What every driver needs: protection from unfair deactivation

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Outsiders who have never been rideshare or delivery drivers think there’s nothing to the job. True, it’s admittedly rather straightforward – but a lot can happen. Not only can there be problems with the app, difficulties with your vehicle, or issues that make it impossible to get where you need to be, you have to deal with people.

And dealing with people may lead to trouble. A company can remove a driver from the app after hearing complaints from a passenger or customer. Believe it or not, this often happens immediately without any explanation.

Deactivation can be very damaging, for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, you can lose your income. You can also lose your reputation, particularly if you are wrongly accused of something, and it might take days for them to hear you out.

In this post, we’ll give you tips on how to protect yourself from unfair deactivation. We’ll further examine:

  • Why deactivations happen
  • How unfair deactivations happen
  • How to avoid deactivation
  • What to do in the event of an unfair deactivation
  • How to recover from a deactivation 

Why deactivations happen

There are many instances that can put you at risk for deactivation. For both rideshare and delivery drivers, these might include:

  • Failure to pass a background check. Don’t forget that most companies will run background checks from time to time, even after your original activation.
  • Unsafe driving: this includes being stopped and ticketed by police while on the app.
  • Carrying a weapon.
  • Threatening a customer.
  • Driving under the influence.
  • Committing any other kind of infraction while you’re gig driving.
  • Low ratings.

For delivery drivers, companies have additional standards you have to meet. Some things that can get you knocked off your app are:

  • Chronic lateness. Delivery companies want you to work fast. If you have a habit of taking too long to complete trips, you could lose access to your app.
  • Card abuse. Never use the company card for any purpose besides paying for customers’ orders.
  • Fraud. Not that you’d do such things, but this covers stealing or tampering with deliveries. 
  • Refusing too many orders.
  • Violating your agreement. For instance, if you say you’re using a bike when you’re not just to get closer delivery orders, you could get deactivated. Another pro tip is to shy away from delivering for more than one app at the same time.

There may be other grounds for deactivation, so always be sure to check with the platforms you’re working with so you avoid trouble. Should your company accuse you of doing something wrong, not knowing about an offense will not get you off the hook.

How unfair deactivations happen

Sometimes, deactivation may be warranted. This might be if you get caught with a weapon in your vehicle, or get stopped for unsafe driving, or get a DUI. However, there are also unfair (aka, unjust) deactivations.

Anyone who works with people knows how unpredictable they can be. A passenger or delivery customer can surprise you with a $20 tip or target you for deactivation. There are several reasons why someone might do this. Maybe the person is angry because you refused to wait half an hour while they shopped for groceries, or a customer might want to scam you and your company by lying and getting free rides or deliveries as compensation.

Here are a few examples:

Ever have someone argue with you (and your GPS) about the best route to get them home? Driving platforms will advise you to go along with the customers’ suggestions. But even if you do, they might complain that you were trying to increase the rate. This usually means the company will give them a free ride or another kind of discount.

What if a customer says you ate her fries? You might not even like fries, and probably didn’t touch even one. Still, the customer can claim that you did that, and then collect from the company. Meanwhile, you could be deactivated, at least until you can prove you didn’t steal the pomme frites.

There are even uglier accusations. One driver refused to break COVID safety regulations by insisting her customers take a seat in the back. You guessed it! They refused, and the driver advised them to get out of the vehicle, and they reported her for harassment. She was able to tell Uber her side of the story through an email exchange, and she was not deactivated, but… it was close.

Another driver got conned into waiting for an extended period while his passengers made a stop to pick up their dog at the vet. After a half-hour of waiting, with the purse belonging to the passenger’s companion still in his vehicle, the driver was beyond ready to leave. 

Just as he was debating whether to touch the companion’s purse and bring it inside, they both came out to say it would only be about another fifteen minutes. The driver terminated the ride. The customers? They told Lyft a story about the driver going into a blind rage, and throwing them bodily out of his vehicle and onto the ground.

This driver was deactivated. It took him three days to hear back from Lyft, tell his side of the story, and get reinstated. He lost income and was put in a position of defending himself against what could have ultimately become a criminal charge. He is a five-star driver with almost 11,000 rides, so once he got a representative to call him, Lyft cleared him.

As you can see, unfair deactivations can happen even to the best drivers out there – which means it can, and does, happen to drivers all the time. It pays to cover yourself from every angle possible. 

How to avoid deactivation

You can start by being proactive. Here are some tips:

  • Know the rules. Carefully read your driver agreements to ensure that you understand what your minimum rating numbers are, and what regulations your company expects you to comply with.
  • Be polite. Even when someone aggravates you, don’t take the bait. If you’re calm and collected, no one can prove you were rude or out of control.
  • Say NO to road rage. No matter how much traffic, how nasty the act of another driver, or how hard it is to change lanes, take a deep breath and drive safely and sensibly.
  • Make your passengers feel safe. Don’t let conversations get too personal, and avoid commenting on crime rates and incidents you may have heard about. Most companies provide video training that illustrates the boundaries of acceptable interaction.
  • Don’t argue. You’ll need to enforce some rules and set limits with inconsiderate customers, but don’t get into a discussion. State your position and your company’s policy and leave it at that.
  • If you do get involved in an unpleasant exchange, contact your company immediately through your app. See the Gridwise articles about how to get help from UberLyftAmazon Flex, and DoorDash, or check the app or website for support with other platforms.
  • Drive safely – don’t speed or run lights. Passengers value their lives more than you might think!
  • Use a dashcam. If you have a driving routine that brings you frequent encounters with passengers who are likely to be problematic, you’ll be glad you have evidence of what really happened. Read this Gridwise post for more dashcam tips. 

What to do in the event of an unfair deactivation

Getting stuck with an unfair deactivation can trigger some unpleasant childhood memories, such as getting called into the principal’s office when it was really the class clown that slanted a spitball on the teacher’s desk. It stinks to be wrongly accused in any case. But the big difference in the case of an unfair deactivation is how much it can cost you.

As we noted, it can take a while before you hear back from your company. From what we’ve heard from some drivers, the wait could be as long as three days. Most of the apps have easy access to chat and email, but few allow you to speak to another human being. And while you’re waiting, you’re losing revenue.

There’s no reason to just sit there and take it, though. The first thing you need to do when you notice you’ve been deactivated is to contact customer support. They may or may not give you all the information you need, so be prepared to scour your memory.

For example, they won’t tell you the name of the passenger or customer who reported you. Chances are you’ll have to guess who it was, but if you can’t, you might have to solve the mystery of who’s trying to scam you and your company. This, obviously, can take even more time.

What can you do while you’re waiting for the logistical mess of an unfair deactivation to be resolved? What will you do for money? How will you pay your bills?

Fortunately, there is a solution: Gridwise Protection. For just a small sum (like $8 per month), you can be reimbursed for 80 percent of the income you lose for an unfair deactivation – and that’s not all. You can also get a legal letter written on your behalf by a gig driver lawyer. Plus, you get income protection for collision repair, hospitalization, and sick time, as well as free telehealth visits. 

Gridwise is great at providing protection for drivers because it’s the ultimate rideshare and delivery driver’s assistant. With the Gridwise app, you can also:

  • Automatically track earnings and mileage.
  • Log expenses.
  • See the best times and places to drive.
  • Get airport, event, weather, and traffic information.
  • Take advantage of deals and discounts for drivers.
  • Get an overview of your gig driving business with great graphs like these:

Get Gridwise Protection and get all the other great features, too! Download the Gridwise app today. You could start earning up to 39 percent more!

How to recover from a deactivation 

If you’ve been deactivated, whether unfairly or justifiably, it can take time for your morale to recover. If your deactivation is merely between you and one company, try driving for another. You may still have to wait a few days to be activated, but at least you’ll be back on the road. Maybe you’ll also get a secret thrill out of driving for the competition.

If you’ve been unfairly deactivated, don’t hold a grudge. But if you truly feel your company took too long to do right by you, there are other gigs out there. Just don’t wind up losing your diamond driver status simply because you’re ticked off at how long Uber took to get back to you and get the reactivation going.

Just like being called into the principal’s office when you didn’t do anything wrong, clearing an unfair deactivation can be frustrating. Though, once you’re vindicated, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from going back out to earn your living.

For now, we hope you’ll be better prepared and more thoroughly informed. We also hope you’ll shelter yourself from lost income and sign up for Gridwise Protection!

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