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Consumer Diary: Lyft Problem at Bradley

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Consumer columnist and West Hartford resident Harlan Levy has more than 20 years of experience writing stories about everyday experiences that anyone could encounter.

Harlan Levy. Courtesy photo

By Harlan Levy

Last Thursday we had an extremely irritating consumer experience that anyone arriving at Bradley International Airport late at night can unfortunately expect.

We arrived from our Miami vacation at 10:40 p.m. and, after collecting our checked luggage, my wife ordered a Lyft shortly after 11 p.m. The app gave us a choice of a “Priority” ride that would arrive in 4 minutes for about $33 or one that would come in 15 minutes for $27 and change. We opted to save some money by waiting.

“And boy did we end up waiting … and waiting,” my wife recounted. “After waiting 15 minutes, Lyft still had not located a driver for us. Finally it found one … but said that the driver would now arrive in 15 minutes more. We had already waited long enough. I canceled that ride at 11:30 and opted for the Priority ride instead.”

Once again, however, Lyft was unable to locate a driver. After about 10 minutes, we were told that a car would not arrive for 17 minutes more!

The driver who finally came, Carlos, was very pleasant. But he picked us up at 12:03 a.m., and we got home after 12:30 a.m. It took us nearly an hour in total to get that Lyft.

This is not the kind of service we expect or normally get from Lyft. “I am exhausted from the experience,” my wife recalled, “and will hesitate to depend on Lyft in the future.”

She decided to let Lyft know what happened. She described the chain of events. Lyft responded with a $5.82 refund on her app for the difference between a Priority pickup and a regular ride.

“But I still feel disappointed,” she responded. “Is there anything more you can do?”

Christine Jane from Lyft wrote back: “Thanks for reaching back to Lyft! First and foremost, I hope you’re doping great today! [NOTE: We definitely didn’t do any doping that day.] We got your report about a long pick-up during your ride. Thank you for taking the time to let us know what happened during your ride with your driver, Carlos. Getting a Lyft should be effortless, and I’m sorry to hear this was not the case. We assure you we are always working to improve the ease and efficiency of pickups, so you get where you need to go.You can use Lyft’s rating system to automatically unpair with anyone you rate 3 stars or less. This will help us continue to identify users who aren’t a good fit for our community. We have documented your report about this matter and we will be conducting an investigation to ensure that all riders get picked up on time. As much as I loved to refund you however we are unable to refund on this ride. The app automatically added a $5.82 credit to your account. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions or concerns.”

My wife responded, “I just want to clarify one more time that my problem was not with our driver Carlos at all. He was a good driver and helped us with our luggage. My issue was with Lyft itself. When you offer a choice of either getting a Priority pickup very soon or saving a few dollars by waiting 15 minutes, your customers should not be told after the initial 15 minutes that they need to wait 15 minutes more to be picked up. (Had I known that from the start I would have chosen priority pickup right away.) And when customers choose to pay extra for Priority pickup, they should not have to wait 20 minutes for their ride anyway. This is not a way to do business. You could have made me a satisfied customer by offering an extra $5 credit right off the bat. Now I am no longer a fan.”

I contacted Lyft for a response but didn’t get any as of press time.

NOTE: Regardless, we will still use Lyft and Uber. They’re the best way to get to and from Bradley and avoid spending too much for parking on long trips. And we gave Carlos a top rating.

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