So I've been busy with a lot of business travel and this week found me in downtown Miami. Over the week, I've had several experiences with both Uber and Lyft, including some bad ones that you'll see on my Twitter feed, but I thought it was a good time to share a few observations.
First, on Uber versus Lyft -- this has been mixed. Over the past several months, we've tried to use Lyft more. For one reason, when we spoke to the drivers, most -- particularly those that drive for both services -- tell us that Lyft is better for them. They say that the company is nicer and that Lyft pays them better. However, there is not always as many opportunities on Lyft, so many drivers find themselves drawn to the Uber side for that reason.
Similarly, we were told that here in Miami, Uber had recently run something like a week of a "$3.05" special, where all rides under a certain distance were only $3.05 -- great for riders but terrible for drivers.
Then earlier today I had my bigger mess. First, I tried to order a Lyft ride and the driver came close to where I was, apparently clicked the indicator that he was here, then proceeded to drive to the destination that I had entered into the app. In the process of watching this and trying to figure out what was going on, I tried texting the driver, to no avail, and then calling. The person who answered acted spoke with a heavy Latin accent and almost seemed to act as though I had called the wrong number. One important observation on this experience -- if you're in the theoretical ride, there is no cancellation button. I would have liked a WTF button myself. What happens if something is going wrong with the ride? Wouldn't it be good to have some way of alerting the ridesharing service?
Eventually, my not-ride ended and freed up the app, but not before I'd switched over and requested a ride from Uber. This one drove up, but also seemed to have the wrong pick-up location. When I called the driver to let them know where we were, again, "no speak Spanish" was repeated several times followed with nothing audibly coherent beyond that. Since this driver hadn't "picked me up", I cancelled. The next thing I know, I received a receipt from Uber for a $5.00 cancellation fee.
Each company's customer service practices differed as well. With Lyft, my Twitter posts (and perhaps my accessing the help function in their app), triggered them to look at the charge, refund it, and even offer me a credit on a future ride. In contrast, Uber hardly responded to my Twitter complaints and, when they did, suggested that I go through their site to question the charge. Too busy I suppose.
Don't get me wrong, since most of these Lyft rides are business related items that will just go on my expense report, credits and discounted rides are not really a big incentive to continue to use the service, but I understand what they're trying to do and, practically there's a limit on what tools are available to a business in customer service issues like this.
Overall, while I've mostly been happy with my Lyft experiences, I've hit several times when Lyft has popped a warning screen that higher rates were in effect -- something that usually deters me from requesting a ride with them -- only for me to switch to the Uber app and see no rate increase in effect. Don't get me wrong, if I get an alert from Uber that there is surge pricing in effect, I refuse to use the service. I am very much against these rate multipliers. Given a rate multiplier, I will quickly switch to a cab, period, end of story.
Perhaps the worst thing was, after you've had a bad experience with both the rideshare companies, you start to wonder what will the result be if you book your return trip from the destination with them. In several locations I've gotten the same driver before, what happens if it's the same driver or drivers again? This is the kind of thing that nags at you and, frankly, I'm not sure that credits really answer.