Lyft Driver Referral Debacle – Is It Fixed?

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There is another episode in the soap opera that has developed around the Lyft driver referral promotion this past week.  Last night I was still awake and refreshing my Lyft driver app while exchanging messages with other drivers in the same position as me – one of waiting to see if driver approvals would come through before midnight for the $1,000 bonus.

For drivers like me – who registered almost immediately when the promotion was announced, quickly completed our mentor ride, and know from independent sleuthing that our background checks are in – there was still a glimmer of hope as the night closed in.  I was hopeful in the mid-evening when I logged onto Lyft’s website and was able to select my driver schedule for the week – but then when I switched over to the app, I received the same message as I had previously:


Then at 10:45 pm I received this:

Hi Jennifer, Lyft learned a lesson this week, and we’re sorry for the frustration it caused you. We vastly underestimated the volume of applications we would receive for our $1,000 sign-on promotion, which was created to help us keep up with record-breaking passenger demand. We owe it to the driver community and our passengers to make sure our approval process is rigorous and complete. All elements of our safety process are imperative and can take time – that means some applications haven’t been approved yet even though the applicant’s DMV and background checks are in. We know this can be frustrating. Based on ideas from our community, here are the actions we’re taking:
  • Extension of deadline to March 12 for those who applied for this promotion and pass their DMV and background check by March 5. We’re still completing our internal review of many applications, but if your DMV and background checks pass by end of day today (March 5), we’re providing an extension until March 12 to meet your ride requirement.


  • We, at Lyft, will not benefit from an application if an applicant does not qualify for the promotion and does not want to continue through the application process. By default, we won’t use any information from the applications of drivers who don’t qualify for the promotion, unless they would like us to continue with the application.
You’ll receive an email from us tomorrow evening with your eligibility for the extension outlined above. If you are not eligible, you will have the choice of whether or not to continue with your application.It’s the responsibility of our team to make sure whenever we develop big ideas, we continue to keep the best interests of drivers top of mind. That’s the company we always strive to be.

We still have some work to do to get there – and it’s work we want to do together with you. Thanks to those of you who gave us productive feedback on how to improve, and for holding us to a higher standard.

John Zimmer

Lyft Co-Founder

On one hand, it was impressive to see the forward communication on the debacle.

On the other, this screams “crisis communication” and no doubt Lyft has had to call in the big guns (PR, legal, finance) to figure out how to fix this misstep in either marketing or operational planning.

Still, the Lyft driver referral bonus promotion rolls into day 9 as many wait anxiously.

I’m hopeful that today will bring positive news from Lyft and that they will work through the backlog to get the new drivers approved so I can bring you a report on driving for Lyft like I did for UberX!


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. in theory you should be in the pool of those eligible for the extension. since you were able to select your driver schedule (and merely could not go into drive mode in the app), it would be fair to say that your background checks cleared – which appears to be the only requirement by 11 59pm 3/5/15.

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