After drivers revolt, Lyft apologizes and extends $1000 promo

After incurring the wrath of its driver community, Lyft has changed how it’s handling the promised $1,000 bonuses to new drivers. Since the company failed to process some applications in time, it’s extending the paperwork processing deadline until March 13th so people aren’t shut out from their reward.

In case you missed the controversy, here’s what happened. In Lyft’s ongoing war with Uber over driver supply, it offered people a big check if they signed up to drive and did one ride by March 5th. As you’d expect, the company was overwhelmed with applicants. It told drivers that even if they had applied by the deadline, they wouldn’t receive their bonuses if their background checks weren’t processed in time to give a ride.

That wasn’t in drivers’ control, and people rose up in anger. They felt swindled by Lyft, as though the company had hoodwinked them into applying without ever intending to grant all the bonuses. 376 drivers signed a Change.org petition asking Lyft to reverse the decision. A reddit thread claims that a law firm is considering representing a class action suit against Lyft regarding the matter. I’ve reached out to the firm to fact check and will update this if I hear back.

Frankly, I was surprised when Lyft drivers told me about the promo bait-and-switch. Lyft has always been the driver-friendly entity of the two ridesharing behemoths, and people who choose Lyft over Uber say it’s because they’ve had better interactions with the company. This conflict threatened to hurt that brand.

Lyft heard the criticism loud and clear, and co-founder John Zimmer issued a public apology when he extended the promotion deadline. “Lyft learned a lesson this week, and we’re sorry for the frustration it caused the community,” Zimmer said. “Thanks to those who gave us productive feedback on how to improve, and for holding us to a higher standard.”