Lyft may be on the road to losing its "woke" image, in comparison to Uber, as the Washington Post reports on a pattern of cases in which complaints about drivers from women resulted in little or no disciplinary action.
Speaking to "nearly a dozen women from across the country," the paper heard repeated complaints from women who say they were propositioned by drivers, or otherwise harassed, and after lodging complaints with Lyft, the response from the company was tepid and inadequate.
Says Stanford student Emily Ebel, "I just kind of roll my eyes, because they do have these billboards promoting themselves as this socially conscious app. They’re just another tech company out to get money."
Ebel said that a Lyft driver said he wanted her to have his children, and convert to his religion so she could marry him. When she complained, Lyft only said they would never pair her with that driver again.
Similarly, 24-year-old Cristina Vasquez Muñiz of Brighton, Massachusetts tells the Post a Lyft driver who asked her for her phone number. Not wanting to escalate the situation while she was in the man's car, Muñiz complied, and then was told by Lyft when she complained that after giving the driver her number that "limits the consequences on the driver."
Los Angeles-based actress and comedian Anna Gillcrist wrote a Twitter thread earlier this year about a Lyft driver who, when she was on her way home after a night of drinking with friends, pestered her for personal information and then asked if her boyfriend was home as he approached her house. As the Daily Beast reported in April, Gillcrist complained to Lyft and their response was to say they wouldn't pair that driver with her again, and gave her a $5 credit. "I want more than a stupid $5 credit," Gillcrist wrote at the time. She went on to say that on the same night, a male friend told her that he had complained that a Lyft driver didn't pick him up at the correct location, and he got a $10 credit. "That just made me laugh."
Hey @lyft you gave my friend $10 on the same night for an inconvenient experience and me $5 for a man asking me if my boyfriend was home right outside my apartment at 2 am. Still haven’t heard from anyone about this. Waiting. pic.twitter.com/8TNjoJFVZm— Anna gillcrist (@AnnaGillcrist) April 8, 2019
Lyft did, ultimately, deactivate the driver only after multiple emails and phone calls with Gillcrist, and after her Twitter story caused a stir online.
A spokesperson for Lyft issued a statement to the Washington Post saying, "We are always exploring ways to improve the experience for all users, and this includes how we monitor and respond to allegations of misconduct to ensure that our users are supported."
But when Lyft made its pitch to investors earlier this year, ahead of its IPO, it said, "We have built a brand that balances our mission-driven ethos with a friendly, hospitality-oriented personality," suggesting that its competitive advantage against Uber was this reputation.
It seems clear from all these reports that as Lyft has gained traction in the rideshare market, it's faced many of the same problems that were reported earlier with Uber drivers, as that app gained in popularity in recent years. And activists point out that Uber's app these days allows access to a complaint module with a single click, while Lyft's app still buries the complaint button deep within the app's taxonomy.
Is it just a matter of time before someone launches a #DeleteLyft campaign? Oh, looks like they already have.