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.
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?