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

New Lyft program – More rides but for less money

Back in September, Lyft began a new program called “Priority Mode”. So far the reviews of the program are not positive.

The program which drivers must opt in, requires them to accept a 10 percent pay reduction in the hopes of getting more rides funneled their way. According to Jalopnik, drivers who do not opt-in see fewer rides.

In a Mashable article, they call the program, “Lyft’s latest innovation in ripping drivers off.”

In a Reddit post, one driver wrote, “Now they’re pitting drivers against each other to see who’ll do the ride for the least amount?” “Can’t imagine the riders are paying less, so Lyft again is cutting their driver’s throat to take a greater cut of the fare! Way to drive away your workforce Lyft!”

In a CNET article, one driver joked and called Priority Mode – Poverty Mode.

With few rides because of Covid-19 and lower rates, it appears that rideshare companies are in a race to the bottom on what they are willing to pay their drivers.

Next week: Rideshare rider requests are up in Asia and South America, is North America

next?

Fewer drivers using their turning signals

As rideshare/delivery drivers, our workday is spent on the road. I know many of you share the same pet peeve I have, people not using the turning signals. 

Using your left or right blinkers is the way we communicate with each other. It is an important component in preventing accidents. In recent years, it feels that fewer people are using them. I decided to search the internet to learn why.

The Huffington Post back in 2014 came up with a list of 7 reasons, some of which include:

  • They are too lazy
  • They want to cut you off
  • They simply forgot

According to AutoGuide, the Society of Automotive Engineers conducted a study that concluded more than 2 million crashes a year are the result of people failing to use their indicators. The study reported that that number was even higher than distracted driving. This should be an eye-opener for all of us.

Even though the above excuses and numbers are a concern, the answer is pretty simple. We need to be respectful of each other and use turning signals. After all, the solution is literally at our fingertips!

Are you driving for the rideshare or delivery app that pays the best?

Whether you drive rideshare or food delivery or both, making money is the end game. The difficult part is determining which option pays the best?

The Los Angeles Times posted an article back in December that discussed this very issue. They suggest that rideshare may be more profitable because so may drivers have switched to delivery.  The result has been more surge pricing being offered in many cities across the country.  

Here is the breakdown for 3 cities in California taken directly from the article:

Los Angeles

  • Average hourly pay: $17.37 for ride-hail; $16.05 for delivery
  • The best-paying app is Uber Eats, which pays 1.22% more than No. 2, Lyft.
  • Lyft pays 0.17% more than Grubhub, which pays 3.06% more than Uber, which pays 2.14% more than Amazon Flex.

San Diego

  • Average hourly pay: $17.56 for ride-hail; $18.07 for delivery
  • The best-paying app is Amazon Flex, which pays 3.69% more than No. 2, Uber Eats.
  • Uber Eats pays 2.61% more than Grubhub, which pays 5.68% more than Lyft, which pays 4.88% more than Postmates.

San Francisco

  • Average hourly pay: $19.48 for ride-hail; $15.97 for delivery
  • The best-paying app is Uber Eats, which pays 3.38% more than No. 2, Grubhub.
  • Grubhub pays 4.6% more than Amazon Flex, which pays 1.8% more than Uber, which pays 5.59% more than Lyft.

What stands out the most from the above numbers is how much pay varies from city to city and then again with each company. In order to figure out which option works best for you, will require you to keep good records of your earnings and then decide for yourself!

Next week: New Lyft program – More rides but for less money,

Car care and safety tips for rideshare drivers and more

Driving for a rideshare company means you are going on a road trip every day. Having your car prepared for travel is one of the best things we can do for our safety and to be successful as drivers.

Best Roof Box has an article that covers so many great topics like the right way to check the oil in your car, safety items we all should carry, and more. Even though the article is geared towards those taking a road trip with their families, there is still plenty of great information we can apply as rideshare drivers.

Monday: Are you driving for the rideshare or delivery app that pays the best?

Keeping track of those miles for tax purposes

It is important for gig workers, especially rideshare drivers, to track their mileage for tax purposes.  Gone are the days when you needed to keep a little book in your car to log all those miles you drove.  

According to MileIQ, the IRS says your mileage log must include:

  1. Your mileage.
  2. Dates of your business trips.
  3. Places you drove for business, and.
  4. The business purpose for your trips.

Smartphones and GPS technology has made tracking miles a breeze for all of this information.  One of my personal favorites is MileIQ. Their mileage tracking app is an easy answer for how to keep track of mileage for taxes. It creates an automatic and contemporaneous mileage log for all of your driving.

It saves those records securely in the cloud, so you never have to worry about losing it. Additionally, those records can be pulled up or printed out years later if you ever have to face an IRS audit.

GetApp has a list of 10 different apps to track your mileage each one does the job but the interface and the data tracking varies.  Review them all to see which one works best for you.

Remember mileage for personal reasons should not be tracked as part of what you report to the IRS.

Friday: Car care and safety tips for rideshare drivers and more

How to prevent being scammed out of your Instant Pay account

There seems to be a pretty big uptick in a scam affecting us drivers. It may not be new but it is occurring a lot more frequently.

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 and again details surrounding your security question.

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’ve got 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 with them.  It will remember all subsequent logins and passwords for you and autofill them is the appropriate field. I find it extremely helpful.

Wednesday: Keeping track of those miles for tax purposes

What are your car wash options?

Keeping your car cleaned both inside and out is an important part of being a Rideshare Driver.  Riders notice when your car is clean and they really notice when a car is dirty. They may not say anything while riding with you but they will definitely let you know with their rating.  

Doing your own car washes is obviously the most economical. The problem is many drivers live in urban areas without access to a hose and a power outlet for a vacuum. 

Filling up your car at a gas station and then adding on a car wash where available can work but too often the gas station car wash is low quality and over time will scratch your car’s clear coat, lowering your car’s resale value. Wash your car in these car washes at your own risk. 

Taking your car to a dedicated car wash location is more expensive but does provide a better result. There are two types: cloth, and touchless options. I prefer locations that offer a touchless wash. Search for a place that offers a monthly fee for unlimited cleaning inside and out. Howstuffworks explains the difference between these two. I Googled my favorite spot and checked their reviews before making a commitment. 

The final option is a mobile car wash service. This is the most expensive option with prices starting at $49.00 per wash or more. They bring everything – including the water – making it very convenient. These companies often do oil changes for an additional fee so this may be the perfect option for you.

Remember that whichever method you choose, the costs can all be tax deductible.  Please make sure you keep good records throughout the year. 

Friday: You were just involved in a car accident, what do you do?

What do you 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 by proving you were not at fault in an accident, proof for Uber or Lyft of an unruly rider who chose not to wear a mask or is acting inappropriately, evidence of your actions if you were pulled over by the police and so much more.

There are a lot of options out there when it comes to buying a dashcam, so what are some of the features that you may want to have?

Price – DashCam models can start out at $50. and move on up to more than $400,. but some of the features you may want as a rideshare drive 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 which would allow you to zoom in on a face or license plate. Some models in the upper price range are now 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 like Costco because of their excellent return policy, and they never charge a restocking fee! However, they do require you to pay a membership fee.

Wednesday: Car Wash Subscriptions