Think twice before paying someone to drive you around to play Pokemon Go!

I have seen a couple of articles recently about how inventive people are deciding to offer their services to people who want to be driven around “safely” while playing Pokemon go. They will charge $25 an hour  and will go from place to place in the Pokemon Go world to help you catch them all.

But you should be very careful as someone seeing a ride while playing your game. Make sure you know the rules of your state before jumping into some strangers car who has gone through no background check at all.

State laws have certain requirements placed on people who drive people around for profit. It is possible that some of these people who are charging $25 an hour are not doing so legitimately. For example, in Louisiana there are certain requirements placed on drivers operating in a transportation network (TNC). There are also other requirements placed on drivers who are operating for profit but not in a TNC. If your driver is not a TNC driver (who in Louisiana must facilitate the ride through an app) then the driver will have likely been required to go through several other steps. If they haven’t, they are driving illegally.

Also, in Louisiana Uber and Lyft are required to have insurance covering passengers. If your person giving you a “Pokeride” is not driving under the umbrella of Uber or Lyft and an accident happens, it is possible that the driver’s personal insurance might not cover your damages either. And if your driver doesn’t have a lot of net worth, well, you could suffer a personal loss because you cant recover from the driver.

This is why I urge everyone trying to get a ride to do ridesharing to make sure to go through Uber or Lyft or make sure that your driver has the proper licence and insurance to be operating commercially in the area where you are catching them all.

#PokemonGo and Ridesharing

#PokemonGo fever is reaching epic levels in the first week of launching. You might be asking me why on earth a ride sharing blog is discussing augmented reality games. The answer is simple; people who play the game may need to get from place to place safely. They also may want to do so in a way that allows every player to pay attention to the phone and have someone else pay attention to the roads.

So why not merge the two together. It is the summer, and that means the slow season for transportation in New Orleans and some other cities. Drivers are definitely going to be happy to give you a lift so you can drive around.

If you are a Pokemon Go player who has never taken a ride in an Uber or a Lyft you are in luck, Both companies offer first time rider credits. On my front page I make it easy for you to get ride share credits. Just click on the logos for each company and sign up. It will tell you how much credit you get (with Lyft the credit is split over a certain number of rides).

If you are a driver, you may want to consider stocking up on charging cables. This may be the best investment ever with players who are playing a game that will be using more of their battery than normal.

 

 

Rider Advice: How Ratings Work

I will be honest. I am proud of my 4.91 rating as a driver for Uber. I am also proud of my 4.98 rating for Lyft.  That I am rated so highly means that I have done something right and have satisfied a vast majority of my customers. The 15 non 5 star rides I have given on Uber and the 1 on Lyft does make me wonder what I did to deserve a rating less than a 5. If I didn’t get a 5, I messed up some way.

I do feel that sometimes riders may not understand the impact that their ratings have on our ability to drive. There is no set formula that is published that will tell you when you can no longer drive for Uber or Lyft. However, it is the consensus that once a driver gets below a 4.6, proactive measures are taken. A driver may be forced to pay for a class to be a better driver. A driver may just be banned from using the application altogether. So when  you give a driver a rating below a 5, it says that something was lacking with the service your received.

Put another way, let’s say all my riders believed that a 4 was above average. If everyone rated me a 4, I would quickly be prevented from driving for either of the ride share companies.

Personally I am to give 7 star service. I try and go above and beyond for every customer. Both applications only allow for a rating between 1 and 5 inclusively. So I obviously cannot receive a 7. If I aim higher than a 5 and miss my mark, I can still get a 5.

So how should you rate your driver? I have some guidelines that might help you out based on the quality of service you received.

5 stars: Your riding experience was good and you had no problems. Your driver picked you up in a timely fashion and dropped you off using the quickest route possible (either via some routing software or via a detour because of personal knowledge that is better than the software). The driver was polite, friendly, and offered you extras like water, a cell phone charge, or some helpful tips if you are a tourist.

4 stars: The ride was ok, but was missing a few of the things that would have made it a 5 star ride. It isn’t terrible but the driver has areas to approve. (If the driver was obviously new, consider still giving a 5 star rating while giving helpful tips, or refer the driver to this blog to get tips on how to be a top notch driver).

2-3 stars: The driver missed most, if not all, of the marks on getting a 5 star review. Perhaps the car was messy and it was obviously not just a previous passenger who left items in the car. The driver may have lacked courtesy in one way or another. Contacting customer service about the driver might be called for depending on the circumstances.

1 star: The driver was unsafe and unprofessional. You should report the driver to customer service and complain about the ride you received.

This is not an all inclusive list of things to keep in mind. It is possible that I might come back and add some additional reasons to give a rating lower than a 5. Just remember that any rating lower than a 5 is going to tell any good driver that something was wrong with the ride, at least in some way. If the driver did nothing wrong, a 5 star rating is likely in order.

Rider Advice: Should you tip your driver?

Lyft currently offers their customers the ability to leave a tip for their drivers if they are so inclined in the application. Uber does not offer that functionality yet. Until recently Uber had basically sent a message to riders saying that their rides were all inclusive and that there was no need to tip. However, after a settlement with riders, Uber will now be telling riders that no tip is included. Uber will also be allowing riders to post that the gratuity is not included in the cost of the fare.

But that doesn’t really answer the question of what a rider should do or not. Of coarse as a driver I would love it if each and every customer of mine gave me a tip. But it is not my job to make your decision to tip for you. That is a decision you have to make. However, I would offer some things to consider when making that decision.

A) If they are both operating in a city, Uber and Lyft are often competing for both riders and drivers. Many drivers will drive for both companies. Many riders will have both applications as well. The rates they charge for riders in those cities will be competitive in order to attract business. This means that the prices will go lower to the determent of drivers. If you feel that the value of the ride you received was worth more than the base fare that you were charged, perhaps it is worth it to add some tip money to the overall cost of the ride.

B) Tipping tells drivers that they are doing their job well. It is positive reinforcement of good behavior. Many times drivers will go above and beyond to make your experience as comfortable as possible. Did your driver offer you a complementary beverage or candy? Did your driver provide cell phone charging cables or give you control of the radio? If your driver spent extra time, effort, and money to make your ride special, it could very well be worth a tip.

C) How far did your driver have to travel to pick you up? Many times your driver will be right around the corner. Sometimes your driver may have to drive 20 minutes to reach your location. Some drivers may just reject calls from such a long distance because your fare does not include the trip to pick you up. If a driver accepts your ride request and that request takes him a good distance away from where he was, that might be something worthy of consideration for a tip.

D) How far did you ask your driver to take you? Regulations vary but drivers can reject trips of certain lengths as well. If a driver accepts a trip that could have declined because of distance, it might also be something worthy of consideration for a tip.

I likely will not have covered every possible scenario that might cause a person to leave a tip to a ride sharing driver. But I can tell you that every time you give a tip to your driver, even if it is just a couple of bucks, it will make that driver very happy and you will be telling that driver that you received awesome service .

So how can you leave a tip? Isn’t one of the benefits of ridesharing that you can be cashless? Well, Lyft makes it easy by including it in their application. However, since Uber does not provide a cashless tipping mechanism, I provide my riders with a paypal link so that they can tip me that way. Just see my tip jar on the front page.