day so far):

I would see this every day, and sometimes several times a day – and I could sit in my car waiting for half an hour, as the app told me the average wait-time was only one minute. I soon learned to turn off the engine and make myself comfortable. Sometimes, I would take a walk or a nap. The “estimated wait times” mean absolutely nothing. I wonder how much fuel drivers have wasted, as their cars sit in idle contributing to Climate Change. I wonder how this fits into Lyft’s “progressive” worldview.

I would often play games on my phone as I waited. As I played those games, more often than not, ads for Lyft would pop up – and the overall message was clear: Lyft is designed specifically for black women. Almost every person depicted on those ads was a black woman (and I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that many of my favorite passengers were black women):

Lyft also misleads drivers about compensation while waiting for passengers. Since Lyft’s estimated arrival times, in the rider app, are notoriously bad, it’s very common for drivers to have to wait; the rider simply wasn’t prepared, because the app told him it would be a few more minutes. Here’s what the driver will see:

Are we really “paid to wait?” Here’s how it works, at least in Oregon:

If the ride is cancelled by the passenger immediately upon our arrival, we get a $2 cancellation fee (unless it was a long pickup, in which case Lyft compensates us more – not for rides, just for cancellations). If the DRIVER cancels immediately, there is no cancellation fee. If the driver cancels after trying to call the passenger, and after a five-minute wait, then he gets $3.02. There is no additional compensation for longer wait times. For example, if the rider tells us, by phone, that he’ll be another few minutes, but never shows up. Even if we end up waiting for 20 minutes, we still only get $3.02. If we wait past the five-minute point, and we do end up completing the ride, we get paid a few cents more for the wait. Bear in mind that the message “You’re paid to wait” appears specifically BEFORE the five-minute period is up. After that, the message changes to “Let’s go. Cancel for no-show.” Is this “getting paid to wait?” What do you think?

If a passenger orders a Lyft, and then cancels after 5 minutes, a $5 cancellation fee is incurred. The driver only gets $2 in such situations – and even that is sometimes withheld.

I once drove to the pickup location for a short ride. It was only about five minutes away. When I got there, no passenger was present, so I tried calling her. There was no answer. I sent her a text, and there was no answer. She texted back a while later, telling me I was in the wrong location, but I had no way of communicating with her effectively except by phone; Edit: There is a way for drivers to type their own texts to riders while waiting, but it’s not always obvious how to do this. Thanks for Haanjo at the Uber forum for clarifying this.

I waited for five minutes, and then cancelled as a no-show – but Lyft would not pay me a cancellation fee. When I inquired about this later, “tech support” told me that the passenger said I left the scene before she had a chance to get to me. There was no recourse and no appeal.

In other words, I was driving for a company that paid slave wages, habitually lied to me, and wasn’t even inclusive of my demographic. Even Uber sometimes shows White men in its ads, though they’re always OLD White men.

When I drove for Uber, I would sometimes encounter situations with unaccompanied minors. Many rideshare drivers do pick up unaccompanied minors, but they’re taking a big risk; if there’s an accident, whether the driver is at fault or not, any injuries the minor may suffer are the driver’s responsibility. Insurance will not help in these situations. The official policy of both Uber and Lyft is that we’re not allowed to take unaccompanied minors, though I’ve read that Uber does now have a solution. This is Lyft’s policy, but they do want drivers to take such rides, as long as the risk is on the drivers. Lyft can always point to its policy and absolve itself of any responsibility. One rider, who used to drive for Lyft, told me he was verbally ENCOURAGED by Lyft to take an unaccompanied minor, since he had a dashcam. This is absurd, since accusations of abuse only represent ONE risk.

When I first encountered an unaccompanied minor this year, I wasn’t thinking clearly, and I cancelled the ride immediately, thinking I could contact Lyft technical support later that night, and have them pay me the cancellation fee – as Uber had done many times for me.

It turned out that Lyft’s technical support for drivers is all but nonexistent. Usually, it can only be reached by text, and the representatives make it abundantly clear that their only priority is to “resolve the issue” and close the ticket. They’re obviously underpaid and apathetic. They’re also extremely poorly trained. I was told that the only way I could get my ($3) cancellation fee in such situations was to remain in the area for a full five minutes, call the passenger (even though I’d just spoke to him face to face) and then cancel. Obviously, this isn’t always possible or safe. What Lyft really wants us to do is either a) take the ride/risk or b) cancel and not receive a cancellation fee. The representatives at “technical support” are not empowered to make any exceptions.

Most Lyft customers, upon learning the truth, would not want to do business with such a sketchy company – but backroom corporate deals have taken the choice away from individual consumers. Much of Lyft’s business comes from corporate partnerships. It has deals with Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, FedEx and many more major employers. Many of my passengers use Lyft because they get a discount from their employers – and those employers often follow similar wage practices as Lyft. This is a situation where wealthy elites form symbiotic relationships in order to exploit the working class. How ironic that today’s leftists so often support an establishment whose policies were the ones that angered Communists of the past to the point of revolution.

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