Prevent being scammed out of your Instant Pay account

There’s been an uptick in a scam affecting us drivers. It may not be new but it is occurring a lot more.

Someone contacts you pretending to be Uber or Lyft. They usually start off by saying something that catches you off guard. It might start with a compliment, like, “You are one of the top 100 drivers in your area and you just earned a $500.00 bonus.” Next they ask for your email, password, and details around your security question so they can verify your identity. They will then claim that the bonus will appear in your account in the next few days.

Another example is the scammer claims that your account may have had a security breach and they need to verify your identity. They then ask for your email and password attached to your Uber/Lyft account.

Both of these attempts are geared at gaining access to your account in order to drain away your hard earned money. Once they have access, they will change your bank details, your password, and lock you out. The Rideshare Guy has a great video on these scams and more.

We need to be on our toes. Uber or Lyft will almost never call you. Do not under any circumstance give out the email attached to your rideshare account or any details concerning your security question.

Think about updating your password to your account frequently. I know it can be difficult to constantly come up with new passwords. I like to use a password manager like Lastpass and it’s free for the basic version. You have just one login and one password to remember. It will remember all subsequent logins and passwords for you and autofill them is the appropriate field. I find it extremely helpful.

Stay vigilant and stay safe.

Dividers in your car?

The Coronavirus has changed so many aspects of our lives. We’re all washing our hands more, wearing a mask and staying six feet away from people. But what’s changed in our cars?

Rideshare company policies have both riders and drivers wearing a mask. Furthermore, passengers can only sit in the back seat for now. Getting vaccinated can help protect us but is there more we can do?

Many drivers are planning to or already have installed a partition between the front and back seats. Taking this extra step is a personal decision, but what goes into this process? I’ve done some research and found dividers ranging from plastic shower curtains to perfectly cut plexiglass professionally installed. Amazon has a wide range of products to choose from with price points to match. Here is the link for the one pictured above in this blog and is available from Amazon.

The challenge with Amazon is finding one that will fit your car, looks good, and protects you and your rider from the virus. Furthermore, you want to make sure that the divider won’t become a hazard should you get into an accident. Because each car’s interior design is different, it will be difficult to find one that fits your car through an online purchase. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try, but be prepared to make several purchases and returns.

Of course, Amazon is not the only retailer offering partitions. You can also try companies like Rideshare Safety Partition – they are selling dividers as well and are worth a look.

An alternative to shopping online is to work with a local installer.Try contacting local repair shops that deal with Limo operators. Limousine operators have been ramping up for the return of travelers and have been installing these dividers in their fleet of cars with great success. 

One last thing to remember is that this installation is for your business and is tax write-off so, save your receipts!

Checking the backseat after every trip

Being a rideshare driver can be fun but also exhausting. We do a lot of freeway driving, often in traffic and while working long hours. We try to do our best but sometimes we forget to do things like check the backseat at the end of every trip. It is just a small thing but it can really make a difference for our riders. It can also be a huge time saver for ourselves. 

All too often riders will leave their phone, wallet, umbrella, or other personal belonging in the backseat of your car. If you can check the backseat as they are leaving your car, you can get the item back to them right away. This often pays off with a good rating and sometimes even a tip. Now I would much rather get it to them in the moment than be asked to bring it back to them later – even for a fee. Let’s face it, you make more money taking rides than you do returning items. It really isn’t worth your time.

Furthermore, if you are constantly checking your back seat, you always know the condition of your vehicle. If the rider in your car has damaged it in any way, you will instantly know who did it. You can then get your pictures and file a claim with your rideshare company.

If you do a fair amount of night driving, it is a great idea to make sure you set the interior lights to come on with the opening of a car door. That way any damage will be immediately apparent – especially for that thing we all hate the most, vomit! This happens to almost every one of us, so you want to catch it right away, take pictures and get that cleaning.

Checking the back after each rider really is an example of “an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure!”

6 things to look for when buying a dash camera for rideshare

Everyone is talking about dash cameras for their cars, especially rideshare drivers. It is a great way to protect yourself. It can prove you were not at fault in an accident. You can show Uber or Lyft footage of an unruly rider not  wearing a mask or acting inappropriately. It can also provide evidence of your actions if you were pulled over by the police and so much more.

There are so many models out there it can be overwhelming. So what are the features that are a must have us drivers?

Price – DashCam models can start out at $50. and move on up to more than $400.. However, most of the features you may want as a rideshare driver can be found in the $200 range. 

Easy installation – No one wants to read a book or need a computer science degree in order to install your camera in your car and the app on your phone.

Video quality – 720p is pretty standard but you might want to consider 1080p. It allows you to zoom in on a face or license plate. Some models in the upper price range offering 4k but that is more of a luxury than a necessity. 

Parking Mode – We all have to leave our cars unattended from time to time. This mode will automatically start recording the moment it senses a vibration.

Dual Cameras – You also want a model that has a camera facing forward to record any kind of traffic incidents you may encounter and one that is rear facing to catch the activities of an unruly rider. 

Wireless streaming  – This is a nice to have feature because it allows you to view footage from your camera without having to remove a memory card. 

Dash cams can be found at many of the big box stores or online. For this kind of purchase, I prefer Costco because of their excellent return policy, and they never charge a restocking fee! Even though they do require a membership fee, the services they offer make it worth the price.

As more of us return to rideshare, protecting ourselves has never been more important!

Double parking risks and possible solutions

We’ve all done it: you pull up to the pickup location and the rider isn’t there. You are going to have to wait, so you decide to double park hoping they will be there soon.  

Double parking is a common occurrence for rideshare drivers especially in big cities. It’s true that sometimes it seems like there aren’t any other options, and I understand. When this does occur, please use your hazard lights so other drivers know to go around you – but know you may get a ticket. According to Legal Beagle the fine for double parking is $165 in Chicago, $115 in NYC, and $110 in San Francisco. We are talking about a big fine on a fare that may only be $10.00. The rider will not be paying the fine! You made the choice to double park and now you are the one stuck paying the bill.

So what are the options to avoid these fines? Start scanning the block for a spot to pull into near the pickup location before you arrive. If you find one you can text the rider to let them know where you will be waiting. I like to use a business name so the rider will have an easier time finding me. Text the rider with something like, “This is your Uber driver. I am waiting for you in front of the Subway restaurant and I have my hazard lights on.”

Please don’t be that driver who just double parks even through there is a driveway or an open space for you to pull into. We’ve all seen it and it is so frustrating for all the drivers around you. Not only that but other drivers will be laying the horn on as they pass you for blocking traffic. Your rider will wonder why you didn’t just pull into the open spot even if it was just a driveway.  

Let’s all work together and double park as few times as possible. It will help lessen the frustration of driving for everyone.

5 things I wish I knew before becoming a rideshare driver.

Being a rideshare driver means you have to accept a lot of unknowns: where you will be driving to today, how many trips you will have, what kind of tips you will make, what kind of riders you will be picking up, and more. We have to deal with all of these unknowns every day. But what if you were new to rideshare, what things would you have liked to have known before you started driving?

Here are five big things I think every new driver should know where starting out::

  1. Don’t drive around looking for rides – After you have driven for a couple of days, you will quickly learn the busier parts of your city or town. Find a place to park and wait for the app to go off. There’s no need to waste gas and to rack up miles on your car.
  2. Don’t bother waiting for rides at the airport – This is especially true right now because of Covid-19, as there aren’t a lot of rides from the airport. But even when people start traveling again, airport queues for rideshare can be between  30 – 90 minutes. You could have easily made good money during that same time by driving in hotter spots downtown. Too often, airport rideshare lots are just a place where drivers gather to complain about rideshare. They would have less to complain about if they were out working the busy parts of their town or city and making money instead of wasting time in a queue at the airport!!
  3. The secret to high ratings may not be what you think – Too often people who are thinking about becoming a rideshare driver believe that they will be good at it because they have a nice car and they know their way around their city or town. New drivers don’t understand that this is a customer service job. You will be dealing with all kinds of people and you need to be able to read their tone and body language to understand what they want.
  4. Getting your rider to their destination in record time isn’t a rider’s top priority – Yes, most riders want to get to where they are going quickly, but feeling safe in your car is more important than speed!
  5. A clean car doesn’t need air freshener – Riders love a clean car! If you keep your car clean, there is no need for air freshener. People are sensitive to smells like air freshener, and a rider who hates the smell or even gets a headache from your air freshener will likely say nothing to you. Instead, they will jut give you a bad rating. Now, If a rider leaves a bad smell in your car after they leave, just roll your windows down and air out your car before your next trip.

Many drivers may have tips beyond these but these were my top 5 takeaways when I first began to driver.

 

Where to pee?

Rideshare drivers have always struggled with finding a clean restroom while out on the road. Since the onset of Covid-19 those choices have dwindled dramatically. 

One option is the gas station where you fill up. They often have open restrooms but it is not a guarantee. 

The worst situation is when you have to go and there aren’t any choices at all. I’ve started carrying a product I found on Amazon called Mini Toilet. Its single use only and can be used by both men and women. After use, it zip locks closed and comes with a small garbage bag for disposal. Amazon often runs out of this one so here is another option called Coolrunner Disposal Urine bags and basically works the same. I am sure there are plenty of other similar products out there but these work great!

When this is all over, I hope we can go back to using Starbucks with locations on almost every corner. 

Should rideshare drivers be helping riders with their luggage?

Many rideshare drivers believe that they should not help a rider load their luggage. I believe that drivers should be helping their riders with their luggage. This post is not about starting a debate on that issue. Let’s just say you are amongst the group who does and leave it there. However, in the light of Covid-19, should this practice continue? I have held my 5.0 star rating for many years and I believe that we are not just offering someone a ride but we are also providing a service. But what is the risk of exposure?

The CDC has written an article about the Coronavirus exposure through luggage and they say the risk is low but read it for yourselves and make your own decision.

My personal thought is you should continue to help someone with their luggage but in a new way. On a few recent trips, I got out of the car and opened the trunk for the rider but asked if they wouldn’t mind loading the luggage themselves and then the same procedure when dropping them off. So far it has worked. I do suggest having a box of latex gloves in the trunk just in case a rider says they have a disability or some other reason that prevents them from lifting.

Make sure you know how to safely remove latex gloves. Checkout this previous blog post that includes this information.

Your car smells like weed because of your last rider, now what?

Most of us have experienced a rider in our cars smelling of weed. Not only can the smell be unpleasant for us drivers but it can be problematic for our status with Uber. Your next rider may report you to Uber for being under the influence simply because of the smell. This can result in an account suspension and a loss of income. Furthermore, the path to reactivation can involve a lot of time and energy.

So is there anything we can do to prevent this from happening beside not accepting riders who smell of weed?

Windows open – As soon as the rider is out of the car, go offline. Next, spend the next 5 minutes or so driving around with your windows down airing out your car. Doing this right away can help prevent the smell from settling into your car’s upholstery. 

Ozium – People often think that spraying air freshener in your car will fix this problem. However, you may be making things worse! First, you are adding another smell to your car that mixes with the smell of weed, making an even worse smell. Secondly, riders are sensitive to air fresheners and you may be giving a rider a headache and giving yourself a bad rating. Instead, try using an air sanitizer like Ozium. Not only does it kill bacteria in the air like Covid-19 it helps to kill the odor of weed. After spraying the interior, let spray settle in your car for a few minutes. Next drive around for a few minutes again airing out your car with the windows down. Now you are ready again to accept requests.

Following the above suggestions can help you avoid bad ratings and continue driving and making money.

Rideshare rider requests are up in Asia and South America, is North America next?

We have all heard of the financial woes of Uber. As far as ridership, Covid 19 has meant few people taking rides, especially here in the US. 

According to a recent article by investor.uber.com, Uber had a net loss of $968 billion last year. However, Uber did see its gross bookings(Uber rides) increase by 16% in Q4 over Q3. Riders are starting to come back online. This growth was mostly seen in South America and the few remaining Asian countries where Uber still exists like Singapore.

As Covid-19 vaccinations increase over the next several months one can expect the economy to improve. According to USAToday, the US economy is due for a bounce back. With an improved economy, one can expect ridership will increase here at home, let’s hope!

Next week: Uber may bring ‘Prop 22’-style gig work standards to the EU