Last week I became an official Lyft Driver! I filled out all the forms, passed the background check, met with the Lyft rep and hit the road. Before doing that, I also had to get a Penn DOT inspection even though I live in Delaware. Not sure the reason for this, I guess it's because Philly is where Lyft is registered in this area and it's probably a state requirement.
My Hyundai Elantra is only a few years old so I knew there would be no problem with the inspection and I would be a Lyft driver in no time. Lyft suggested I take my car to Pep Boys because they have a special discount for Lyft drivers. A few weeks back, Sharon and I went to Philly, paid my discounted price of $27.01 and waited. To my surprise, I was disappointed to hear that my car did not pass the inspection, something to do with tire tread depth not meeting the minimum tread depth blah blah blah.... They would be happy to install a complete set of tires and do a front end alignment for six hundred something dollars and send me on my way. I declined, left Pep Boys, came back a week later on some new rubber purchased in Delaware and received my sticker. One step closer to being a Lyft driver!
As I was leaving work a couple of days ago, I thought there might be a fare that needed a ride and I could pick them up on my way home. I was already in the car, so what did I have to lose? I launched the Lyft driver app and was ready. I am also registered with UBER so after I went online with Lyft, I launched UBER reasoning that the activity would be slow and as soon as one of them pinged me, I would close the other one.
As soon as I got online with Lyft, there was a message that popped up and said something like "There's a lot of demand in your area, expect a ride request soon." Less than two minutes later, I got a request which looks something like this. It shows the passengers picture, if they uploaded one and their rating. The rating comes from previous drivers. Drivers can rate passengers and passengers can rate drivers.
You have 15 seconds to accept the ride request or it goes to another driver. I jumped on that button. Immediately Lyft went in the background and my navigation app Wayz came in the foreground providing me with step by step guidance to the pick up location. I closed the Uber app and proceeded to the pickup.
For some reason I was way nervous and uncomfortable. I wanted to do a good job, provide good service and make a little extra money. It was dark out, very dark and the bright phone display was right in my face, a bit blinding. I saw a video where they said, it's ok to be nervous and to tell your passenger this is your first drive and that you're new. That was my plan. During the drive the app popped up again and asked me to confirm my acceptance for the pickup, so I confirmed again.
Although Waze was providing the navigation, to something like 1401 Main Street, it did not say the name of a place or business. I found myself outside Duck Donuts, there was heavy traffic and no place to park. I put my flashers on and pulled over as best I could, kind of double parked and annoying the people in my lane behind me. I looked around, waited for someone to approach my car and then a young college student with white cords dangling from his ears waved to me.
He went to get in the drivers side rear door and could not because it was locked. (We've all had that experience, yeah?) I forgot my door was locked, opened it and he got in. I tapped the button on the app saying I had the passenger and I confirmed the address with him. After that he didn't say anything and as he was listening to music, I figured he didn't want to talk so I didn't engage. I was driving to an apartment complex I never heard of with a stranger in my car in awkward silence. Of course it probably was not awkward for him,
After about ten minutes into the ride I got another pop up, this time it said something like "Your customer cancelled the ride." Cancelled the ride? How could he cancel the ride, we're in transit. I asked my passenger "Did you cancel the ride?" He said no. I said "I just got a message that the ride was cancelled, that's weird." He was probably thinking I didn't know what I was doing...
So I am trying to figure this out...How was the ride cancelled? Was there a network error? Is this kid messing with me or scamming me?
When I looked back at my phone I noticed the navigation screen was gone. I have no idea where I am going, it's dark out and I'm driving blind. I asked my passenger what the address was as I lost my navigation. He didn't say much and wasn't very helpful but I heard him say something about Jesus Christ....I pulled over to regroup. Then the girl from Waze came on from nowhere and told me to turn in 500 feet. Waze was actually still on but after the cancellation, it went to the background. I didn't know what was happening and could only continue on my adventure and see how this ride would unfold.
It was obvious my passenger was annoyed and one time, I almost missed a turn and he quickly corrected me. Although it may seem minor to some, others can be put out over the slightest of mishaps. I couldn't wait to drop him off which I did.
When it was over and I stopped sweating I analyzed what happened and how it could have been better. Here's what I came up with:
The next day I got back in the saddle again and my fare was four college girls. They were friendly and chatty and the ride was a lot more enjoyable. I also stocked my car with free water for passengers to provide better customer service. I like meeting new people and know this will be a fun gig!
If you think you'd like to be driver, click here to start the process and fill out the forms. If you need a ride from a Lyft driver, just download the app, enter your info and use code JOSEPH811476 for special savings. We'll both benefit. Thanks!