RSG: I love talking to my passengers but one thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people love to ask the same questions over and over. Most of these questions are pretty harmless but I’d love to hear from you drivers out there what questions you get asked the most and how you answer them. Here’s a great list that RSG contributor Scott Van Maldegiam has compiled and he definitely saved the best for last. Enjoy!
10. How long have you been driving for (name your favorite ride sharing company)?
I started driving for UberX in December of 2013. I switched to Lyft when UberX decided to start charging $10 a week for the use of the device in August. They also lowered their fares, discontinued a bonus ($1 per ride), and raised their commission to 20%. Lyft has scaled commission (actually “rider bonus”) and allows for tips in the app. Also, Lyft seems to take driver quality to a higher level than UberX as they require a mentor ride.
I will always push the ride sharing company I am driving for. I am an independent representative of the company so I will not push another service over the one that was requested. I will explain the differences but put the spin on it for the one I am currently driving for which currently is mostly Lyft. When UberX introduces the Android Driver app, I will sign back up with UberX.
9. How did you become a driver?
I saw an add on Facebook. UberX was looking for drivers. I thought it sounded interesting and a fun way to make a few extra bucks. I also thought it might be a good way to gain a few clients. More on that later… I looked at the risks. There was no investment, but the contingent insurance was a concern. I decided the pros outweighed the cons, signed up and the rest is history. I always said that if it stops being fun, I will quit but I still have fun meeting new people and driving them around.
8. Do you do this full time? What is your full time job?
It may seem like I do this job full time, but I don’t consider it my full time job. My full time job is advising people on their health insurance options or, as other people know it, health insurance sales. This includes short term (temporary), major medical (Obamacare), and supplemental (dental, accident, critical illness and medicare). I have gained a few customers through my travels as an agent. It is always nice when this happens. If you have any questions about health insurance or need some, let me know; I am happy to help.
7. I was thinking about becoming a driver. What does it take to be a driver?
Becoming a driver is easy. Sign up, get a background check and a driving history check, and you are a driver with UberX. With Lyft, you need to take a mentor ride also which is valuable especially if your mentor is good. A better question is “can/should I be a driver?” I give this guidance: Do you like to drive? Do you like to meet new people and talk to them? Can you tolerate drunk and sometimes obnoxious people? If you answer “no” to any of those questions, then this isn’t the job for you. I have talked a number of people out of pursuing becoming a driver with those questions.
Related Article: Lyft Is Still Offering New Driver Bonuses Up to $250
6. Have you ever been propositioned by a passenger? (this is the PG version of the question)
No. That’s my story and I am sticking to it. Seriously, I have never cheated on my wife and I never will. Really, my stories are pretty tame compared to the stories I hear out of LA. I have never even heard of a driver hooking up with a passenger in Chicago.
The closest I have ever come is a group of girls on New Year’s Eve. The girls in the back were talking about the girl in the front seat mashing with 2 different guys that night. She looked right at me and asked me if I would like to be her 3rd. I declined in a nice way. I also had one woman ask if I ever had a passenger give me a BJ. I said no and wondered where this conversation might be headed (pun intended). She said she was just wondering and, honestly, I was relieved that was all it was.
5. Has anyone ever thrown up in your car?
I know this is going to jinx me (already knocking on wood), but NO I have not had anyone throw up in my car. I thought it was going to happen once. A girl and a guy walk out of a bar… sounds like the start of a bad joke, right? Anyway, the girl can barely walk. He helps her into the car and a few seconds later she lets out a big juicy belch. My first thought is “crap” figuring that my vomit cherry is about to burst. So, there was good news and bad news with this belch. First the bad news… it made the car smell like vomit. The good news… her belch smelled like vomit so she had already thrown up. I figured I had at least a small window to get her home before she would throw up again. The funny thing is that I have never heard a person speak where no 2 words spoken made any sense when put together. It was complete gibberish. That is real talent. By the end of the ride, the guy was just telling her to shut up since she had this continuous stream of gibberish that never stopped.
4. Why can’t you take more passengers than there are seat belts?
This is one of my pet peeves. There is a reason that UberXL and Lyft Plus exist. Obviously, it is against the law. None of the ride sharing companies want us to do it. So how do you explain it without pissing off the customer? I used to explain that I could lose my ability to drive if I receive a ticket. I state that I have heard of other drivers having their ability to drive revoked. While I never actually heard that, it could be true, right?
I now have a better way to explain it away, though. Liability. Do you really think Lyft or UberX’s insurance is going to cover you if you are breaking the law? Don’t insurance companies try to get out of paying for claims? So I now explain to people that, for your own safety, I cannot take more passengers than I have seat belts. If I take more, then we all will not be covered by insurance. It is really hard to argue with that and while I get a look of disappointment sometimes, it doesn’t make them angry or even question the logic.
3. Can I drink alcohol or smoke in your car?
No and No. Smoking cigarettes is an obvious “no”. I have been asked by people if they can smoke e-cigarettes. Since I know nothing about them, I say no, and every person has been ok with that answer. Regarding alcohol, I say “no”. I have 2 reasons. I had an incident where someone spilled a beer in my car. It smelled like a bar in my car. Thankfully, I have WeatherTech car mats, which by the way, are one of the best investments you can make in your car. Make sure you get the expensive ones that have sides to hold in anything spilled. I was able to dump the beer out of the mat and use paper towel to dry the rest. The smell was mostly gone after 2 more rides.
From this ride, I did a bit of research. I found out in Illinois, the only way someone can drink in a car is in a limo with a divider between the driver and passenger(s). So, it is against the law to allow passengers to drink in your ride share vehicle.
2. Can I get you as a driver later on tonight?
The answer to this question depends on where the rider came from. If I just drove this group of passengers from the western suburbs to the city and I can get a return trip back to the western suburbs, which is where I live, a little later, I absolutely will figure out a way to make that happen. Otherwise, no matter how nice the people are, I won’t do it because it isn’t worth the time it takes to make the connection.
1. Where are you?
This is my least favorite question. You know what I am talking about. You pull up to the pickup point and there is no one to be found. You wait a few minutes and you either receive a call from the passenger or, more likely, you are forced to call them. They ask “where are you?” and you tell them where you are. They then inform you that isn’t where they are and state they have no idea why the pin point isn’t correct. Depending on attitude and distance, I will either tell them to request another car. This also depends on traffic. I default to “request another car” unless they are really close, especially if it is the next block over and just a small movement of the pin point would have given the correct address.
I have quite a few stories related to this. Here are the 3 most memorable stories:
- The first one is the basic, general, the person doesn’t know how to use their phone. Guess what people… GPS works like crap in a city full of skyscrapers. Know where you are and move your pin point if necessary. Also, if you are out late at night and your phone goes into battery saver mode, it turns the GPS off on your phone. Again, pay attention, know where you are and move your pin point if necessary.
- This one is similar but specific. I had a person who “placed” their pin point in the Chicago River north of Lake Street. I figured she was near there so I drove there and then called. They said they didn’t know where they were since they were from out of town. I attempted to be funny and asked her if they were on a boat in the river. She was not amused and said NO. I asked her to figure out where she was so I could still give her a ride. She was at Jackson and Franklin. FYI, that is a long way from her pin point. I agreed to meet her there, but that it would take me a while to get there. She said OK. About half way to her location, she calls me and asks “are you still with me?” I said “yes, why?” She said, “because you are driving away from me.” I then had to explain that I was actually driving away from her pin point and driving toward her. There was plenty of sarcasm which only threw fuel on the fire. I said I would be there shortly. Overall, it took me 10 minutes to get to her which was quick considering how far away I was and the fact that I was driving through downtown Chicago. Just as I pulled up, she cancels the ride. I am pissed at this point. I called her and asked her why she cancelled. She said that it shouldn’t have taken me 10 minutes to get to her even if it was downtown. The worst part was that she didn’t get charged a cancellation fee because I WAS SO FAR AWAY FROM THE PIN POINT. I messaged Uber to make sure she was charged a cancellation fee after explaining what happened and they did charge her the cancellation fee. That was a little consolation for my troubles and time wasted.
- Now for the funny/drunk story. I am driving on (outer) Lake Shore Drive which is basically an expressway and I get a request right on Lake Shore Drive except I just drove past the pin point and no one was there and no one gets picked up ON (outer) Lake Shore Drive. I called the passenger who was obviously drunk. I asked him if he was on Lake Shore Drive. He said “NO” like I had just asked him the dumbest question EVER. I said, “Ok, I didn’t think so, can you tell me where you are?” This is where it got a bit funny. He said, “I am on the street!” like I was supposed to automatically know where this was. I said, “that’s great, but what street are you on?” This person repeated again but only more emphatically “I am on the street!” I said, “but I need to know which street you are on.” The person then started to insult and swear at me. I then talked over him and started naming streets he might be on. He finally heard the one he liked and said he was on Sheridan. I said, “Great! Where on Sheridan are you?” He then started swearing and insulting me again at which point I suggested that before requesting another ride, he should determine where he was and place his pin point there. I then hung up and cancelled the ride without charging him the cancellation fee. I knew I would get a lot of mileage out of telling that story over and over again. Many passengers have been entertained by that story.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this article. One last nugget I want to leave you with: Whenever you have a bad ride, know that it will pay for itself 10 times over with retelling the story to other passengers. It is like being a comedian, your bad riders are your endless supply of material. Happy trails!
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RSG: I love this last bit of advice from Scott since one of the best parts about having a wild and crazy passenger is that you get to tell the story to your future passengers, friends, reporters or pretty much anyone else who will listen! So what are the questions you guys hear the most on a daily basis and how do you respond?
-Scott @ The Rideshare Guy
Scott Van Maldegiam
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