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Anonymous Driver Explains Uber’s Frightening Safety Inspection

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A fella who drives for both Uber and Lyft reached out to me the other day. He hollered at me saying “I’ve got major major safety concerns about Uber that go beyond their background checks that I feel that people should be aware of.”

This of course piqued my interest so I had him send me over his experiences. It’s actually quite frightening when you read the difference of how Uber and Lyft onboard drivers. To quote the info below “Uber’s safety inspection is a joke”.

The following is what he sent me. Please make sure to read the whole thing:

Safety Concerns of Rideshare Driver

I signed up to be a Lyft driver in the summer of last year (2015), and then signed up to also be an Uber driver a few months later in the fall. The differences between the way the two companies onboard their drivers speaks volumes, especially when something horrible happens with an Uber driver such as what just occurred in Michigan. Here’s how it all went down.

With Lyft, after filling out some basic information on their website, I was paired with a “Lyft Mentor”. A Lyft Mentor is apparently an experienced Lyft driver who has earned the title based on factors that I’m not 100% sure of (but I’m sure you could ask Lyft directly). My mentor texted me and we set up a time and a place to meet for my mentoring session. My mentor had two phones – one was a dedicated phone provided by Lyft that he used to go through the process. I can describe the session as part interview, part car inspection, and part driving test. My mentor used the Lyft phone to take the photographs of my physical drivers license, registration, insurance, my car, and my actual head shot photo (which are photoshopped in-house at Lyft to have that nice green shrubbery background that all Lyft drivers have). My mentor also used a checklist on his Lyft phone to carefully and thoroughly check out that my car was safe. He checked every seat belt, blinkers, the treads on my tires, etc. We then went through an actual “ride” where I picked him up and drove to another location and then back again. At that point, he told me the process was that Lyft would let me know if my mentor approved me and then the background check would begin. I got an email later that day that my mentor did indeed approve me, and that the background checks would now be started and they would alert me of the results. About 10 or so days later, I got an email that I was approved and was officially a Lyft driver and could begin giving rides immediately.

Now, here’s how Uber did it. Apply online. Take your own photos of your license and documents and upload. While the background check was being run, I was instructed to head to 170 Vermont Street for my car inspection. I arrived at that address, which is under the 101 and told them I was there for an Uber inspection. The guy basically walked once around my car, and drew lines through all the “pass” boxes without actually checking anything at all! I kid you not – there was a line of cars waiting and he just passed me without checking anything.

He wrote the VIN off my windshield, and the license plate off the back (didn’t want to see any actual documents). The inspection was done by one of Uber’s shell companies, Rasier LLC. After this I was instructed to head to this little hut that they have built that contained three techies on Apple laptops that were quickly handling helping the drivers present to get their “Uber Partner” accounts set up and begin driving right away. The entire process from when I pulled in to finish was less than 5 minutes. When I was given permission to download and sign in to the Uber Partner app, it prompted me to take my own driver photo (this is important later).

I thought (hoped) that maybe this was a fluke and that Uber/Rasier wasn’t always that careless about their car safety inspections. However, this was dashed when a friend of mine took advantage of my “sign up a friend, get $600!” promotion from Uber, a few months later. She was an existing Lyft driver before and I asked her “so, what did you think about that inspection? Did they actually check anything?” and she replied “oh, it was a joke! The dude didn’t check anything. Uber doesn’t give a fuck LOL”… I’ve heard similar stories in random driver forums on Facebook and on the web. This was when I decided to let my friends know “hey, you may wanna use Lyft because Uber’s safety inspection is a joke.”

Then it started to occur to me that a huge missing element to the Uber onboarding is HUMAN INTERACTION. I wonder if the Uber driver in Michigan who just went on a shooting spree would have passed a mentoring interview like Lyft does. Who knows, but there was no one there at all to be like “hmmm, I’m getting a bad vibe from this person – denied.” Also, the Lyft dude handled my actual documents. Uber just wanted JPG uploads. Anyone with basic photoshop skills and a stolen ID could get an Uber Partner (driver) account pretty easily. Uber would communicate to the email address given. There’s nothing official at all about it (including holding something in your hand like Lyft did – it’s far easier to photoshop a phony ID than create a physical one). Any way, Uber’s MO is “if you look good on paper, you’re on the road. Period.” – add that in with their joke of a safety inspection and you have an environment ripe for problems. I don’t know how it goes in other cities, but both of these companies are based in SF and this is how they operate on their own home turf.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.