I’m headed to the great North-West for the holidays and needed a ride from Santa Monica to LAX. I don’t want to say my ride fell through – but, my ride fell through. To be fair, she told me that using Lyft would be an awesome experience and that I’d definitely want to write a review. Ok, Patty Rappa; I’ll admit it – right again.
The Lyft app is free and works on both IPhone and Android. After installing it, you swipe through a few screens to learn how it works and sign-in with Facebook. It then asks for your phone number and credit card information. A credit card is absolutely required as Lyft is a no-cash business. Yup, you even tip through the app! This makes my digital heart very happy.
After completing the two minute setup process a Lyft is just a click away. I felt a little nervous and hesitant to click the big green “Request Lyft” button for the first time – not knowing what to expect.
Would some weirdo in a windowless van show up at my front door? Or maybe he’d be a nice-enough-looking-person; drive me somewhere – and go Dexter on me. I did what any brave and curious nerd with a new app would – I pressed the button.
Mere seconds after placing my request; Lyft let me know that Lee was coming to get me and only 7 minutes away! The best part; Lyft presented me with a Picture of Lee – next to a picture of his car. The rest of my little screen displayed a map with a pin for my location and a car icon moving toward my position. This feels more like a game than getting a ride.
Lyft beeped at me to let me know that Lee had arrived at my location – sort of. The app did display a warning that the location was approximate due to no GPS. However, it never prompted me to enable GPS on my phone – something I only do when I actually need it.
Not a problem. The app has a phone symbol that when pressed – instantly connected me with the driver. I let Lee know my exact address and he arrived just a couple minutes later.
A fist-bump with Lee
Lee popped out of his car and helped me load my bags into the trunk. He asked me if I was headed to the airport – yup. We hopped in and he presented me with the traditional fist bump. When I heard this was a tradition I thought it a little odd. Now I get it. What a great way to break the ice and make you feel like you’re being picked up by a friend. Ok, I’ll admit it – I liked the fist-bump.
Lee was a super-cool guy and quick to tell me all about how the service works and why it works so well. He’s been doing this as a full time gig for about eight months now and seems to really enjoy it. He let me know that the flexibility and the people he meets make this an ideal thing for him.
I asked Lee about the hiring process and was relieved to find out the steps Lyft takes before allowing a driver to work with them. There’s a regular interview process and a background check involved – so, no weirdo in a windowless van.
How did I do as a Passenger?
One of the really cool features of Lyft is the drivers ability to rate the passenger. Don’t worry, you can still rate the driver as well. Lee explained that if either of us gives a rating below 3 that we’ll never see each other again. Lee, I gave you five stars dude; I’d be sad if we could never fist-bump again.
It’s also possible for a passenger to get a rating of 1; which could result in being banned from the service. You’d have to be a real ass to get such a miserable score; like say, puking in the back of the car or propositioning one of the drivers; which unfortunately has happened. Lee happily reported that he’s never dealt with a bad customer.
To keep the driver/passenger relationship pure Lyft also doesn’t release per ride tip or profit information to the drivers. Lee gets a report in the morning for the total amount he made the previous day. He let me know that this keeps drivers from ever treating a passenger differently based on how much they tip.
Should you get a Lyft?
- The app was easy to download and setup – and even easier to use
- Seeing a picture of the driver and car coming to get me made me really comfortable
- It’s less expensive than a cab ride – for now (I paid $10 less than the average cab ride)
- After Lee explained the hiring process I felt good about my safety using the service
- I had a ride minutes after the request
Overall, I had a great experience. Something to keep in mind is that Lyft doesn’t ask you where you’re going. So, if it’s too far for the driver you could be denied a ride. It would be really cool if Lyft asked for your destination so drivers that responded would know where you want to go. I’m hoping this is something they’ll build into the next version.
Obviously, I’ll have to use the service more to see if my experience today is consistent over time. However, I did read through the reviews and the biggest complaint is that the only login option is Facebook. I have a feeling this won’t be a problem for most of us.
Don’t take my word for it; download Lyft and give it a try yourself. They’re available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Silicon Valley, St. Paul, and Washington.
Be sure to share your experience with me!