The popular ride-sharing service “Lyft” is at the center of a federal lawsuit—accused of ripping off its drivers.
Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Ross put the company’s honesty and integrity to the test to see whether it’s being upfront about how it pays employees.
News 5 Investigates took 5 Lyft rides and on every ride, there was a difference in the fare Lyft charged us and what the company told the driver we paid. This price discrepancy happened before Lyft took out its standard service fees.
James Campbell has been driving for Lyft for about 6 months.
“You are your own boss,” he said. “You don’t have to answer to anybody.”
Campbell retired from the oil industry and drives part-time to stay make a little extra money.
“I like to make at least $50 a day,” he said.
With Campbell’s permission, News 5 hit the streets to find out whether the billion dollar company is taking advantage of employees.
On our first ride, we had Campbell take us from our studio in Colorado Springs to the Starbucks in The Promenade Shoppes at Briargate—about 5 miles away.
At the end of our ride, we compared the fare.
On our phone, we paid $10.81 for the ride. However, it showed Campbell we paid $8.94 for our ride and then Lyft took out $2.24 in service fees to give him a total of $6.70.
“So we’re missing about a dollar and something somewhere,” Campbell said.
It’s actually $1.87 fare difference Lyft didn’t tell the driver about. That’s in addition to the $2.24 service fee Lyft took out, bringing the total fees to $4.11.
On our second ride, we had Campbell drive from the Briargate Starbucks to the Kum and Go gas station on N. Chestnut which is a little more than 7.5 miles away.
On this ride, Lyft charged us $13.43. On Campbell’s phone, Lyft showed him we paid $10.57—-a $2.87 difference. That’s before Lyft deducted it’s “service fee” of $2.64, bringing the total fees to $5.50.
“It all adds up,” Campbell said. “Did I get stiffed or does Lyft have an account somewhere that the dollar (discrepancy) is paying for like a lawsuit?”
Lyft is currently fighting a federal lawsuit which claims the company is deceiving drivers and underpaying them, while lining the company’s pocketbook.
In all of our rides, we noticed at least a $1.50 discrepancy between what Lyft charged us for the our fare, and what Lyft told the drivers we paid.
“Lyft is making plenty of money,” Campbell said.
Of course, Campbell would like to see the pay scale be more transparent.
“They don’t explain crap,” he said.
Campbell would also like to see more of the money go back to the drivers since they also have to factor in the cost of gas.
“We take what we make and we make the best of it,” he said.
Lyft declined to comment on pending litigation but did send us the following statement:
Drivers are integral to Lyft, and we are constantly working to help them achieve their goals. That’s why Lyft has offered in-app tipping since our earliest days and was the first to introduce key features like same-day payments and low-cost car rentals. Recently, we outlined median driver earnings in this blog post here. It’s important to note that passenger pricing and driver pay are based on different factors, explained in Lyft’s Terms of Service. Passengers who input a destination when requesting a ride pay based on the estimated time and distance of the trip, which is quoted to them at the time of booking. This allows passengers to see upfront how much their ride will cost. Drivers are paid based on the actual time and distance of the trip, calculated once it is completed. This helps ensure that if a driver encounters a variable that makes the ride longer, such as traffic, they are not underpaid because the estimate given to the passenger was lower than the actual cost of the ride. Lyft does charge a service fee on each ride, which helps power the Lyft platform and related services. More about the fee can be found here.