I see hundreds of emails each week, usually with many different questions and comments, but one recurring theme is how Uber and Lyft treat really good, veteran drivers. Drivers with high ratings who have given thousands of rides then, for some unknown reason, receive a nastygram email from Uber or Lyft threatening deactivation. It’s frustrating and can be alarming, but what can drivers do about it? Today, RSG contributor Jay Cradeur outlines what can trigger these deactivation emails, what drivers can possibly do, and how Uber/Lyft can improve.
As a veteran driver, I have given over 7,500 trips with Uber and 6,500 trips with Lyft over 21 months. I also have a 4.9 rating with both platforms, which stands to say I’m exactly the type of driver Uber and Lyft should want to keep around.
Yet, when a customer makes any kind of negative comment, Uber and Lyft send out rather nasty and disparaging emails. When I get an email that has the words “Permanent Deactivation” in it, I get upset. I drive full time to earn money to support my family and me. I take it seriously. But none of this seems to matter to Uber or Lyft. They consistently take the side of the passenger. It seems like we as drivers are guilty until proven innocent.
It’s unpleasant as a professional driver who does this to support my family, which makes it hard to like Uber and Lyft sometimes. I’m not the only one to experience this frustration, though. Today, I’m going to cover the situations for which I received the unfriendly emails (that I like to call nastygrams), what drivers can do, and how Uber/Lyft should address these problems.
Lyft: The Unfriendly Driver Platform?
I was driving three Lyft Line passengers last week during rush hour in downtown San Francisco. Traffic was pretty heavy as is normal when driving downtown between 7 to 9 AM. I had to drop off my first passenger. Her drop off was a building on the corner of two busy streets. The door to the building was on a one-way street. Instead of driving 4 city blocks to drop her off in front of her door, I pulled over near the corner and asked her if this drop off point was ok.
She did not respond and got out of the car, expressed a huffy attitude and slammed the door hard. Apparently, she did not speak up and tell me she preferred to be dropped off at the door. I thought to myself, “OK, she is upset but she did not say anything, so what else could I do?
As drivers, we have to make many judgment calls like this all the time. If I had taken the extra time to drop her at the door, then I may have upset the other two passengers. In most cases, passengers volunteer to jump out of the car to save time for the greater good of the Lyft Line passengers. And, by walking just a little bit, these passengers get to their destination much quicker than if I had driven the 4 city blocks in traffic to get to the door.
Within 10 minutes, I received an email from Lyft. Here it is.
Thanks Irish! Do you think Irish has done any rideshare driving? Do you think Irish has any idea what it is like to drive in downtown traffic, 3 passengers in your car, fingers working 4 apps on your phone, while you try to figure out the best route to keep all passengers happy and on time? I don’t think so.
Related: How to Be a 5 Star Passenger
In my situation, a passenger made up a false story, and vindictively reported me to Lyft. How does Lyft handle it?
- Do they look at my track record?
- Do they check to see if this has ever happened before?
- Do they check with the other passengers to confirm the story?
No to all of the above. As drivers, we are guilty, and threatened with “action being taken against your account.” When I read this email, I was upset. I like driving for Lyft. I would like to think they have my back. I’d like to think that my 6,500 rides and high rating and no previous similar complaints would mean something. But it does not. The passengers can say whatever they want and we get a threatening email.
Is Uber Friendlier?
I was driving a Lyft Line and I had already picked up two passengers. I got a ping and drove toward my next pick up. Upon arriving, there were 3 people waiting to get in the car. I said “you requested a Line, so I can’t take 3 people. Please cancel and request a regular car.”
Then as I drove away, I realized I had not turned off my Uber app, and the ping was actually a valid Uber ping. I made a mistake. So I turned off my Uber app and my passengers and I had a good laugh about it.
Pro-tip: Drivers can use Mystro to auto-accept rides from Uber and Lyft and it will automatically log you off of the other app once you accept a request to avoid this problem.
But later that day, I received this less than pleasant email from Uber.
Thanks Janet! To her credit, at least she said “thanks again for driving with Uber.”
Really Uber? You think that after 7,500 rides, I suddenly decided to drive my friends and family around while making Uber pick-ups? Again, I found this to be a very upsetting email. Anytime I see the words “Permanent Deactivation” in an email, I am going to feel threatened.
There is no mention of my 21 months of service, my high ratings, nor the fact that I have never been accused of this in the past. Instead, the passenger is right, and I am threatened with a loss of livelihood.
The Driver’s Response
All goodwill that I felt towards either of these companies is shot down just like that. What good is 180 days of change if a company is threatening me with permanent deactivation? What good is better pay on the Lyft Line if I feel threatened for making a prudent judgment call during rush hour traffic? These emails made me feel real lousy.
So what could Uber and Lyft do differently? It would seem to me that both companies could recognize that a seasoned driver with a high rating and no previous complaints should receive a different type of email than one sent to a new driver who is just starting out and has no track record. As veteran or high-rated drivers, I feel we have earned just the smallest amount of respect and understanding.
If either Uber or Lyft had acknowledged any of these facts, or couched their cautionary words with just a few of praise, that would go a long way with this driver.
I did respond to the Lyft complaint, with the following (abbreviated) email:
I am writing to ask you why you have sent me this offensive and threatening email?
I am a driver with over 6,500 rides and a solid and consistent 4.9 rating.
I have never been accused of anything like this before. Yet you seem to take the side of the passenger and treat her malicious claim as truth. This claim by the passenger is absolutely incorrect. Yet you respond and threaten me like I have no track record with you, and my job is now at risk. For all the “drivers are very important” PR, this sure kills all of the goodwill you have tried to earn with me and other drivers….
I’ll continue to do my job, which I have done very well for Lyft for 21 months now, and put this out of my mind.
It is now 5 days later, and Lyft has not responded, so I guess that says it all. Has anyone else had a similar experience? How do you feel about the way Uber and Lyft communicate with you? Do you feel like a valued member of the team? Or do you feel like a cog in their wheel? Let me know. I would value hearing about your experiences.
-Jay @ RSG