BY CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT
Lyft charges Peter Leung $80 for spilling a drink in one of its cars. But he says he didn’t drink anything. Does he still have to pay?
Q: Lyft charged me an $80 damage fee for spilling a drink in one of its cars. However, my friend and I certainly did not bring any drink — not even water — on the ride. We are not responsible for the spill.
The driver has sent me photos that show liquid on a floor mat. But I’ve asked Lyft multiple times to provide evidence of when it took the picture. Lyft has ignored my request.
I don’t know how to appeal this to Lyft. The company keeps giving me the same reply and will not share the driver’s damage report. Can you help me?
— Peter Leung, Etobicoke, Canada
A: Lyft needs to send you the evidence that you spilled a drink in one of its cars. If it can’t, it shouldn’t charge you for the damage.
But that’s not how Lyft works. Its drivers can report damage to their cars and receive $20 to $150 in compensation. Drivers must submit a written report noting where the damage occurred, including the time and date. And they have to include two clear photos of the damage. Unlike Uber, however, drivers do not need to show a receipt for the cleaning.
But here’s the problem with your damage claim: First, the photos did not have any metadata attached to them, which would have shown when they were taken. And second, Lyft did not give you access to the driver’s incident report, which would have helped you argue your case.
The only option you had was to deny the report was true. Lyft responded to your denials by saying it had conducted an investigation and found that you were responsible. But that didn’t make any sense. Had it investigated the matter, it would have asked you more questions and gathered more information. Instead, it just reiterated its position.
You could have refused to pay Lyft’s charges, but then Lyft would have blocked you from using its app again. You needed to fight this charge and win. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Lyft executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. Also, check out my free ridesharing guide, which shows you how to avoid these pesky Lyft charges.
If you’re using a rideshare, especially Lyft, you might want to take “before” and “after” pictures of the back seat of the car. If your driver files a claim, you can show photos of the vehicle to dispute the charges.
I contacted Lyft on your behalf. A representative responded quickly. “The best way to handle these issues is to contact customer care by submitting a help request through the app or via Lyft Help and go through the process,” she told me.
But you had already done that, and you appeared to be stuck in a loop of denials. Lyft needed to look at your case again and decide who was telling the truth. I asked Lyft to review your complaint one more time. It fully refunded your $80.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him on his site.