Why rideshare and delivery drivers get deactivated, and how to get reactivated

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We understand that the money you make from rideshare and/or delivery driving is important to you. This applies whether you’re saving for a vacation or your wedding, or if you drive full time to pay all your bills. You certainly want that money to keep coming in.

That’s why deactivation, a company’s decision to remove your access to their app so you can no longer get work, can be devastating. Suddenly, and sometimes with little or no warning, your lifeline to the money you need can be severed.

Occasionally you’ll come across customers who want to pull a scam, such as claiming you did something objectionable, so they can get a free ride or delivery. The consistency with which they lie about drivers to get breaks from the companies makes us wonder: Is this some kind of weird coincidence, or do they have secret social media groups or Reddit threads that give them such audacious ideas? 

In any event, deactivation is something every driver dreads, but still needs to be aware of. We now live in a world where the companies are charging more for rides and deliveries, and the customers feel ripped-off. Some of them will go to a lot of trouble to get back at the companies. And … It’s terribly unfair when innocent drivers get caught in the crossfire. But it can, and does, happen, and it’s becoming more common.

Over the last few months, we’ve been hearing from drivers who got deactivated for what sounds like utterly unfair reasons. These incidents led us to do some digging and put this blog post together, so we can share information with you about:

  • Deactivation: policies for the major companies
  • Protective measures: what you can do to avoid being deactivated
  • Fighting back: the best ways to get your account reactivated

Why drivers get deactivated

There are numerous reasons why a company can deactivate you. 

Some happen to be justifiable, at least from the company’s point of view. As a representative of their business, you embody a way for them to be held responsible (specifically, sued) for making a customer suffer any kind of loss, be it financial, physical, or emotional. Therefore, they’re going to be totally unwilling to take certain risks. 

Risk aversion is most likely at the root of the following incidents that can cause you to lose access to a platform:

  • Failure to pass a background check (remember, the companies periodically re-do these checks)
  • Unsafe driving, including 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 crime while you’re on the app

Some of these grounds for deactivation might be controversial, but they are universally accepted by the companies. (By the way, you also accepted them when you agreed to the terms of service.) We can see how any of them could potentially harm the company as well as the driver, so they really do make sense.

Now, given that we can tacitly agree to the above-listed actions as grounds for deactivation, there are other violations you may or may not be aware of. Here’s a rundown of the major rideshare and food delivery players, and their grounds for deactivation.

Rideshare Companies

Why Uber deactivates drivers

Uber’s rules are fairly clear and easily understood. Still, you need to know them just in case you haven’t read the fine print—which we recommend you do as soon as possible.

  • Low star ratings. Yours must be at 4.6 or above to drive Uber X. The other classifications may require even higher star ratings.
  • Lack of activity. If you haven’t driven for 90 days, Uber may deactivate your account.
  • Serious customer complaints. If a customer reports you for sexual harassment or driving under the influence, you have a problem. The company has a zero-tolerance policy for these behaviors.
  • Other customer complaints. Violations of community guidelines such as exclusion due to race, gender, disability, size, age (except in the case of unaccompanied minors), or other obviously heinous acts are definite grounds for deactivation.
  • Contacting riders after you drop them off. Known as “post-ride contact,” this is at best creepy, and often very close to stalking. 
  • Expired documents: If you fail to keep your driver’s license, registration, insurance, and any other required documents (this varies by area) up to date, you could be suspended until you present current credentials.
  • Bending the rules: Uber’s terms of service make it clear that actions such as having someone else in the car with you when you’re driving, promoting a competing service, or driving someone who is obviously under the age of 18 without an accompanying adult (among others), are sufficient cause for action by the company.

Why Lyft deactivates drivers

Lyft is more explicit about its grounds for deactivation, adding other criteria along with those listed for Uber:

  • Low driver rating. Lyft’s standards are based on the average rate in your city. You’ll want to keep your rating as high as possible (of course).
  • Your aging vehicle. There are limits on how old your vehicle can be. If it passes the timeline, Lyft’s system will pick up on that and deactivate your account.
  • Substance-related rule breaking. You let a passenger ride with an open container of alcohol, or you allowed the person to use drugs in your car. This falls under “committing crimes while on the app,” but Lyft is explicit about these particular acts.
  • Refusal to transport a service animal. Lyft, quite rightfully, makes a big deal about this issue. If you fear what damage an animal might do, carry a protective cover for your seat and use it when you have a fur (or feathered) baby on board. 
  • Texting while driving. Along with being a violation of Lyft’s rules, it’s an incredibly careless thing to do. How safe would you feel if your driver was typing while attempting to drive?
  • Accepting rides off the app. There may be times when people on the street try to flag you down for rides. Lyft specifically prohibits this—and it’s also not the smartest thing you can do. Didn’t you sign up with the app because personal safety was one of your concerns? Leave those rides for the cabbies with bulletproof glass between them and their “wild card” riders.
  • Falsifying documents or information. Tell the truth and know that you could be asked to prove it at any time.
  • Smoking. Yes, it’s your car, but as far as Lyft is concerned it’s also a reflection of their standards. Passengers will notice the smell of tobacco smoke in your vehicle because it seeps into the upholstery. Marijuana, even if it’s legal where you drive, is not an okay smell to have in your car if you don’t want to be nailed for DUI.  Avoid smoking anything in your vehicle if you’re going to use it for Lyft.

Restaurant Delivery

Like the rideshare companies, delivery companies have basic standards. The general ones, such as documentation for your vehicle, your license, and so forth, are the same. Be sure to read the fine print in your company’s terms of service so you’re aware of what’s expected of you. 

In many cases, though, details such as vehicle age and condition are less important to delivery companies. And there are some matters that are unique to delivery, including:

Lateness. Remember that delivery companies are all about time. If it’s been proven that you took excessive amounts of time to complete a delivery, your access to the app could be on the chopping block, depending on which company you work for.

Card abuse. This seems like a relatively obvious infarction: abuse of the charge cards some companies give drivers to pay for customers’ meals and groceries. You’re not allowed to buy anything for yourself with that card—period.

Fraud. A sure path to deactivation by delivery companies, fraud could entail not following through with a delivery, eating all or some of the food in a delivery, or using two delivery apps at the same time. In the third scheme, the driver can make out on two deliveries, but it will also entail the customers having an extra wait for their delivery – and winding up on the receiving end of a cold meal that was supposed to be hot. That’s definitely not good for business.

Here are some additional criteria for deactivation that are specific to the delivery companies:

Why Grubhub drivers get deactivated

Accepting too few orders. Grubhub works with blocks of time. If you’re a driver, and you have time blocked out that could be used by someone else, and you’re not accepting deliveries, you could be deactivated. The fairness of this may be disputed, but it’s still happening. Grubhub is just following the rather dubious lead of other companies who push drivers into taking more work than they might really want.

Why Doordash drivers get deactivated

Violation of the terms of your contract. Lately Doordash has become more aggressive about this, possibly in an effort to outdo Grubhub when it comes to bullying drivers. In addition to the items previously listed, such as abuse of the charge card and not fulfilling deliveries, this encompasses a deceptive trick many drivers were playing: In an attempt to get many quick, local deliveries, and rack up enough deliveries for certain promotions, they falsely reported using a bicycle for delivery.

Completion rate. Doordash drivers must maintain a completion rate of 80%.

Driver rating. Doordash drivers must maintain a rating of at least 4.2.

Why Postmates drivers get deactivated

Failure to abide by the Fleet Agreement. You really need to read the fine print here. Part of the agreement states that you may not use an arbiter in any dispute with the company, nor can you engage in a class action suit. Convenient for them … not so convenient for you. 

Negative customer complaints. The good news is, there is no star rating for Postmates, so you can’t be docked for not making a certain number. Customers enter a basic thumbs-up or thumbs-down on your performance. Postmates claims the customer’s choice won’t affect you, but serious complaints that customers write or call in can result in deactivation.

Grocery shopping and delivery

Why Instacart shoppers drivers get deactivated

This side of the delivery business can be more complicated than the others we’ve discussed so far. Not only are you responsible for delivering the goods; in this case, you also have to do the shopping. That leaves you exposed to all kinds of customer reactions. 

The big name here is Instacart—which unfortunately has a not-so-great reputation when it comes to deactivation. It can come without warning, and it can be difficult to appeal. Shoppers have complained that the company is extremely difficult to contact, as well.

Check out this video discussing a recent Instacart deactivation:

Here are some reasons why Instacart might deactivate you:

  • Misuse of the card. This is the same deal as the food delivery companies. With food, it can be more complicated, though. Prices might be different than indicated when you get to the store, or there could be other elements (club memberships, etc.) that might need to be verified – or even paid for.
  • Failure to document that a delivery of alcohol of prescription drugs was carried out as directed. This could quickly become a nightmare. 

The overdub would go something like…“Hey- that Instacart driver never delivered my oxy, and probably just stole the pills. Now I have to get another refill…”

  • Discrepancies with receipts. Yes, they do happen. “Holding on” to receipts can be cumbersome. Therefore, you may want to scan them (or just snap a shot of them with your phone). 

Protective measures: What you can do to avoid deactivation

Deactivation can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, it often happens because drivers fail to protect themselves from certain factors. 

By far, the most common source of being falsely accused is an unwarranted customer complaint. You’ll want to be on the lookout for those customers who are trying to get something for nothing—at your expense. You’ll also want to be able to defend yourself against the company if their app sees or interprets something that simply isn’t true.

Here are some steps you can take to improve your chances of avoiding deactivation.

  • Read the fine print. Do more than just click “I agree” on the terms of service: Read the document. Take notes. Know what’s in it and how it affects you. You can look the document up on your company’s website.
  • Ask questions. If a situation arises that makes you question what an appropriate response might be, ask. If you can’t get in touch with your company right away (and that happens a lot), send out a lifeline in a social media group or Reddit thread.
  • Invest in one or more recording devices. You could use a dashcam and/or a bodycam, especially if you’re delivering prescriptions, cannabis, or alcohol. Taking this measure is a sad statement about our inability to trust the human race, but it’s necessary to have absolute proof of what happens on the scene of any kind of incident, and when.
  • Use photo documentation. In addition to scanning any receipts, you can also make sure your delivery photos are clear. You can take an extra shot of those bags in front of the customer’s door for your own records too.
  • Document correspondence with your company. Although it doesn’t do much to create instant gratification, email is better than a phone call because you have the exchange in writing.
  • Respond promptly to company notifications. If your company sends you an email or other notice of a complaint, pull over and get back to them immediately. It could make the difference between you working and you getting deactivated. 
  • Hedge your bets. Sign up with more than one service, or create a hybrid driving gig (rideshare and delivery) to make sure you’re covered. If one company deactivates you (as long as it wasn’t for committing a crime), you can still work for another.

Fighting back: the best ways to get your account reactivated

The first thing you should know about the appeal process is that it can be a long, drawn-out series of actions that can take a week or two, and maybe longer. 

  • In most cases, you’re going to start by responding to the notice the company sends you. They all give you a place to send in your appeal. Do this in writing. If you don’t feel confident in your writing ability, ask someone to help you. 
  • Ask for the specific reasons you were deactivated. The companies don’t always tell you until you ask.
  • Do not admit guilt. Always listen to what the charges are, then tell your side of the story.
  • Offer to provide evidence (that dashcam/body cam footage could be a lifesaver here)
  • Ask if there’s an opportunity for arbitration. In New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the Independent Drivers Guild has worked out agreements with Uber and Lyft to form deactivation appeals panels, composed of drivers and representatives from the companies. 

These boards listen to both sides of the complaint and make a determination about your deactivation or reactivation. So far this is the only organization we know of that’s been able to negotiate this service with the companies, but their good work gives us hope for the future.

  • If all else fails, MAKE NOISE. Contact the companies on social media constantly, continue to call/message support channels, even go to the press about your situation. One driver even emailed Uber’s CEO directly to get his account reactivated.

Always ride with Gridwise

The tough reality is, deactivation is more common these days, and it can come without warning. We don’t ever want it to happen to you, and that’s why we’ve provided this post on the ins and outs, what to know, what to watch out for, and the games some companies play. 

Keep reading our blog posts! And now that you know how smart it is to use more than one app, download Gridwise to track your earnings and mileage on each. You’ll also get info on weather, airport traffic, and events in your town, plus easy access to deals for drivers and a quick link to J. and Brandon’s thought-provoking podcast.

Be safe out there. And remember, we at Gridwise have got your back.

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