Recently a friend asked if I would be available to come speak on behalf of Lyft, giving the passenger’s perspective. While I was unable to fill in, I got to thinking what I would have said and realized that I had a lot to say. Although I’m not sure of the impact, I wanted to share my thoughts in some way:
An open letter to he who is trying to sue Lyft (but I promise I won’t list your name and get you hashtagged like Peter Shih):
You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. I’m sure you’re a nice guy, and I’m sure you have some type of motive to go after this company I’ve grown to highly respect, but let me tell you why I wish you wouldn’t.
I moved to San Francisco just under a year ago. I distinctly remember a friend at lunch telling me about Lyft. I could even tell you the date and the restaurant that we were at. It was her “parting knowledge” to me as she was getting ready to move away from SF. It was the day I signed my very first lease after months of Craigslist responses, open houses, Skype conversations with potential roommates, flakey master tenants, and meltdowns. It was a big day.
I remember when I went to sign up for Lyft. I was put on a wait list because the demand by passengers far exceeded the supply of drivers. Lyft was exploding.
About a month later, I received an email telling me I was “in,” and Lyft has become my go-to transportation choice. Why? Well, let me count the ways:
- Reliability. Have YOU ever tried calling Luxor cab only to be stuck on the phone for 15 minutes waiting for a dispatcher, think you have a cab, and peer out the window aimlessly until said cab arrives (or doesn’t)? Sure, sometimes I open Lyft to receive the “All Drivers Are Busy” message, but at that point, I have my answer and can resort to other apps/means of finding a ride.
- The driver. I’ve taken cabs in several cities – East, West, Midwest, Northwest, Western Europe – and I can count maybe on two hands the number of times that I’ve had a pleasant conversation with the driver. I’m a pretty friendly person, I promise you that, and upon opening the door in a cab, I often am welcomed with a grunt, a request for my destination, and a roll of the eyes when my cab fare exceeds the amount of cash I am carrying. And I’m devoting extra time to this topic because it deserves to be mentioned:With Lyft, I’m greeted with a fist bump, I sit in the front seat, and it’s just as if one of my friends is giving me a quick ride across the city (thus “Your friend with a car”). Not only that, but my ride usually consists of a pleasant conversation, comparing notes on the latest concerts/fests in the city, restaurant recommendations, and well wishes for a successful and bright future in SF. I might even take the leap to say that most of the cab drivers I’ve had in the past would barely pass the in-person interview process at Lyft. There’s very little accountability when it comes to level of service with cabs, or at least it’s not as apparent. With Lyft, I’m held accountable as a passenger and they as a driver since we are, after all, rating each other.
- The community. When’s the last time Luxor or Yellow held a picnic/party thanking their patrons? That’s a joke…right? Not for Lyft. What about a company letting their drivers keep the entire donation for driving during peak hours just to make sure the rider community’s needs are met? Speaking of “community,” do cab companies even have a “community manager”? I’m going to guess not. I know you’ve heard of DiscoLYFT or HipHopLYFT or the various events around town, and for those who think engaging the local community is limited to the mom and pop store down the street, you’re dead wrong. Lyft has and continues to build up a community of proud drivers and proud passengers so one lawsuit shouldn’t necessarily mean he speaks for them all. Go ahead, just ask them. I dare you.
I feel like I’m reading tweets all of the time of people expressing #lyftlove. This morning I even read one about a guy who left his stuff in his driver’s car, and his driver came to deliver it to his house. I would love to see the stats on how many cell phones get found/returned through Lyft vs. cab companies. Lyft is a service, and Lyft is peer-to-peer ride-sharing. Why wouldn’t I want to support my peers? Can’t we all just get along?
- The innovation. For years, cab companies have had what-could-be-called a monopoly on this transportation thing. In other industries, companies are forced to keep innovating as new competition enters the market. Cab companies should be no exception to this rule. It’s really as easy as that, and I will say that they’re defense should be to innovate, NOT to cry about it and hope the competition gets shut down. What is this, kindergarten?Not only that, but Lyft is a great startup success story. It launched in the best possible place to launch a service as part of this new ‘sharing economy’ phenomena. Lyft embodies a lot of what SF stands for in that regard. Can’t we just give them a high-five (or fist bump)?
- More on the experience. When thinking of things I can do in a Lyft but not in a cab, I can think of so many things: eat candy/snack my driver has offered to me, charge my phone with a charger offered by the driver, DJ my own tunes via my/the driver’s iTunes selection, sit in the front seat without being awkward even if I’m the only passenger, sometimes even sing along WITH my driver. Seriously. I think I’ve made my point here.
Oh, and while you carry on with this lawsuit you’ve got going here, I’d like to address this whole contractor vs employee thing. Have YOU ever been an independent contractor outside working for Lyft? More importantly, have you ever HIRED an independent contractor to work for your company/brand? Well, I have. And I can tell you that hiring an independent contract, for a company, doesn’t mean that you give them the reigns and let them be brand ambassadors at their will. You’d have to be nuts to do that. So yeah, having you fist bump your passengers and requiring you to pick up a passenger if you don’t already have one – I’d say Lyft would be getting burned on NOT doing those things if they couldn’t guarantee a consistent rider experience. So there’s that.
So while you carry on with your class action suit, I’d like you to consider your reasons for doing this. And maybe I don’t know all the facts – I’ll give you that. But I do know that we’ve got a good thing going here. Please don’t be that guy.