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13 min read

    13 min read

    Getting deactivated as an Uber/Lyft driver is no fun: oftentimes, it comes out of nowhere, with no explanation and no recourse and it could mean your livelihood is on the line. Today, RSG contributor Paula Gibbins shares some of the top reasons why drivers are deactivated and how you can get back on the road ASAP.

    This post is sponsored by the consumer law firm of Francis & Mailman but, as always, all opinions are our own. We have been proud to partner with them for nearly a year now as they are helping a lot of drivers fight unfair deactivations AND get lost wages and settlements.

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    It’s scary to think that you can be deactivated at almost any time without warning. I mean for a lot of folks, the extra money they make from rideshare goes towards rent, school or putting food on the table. But why drivers can be deactivated has always been a bit of a mystery. Below, we’ll go through three of the main deactivation situations that drivers need to look out for and how you can get back on the road ASAP.

    The reasons for being deactivated this article will cover include background check issues, passenger complaints (including scams that passengers use to get free rides) and issues with your vehicle registration or your “check-in photo” and the like.

    One way to combat this right up front is to make sure you’re always signed up for both Uber and Lyft so you have a backup should anything go wrong with one or the other. That way, if Uber deactivates you, you can still work for Lyft and continue earning instead of essentially being out of a job. Unfair deactivation has even happened to RSG senior contributor Jay Cradeur who has 25,000+ rides and a 4.9 star rating – so if it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.

    Deactivation Issue #1: Background Check

    Uber and Lyft run background checks to make sure that your driving record remains clean according to their standards. Sometimes, things go wrong with these and in a few different ways. First, let’s look at what Uber’s background check requires:

    • In general, drivers must have a minimum of one year of licensed driving experience in the US (3 years if under 23 years old)
    • Motor Vehicle Record review
    • Criminal background check (will vary based on local laws and is based on criteria specified in local laws)
    • Uber’s internal safety standards (undescribed)

    In addition, drivers may be disqualified for any of the following:

    • Major driving violations or recent history of minor driving violations
    • Convictions for felonies, violent crimes, sexual offenses or registered sexual offender status (among other types of criminal records)
    • Pending charges for the above categories
    • Any additional local/state laws that Uber must follow

    Those all seem pretty basic and understandable for a company where you’ll be driving to earn your keep. So, what if you meet all that criteria and still get deactivated?

    One issue you may run into is, based on your background check, your information being switched with someone else’s. For example, this could happen if you share a similar or the same name as someone else, you share a birthday or address or you could have a very similar social security number that got miskeyed into the system.

    Several instances of this have happened to clients of Francis & Mailman and they were able to earn back lost wages and become active on the platform, including:

    • One driver’s had the same first and last name as an individual with a criminal record, and that person’s record showed up on the driver’s background report, delaying their rideshare job. The result? Francis & Mailman brought a lawsuit against the background check company and won 4 months of lost wages for the driver plus emotional distress damages.
    • Another driver was unable to work for Uber due to an expunged record. The result? Francis & Mailman were able to obtain a year of lost wages plus emotional distress damages.
    • One driver still had a 22 year old misdemeanor showing up on their rideshare background check (obsolete information can only be reported for 7 years or fewer). The result? Francis & Mailman sued the background check company and recovered lost wages for 7 days, plus emotional distress damages.

    Another issue you may run into is something as vague as “your driver’s license could not be verified” as one driver was told after she had to call into support when unable to log into her account to get driving. There was no communication from Uber stating why she wasn’t allowed to work until she’d taken the time to call it in herself.

    There were a few issues with that example. She wasn’t notified ahead of time that a background check was being done, no one told her that a document was needed for verification purposes (i.e., a new driver’s license picture was needed), it took 2 weeks and extra effort on her part to clear things up.

    So, what do you do if something similar happens to you? The first step should be going to your local Uber Hub. You’ll want to bring your identification info, any communication you’ve received from Uber, etc. The Hub seems to be the best place to get fast results, which is what you want when facing deactivation.

    Moral of the story: If you get wrongly deactivated because of your background check, fight it. Go into the Hub to see if you can get it straightened out there. If you can’t get it figured out that way and litigation is the only way, seek legal help.

    Deactivation Issue #2: Passenger Complaints or Scams

    People have rough days. We get it. But when their rough day overflows into your job and gets you deactivated, that’s not ok. Passenger complaints can get you deactivated. Sometimes they may be justified (if you’re an unsafe driver, for instance) but other times it can be very unfair.

    First, be sure you’re always practicing good driver behavior to begin with. Some personal tips is don’t get into heated discussions or arguments, avoid picking up someone who is already causing safety related problems before they get into your vehicle, and, of course, be a safe driver. I know as a passenger I haven’t felt comfortable with a few of my drivers. I would never have asked Uber and Lyft to deactivate them because of it, but I would have preferred them to follow the speed limit more closely and not swerve in and out of traffic. For some though, that could be enough for them to report you to Uber or Lyft for driving erratically.

    Not sure what you should avoid as a rideshare driver? Take a look at the video below, where Jay shares his top 3 things to never talk about as a rideshare driver:

     

    Also, make sure you’re following the laws of your local area. You are required to have trade dress, so make sure those stickers are there. Personally, it’s more important that the license plate and driver’s photo matches the info you have in your app, but it’s also important to look for trade dress and confirm the driver’s vehicle on your app.

    So, what do you do if you get deactivated for something like “bad” driving? It’s so subjective that unless you cause an actual accident, it’s going to be a you versus your passenger situation. The best practice would be to go into your local Uber Hub and see what you did wrong (if you weren’t informed of this at the time of deactivation) and figure out your next steps.

    One of the very best ways to keep yourself from being deactivated due to a passenger complaint is getting a dash camera. On RSG, we say it all the time: a dash cam is one of the best proactive steps you can take so you have evidence in case someone complains about your behavior or driving.

    So what about those times when you literally did nothing wrong? Some passengers will go to almost any lengths to get a free ride. Not only does that hurt your earnings but it could potentially get you deactivated if you are the victim of a scam. What does a passenger scam look like? Here are a few examples:

    • The canceled ride – It’s pretty common that you’ll get a ride request before completing another one, so when you get a cancelation during that ride, you might assume it’s the one that just came into your queue, when in fact it might be your current passenger trying to stiff you on the fare. Read more about this kind of instance with John’s article where his passenger did not want to pay a toll.
    • Requesting an X but getting an XL and filling it with more passengers – In this scam, passengers request an X, hoping they’ll get an XL so they can put 6 people in the vehicle and avoid paying XL prices. This can now be reported within Uber’s app and your fare will be adjusted.

    More Uber passenger scams to watch out for:

     

    • More people than seatbelts – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had up to 8 people trying to climb into my van. They don’t care that it’s illegal. They just want to save a few bucks by not having to order two Ubers to transport their group. In this situation, refuse to go anywhere until the proper number of people are in your vehicle. If they argue with you on it, cancel the ride and kick the whole group out.
    • The airport scam – There may be times when a passenger is trying to get out of paying the airport pickup fee or not pay a surge. The passenger will drop their pin outside of the airport, make their request and then call their driver to let them know they can pick them up at the terminal so they can save a few bucks on their fare.

    Some of these scams will require you to do a little extra legwork as far as reporting it goes and as far as getting the money you deserve. Take screenshots and save all communications between you and your passenger. Take all information to your Uber Hub and explain the situation to the best of your abilities. If you have any proof, now’s a good time to bring it up.

    Keep in mind, the best proof you can have is video. Having a dash cam is a good preventative measure you can take to show that you either transported a passenger as far as they needed to go, or that too many people were trying to get into your vehicle or any other kind of visual proof you’ll need to fight your deactivation.

    Deactivation Issue #3: Issues with your driver’s license, photo, etc.

    Every year you need to resubmit documents required to continue driving for Uber and Lyft. These documents include you vehicle registration, vehicle inspection, proof of insurance and in some instances your driver’s license.

    The easiest thing you can do, of course, is making sure you upload the new documents before they are expired so you are covered. It can sometimes take a few days for Uber or Lyft to approve documents, so you want a little extra padding in case things take longer than expected.

    Recently, I accidentally uploaded the wrong registration information. My vehicle info was mixed with my husband’s. I was lucky that none of my passengers that day reported me. If they had, I would likely have been deactivated. My app showed that I was driving my vehicle, but it had the wrong license plate information. My second (and final) passenger of the day pointed out to me that the license plate information was showing up wrong on their end.

    I had assumed I was accidentally logged in under my husband’s car, and I just passed it off as a glitch in the app. Once I dropped off the passenger, I quickly went offline to investigate further. That’s when I noticed our license plate numbers were flip flopped. Luckily, I was able to just upload new images of the license plates and get on with driving the next day, but it could have turned into a disaster for me if that passenger hadn’t been kind enough to point it out instead of reporting me to Uber.

    If it had taken a few days to get my information approved through Uber, I would have gone into the Hub to upload the information there instead. They are able to upload and get the information approved almost immediately versus waiting a day or two. If you are still waiting after a few days, just take it to the Hub so you can get on the road again. In the meantime, make sure you’re signed up for both Uber and Lyft so you can drive for the other in the meantime, if at all possible.

    When submitting your new documentation, be sure and take clear photos that show all of the information needed to help them process your info faster. There’s nothing worse than not being able to drive because of a silly thing like a slightly blurry photo.

    How to Handle an Unfair Deactivation from Uber/Lyft

    If you are unfairly deactivated from Uber or Lyft, the first thing you want to do is try to solve it on your own by talking with support. Provide any evidence needed to prove that you are following the rules and should be allowed to drive. If you are getting nowhere with phone or email support, stop into your local Hub and talk to a real live person who may be able to better help you.

    If you’re still getting nowhere, consider finding legal help to fight the deactivation. This is your livelihood, after all. Since all things legal can take some time, make sure you’re signed up with at least 1-2 other services (rideshare, food delivery, etc) so you can continue earning in the meantime. You may not be making as much as you would previously, but something is better than nothing. There are always bills that need paid.

    Be proactive and follow the steps Jay took to be reactivated here. Don’t let one bad piece of communication telling you “no” stop you from earning your job back. If email or phone support is not helpful, find the help you need. Don’t let Uber and Lyft dismiss you so easily. If you were wrongly deactivated, they need to know it and fix it.

    If all of that doesn’t work, consider legal action with a firm like Francis & Mailman. They can help with issues related to background check errors, and they specialize in consumer protection litigation and have done so for over 20 years. They’ve also represented clients who’ve been deactivated or denied for as little as 24 hours to as long as a year!

    Finally, Francis & Mailman provides a free case review, and if they decide to take your case, you pay nothing out of pocket. Learn more about Francis & Mailman here.

    Have you been deactivated or denied by Uber or Lyft? What happened?

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    -Paula @ RSG

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins, a graduate of Augustana University, Sioux Falls, is a part-time rideshare driver and a full-time proofreader. She is based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In her free time, Paula enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in trivia nights.