Lyft has disabled a Seattle-area driver’s access to its app in response to accusations he was demanding cash payment from a passenger.
KING 5 contacted Lyft after the consumer team received a call for help from a concerned rider.
The rider told KING 5 she had ordered a Lyft ride for herself and her six-year-old shortly after 8 p.m. on a Thursday.
The two were returning home in North Seattle from a family gathering in Renton.
Shortly after the driver picked her up, Erica Job said he began demanding cash for the ride, saying his system was down.
"Being that I'm a woman and I've got my son with me, my little one, I'm just trying to think ahead of, 'How do I get out of the situation when I get to where I am going? And, how do I make sure I'm safe?" Job said.
Job said she agreed to pay the cash, hoping the driver would just take her home.
She said he did drop her off at her residence, after taking a round-about way home and charging her for a longer ride.
Once she arrived at her apartment, Job said she grabbed her son and hopped out of the car, refusing to hand over the cash she had promised.
Job immediately contacted Lyft to complain.
After not receiving a response, she called KING 5, and Lyft promptly responded saying they had disabled the driver’s account.
In a subsequent email to the rider, Lyft apologized for its delayed response and blamed an unusually high volume of recent service tickets for the delay.
As a warning to other riders, a spokesperson emphasized, “There is never an instance where cash should change hands.”
Lyft’s statement is in its entirety below:
“The safety of our community is our top priority. Since day one, we have worked hard to design policies and features that protect both drivers and passengers. One of those is that the Lyft app is designed to avoid cash exchanges altogether. Every Lyft ride is cashless with fares automatically charged to the passenger's payment information on file - there is never an instance where cash should change hands. It is a violation of our Terms of Service for a driver to request cash in exchange for a ride, and we always take reports of this nature very seriously.”
Uber is also using the incident as an opportunity to educate its riders.
"Cash is not an accepted form of payment for Uber in Seattle," said an Uber spokesperson in a statement.
Lyft declined to reveal how many complaints they had received about the driver in question.
A spokesperson added that drivers on Lyft’s platform undergo extensive screenings including a background check and driving record checks.
"This is just a good thing to know because there are all kinds of scams that exist out there and this is just another one of them," Job said.
Seattle Police said riders in this woman’s situation should not hesitate to call 911 should they ever feel unsafe.
When using any vehicle for hire service, a police spokesperson suggested riding with at least one other person, comparing the driver to the picture provided on the app platform, and sharing trip information with someone else.