Here’s some more gasoline to flame the ongoing rideshare war blazing between Uber and Lyft. On Monday night, Lyft accused Uber of summoning its drivers through its app, and then canceling those rides at the last second. Lyft has even put a specific number to how many rides were canceled: 5,560. That’s a lot of wasted gas and frustrated drivers.
How did Lyft figure it out? CNNMoney says it acquired the data while reporting another story. The ride-hailing app, known for the pink mustaches with which its drivers adorn their cars, claims it discovered who was behind the bogus requests by cross-referencing the phone numbers behind the cancellations with the numbers of “known Uber recruiters.” One Uber recruiter’s phone number, which was tied to 21 different Lyft accounts and was identified by Lyft employees, was behind over 1,500 last-minute cancellations.
It wouldn’t be the first time Uber found itself in hot water for employing shady tactics to get a leg up on its rivals. In January, Uber’s top brass was accused of employing a similar move to cancel rides for Gett, a New York-based black car-summoning app. At the time, Uber’s then-PR representative said it was “likely too aggressive a sales tactic” and apologized.
Both riders and drivers help recruit new drivers to the Uber platform, where the economic opportunity is unmatched in the industry. We recently ran a program where thousands of riders recruited drivers from other platforms, earning hundreds of dollars in Uber credits for each driver who tries Uber. Even Lyft drivers have participated in a successful campaign recruiting thousands of other Lyft drivers to Uber, where drivers make a better living than on any other platform.
Taking the ride and meeting the driver is essential to driver recruitment.
Uber acknowledging that it has aggressively tried to summon and recruit Lyft drivers isn’t surprising. Poaching from competitors is fair game. What the statement doesn’t do is cogently explain why several thousand rides were canceled by the phone numbers said to be linked to known Uber associates. Perhaps all those users suddenly had a change of heart and decided to walk instead.