Two years ago, I rented my first AirBNB. It changed the way I book lodging. Depending on availability, I now prefer room shares over hotels.
Last week, I rented my first Lyft, the whimsical car sharing company. It didn’t go so well, but not for reasons you might expect.
In preparation for a business trip, I downloaded the Lyft app. It’s a delightful experience. First, you grant the app access to your location, enter your name and phone, and voila! You’re on their live radar. You can see available rides moving on the map and an estimated pickup time is displayed in minutes. Cool.
I hit the “Request a Lyft” button and the next page said “Courtland” could be at my house within 9 minutes. That’s when things took a turn for the worse—for Courtland, not me.
Although I was born on both sides of the Generation X and Millennial divide, depending on who sets the birth year scale, I’m really a GenXer. I like to confirm my online orders. So I closed the Lyft app and took a phone call. But Lyft automatically assumes you want a driver dispatched and did just that.
In hindsight, this makes more sense and reduces the steps it takes to snag a ride. But for me it was a jolt when the driver parked in front of my house, texted me, then phoned me when I didn’t approach the car. “Sorry, I no longer need a ride and didn’t know you were dispatched,” I apologized. He remained parked in front of my house for 15 minutes, either fuming or waiting for his next Lyft.
In any case, I definitely plan on completing a Lyft purchase soon. It was noticeably easier, faster, and with fewer registration hoops than Uber’s competing app. In addition to its endearing usability, Lyft also infuses a lot more character into the experience, including adorning fascia mustaches for corresponding Lyft givers represented by pink balloons in the app, and teal balloons to visualize riders within the app.
Not everyone’s a fan, however. “I like the black car with a dude in a suit,” says my friend, in reference to the more expensive Uber. “Plus, he brings me candy and bottled water!”
Either way, ride sharing seems destined to stay, and a great excuse not buy that second (or maybe even first) car for some.