How I lost $4500 in a Lyft ride

At 1/19/2020 6:57 PM, when I was dropped off from a Lyft ride at a Las Vegas hotel, I forgot to take my sling bag from the trunk, which has a camera, a lens, and a few other stuff inside. Total value is >$4,500.

I realized it 10 minutes later, and immediately attempted to contact the driver. Because Lyft only shares disguised phone number of driver that is good for only one use, I have to contact the driver through Lyft. I was allowed to use another (disguised) phone number to call the driver once, and he didn’t pick up the call. I then was no longer allowed to call the driver any more.

Then I was in touch with Lyft customer service, who claimed to be attempting to contact the driver. At 7:50PM, or about an hour later, Lyft customer service said that the driver got back to them and claimed not being able to find the bag. During the whole conversation, I was asked to give the driver my real phone number, but he never contacted me directly.

I’m pretty sure that my bag was in the trunk. And the time between I being dropped off and that I heard from the driver was just under one hour. So there’s strong reason to suspect that the driver may have taken the bag. It is also possible that another passenger after me took it, but to me it is not very likely, because the passengers wouldn’t know if the bag is the driver’s or not.

When I was planning to contact the police department, I then realized that Lyft doesn’t show the license plate numbers of past rides. I then asked Lyft customer service about this, but they still refused to share this information. Here’s their original words:

Hi Meng, without Blaine’s permission, we’re unable to share any info relating to their records including their license plate number.

This is pretty shocking to me, because license plate numbers are public information, visible before and during the ride, visible to everyone behind the car, and remain the same all the time unlike the drivers’ phone numbers which are always disguised.

I told Lyft that I planned to contact the police department and asked them for cooperation. Here’s what I got:

Due to Lyft’s privacy policy, at this time, the only info you can provide your police department is the information available on your ride receipt.

Should you [sic] police department reach out to us […] we would require a valid subpoena to release any user info.

And this is the receipt I got:

Lyft receipt hardly shows any useful information to identify the driver, who is suspected to have stolen my belongings

As you can see, there’s hardly anything that can identify the driver. No license plate number, no vehicle make and model, no vehicle color. I remember it was a blue sedan, but couldn’t remember the make and model. The Lyft app doesn’t show any additional info, either.

I then wanted to give a 1-star review to the driver, but realized that I could no longer do so because it was too late. It was just 3 or 4 hours after the ride.

To me, Lyft inordinately protects drivers’ interest at the cost of passengers’ rights. It’s almost as if Lyft wants to deliberately show off this to drivers.

I was wondering if this is the normality of ride-sharing platforms, so I went to check my past Uber trips, and found that it shows much more information than Lyft:

  1. It shows the car make and model.
  2. It shows the license plate number.
  3. It allows me to change the driver’s rating even after four years later.
  4. It shows some background information about the driver.

I usually don’t like Uber a lot. It had problems on Seattle airport routing and Uber didn’t reply my message on Facebook. It once forced customers to enable background location tracking until iOS 11 enforced “While Using the App” being an option. However, they do show much more care about customers than Lyft does. I stopped using Uber and exclusively use Lyft a few years ago, but this incident makes me think if I should do the reverse.

If you must use Lyft, my suggestion is to always save a screenshot before the ride, so you can give yourself a little bit more protection than Lyft is ever willing to do. Furthermore, if you plan to leave a review, do it quick as you’ll be no longer able to do so just after a few hours.

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