Last week, I was in Maryland for work and used Uber and Lyft to get to the airport and around town. I normally don’t have an issue with either app. Both are convenient to use and I’ve only had one incident where the driver took a ridiculous detour to increase the fare. So it kind of surprised me when two drivers (that I’m aware of) in Maryland took pretty significant detours when I wasn’t paying attention. It made me realize you really do need to pull up the map on your phone and make sure the driver is going the right way. I rarely do this because drivers normally use an app to navigate. But on two occasions (both with Lyft drivers), they stopped using the GPS when I wasn’t paying attention and drove off-route.
The first time it happened, the address on Google Maps was wrong. So I used my iPhone map and told the driver the correct address, which was a mile away. Instead of continuing down the main street, he drove off into a residential area. After about five minutes of this, I checked the map and found out he was going in the opposite direction. I pointed this out to him and he said, “East West Highway is this way.” “No, it’s not. You’re driving way north. It’s east”. So I turned on my GPS and basically made him drive in the right direction. I arrived at my destination a few minutes late, but it wasn’t a big deal.
The next morning, I used Lyft to get a ride to DCA. I know, DCA has direct Metro access and it’s cheap and easy. But I had an early flight and figured this way I could get an extra hour of sleep. The driver asked if I was in a hurry “because traffic is pretty bad right now”. I told him maps showed it was about an hour drive, so we were ok on time. I dozed off pretty much right away. Then I woke up and we were in traffic, but not on the highway. So I checked maps to see how far away we were…10 miles north of the route. I mapped our location from the pick-up point and he had taken a bizarre detour up north.
Noticing I was awake, the driver seemed a little thrown off and said, “there’s a lot of traffic right now”. “Yeah, there seems to be” I said flatly while looking straight at him in the rearview mirror. He made a swift U-turn, going back on the correct route towards the airport. The fare was cheap – something like $35, which isn’t bad for an hour long drive. But I reported this to Lyft because it’s just not ok. What if he does that to someone and they end up missing their flight? Or being late to a meeting? I guess they wouldn’t be, because he might ask them (like he did with me) what time they have to be at their destination. But it’s annoying and just shouldn’t happen.
Lyft agreed that the driver had gone off-route and refunded me around $6. The thing that bugs me is that I would have left him a bigger tip than what he tried to get by padding the fare. His dishonesty and lack of respect for my time annoyed me more than anything else. After that, I realized that going forward, I need to track my Lyft and Uber rides to ensure drivers are headed where they’re supposed to be. As a solo female traveler, I wasn’t particularly concerned about my safety (which other people pointed out to me), but that is of course something to consider and even more reason to be aware of the route your driver is taking.
Have you ever had an Uber or Lyft driver go off-route in order to increase the fare? What did you do?