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10 min read

    10 min read

    Recently, we heard from many drivers who had recently been deactivated from Lyft for seemingly no reason. What they all had in common was not driving during the pandemic, then recently logging on only to be notified they had been deactivated for ‘safety concerns’ – despite not recently driving.

    Is something going on here? Senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins investigated drivers’ claims to see exactly what’s happening.

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    Experienced drivers with very good ratings seem to be getting deactivated for no actual reason as of late. The excuses on Lyft’s part range from “safety concerns” to “poor ratings” and whatever else they can make up for any individual. So far, we have identified 12 instances of this, but there are probably many more.

    Why do we think these are excuses? Well, based on what the drivers have told me, they have not been driving since the pandemic started and have had great ratings and reviews from their passengers for the duration of working on Lyft’s platform.

    Something is not adding up, so let’s dig into it.

    Quick links:

    • Have you been deactivated by Lyft or know someone who has been deactivated by Lyft after not driving during the pandemic? Leave a comment below and let us know
    • Have you been unfairly deactivated? Reach out to Francis Mailman Soumilas – they help drivers with unfair deactivations and are one of RSG’s partners
    • Most drivers we spoke to said they would switch to driving for Uber, but if you’re looking for more opportunities, check out our list of gig jobs

    What Drivers Are Saying About Wrongful Lyft Deactivation

    I spoke with two drivers, whose names I have changed to avoid any possible backlash for speaking out about their recent deactivations. We’ll call them Roger and Betty. Roger drives in the Chicago area and Betty drives in the NYC suburbs, mainly Long Island.

    Roger received a deactivation notice from Lyft via email and immediately wondered what had happened. He hasn’t driven for Uber or Lyft (or any other app) since the coronavirus pandemic started in the U.S. Lyft cited safety concerns as the issue and the reason for the deactivation.

    Roger said, “They kept saying they’d reviewed my account and found many safety concerns. That’s when I knew it was bogus.”

    Roger had a 5-star rating with Lyft before he took the driving break for the pandemic. If it’s safety concerns based on passenger feedback, why wasn’t he given 1-star ratings, or ratings that were at least lower than 5-star? I believe passengers only have so many days to change their ratings, and it wouldn’t be something that would change 3 months later.

    “It’s a dirty rat thing they are doing,” said Roger about Lyft. “They could have gone about this a much better way. It seems to me like they are cleaning house.”

    Since he was deactivated, Roger wasn’t able to get a screenshot of his ratings or anything else. “When they deactivate you, all that is just gone immediately,” explained Roger.

    However, I asked him to share his current Uber ratings to show that he’s got better than average ratings on that app, so it would stand to reason that he had terrific ratings on Lyft’s platform as well.

    Roger has a 4.98 star rating on Uber and a 0% cancellation rate.

    With that kind of a track record, it’s really hard to believe that Roger would be deactivated for safety issues. His background check proves he doesn’t have any accidents on his record or anything of the sort.

    Plus, his ratings show that passengers have overall really liked him as a driver. If there were safety concerns from a passenger, he’d have received that feedback long ago.

    Roger drives more for Uber than he ever did Lyft, so he’s pretty sure he’ll just stick with Uber once he’s back on the road again.

    Roger also has some lofty goals when he’s back to driving for Uber—he wants to reach a 5.0-star rating. Ratings are for the most recent 500 rides given, so it’s a lofty goal, but he wants to become what he called a ratings “unicorn”.

    Betty Gets Deactivated from Lyft – Similar Story

    Now, let’s take a look at Betty. Her story is very similar in that she stopped driving for all platforms back at the end of February. Her last day driving for Lyft was February 21, 2020 and at that time, she had a 4.94 rating, which is also very good.

    Betty said, “Lyft sends weekly feedback, and it just so happens I save all of them. I checked all of them—all are positive without anything listed under “where you can improve” with the exception of when I first started driving [in May 2017]. There were only a few negative rides and these rides occurred when I first started.”

    When she received her deactivation notice, Betty took action. She was sure it had to be a mistake and wanted to get it straightened out. Here’s what she received back from Lyft:

    Lyft’s response says:

    “Thank you for taking the time to respond. I can respect your dedication and attention to the matter, and I want you to know that we appreciate the time you put into driving with Lyft.

    Please note that the decision to deactivate your driver account has been reviewed multiple times and at the highest level. This will remain final regardless of any additional outreach. It saddens us to know that you have been deactivated from the Lyft platform.

    We don’t know if this might have had a great impact on your daily life, but we would want to let you know that we are trying our best to provide the best positive resolution to this predicament. However, we have our Lyft policies to abide by which leaves us powerless to reactivate your account.

    We are asking for your understanding on this matter.

    Hope you have a lovely day!”

    Betty still plans on trying to fight the deactivation once she’s able to visit her local Hub. “I don’t know if visiting the hub will change anything, but I will try,” said Betty.

    She’s always made more money with Uber than with Lyft, and she’s still active on their platform, but she’s keeping an open mind to other opportunities if getting reactivated with Lyft does not happen for her.

    Betty said, “I’ve always loved driving for Lyft and Uber and have always prided myself for being a safe driver. I can honestly say I don’t know what the real reason behind this deactivation is, and I’m very upset about it.”

    Theories on What’s Really Happening

    Since drivers can’t exactly respond to Lyft saying “I don’t believe your reasons for deactivating me. Tell me what’s really going on”, we’re left to speculate. There are a lot of theories going around as to why these seemingly random deactivations keep happening.

    For Betty, she was tagged once as having a dirty car. Betty said, “COVID-19 would be considered a safety issue in today’s world, so is it possible that Lyft flagged all drivers with reports about dirty vehicles? Just some food for thought.”

    That’s a possibility, but it would be quite a stretch to go from “dirty vehicle” to “safety issues”, especially when the drivers I spoke with were not driving during the pandemic.

    It might make sense if they were driving right now and got flagged for something like that, but with not having been in their vehicles actively driving the platform since February, that doesn’t make sense.

    Dustin is Driving is a YouTuber who posts videos about what’s going on in the rideshare world as he actively drives, as well. In a recent video called “Uber & Lyft Drivers Are Getting Deactivated for For Following Policy Now!”, he calls out that several drivers seem to be getting deactivated during the pandemic for telling their passengers to follow the rule of wearing masks and only having 3 people per ride for the standard vehicles.

    Under the comments for this video, I found a pair that caught my eye:

    The first commenter states: “I just got deactivated on Lyft with no reason. I wasn’t driving for 4 months due to this virus. I’m a 5 star driver with 1.2 years in Lyft community. Just received email that your account got deactivated due to low rating??? Safety policy reason. Hello I wasn’t driving. I was off the work. I was about to drive next month until it gets clear but they shut me…”

    A responder said, “The same thing just happened to me. I haven’t driven in three months due to the virus and am a 5 star driver.”

    This almost makes it seem like Lyft could be using the coronavirus as an excuse for deactivating inactive drivers. But, other responses I found on Reddit refute that.

    One Reddit poster said “I didn’t drive for more than 2 months and I wasn’t deactivated.” Another said, “I haven’t driven in over a year and my account is still active.”

    Others on Reddit had similar deactivations to Roger and Betty.

    This thread says, “Got deactivated today for ‘We’ve received multiple reports regarding your account, specifically for poor driving safety. Due to this feedback, coupled with your current driver rating, your driver account has been deactivated.’ Problem is that I haven’t driven since the beginning of March. I had a near perfect rating too. Has anyone else received this type of error?”

    One theory on Reddit was that anyone who decided to not drive during the pandemic and received the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) was in danger of getting deactivated because Lyft somehow got that data and used it against the drivers, making up “safety” as the real reason since they didn’t have one. Not sure this adds up though.

    We brought the question to our Facebook page as well, and came up with several responses from drivers citing the same kind of deactivation, without real cause:

    There has to be a real explanation out there somewhere. It’s not possible that all of these people, most of whom have not driven due to the pandemic, would be kicked off of the platform because of safety issues that were not previously brought to their attention.

    Lyft always sends weekly messages to their drivers to show their highlights of the week and any concerns the drivers should address. The fact that none of them had safety reports previously is very telling.

    We reached out to Lyft for comment and they responded as follows:

    There’s been no change to our policies. Without knowing these drivers, we don’t know what led to their deactivation — but we can assure you that it has nothing to do with the pandemic, or how often they’re driving. We have a high demand for drivers right now and we understand many drivers need the extra income, so we wouldn’t turn away qualified drivers from Lyft for no reason.

    Whatever Lyft is doing, they are making drivers very angry and some very nervous. Those still on the platform can’t help but wonder “Will I be next?”

    Readers, have you been kicked off of Lyft’s platform recently, especially after not driving during the pandemic, receiving unemployment benefits, and having high ratings? Let us know!

    -Paula @ RSG

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    Quick links:

    • Have you been deactivated by Lyft or know someone who has been deactivated by Lyft after not driving during the pandemic? Leave a comment below and let us know
    • Have you been unfairly deactivated? Reach out to Francis Mailman Soumilas – they help drivers with unfair deactivations and are one of RSG’s partners
    • Most drivers we spoke to said they would switch to driving for Uber, but if you’re looking for more opportunities, check out our list of gig jobs
    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.