Cancelled rides: what to do when passengers cancel mid trip

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Most rideshare passengers are cool people. They just want us to drive them where they need to go, and they’re willing to pay the full cost of their rides. Some are even super-cool because they add tips to the fare.

As for the rest of them … they are the stuff of passenger horror stories. And one particularly annoying star of the Rideshare House of Horrors is the ride-canceller. This particular kind of passenger gets in your vehicle, and while en route to the final destination, cancels the ride. Why would anyone do that? Oh, these people have their reasons. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons, and give you rideshare tips on how to handle such notorious passengers. Here’s what we’ll look at:

  • What happens when a ride is canceled?
  • Why would a passenger cancel mid-trip?
  • Strategies to prevent mid-trip cancellations
  • Two ways of dealing with the ride-canceling monster

What happens when a ride is canceled?

We’ve all had it happen. You drive a few miles out of the way toward a pickup, and just as you think you’re getting close, a notice that the passenger has canceled the ride hits your screen. This is almost never good news, at least to most drivers. When you take the time and trouble to pick up a passenger, the best thing that can happen is that they’re at the pickup point, waiting for their ride.

When rides get canceled before they start, both Uber and Lyft will give you a cancellation fee. It’s never as much as the ride would have been, but at least it’s a consolation and some compensation for your efforts. 

Cancellation fees vary by the type of ride. If you’re driving for Uber, for example, Uber Black would have a higher fee than UberX. Uber ride cancellations, as well as those for Lyft, are also based on the time and distance you covered on the way to and/or while you waited at the pickup point.

The same applies to rides that get canceled mid-trip. That’s why you have to be very careful to monitor what’s going on with your Uber or Lyft app, even if you use another navigation app for your GPS. If you don’t keep an eye out for notifications from the rideshare app, you might miss the fact that your passenger canceled the trip before reaching the destination you’re driving toward. You probably know the answer to the next question, but let’s look at it anyway …

Why would a passenger cancel mid-trip?

Some passengers are monsters, that’s for sure, but the ride-canceller probably isn’t really going to inflict bodily harm. Still, this nasty rider will take a big bite out of your earnings by canceling the trip before you get all the way to the destination. 

When this happens, the Lyft or Uber ride cancellation software stops the ride, and the passenger only gets charged for the time and distance to get to the point where the evil deed was done. If you, the driver, don’t see this going on, and you continue to drive to the original destination, guess what? You lose the remainder of the fare.

Now, we don’t want to pass along advice for Uber drivers or Lyft drivers that imply every passenger that cancels in mid-trip has devious motives. Sometimes a canceled trip can be an innocent mistake. For instance, maybe the rider was exploring the app to see how to leave you a tip and accidentally tapped “cancel ride,” which can happen.

That’s why it’s always wise to handle the situation with an open mind. Unfortunately, training in the art of dealing with passengers who cancel mid-trip isn’t included in any “How to Work for Uber or Lyft” instruction manual. You have to be alert, use your common sense, and when it’s deserved, dig deep for a little compassion.

Strategies to prevent mid-trip cancellations

Good advice for Uber drivers and Lyft drivers to prevent getting taken by ride-canceling travelers includes:

Verify the destination with your rider. As soon as the person sits down and shuts the door, you ask: “You’re going to the bus station downtown, right?” When the rider agrees, it becomes more challenging to cancel in the middle of the ride. Guilt sounds like (and probably is) a sneaky tactic – but it also works.

Keep your eye on the rideshare app at all times. As mentioned earlier, even if you use another nav system to get around, be aware of what’s going on with your Uber or Lyft app. Usually, an alert or notification will come up so watch for it!

Something you should also do when you get started driving for Uber and/or Lyft is create a driving strategy that helps you stick to clients who are reputable and predictable. One very good way to do this is to use Gridwise’s new features: Where to Drive and When to Drive. 

Based on data collected anonymously from Gridwise drivers, you can see where and when the most money can be made. Obviously, if you’re paying attention to these factors, you’re more likely to encounter people who know how to be good passengers, and are aware of the consequences of a Lyft or Uber canceled ride.

Gridwise gives you additional tools to beef up your driving strategy, including:

  • Airport information: arrivals, departures, and wait times
  • Weather: current conditions and weather warnings
  • Traffic: jams, incidents, and road conditions
  • Gas deals: get $.10 off per gallon with Gridwise Gas when you join Gridwise Plus
  • Event information: know where to go for riders who really do want to get home!

You need all these great tools, plus a constant stream of rideshare driving tips that come from our info-packed blog. Download the app now to get all this and more.

Two ways of dealing with the ride-canceling monster

Even with the best strategies in place, the reality is that you might still occasionally encounter the ride-canceling monster. Here are two basic approaches to handling these scammers.

#1. Hit the eject button

You have every right to resent it when a customer tries to get one over on you. Many drivers take this quite seriously, and when they notice the trip is canceled, they stop the car and pull over at the first safe place. Then, they ask the passenger if s/he intended to cancel the ride. 

If you opt to do this, it’s important to consider your personal safety, as well as how your behavior will affect your rating. So, take a deep breath and vow to keep your cool no matter what. You roll the dice here, because if you aggravate someone who already has bad intentions, you could face a dangerous predicament.

If you feel comfortable doing so, pull over and invite the passenger, politely, to exit the vehicle. Your next step, after making a clean and safe exit, is to contact Uber or Lyft support to report the incident. You can also give the passenger the kind of rating s/he deserves and request that your rideshare app no longer pair you with that person.

#2. Ride it out

This is probably a lot safer than trying to eject someone from your car when they’re unwilling to get out. Make a note of the original destination when you pick up the rider, then make a note of where the trip was canceled. 

Keep driving to the original destination, even after the trip is canceled. When you arrive, say goodbye to the ride-canceling jerk and call support. Explain what happened, and inform them that you drove the person to the original destination and need a fare adjustment to compensate you for your work.

Of course, you’re going to want to rate the customer accordingly, and ask that you never have to see them in your car again. This option is probably safer and less likely to explode into an emotional nightmare than the more confrontational option of asking someone to exit your car.

Now, as for the innocent rider who might be clueless about using the app, too drunk to see what they’re swiping, or simply makes a mistake, here are your choices: You can either stop at the point of cancellation and invite them to initiate another ride, or drive them to the destination and take the Ride it out approach. 

If the person requests another ride, the app may ping you again and you can resume. If not, you can let the passenger wait for another driver to arrive and be on your merry way. This is where you dig deep for compassion, and we are absolutely certain that deep down, you’ve got it in there in spades.
We’d love to hear the tales of your experiences with these and other monsters from the Rideshare House of Horrors. Leave us a comment below, or post on the Gridwise Facebook page, so we can share our experiences, have some laughs, and strategize together.

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