Last Updated on: July 6th, 2016
First off, I would like to thank this website for allowing me to share my story ‘anonymously’ in fear of retaliation from the Uber people– who by reputation are known to axe their own drivers for having an opinion and voicing it out online.
Since I am new to the Uber platform, I would like to continue testing it out. I do not want to get booted out before I could decide whether I want to continue my sufferings or not.
I had very high hopes for Uber. I reckoned despite reading dismal accounts from actual drivers on different forums and blogs that it couldn’t be all THAT bad. Perhaps disgruntled drivers were just exaggerating on their lamentations. Like one of the contributors on this site, I have been driving for Lyft exclusively. I wanted to put myself to the test and so signed up as an Uber driver in the Boston market. I thought it was time to check out the app that started it all…
Application Process: LYFT WINS.
I was quite displeased by how easy it was to be accepted as an Uber driver. Their advertisement goes something like this: “Sign up today and you’ll be on the road in no time. Plus, signing up takes less than 4 minutes. Don’t wait to start making great money with your car.” I signed up, connected my phone, gave my personal information, uploaded my driver’s license, car registration and insurance, and lastly agreed to a background check. Three days later, I was approved to drive! What?!
You might argue from an applicant’s perspective that a fast and easy application process is a good thing. Sure, if you are a decent individual with a decent car but a fast and easy approval process also cater to someone who may be unfit or unsuitable to drive and it also applies to one with an unacceptable car. The latter can ONLY be surely weeded out by a face to face meeting, short of a ‘job interview’ or as Lyft would call it “Mentoring Session” that includes a one-on-one meeting with an experienced Lyft driver and a car inspection. Without it, Uber’s way is a disaster waiting to happen. It has happened! And disasters will continue to happen.
Lyft’s mentor assures at the very least that an applicant’s car isn’t falling apart regardless if it is an older 2001 or a newer 2014 car with a lot of dents, dings, scratches, or cracked headlights, or banged up doors. It also assesses an applicant’s personality whether he is a sociopath or a hot head or one who couldn’t even fake a smile. Apart from safety car issues, driving with the transportation network company (TNC) industry is very much a customer service job. It requires human interaction.
Uber didn’t require me to upload a single photo of my car. Shocking that they don’t care, even more so, they don’t seem to care what kind of person drives its passengers around town either.
Uber boasts of having an office in every city they are in. In fact, it announced on June 12th, 2016 that it had just opened a second office to handle business in Boston. How difficult could it be for them to require new drivers to visit its offices for a meeting and quick car inspection before being allowed to drive? It is clear that they only care about getting their numbers up to keep its record of 50,000 new worldwide drivers a month and over 160,000 active US drivers status. Never mind, that some ‘bad apples’ get in the mix – it wouldn’t affect their $62.2 billion rideshare empire.
Customer Support: LYFT WINS
After being a member for only 8 days, I have had to contact Uber support by email twice with numerous exchanges after that and issues weren’t resolved in the light favorable to me. They gave canned, robotic responses and repeated them over and over believing that by repetition, somehow their reasoning becomes valid and right. Or you just give up altogether because it is a pointless effort.
I would like to believe that a driver would not contact support if his or her concern isn’t that much important to the driver, meaning as a last resort. When we reach out for help, it means we REALLY NEED the help and trusting that the odds are in our favor and customer support will grant the request, resolve an issue with a positive response.
I have been a Lyft driver for two years and only contacted Lyft support on 4 occasions. While the initial response is the same canned, robotic, hope-you-go-away-after-this-response, when you do write a follow-up, it is as though suddenly the human in them takes over and they actually listen and do their darndest to help and accommodate you. All four issues were resolved in my favor, handled professionally and courteously.
How hard could it be for Uber to listen to its drivers’ woes and do something positive for them for once?!
Number of Rides vs Down Time: UBER WINS but only because…
Uber has a three year head start on the rideshare economy. Clearly they have more passengers for its growing drivers. Meanwhile, there is no doubt Lyft will continue to grow and get its big piece of the pie soon enough. It’s only a matter of time when drivers and passengers alike realize that there is in fact a difference in service, how Lyft treats its drivers and passengers a little better than Uber. This is Uber’s game to lose if they don’t step up.
Diversity: LYFT WINS
It is a fact that there are more women employees on Lyft. There are more women passengers and more women drivers using the Lyft platform. As a woman driver, that matters to me. I would very much like to get women passengers, and I prefer women passengers in as much as 10 out of 10 women passengers I have asked if given the choice, would prefer a woman driver and would choose a woman driver every time.
In driving for Uber for a week, I made 40 trips and 35 rides were male. In driving for Lyft over the past 18 months, I could say those numbers are reversed, with more women passengers using Lyft. I’ve had comments from 3 male Uber-only passengers exclaiming that they’ve been using Uber for a long time and I was the first woman driver they’ve ever met!!
Another case in point: I was at the recent Boston Pride parade 2016 choosing to represent Lyft over Uber. In the staging area, Lyft and Uber were side by side preparing for the parade. Interestingly, the contrast of people in attendance was staggering! Lyft’s contingent comprised of women and men who were: gays, lesbians, moms, whites, blacks, latinos, asian. Uber’s representatives were almost all fair, white skinned people! They looked like an advertisement for some exclusive club as they pose for a photo with their dogs and privileged smiles. The black woman Lyft driver (who also drives with Uber) beside me pointed out the obvious loudly and exclaimed: “I knew I made the right call to be with Lyft today. I’ll be sticking out like a sore thumb in that all-white group! And they’ll all be looking at me as though to say: what are you doing here? You don’t belong here…!”
Company Image: Lyft wins
Just by its slogan alone, you could tell what kind of culture the company stands for. For years Uber’s slogan was: “Everyone’s private driver” and Lyft from the get go started with: “Your friend with a car.” At the outset, Uber already instills to its passengers that there is a wall, an invisible dividing line between the ‘driver’ and the rider. Uber is conveying, “your personal servant, laborer, chauffeur is here to pick you up.” On the other hand, Lyft wants its riders to know that “hey, your friend is waiting outside to pick you up. Time to go, have a chat and have a blast!”
This year, Uber changes its tune with a terse slogan: “Get there.” Still impersonal, unfriendly and only directed to its riders. The drivers don’t matter, you’ll ‘get there.’
One only has to go to different forums and or test it yourself, ask your driver doing both which company they prefer. Almost always the answer is Lyft.
Transparency: Lyft wins
Signing up as a driver using a referral bonus on Lyft is clear and straightforward. They maintain a dynamic table that is open to the public to see so you know exactly whether there is a bonus on your area and how much. It is also a two-way bonus. The referring driver gets a bonus in the same amount the new driver receives.
Uber’s practice is somewhat shady if not unethical. Not only do they NOT show their current sign up promotion but they also do not explain anywhere on their site that a driver’s referral code bonus applies to the city in which that driver is located. So that when you receive a link that says: “Jane Doe sent you $1,000. To claim your reward, sign up to drive today!” That doesn’t mean anything because they can pretty much say whatever excuse they want to disqualify you. “Oh that bonus only applies to Jane Doe’s city. Since you live in a different city where there are currently no bonus, you get nothing for signing up. Jane Doe will get a bonus for referring you though!” They have a tiny print that states:
Referral amounts and minimum trip requirements may vary from city to city. Uber may change any incentive amount or incentive criteria at its sole discretion.
You then contact support to claim your bonus hoping they made a mistake. After finding out that you did not in fact qualify because there are no $1,000 promotion in your city, they hit you with another blow. The email reads: “Unfortunately there is no reward for invitee on this referral. The referral rewards vary city by city. Once you complete 50 trips, $500 will be automatically added to the account of the person who referred you.”
Say that again?!! Not only do you get zero bonus as new driver, but you have to work 50 times over in 30 days so that the person who referred you gets $500 for doing absolutely nothing!!
Driver-Friendly 1: At least where tipping is concerned, Lyft Wins!
Lyft has always had the tipping option on its application. Lyft states: “We built tipping into the Lyft app because we know it’s important to you – which means it’s important to us. You keep all of your tips, with no commission taken out.” Lyft even sends out promotions to its drivers now and then where Lyft doubles the tip a driver gets.
Uber is stubborn and refuses to give in to continued driver’s request of a tipping option.
Did you know Uber’s argument on tipping? It is painfully amusing. Uber believes: “Tipping is inherently unfair because of customers’ unconscious racial biases.”
Uhm, hello? Welcome to America, where everyone’s a little racist! Ask Avenue Q! Why don’t Uber let their drivers deal with that aspect on their own the way they let their drivers deal with the ludicrous rating system?!
Better yet, why don’t they apply the same argument to the rating system– that the rating system is inherently unfair because of customers’ unconscious racial biases. Therefore, they need to change the way the feedback system works because it is clearly discriminatory.
Any minority driver would contend, regardless if they believe race comes into play– that they’d rather have a $2.00 tip from someone who would give $5.00 to someone else for the same service versus getting NOTHING.
Driver-Friendly 2: On taking long absence on the platform, Lyft wins!
As a long time exclusive Lyft driver, I enjoy the fact that I could take short to long breaks whenever I want without the risk of getting deactivated as a driver. On the Uber platform, it wants you to do at least one ride a month to be considered active. Depending on my work/life schedule, I could go on a month or two without driving on the Lyft platform. The longest break was three months! But then when I’m ready to drive again, I just turn on the app and hit “On” as though I was never gone. That is total flexibility and total control.
If we are independent contractors, then we should have the right to get back on and off as we bloody well please. How Uber deactivates its drivers for not driving on a given month seems counterproductive and hindering if not oppressive.
Earnings. TIE. Lyft and Uber fails miserably.
If you’re rideshare driving, hoping to get that financial freedom you’ve been dreaming of, I hate to crush your dreams but that isn’t happening with the current unfair business practices of Lyft and Uber. What you are aiming for is actually just to break even and or get the minimum wage! Chasing the $19 hourly rate Uber is bragging about is like chasing a unicorn. It is non-existent. I earned BELOW minimum wage while driving for Uber last week!
In Massachusetts, the Minimum Wage is $10.00 effective January 1, 2016. Now here is my dismal earnings for the first week I drove with Uber where I earned $7.95 an hour net!!
I worked for 5 days doing 4.4 hours in average. I did 22 hours (to the sticklers: 21.78) total and made 40 trips. My miles driven according to Uber was 255.49 miles. My actual TOTAL miles, counting the dead mileage, picking up the passengers, heading out, going home empty was 472.20 miles. I take a screenshot of my odometer reading daily for tax purposes and record keeping. Note to new drivers: if you’re NOT keeping records of your mileage- it will cost you come tax time!
So let’s do the math:
Take home pay after Uber took 25% of my earnings: $429.95
Total actual miles driven (including dead mileage): 472.20 miles x $0.54 (IRS standard mileage rate 2016) = $254.98 – The cost to operate my car in this instance.
$429.95 – $254.98 = $174.96 take home pay after deductions / 22 hours driven = $7.95 an hour
My Lyft paycheck isn’t any better except that at least I get tips and incentives to drive so when included I do make $10-15 an hour!! Still NOT $19/hour! I received $21.31 / hour paycheck only one time!
A sample Lyft incentive happened when I didn’t drive for 2 weeks last month. I got an email that reads:
“Here’s the deal: We’ll pay you an extra $250 just for giving 20 more rides this week than you gave last week. The more you drive, the more you earn: Last week you gave 0 rides, so if you give 20 rides this week (May 9-May 16), you’ll pocket a $250 bonus. Or, you can earn a bonus for beating last week’s ride count by a slimmer margin. Give 10 rides (just 10 more than last week) for an extra $100. Yep, it’s that easy.”
So I drove that week. I received $553.41 (after Lyft took 20% cut) that included $32 in tips. Did 23 rides in 19 hours total. Drove 255 miles TOTAL x $0.54 = $148.50.
$553.41 – $148.50 = $404.91 divided by 19 hours = $21.31 an hour paycheck net!
Business Practice / Ethics: Lyft and Uber FAILS!
While I love Lyft and the whole concept of ridesharing, Lyft is no saint either when it comes to its business tactics. It is sad that they seem to copy each other’s dirty playbook in deceiving their drivers with its practices. Just as an example: talk about discrepancy in actual miles driven with a passenger versus what the ride Lyft/Uber claims the ride was. Imagine if Lyft or Uber shortchange its drivers by even 1 mile driven and drivers gave a collective one million ride- That is over $1.2 million Uber and Lyft is pocketing where it should have gone to its drivers! Essentially, the company could be robbing $1.22-1.24 per trip to unsuspecting drivers. Contacting Lyft support about a particular ride about such discrepancy, they immediately refunded me $2.44 to cover for the 2 mile miscalculation and blamed technical GPS issue for it. This has me questioned each and every ride I have ever given! Was this a fluke? How often do they undermine their drivers? Among the many things I keep track of while ridesharing, do I add this to the list too? Am I gonna be a thorn to Lyft/Uber’s support because I would now question every ride?
Next point: How about allowing the app to pick someone 20 miles out of your way and realize the passenger is only going to the mall 3 miles away from their house!! Who eats the 17 miles and one hour lost to give that passenger the short ride? There is no way this should even be legal!! And just as your luck go, the passenger complains on how long it took you to pick them up and then gives you a 3 star rating! Now, if you do not accept a ride and or cancel, your acceptance rating falls that will eventually put your driving privileges in jeopardy if you do it enough.
If there is no driver close to the passenger, the app should pop out a message: “SORRY, there is no driver available in your area at this time. Please try again later!“
In the long distance pick up/short ride scenario, Lyft and Uber is taking advantage of their own drivers in order to serve its customers– its riders. How about Lyft and Uber start treating their drivers as their own customers too?! Without its drivers, the company would have lost its major asset. It isn’t the passengers that keeps the business afloat, it is the drivers!! There will ALWAYS be passengers NEEDING a ride. But there ARE NOT always drivers who will be there to pick them up in the rideshare platform if Uber and Lyft continue to disregard driver’s concerns and issues. There will come a point where the better drivers will say, enough is enough and quit.
The slashing of prices to give cheap rides is ruthless. If they want to attract better drivers, quality cars- both company need to increase the base fare. People are willing to pay $10 minimum to a ride. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. It may not be welcomed at first but riders will understand. This is a two-way endeavor where riders and passengers are helping each other out. On Lyft, when I give a $5 ride, almost always I get kind people tipping me $5-7 more! I even got a $20 tip for one $6 ride! If people can spend money on ‘wants,’ they can afford to pay extra for a ‘need.’ Ride-hailing has become an integral part in the daily commute of people. It is a necessity. Get rid of prime time or surging and increase the base fare and allow tipping.
This is a lengthy issue so feel free to google out things not mentioned on this article: Rating system, Uber, Lyft unfair wage and labor practices, (mis)classification as independent contractors, short on benefits, etc.
The earnings potential for Lyft and Uber is pretty much the same. Take that out of the equation and look at all the other aspects and it is easy to realize that Lyft, with all its imperfections still come out ahead of Uber as the better company to work for or be associated with.
The rideshare platform is not for everyone. Do not believe for a second that you could earn $1,500 a week NET doing this!! Take Uber’s promise of $19 an hour paycheck with a
grain pound of salt. Lots of it. How much is your time worth? How much mileage, wear and tear are you putting in your car? How long can you take abuse from your passengers? Yes, I would call anyone giving a 3 or 4-star rating to their drivers abusive. This isn’t an Amazon or Rotten Tomatoes rating, passengers are sabotaging and ruining a driver’s ability to drive by giving a 4-star rating! To the uninitiated passengers, that’s how messed up this rating system is!!
Please do your drivers a favor: If you can’t give a 5-star rating for an uneventful, ok ride- don’t give a rating at all so you don’t skew the driver’s rating record. If it was your worst ride, then by all means give a 3, even one star rating. In the Uber and Lyft world, if it wasn’t your WORST ride, that ride should translate to a 5-star rating. Passengers, you need the drivers more than we need you! We have our own cars and you rely on the service to get you somewhere. Be a little kinder and considerate to your drivers! Your driver isn’t perfect and you’re not either. Cut them some slack.
But I digress.
Lyft and Uber will continue to lose their best drivers (those with dignity and those who know how to do the math!) if they don’t straighten up. It is false to place all your hopes and dreams on either Lyft or Uber because at the end of the day, you are getting the minimum wage and sometimes painfully, below that. Remember you are simply getting immediate cash flow without accounting for your exorbitant car payment, bills and oh wait til you need a car repair!! If you are okay with that, then go ahead- forge on! Continue driving for Lyft and or Uber. I know I will. But my reasons for doing so is not driven by money.
I do not work full time as a rideshare driver. I’m a middle-class, college graduate, white female with a day job who does rideshare on the side because I want to network with people. I want to eventually open my own consultancy or small business so I give out my card at the end of the ride to anyone interested and who knows, it may translate into a business deal later on.
Going in, I know I want to do this NOT for the money but because of the freedom. It allows me to make some below minimum wage income when I need it so I can meet people I can network with in the future. I don’t know how much longer I could take ridesharing if Uber and Lyft remain adamant in their problematic business structure. I don’t know.
Welcome to reality. It does bite.