Lyft's Lack of Transparency

Old Oct 17, 17, 10:35 pm
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Lyft's Lack of Transparency

I ride Uber more often than Lyft mostly due to the fact that I usually use rideshare services abroad in cities where Lyft does not have a presence, so I am more familiar with the Uber app interface than Lyft's.

A few weeks ago, I was going home from LAX. I took Lyft for the reasons outlined in my complaint email below, which I sent after stewing about the matter for a few days.
On September [redacted], 2017, at approximately 7:00pm, I took a Lyft ride from LAX (Tom Bradley International Terminal Rideshare Stop C) to my home at [a community in the San Fernando Valley] (the Lyft ride receipt incorrectly shows the destination as [the house number was way off, there is no address even remotely similar to what was listed]). Please refer to the detailed particulars below.

I ordered a ride from Lyft because I had a 10% discount code and Lyft's estimated pickup time was a few minutes earlier than Uber's. At no time before or after ordering the ride did I receive its estimated cost. I was not warned that there was surge pricing in effect (Uber didn't have any at the time). Since I had a discount code, I expected my ride home with Lyft to cost more or less the same as I usually pay Uber for similar trips. Numerous times during the approximately hour long ride I tried to check how much it was going to cost, however, the information was nowhere to be found in the Lyft app. The first time that I was informed of the cost was when I got the receipt. I was astonished to find that I was charged almost twice as much as the most that I have paid for similar rides with Uber.

The total charge was $69.83 before the 10% discount was applied. With the discount factored in and after I added a $5.00 tip, the total was $68.46. For comparison, on August [redacted], 2017, at approximately 8:30 pm, I rode Uber home from the same pickup spot at LAX (C). That trip was 25.05 miles long (slightly different than the 24.80 route taken by the Lyft driver) and took only 39:09 minutes (compared to the 57:11 minutes for the Lyft ride). The cost of the Uber ride was $37.00 before I added a $5.00 tip. While I do understand that a trip an hour or two earlier in the day which took almost 20 minutes longer would cost more, perhaps 10-20%, I think that a differential of almost 90% in the basic cost of the ride is exploitive and outrageous, especially given the total lack of transparency.

I have yet to take an Uber ride where the total cost of the trip was not fully disclosed up front before I could even order the ride.

Needless to say, due to your failure to inform me of the cost of the ride in advance and then charging me an unreasonably excessive price, I have no intention of ever use Lyft again.

Please delete my account.

Sincerely,

[TWA884]
I received the following reply:
Sep [redacted], X:XX PM PDT

Hello there [TWA884]!

My name is [redacted] from the Pay Team in Lyft, I am very concern about your ride with [redacted] on Sep [redacted], 2017, [~7:00] pm. First of all, receive a warm greeting and I hope you are having a good day.

I know how important is for you to have clear all your fare ride. Don't worry I am here to help you, after checking your ride I see that you were charged $68.46 after a coupon was applied to your fare, below I have added the breakdown, and as you can see you when you requested the ride there was 75% prime time.
Tip $5.00
Service fee $2.10
Prime Time $27.31
LAX Airport - Airport Fee $4.00
Trip Cost $36.42
Charges Sub Total $74.83
After coupon $68.46
After reviewing the details of your ride, we’ve gone ahead and refunded all of the Prime Time, as a one-time courtesy. You can expect to see the refund of $27.31 reflect on your card within the next 3-5 business days.

If there is Prime Time you will be notified on the app when you request a ride unless you enter pickup and drop-off locations before the ride.

If you enter the pickup and drop-off locations before the ride, the Prime Time will be in the total price that is shown in the upfront pricing. You can tap the upfront price to see the Prime Time details.

Having said that, please don't let your enthusiasm with Lyft. I'm sure that you will have lots of positive experiences with us.

Have an amazing day and I trust that this information is helpful for you in your next Lyft requests.

Was a pleasure to support you.

Best wishes,

[redacted]

Lyft Support Representative
I am grateful for the refund, which I received promptly, however, I am unclear about the surge pricing notification and upfront pricing.

Am I supposed to order a ride without entering a destination address? Between the time that I ordered the ride and the time that the driver showed up, I kept searching for the estimated cost, the only thing that I found was that there was a $5 charge for cancelling at that point (which brings to mind another Uber advantage, I have never been charged for canceling a ride with Uber).

How do I get the upfront pricing to display?
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Old Oct 18, 17, 1:25 am
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[QUOTE=TWA884;28945465Am I supposed to order a ride without entering a destination address?[/quote]

You're not supposed to, but I think it may be allowed.

Between the time that I ordered the ride and the time that the driver showed up, I kept searching for the estimated cost, the only thing that I found was that there was a $5 charge for cancelling at that point (which brings to mind another Uber advantage, I have never been charged for canceling a ride with Uber).
Uber charges a cancellation fee if you cancel more than 2-3 minutes (down from 5 minutes before the change) after requesting. Lyft charges a $5 cancellation fee if you cancel more than 5 minutes after requesting.

How do I get the upfront pricing to display?
Select origin, and select destination, and make sure to select the type of service you want. I'm not sure if your case was a bug, but for me, it shows me the up front cost every time, and if tapped on the price, it would tell you whether it's Prime Time (Lyft's equivalent of surge).

What I can tell you is that if Lyft can't estimate the time it takes for the driver to get to you, sometimes it can't calculate an up-front cost (this tends to happen at airports where the staging area is off-site), although I've only seen this once (albeit also at LAX). The other thing I can tell you is that LAX is almost always in a perpetual Prime Time or Surge.

As far as transparency and quality of customer support goes, Lyft is thousands of times better than Uber.
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Old Oct 18, 17, 2:23 am
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Originally Posted by diburning View Post
You're not supposed to, but I think it may be allowed.
The Lyft representative's email is quite clear that they notify of surge pricing only when pickup and dropoff destinations are not entered before ordering the ride:
Originally Posted by Lyft Support Representative
If there is Prime Time you will be notified on the app when you request a ride unless you enter pickup and drop-off locations before the ride.

If you enter the pickup and drop-off locations before the ride, the Prime Time will be in the total price that is shown in the upfront pricing. You can tap the upfront price to see the Prime Time details.
That's about as clear as mud and designed to confuse the customer. The Lyft app shows Prime Times details only if the pickup and drop-off locations are not entered before the ride and an extra step, which is not obvious or intuitive, is required before the price is shown.

With Uber, I cannot order a ride without first entering the origin and destination locations, the surge pricing advisory clearly shows before the order is placed, and the estimated prices for the various types of service are clearly shown and the desired option must be selected before the order button can be pushed.

Uber charges a cancellation fee if you cancel more than 2-3 minutes (down from 5 minutes before the change) after requesting. Lyft charges a $5 cancellation fee if you cancel more than 5 minutes after requesting.
I never canceled an Uber ride in the US or in Europe. I was returning from a Latin America city where I canceled several Uber rides 10-15 minutes after ordering them when it became clear that the drivers would not be able to pick us up at the estimated time. Not once was I charged a cancellation fee.

The Lyft $5 cancellation charge notice appeared within less than a minute of ordering the ride; I noticed it as I was searching the various app's screens for the estimated cost of the ride.

Select origin, and select destination, and make sure to select the type of service you want. I'm not sure if your case was a bug, but for me, it shows me the up front cost every time, and if tapped on the price, it would tell you whether it's Prime Time (Lyft's equivalent of surge).
I entered my pickup location, my destination and the type of service. I never saw a price surge warning or a button that would disclose the price. The only thing that I found was the cancellation charge notification. I never have to go through such gymnastics or contortions to see if Uber has surge pricing in effect and the estimated cost of the ride before placing the order (after entering the pickup and drop off locations).

What I can tell you is that if Lyft can't estimate the time it takes for the driver to get to you, sometimes it can't calculate an up-front cost (this tends to happen at airports where the staging area is off-site), although I've only seen this once (albeit also at LAX). The other thing I can tell you is that LAX is almost always in a perpetual Prime Time or Surge.
I received an immediate estimate of pickup time when I placed the order. It was seven minutes. Rideshare drivers are now permitted to pickup passengers at LAX right after they drop off their previous fares; they no longer have to exit the World Way loop to the staging area before accepting new rides (link).

This was the very first time that I encountered surge or prime pricing going home from LAX. As I wrote in my email to Lyft, Uber did not have surge pricing at the time. I never would have ordered the Lyft ride had I been advised that prime time pricing was in effect.

As far as transparency and quality of customer support goes, Lyft is thousands of times better than Uber.
I don't know what to tell you. I've never been ripped off by Uber, so I never had to contact their customer support.

Last edited by TWA884; Oct 18, 17 at 2:34 am Reason: Add link
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Old Oct 18, 17, 2:35 am
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I've only used Lyft and have always got an upfront price. I'm on Android but here's what I do:
1) On the first screen, select type of service (e.g., Line, Lyft, Plus, etc.)
2) Enter pickup address or make sure it's reasonably accurate for where you are
3) Press Set pickup
4) On the second screen, it should say, Add destination for price
5) Press Set destination
6) On the third screen, manually enter the destination or select Choose from map and move the pin thing
7) This should take you back to what looks like the first screen with the pickup and dropoff locations filled in and an upfront price
8) If you like what you see, press Request Lyft

Last edited by hi-guy; Oct 18, 17 at 2:42 am
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Old Oct 18, 17, 2:46 am
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Originally Posted by hi-guy View Post
I've only used Lyft and have always got an upfront price. I'm on Android but here's what I do:
1) On the first screen, select type of service (e.g., Line, Lyft, Plus, etc.)
2) Enter pickup address or make sure it's reasonably accurate for where you are
3) Press Set pickup
4) On the second screen, it should say, Add destination for price
5) Press Set destination
6) On the third screen, manually enter the destination or select from Choose from map
7) This should take you back to what looks like the first screen with the pickup and dropoff locations filled in and an upfront price
8) If you like what you see, press Request Lyft
I am an Android user. SG S7 Edge.

Why so many steps, which are not obvious or intuitive?

With Uber, you must input the destination on the first screen. Without that information, the ride can't be ordered. The next screen is to set the pickup point. Then the upfront prices for the various types of service that they offer, i.e., UberPool, UberX, UberSelect, UberXL, etc., are displayed and you click on the service/price button to order the ride.
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Old Oct 18, 17, 10:46 am
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Originally Posted by TWA884 View Post
I am an Android user. SG S7 Edge.

Why so many steps, which are not obvious or intuitive?

With Uber, you must input the destination on the first screen. Without that information, the ride can't be ordered. The next screen is to set the pickup point. Then the upfront prices for the various types of service that they offer, i.e., UberPool, UberX, UberSelect, UberXL, etc., are displayed and you click on the service/price button to order the ride.
I have the Lyft Android app. Steps are pretty much the same as Uber.

Enter pickup location.
Enter dropoff location.
You get a screen showing the service (with options to change it and show all your price options), the price of your selected service option, and your payment method. Tap the pink "Request Lyft" button, and it requests the ride.

If you just enter your pickup location, you'll see the option to Add Destination. You can request the Lyft without adding the destination, but you get no price information.
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Old Oct 18, 17, 2:24 pm
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Originally Posted by cestmoi123 View Post
If you just enter your pickup location, you'll see the option to Add Destination. You can request the Lyft without adding the destination, but you get no price information.
Never knew that not entering a destination was an option ... one I'll never use. That is why I didn't quite understand the OP's issue.
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Old Oct 18, 17, 4:04 pm
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Originally Posted by cestmoi123 View Post
Enter pickup location.
Enter dropoff location.
You get a screen showing the service (with options to change it and show all your price options), the price of your selected service option, and your payment method. Tap the pink "Request Lyft" button, and it requests the ride.

If you just enter your pickup location, you'll see the option to Add Destination. You can request the Lyft without adding the destination, but you get no price information.
I entered both the pickup and dropoff locations. I was shown a screen with the types of services offered. I selected the original Lyft service. I don't recall seeing any upfront prices; I wonder if that was because I had to update my credit card information before I could complete the ride request (the credit card which I had on file expired a few weeks earlier and I replaced it with another).
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Old Oct 18, 17, 4:14 pm
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I never had a problem with Lyft showing the price before the ride. I'd never order a ride for Uber/Lyft without knowing the price, or at least an estimate.

I've had lots of problems with Uber. Extra charges, charged for a very long trip when the driver had just been waiting while we were eating in Bali. In Paris, the driver didn't wait at the right spot, and then charged the minimum ride.
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Old Oct 18, 17, 5:47 pm
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Originally Posted by TWA884 View Post
I entered both the pickup and dropoff locations. I was shown a screen with the types of services offered. I selected the original Lyft service. I don't recall seeing any upfront prices; I wonder if that was because I had to update my credit card information before I could complete the ride request (the credit card which I had on file expired a few weeks earlier and I replaced it with another).
That could well be it.
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Old Jun 30, 18, 6:13 pm
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@TWA884, can you confirm what means of communication you contacted Lyft Support with? Was it an email or was it through the website? Thanks!
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Old Jun 30, 18, 8:44 pm
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Originally Posted by g3n1us View Post
@TWA884, can you confirm what means of communication you contacted Lyft Support with? Was it an email or was it through the website? Thanks!
It's been a while, however, to the best of my recollection, I initially submitted a complaint via the Contact Support link in the Lyft Help webpage (scroll all the way down). Subsequent communications from Lyft came from [email protected].
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