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Is This How To Handle A Lost Cell Phone?

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Kurt Halfyard, Nov 4, 2018.

By Kurt Halfyard on Nov 4, 2018 at 2:23 PM
  1. Kurt Halfyard

    Kurt Halfyard Moderator Author

    This article is intended for discussion on the minutiae of a situation that is bound to happen (often) to any regular Uber/Lyft Driver. While it happened in Toronto, Canada, it's a pretty universal experience in any market, and this particular instance has been elaborated in full detail to foster discussion.


    Last night I got a ping that took me to Milton (A small bedroom community just outside of Toronto) at ~1 am. This is not the best place to get dragged to on a Saturday Night, but the PAX was one of my regulars (I have picked her up from her house on 3 or 4 occasions in the past) so off we went.

    While plugging my car into the Tim Hortons free EV charger and and taking a bathroom break and enjoying a hot tea, I was surprised to get a ping in the neighborhood so quickly. Off I went to a cluster of low-rise apartments a few minutes away.

    A young woman, L-----, hops in my car, both ready and waiting at the front entrance with a spring in her step (this is good). Immediately, after confirming her name and destination, I see that I was mistaken, and she was actually quite drunk (less good). After asking if she is OK, or if she wants a bag, just in case highway driving might make her queasy, or the window open a crack, she assures me that she is not sick, just tired, and is going to take a nap as we drive all the way to Etobicoke (A Toronto Suburb two towns over from Milton) on the 401 freeway (35km away). She is out in 2 minutes, leaning on the window.

    She wakes up a few minutes before we arrive at her condo apartment, and gives me instructions on which entrance to drop her off. She appears to have sobered up a fair bit. She thanks me and walks into the front lobby.

    I usually do a quick scan of the back-seat, but this time I was making sure she didn't fall down or hurt herself, and in this case, I did not check until after she had made it into the building.

    I see she accidentally left her iPhone in the back seat of my vehicle.

    I grab the phone, throw on the 4-way flashers, and run to the front entrance in the hopes of catching her before she gets into the elevator. There is a group of ladies waiting for another Uber. I ask them if the building has a concierge. It does not. I ask them if they saw the girl that came in, or know her. They do not know her, or which apartment she lives in. I am out of options. But I do wait in my car at the entrance of the building, and hope she will discover she is absent her phone, and come down for a look.

    After 7-8 minutes and no sign of L-----, I get another ping, so off I go. After dropping the next PAX off (4km SHARED ride, no match, $4.92...) I call LYFT and ask them what to do about lost phone, as normally PAX would get notification of lost item ON THEIR PHONE via the APP.

    I ask if LYFT has an email address or LAND-line they can inform the young woman that she lost her device in my car, and I offer to 'open up' my contact information so that she can call/text me directly going forward.

    At 3am (actually 2am with daylight savings time change, but still far after my bed time), I get a call from, L-----. I am currently chilling with a beer in my living room reading my book while winding down my evening. She asks me if I can drive her phone back to Etobicoke, ~26km from my house.

    I tell her this is at least a 25 minute drive for me (each way...) and I am done for the night. Sorry. I tell her I will text her friend's phone with various options the following day.


    Her friend texts me back the next morning saying they are fine with Option #2. But could they drop it at a house near Woodbine? (This is a community just north of the Airport, and about 5 additional kilometers from the original Condo/Apartment Etobicoke drop off the previous night.)


    As I am driving to Woodbine, I get a call from L------ saying she doesn't have any cash, and do I take debit? (Seriously. As if, what, I'm retail? But I digress...)

    I tell her, that she can leave a $40 tip in the App, and I will happily do this for her if she does not know how to do so, if she will unlock her phone before I hand it back.

    She agrees.

    Now I am thinking: How will this play out? If she tries to grab the phone, or comes out with a few friends, what is the protocol here? If there is any funny business or conflict, I plan on asking her to give me her unlock-code through the car window, and she can change her unlock code afterwards. I'm not going to hand her her phone back and trust that she will honour our agreement, but I am also not driving to her at my convenience for 'nothing.' She was not able (for obvious reasons, not having her phone) to enter 'LOST ITEM' into the APP, because she left her phone, so there is not even a guarantee that LYFT will give me the $15 RETURN ITEM FEE.

    It all quickly becomes moot. As I drive up the house (not another Condo/Apartment in this case) near Woodbine. She comes out by herself. She unlocks her phone while it is in my hand.

    I go into the App and put in a 5* rating, a $40 tip, and an explanation in the comment sections that she is willing to pay $40 tip and the $15 found item fee. She agrees to this when I show her. I hit OK.

    I tell her the most important thing is that she got home safely on the previous night. I drive off, and carry on with my personal day of shopping, cooking, and generally doing things NOT related to ride-share, as per my regular Sunday. (Although I do log the 50+km of driving there and back in my ride-share mileage logbook) under return-item delivery. (This is for Canadian/Ontario tax purposes down the road).


    Now, when I was putting in the tip in the app, I did make the oversight of not keying in LOST ITEM in the LYFT app on her phone. I call LYFT customer service, and tell them that this was agreed to, and put into the APP, (And that they already had a record on file from the previous night). They quickly bonus me out the $15. I ask them to send me an email .

    $15 appears in my 'LYFT bonus dumping zone' in about 20 minutes. (No follow up email though...Alas, I like to keep good electronic records of all my customer service interactions.)

    So, no craziness, and perhaps a bit anti-climactic, I did receive CAN$55 additional compensation for my troubles. Pax was delivered comfortably and safely when she was intoxicated, and traveling solo (i.e. the main purpose of RIDE-SHARE late at night).

    Pax was also pro-actively communicated via LYFT Customer Service (via me calling them and explaining situation) that her phone was not LOST, but rather LEFT in my car. The item was then returned at the location of L-----'s choosing within 24 hours.

    What did I do WRONG?
    What did I do RIGHT?

    Comments welcome.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
    MoreTips and Mista T like this.
Chemist. Father. Zardoz Fan.
In a former life, I was moonlighting as a Film Critic, writing about world-cinema and genre for various online media, including Rowthree.com and ScreenAnarchy (Formerly TwitchFilm). I still do a few international Film Festivals per year, and run a Poster/Design column as well as contributing interviews and reviews to various sites (TheShelf, InTheSeats, SpectacularOptical, ScreenAnarchy.)

Favorite Films (people always ask; here ordered by release date): The General (1926); M (1933); The Maltese Falcon (1941); Singing In The Rain (1952); High & Low (1963); Seconds (1966); 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); F For Fake (1973); The Conversation (1975); Alien (1979); Blade Runner (1982); Big Trouble In Little China (1985); The 'Burbs (1989); Out Of Sight (1998); Eyes Wide Shut (1999); Catch Me If You Can (2002); Master & Commander (2003); There Will Be Blood (2007); The Counselor (2013); The Neon Demon (2016)

Currently, and for the last 20 years, I've been working as a materials chemist for Xerox, with my name on 26 US Patents for various consumables and technologies: Inks, toners, elastomers, printed electronics.

Drives Lyft part time.


Discussion in 'Articles' started by Kurt Halfyard, Nov 4, 2018.

    1. Kurt Halfyard
      Kurt Halfyard
    2. DexNex
      If she reports that you demanded the $40 payment, you will be deactivated. You cannot demand payment from a pax.
    3. Kurt Halfyard
      Kurt Halfyard
      There is some nuance here. I gave her a variety of vary reasonable options, she chose the one that happened to have a cost attached to it. And, she got immediate service (the equivalent of an X-Ride from my place to hers) of me personally driving her phone to the address of her choice, 25+km away.

      I would have been just as happy to drop it off at a police station, or have her come to me and pick it up at a neutral location near me. I gave her all of those choices. There was no ransom here, just choice.
      Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
    4. Jackryanyes
      I drop them in 1st mailbox I find. Have been burned more than once.
    5. Poorfreddie
      Pax agreed to option #2

      What you did wrong was not adhere to option #2
      No cash no phone. That needed to be made very clear before delivery.

      Driver did not demand. Pax agreed to.
      Kurt Halfyard likes this.
    6. Mista T
      Mista T
      Glad it all went okay, sounds like a best case scenario.

      Personally I would have not allowed Lyft to give out my phone #, who knows when she will call her "new favorite driver" in the future.

      Second, I would have powered off her phone, at a location that is NOT your home. If one of her friends convince her to come take the phone by force, or call the police and assume it is stolen, then the last signal before it powers off is where they will go hunting. Numerous stories of this kind, things dont end well.

      But i am glad it turned out okay (and profitable) for you!
    7. Kurt Halfyard
      Kurt Halfyard
      Perhaps it is the Canadian Goodnatured/Trust at play, or the faith that FIND-MY-PHONE is always somewhat inaccurate in geolocating, but I did leave her phone on in this case (I even charged it back up to 100% for her). Next time, I will take your advice and power the phone off.
    8. Homie G
      Homie G
      I just give them to 50 and split. Give them something to do, not me.
    9. touberornottouber
      Unless I can find them easily I will usually take a photo of it, then race over to the nearest police station and drop it off there, get a report number and give this to the company. Then it is out of my hands completely and I do not have to worry about crazed customers banging on my door at 3am or calling the police and claiming I "stole their phone".
      Kurt Halfyard likes this.
    10. uberpaxi
      This is called extortion, do the Right thing and drop it at a police station and be done with it. I wouldnt even care about the $15. I had a driver intentionally withhold my second phone that fell out of my pocket. I immediately called it within ten seconds she had just left the parking lot. She answers and says has another ride and shell do that and “be right back”. Had i known about the 15$ i would have refused to allow that . The whole purpose of her leaving was to legitimize the need for the fee. I could see her answering my phone from the door. 3hours go by she drops off the phone and has me charged the $15 fee. WTF? All of this crap after I gave her a $5 tip on $8 trip. If it had been 2hours then i called or she was 5miles up the road I get it, i would have happily paid the $15, the fact that this driver exploited the situation(driver had over 1400 rides) to screw me after giving her a big cash tip is mind blowing! Do the right thing, its not hard. Give people their stuff back and follow the rules dont exploit people for rewards for doing the right thing.
      Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
      METRO3 likes this.
    11. iptaylm
      You turned on your hazards.
      wicked likes this.
    12. Who is John Galt?
      Who is John Galt?

      Well, you don't actually demand money from the pax, you enter into a mutually beneficial arrangement where his or her belongings are returned in exchange for fair and just compensation, and the outcome depends of course, on your skills of negotiation.

      You need to realise at the outset, that the other party is in error in leaving their belongings in your car and if they want them returned it is only just that they pay for your time and effort.

      I have developed this to a fine art. Here is an example and there are many, many others. If you haven't refined a procedure and a script for these situations you are wasting good opportunities.
      Mista T likes this.
    13. DexNex
      Your assertion, that the other party is in error having left property, is in itself an error. In many localities the driver is responsible for checking the vehicle for lost property at the conclusion of each trip.
    14. Who is John Galt?
      Who is John Galt?

      That is just silly. Are you seriously suggesting that the rider is not responsible for looking after his own possessions?

      iDriveuThrive likes this.
    15. Mista T
      Mista T

      "Teacher, I left my homework in an Uber. It's not my fault, the driver forgot to check for me!"

      "Mr drug lord, I left the coke in an Uber on accident, but it's the drivers fault, she didn't check! Please don't kill me, it's not my fault!"

      "Honey I can't believe the driver didn't check the floor under where I was sitting, now Uber wants to charge me $15 to get my wedding ring back. I only took it off for a second to put on some hand lotion, this is so unfair! What a horrible driver!"
      Who is John Galt? likes this.
    16. DexNex
      I am not suggesting it, of course they are responsible for their possesions . I am also telling you what is the regulation in many municipalities. You, as the driver, may have a regulated responsibility as follows.

      From the City of Seattle:

      • You must check after each trip for items left behind by passengers and report and return such items to the company or association's lost-and-found.

    17. Cou-ber
      Here’s what you did wrong:
      1. Did not remove SIM and list on eBay
      2. Did not take a shit ton of inappropriate selfies before turning it over
      3. Did not charge $50
      4. Did not require cash
      5. Did not use Venmo
      6. Did Uber
      iDriveuThrive likes this.
    18. Thepeoplewearent
      Lol. You think your time is worth that much out of my pocket without compensation?
    19. uberpaxi
      60seconds is all it would have taken for her to return it. she knew she had the phone she answered it within 30seconds and could have returned it. I left her a 80% tip, how you can think she is owed more for what could have been a 60second turn around???

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