UPDATE: Lyft Bonus Saga

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It looks like the Lyft bonus promotion has turned into a major wreck, leaving drivers (and potential drivers) ensnarled in the pileup.

For those playing catch up, here’s the short version:

1. Last Thursday, Lyft offered an amazing driver sign up offer – $1,000 for new drivers who are approved and drive ONE ride in select cities by Thursday, March 5.  Modified versions of the offer also exist ($500 in New York City as well as a $2,000 referral split for existing drivers referring a new driver with $1,000 to each driver).

2. The offer went viral.  Existing drivers posted their referral code on rideshare message groups and on social media while bloggers also reposted the offer.

3. On Friday, Lyft quickly realizes that the influx of new driver applicants is much higher than projected and amends the original offer, grandfathering the first wave of applicants under the one ride requirement but requiring any applicant from that point forward to instead complete 30 rides by Sunday, March 8.

4. After a weekend where many potential drivers completed their mentor ride, many began to question how long the process would take (especially after existing drivers reported previously quick approvals).

5. Lyft gets out in front of the discussion by reporting a backlog in getting background checks processed.  With less than 48 hours to go, they admit that some drivers may not be approved in time to get the bonus.

6. Referring drivers and new applicants work themselves into a frenzy on social media.  Someone contacts an law firm about a possible class action case.  Drivers discover they can call Sterling (the background check agency) to find out if their check has been completed and when.  Some drivers discover their check has been ready for up to five days.  (That number, by the way, is 888.869.5248)

7. Drivers mull options with mere hours left for the first promotion period.  The Reward Boss collects names of applicants interested in group action.

And as of 3 pm today, that’s where it stands.

Meanwhile, I applied last Thursday evening, had my background check completed yesterday, and still have this….


My theory – Lyft will approve pending drivers after today’s one ride deadline has passed and graciously extend the offer to still qualify with 30 rides by Sunday.  Thirty rides seems awfully high though without gaming the system, especially with a flood of new drivers.  Lyft however seems to have opened the door to this by pulling a bait and switch act with their applicants.

It leaves a bad enough taste in this driver’s mouth that perhaps UberX and their minimum wage earnings are sweet by comparison!

Did you apply?  What is your status and do you hold out hope that the one ride promotion will be extended?


About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last nineteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 48.5 US states. Once an "every week" road warrior, she now only travels around 100 days a year. She resides in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and playing with her Border Collie/Great Pyreness mix puppy Harley Quinn.

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  1. i was able to signup on Friday.
    had my welcome ride on sunday and was approved to drive this morning! i already made my first ride!

  2. Signed up on Thursday in SF. Had my application accepted at 9:03 AM PST on Thursday morning. Completed my mentor ride on Saturday. Background check still incomplete and not approved to drive. It’s now Thursday, 5 March. You can guarantee I’m joining a CAL. This is ridiculous. And as Jeff pointed out, Lyft now has my SSN, DL#, insurance information, etc. Very, very poor showing and I truly hope the company suffers from their incredibly poor planning and follow through.

  3. I find it hilarious that their response to the outcry was to extend the date one could complete their first ride by ONLY to those who’s background check was completed by March 5th, as though completing 1 ride is somehow difficult. What a completely lame response. Pretty easy to hold off on letting the applicants know that they’re approved to drive until just after the 5th. One of my referrals had her mentorship ride on Friday afternoon at 1 PM and still has heard nothing. When I signed up a few weeks ago it took no longer than 2 and 1/2 days from the moment I applied until I was approved and driving people around (and I have lived in many different counties and states in my adult life!)
    I am so hugely disappointed in this company right now. And I was a true believer. I was excited about Lyft. In my first two weeks I gave over 100 rides. And now this.
    I’m having a difficult time imagining ever turning on that app again.
    *QUESTION – Is it true that people called the company Sterling and found that they had been approved and were not notified by Lyft? Really?

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