November 27, 2022

His explanation: good customer service is labor- and resource-intensive, and its benefits are hard to measure by many companies’ metrics. (Lyft did not respond to questions about Mr. Orosz’s thesis.)

Many customers give up. But Matt, you mentioned to me that if I hadn’t stepped in, you were going to use connections from the California Bar Association to find an attorney who works for Lyft and might be able to try to solve the problem from the inside. In other words, you’d take the same route I did to solve my Instagram problem.

Mr. Orosz notes that the lack of customer service is so deep-rooted that this privileged string-pulling has essentially gone mainstream. Among those who take jobs at big tech firms, “as soon as you update your LinkedIn profile to your new gig,” he wrote, “you start to get messages from friends of friends asking them to solve one of their problems.”

That sounds terribly inefficient and unfair and, of course, leaves the vast majority of users without friends inside tech firms out in the cold. And, at least as he described his experiences at Skype and Uber, it may not even work: When he tried channeling friends’ problems through internal systems, they were rarely solved. His suggestion: Switch to companies — often smaller ones — that care more about customer service.

What does that mean for ride-share apps, where Uber and Lyft dominate? Maybe old-fashioned car services that answer the phone — shout out to Mexicana Car Services in my New York City neighborhood — or, gasp, public transportation. But when traveling in strange cities, Uber and Lyft sure feel familiar and convenient (and, as you note, Lyft runs the bike-share program in San Francisco and other cities).

Though a customer service agent told you Lyft could not “legally” give you more information, Ms. Condarco-Quesada said he misspoke. Instead, she said, Lyft does not share specifics to protect its fraud-prevention measures. The system, she wrote, had “flagged several anomalies … many of which are noted in the email exchange.” She was referring to your final email — one that Lyft never answered — in which you list your suspicions about why your account may have been flagged. I cross-referenced your suspicions, which mostly revolved around the fact that you used company computers rather than a smartphone to order rides, with the list of 17 “restricted activities” in Lyft’s Terms of Service. The only one that even somewhat matched: the prohibition against disguising “the origin of any information transmitted through the Lyft platform.”

You mentioned that your office uses a service called Splashtop to connect your home and office computers. You suspected that Splashtop might work like a VPN service, masking the IP address of your home computer, but Annie Chen, the company’s vice president for product management said that’s not the case. Lyft would not provide any further information.

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