Gosh I was ready to believe that Lyft was the superior driver service experience; like so many things, I wanted to like Lyft better. All I had heard for months was how they treated their drivers so much better etc. etc. And I was excited to have finally completed my sign-up process. I liked that you had to go in person to a short training day, there’s just something about an in-person conversation that can’t be matched… and I liked that they provided free inspections for the vehicles.
That’s about where the things I liked about Lyft stopped. Sortof.
I use Lyft to reduce downtime when in the suburbs and sometimes, if I happen to end up in the city during their hourly guarantee hours, I will attempt to grab it up; this is where a major source of aggravation comes from. You see, I really dislike driving in downtown Chicago – particularly during the hours when these hourly guarantees are available. It’s busy, the roads are narrow, there’s a lot of one-way streets, and the TRAFFIC makes me want to sit in the fetal position rocking in the corner, sucking my thumb and pulling out my hair. Everyone is impatient and honking away, even though when they manage to get in front of you, they sit at the same damn light you do… people are yelling and swearing (Chicago loves that F bomb) and the pedestrians do not give a damn; they are walking slowly across the street in masses, staring at their phones, with headphones on, completely unaware that you are .02 seconds from smooshing them into the pavement with your massive can of steel on wheels. Nope. They don’t care. Mosey on.
I get it. Lyft wants to encourage drivers to be on the road while it is BUSY. So if I end up in the city during (typically 6am-9am) the guarantee times, I’ll give it a go. $25-$32 and hour?? Yes, please. In order to qualify for the guarantee you must be online for 90% of each hour, your request acceptance rate must stay over 90% for the week, and during each guarantee hour you need to take at least 2 rides. There’s the problem.
I can’t get 2 rides per 6 hours in the suburbs, where the insanity is a bare minimum compared to the city. And most of the time, I might get 2 per hour in the city… or one of them will come in at 7:55 am and run into 8:45 and maybe because it’s LINE I will have made 2 other pick ups, all of which are now counted in that 7 am hour… So I end up with 4 pick ups from 7 am- 8 am and now I don’t have time to get 2 rides between 8-9, because even if I get 1 it will likely take 15 minutes or more to go even 2 miles in that bat shit nutzoid traffic… Do they care that I was online for 100% of the duration of hourly guarantee time with a 100% acceptance rate?? NO. I didn’t qualify.
Something I like about Lyft is their Power Driver Bonus. Only I don’t qualify to earn it even if I accomplished all the ride requirements because I have a 2008 Toyota Rav4 that looks and runs like I just grabbed it from the showroom floor… and the minimum age requirement for the bonus is a 2011 or newer. So, this does not give me any extra incentive to go after Lyft’s biggest bonus program.
Let’s get into some real issues about Lyft beyond my lack of money making abilities in my area with the company. This will include some competition comparison, ya know this post is about why I choose Uber…
Their app is far inferior to the Uber app. With Uber, everything is clean and in one place. My earnings are displayed in the app with a easy to read graph, numbers, and each individual customer ride report with time duration and mileage and even a map and the beginning and end addresses. On the Lyft app, you have to click on dashboard and open information in a browser window. Lyft does include distance and time, but no maps or addresses and the information cannot be accessed in app.
Uber’s UI is just very clean. At the bottom there are 4 icons: Home, Earnings, Ratings, Account. Lyft has a side panel that opens vertically with 6 different options, plus the switch to rider feature (which I will discuss in a minute) and then… there are also 3 icons across the bottom: Home, Earnings, Referrals. With Uber, your referrals are under earnings, which just makes sense to me. I like 4 main topics with subtopics better than 2 different places to access 10 different things… I mean really now. It’s just a clusterfuck way to organize things that have been done much simpler elsewhere; this is what happens when you try to reinvent the wheel.
Uber has 2 separate apps to access your rider or driver account; Lyft includes them both on one app. Why is this important? Let me explain. As a driver, knowing how many other drivers are in the area is good information to have. If there are a lot of other drivers and you don’t see any disappearing from the rider app, you can easily determine that the area is saturated and not that busy. If there are no other drivers for 20 minutes or more, you may be in an area where the service is not available at the time or there’s so little business that if you do get a ping, it’s probably a journey just to get to the customer. In either case, you know you shouldn’t try to sit there in hopes of your next ride. Now with Lyft, you need to go offline as a driver to log-in to the rider app to see this information; which could leave you missing a request, with the reduced frequency of Lyft requests, this might make or break your hour – especially if you are trying to make a guaranteed money hour… plus it takes more time to switch around.
On Lyft, the number displayed at the top is what the customer was charged. I really don’t care what the customer was charged. Both companies pay out in a similar fashion. You get a based fare of $1.70, 90 cents per mile, and 20 cents per minute with Uber (this is in Chicago area and the information is not posted on website due to varying prices in different markets) or 14 cents with Lyft (1.)… regardless of what a rider is charged. Whether the passenger is a full-price, Pool or Line, has a discount promo, free ride, or any flat-rate promo… does not matter. Pay is determined based on fare price contracted between the driver and the company. Lyft pays out less per minute, has less business (in my area) and has harder to achieve bonuses; this equals less money. I hear you – “Yes, but Kate… Lyft has in-app tipping!!” Yes, and many riders will tip you, but being busy is where you make more money period.
On that note… Uber’s reluctance to add in-app tipping certainly is BULLSHIT. All drivers are asking for it and many riders too!! I get a lot of cash tips when driving with Uber. Frankly, this removes a safety feature of the ridesharing platform – no cash transactions means nothing to steal, no reason to rob a driver. But I’m not turning money away. Uber could easily add this feature to the app and still let customers know that it is optional. I think eventually they will have to give in on this one. But they are a bunch of stubborn bastards aren’t they.
Now… let me mention changing my phone number. This is where I almost dropped Lyft and said fuck it. But, I want to be able to provide as much review information as possible, so I finished the profile update. After my robbery last week I had decided I would get a 2nd line for business and to just run the rideshare apps and keep a lower expense phone on my dashboard. You need to run the apps from the phone connected to the phone number listed or it is problematic for contacting your customers. To update on Uber, I just signed into the website and updated the information then updated the number on my in-app profile. Done, ready to drive.
Lyft I had to go through the help page to find out how to change my number, then submit the information, wait for an email -in which i was asked for my driver’s lic number via email (not through a secure server), then log out and log back in and submit a code after 2 hours. Only it didn’t work. I spent 2 hours trying to contact them, by email, and several times only got the same automated response that did not fix the issue. So I went back through the help section and explained in-full the situation. When I got a response it was basically the same instructions I had received the first time, without acknowledgement that I stated I had already been through this process and it didn’t work and now I was being asked to send a SCREENSHOT of my driver’s license via email. This is when I really got pissed.
I responded not only that I would not submit a photo of my driver’s lic, but also that I 1. had already given my dr lic number by email and 2. it was very inappropriate for them to be asking for that level of personal information without using a secure server. Furthermore, that every generic, repeat email response I had gotten included a full transcript of all emails associated with that request -which included my driver’s lic number on each and every one; I requested that they go through emails associated with my account and make sure that ALL my personal information was deleted from their server. For a company at this level to be making such a critical mistake is not actually forgivable -in my humble opinion. They did reply that they complied with that request and want all drivers to feel safe and secure, but I bet that doesn’t stop them from doing the same thing with the next driver who just wants to change their phone number.
My issue with their instructions for completing the request at this point still had not worked. I was just going to leave it and not even bother. I even uninstalled the app. The next day I received an email from them stating that they fixed the issue preventing my log-in and asked me to try it again. Ugh. I did, just to see if it was actually going to work. So I installed the app and was able to log-in. Fair warning, if you need to change your phone number with Lyft, make sure you are financially prepared to possibly lose a day’s pay.
Have I mentioned referral bonuses? At the time of this post in Chicago, Uber is offering $1,000 to refer a new driver and Lyft $300 (maybe) and from Uber $200 for new driver and $300 for new driver (maybe). For the $1,000 the new driver has to complete 100 rides in 30 days and for the $300 new Lyft drivers have to complete 75 rides in 30 days. Let’s talk about the issues here… that is 30 days from the day you first sign-up online – even though you can’t drive for Lyft until you meet them in person, so technically they should start that 30 days at that point. My own mom did not receive her $200 sign-on bonus with Lyft because of this. She thought she had 30 days from the time she was actually, officially, completely approved to drive with Lyft – but alas, no. She waited too long to go meet in person and even though she did her (then 100 rides in 60 days) ride quota, within 60 days of finally completing everything, she did not actually qualify for the bonus even though the date was listed in the app of 60 days from the day she met in-person. I also waited too long, but after she was denied her bonus, I did not chase mine.
Not too long ago Lyft was offering $100 to referrer and new driver, while Uber was offering $500 to referrer and $200 to new driver. Then Lyft changed the wording on the referral page to say UP TO $500. So I had my fiance sign-up to see what they were actually offering (he’s not going to do it anyway, so it was ok to waste his referral). They still offered only $100 to each of us. I wrote to them and said it was deceitful to have changed the wording to get people’s hopes up just to offer the same thing as they had been, which is way less then the competition. The emailed me back and apologized, they also changed it back to say “Earn $100”. Not long after it changed to $300, but I am still reluctant to trust them on this.
So do I still drive on Lyft? I guess. I haven’t actually one had one request come in on Lyft in 2 weeks and they cancelled (can I get a big laughing emoji please). I turn on both apps when I am in the suburbs and 99% of the time, Uber pings first and at the airport I sign into both and NEVER ONCE has Lyft hit first. 100% of my airport pick-ups have been through Uber at both O’Hare and Midway. I make $800-1,000 weekly on Uber; I’ll stick with what works.