Pedestrians walk past a "Look!" sign on the crosswalk.

Getting De-Activated From Rideshare Driving

Well, it finally happened. I was  (temporarily) given the boot from Via for infringing their Zero-Tolerance Policy . The truth is that I don’t really know why they’ve denied me access to their system; however, I do have a hypothesis. The message came late Saturday night, an e-mail and text messages, simultaneously alerting me to the issue.  The texts alluded to a rider discrepancy, which the Via team took action on by shutting off my account.  In the past week I haven’t had any arguments (some conversations, but never yelling at or with pax), physical or verbal altercations, nor was I involved in any driving incidents…….  EXCEPT for clipping a pedestrian with my mirror….  when he crossed during a full-red light.

So yeah, that will do the trick.

This, to my estimate, was the cause of my deactivation; because I had pax in the car, one of them probably tattle-tailed on me.  The fact of the matter is, I didn’t stop after coming into contact with said pedestrian.  And NYers are on def-con five high alert for hit and runs.  Especially of the terroristic nature.

So the next day, yesterday, I was unable to capitalize on a perfectly good Sunday evening (one of the most profitable times to do rideshare driving across the country btw).  The reason is one of my pax alerted Via to the incident, probably citing the fact that I didn’t stop to check on the guy.  And Via shut down my account to investigate.

Having Multiple Streams of Income

Being a rideshare driver can result in driving part-time, full-time, or somewhere in between; however, ALL drivers should have at least something part-time in addition to rideshare driving to fall back on.  Just in case something happens like what I’m talking about in this post: being deactivated, or disaffiliated, or otherwise denied access to a particular rideshare app’s platform.  Talking (writing) about it now, I realize that I haven’t been “fired,” so to speak.  A disaffiliation would mean that they’ve cut me loose; however, in the present situation that I’m dealing with, my account has been deactivated temporarily (pending a “thorough investigation” into the incident).

From my experience, this means a rider felt unsafe by my driving most likely, and again reported to Via (because they have nothing better to do, and must meddle in other people’s lives to feel good about themselves, obviously).  Who then reaches out to the accused driver (i.e., me) to see what his side of the story is, and if he has any proof (e.g., dash cam footage) to corroborate his claims.  Right now I’m sitting, twiddling my thumbs until one of Via’s staff members reaches out to me.  Which means lost income, hence having to rely on other sources until I’m (knock on wood) cleared to “go online.”

Making Money By DeCluttering

My wife and I just moved across town into a one-bedroom apartment (from a bigger two-bedroom place) last month.  And since the new place is already furnished, we’ve been selling our old, used stuff at the local flea market.   Getting started was pretty much a snap, and

My flea market booth
Yours truly rockin’ the flea market with my rideshare van.

we’ve been profitable since Day 1.  They won’t let just anyone roll up and start hucking their goods, so we first had to create a business and register with the state of NJ.  Once our sales tax certification came in the mail, we brought it to the marketplace at 6:30am the day of the flea market, and purchased a day pass for $100.

While we’ve been able to clear $100 in sales the past few weekends, the cost for a plot is pretty high; however, by purchasing a monthly pass, we’re only charged $65/day.  This makes it much more likely that we’ll be profitable, because sales volumes are quite variable at the open-air market.  It’s interesting too to people watch, and just observe what some people will buy from you.  I’ve sold an old Hungry-hungry hippos game for $1 to some guy, and a used TV for $50 to someone else.  The name of the game is volume.  So we pack my rideshare van full of clothes, shoes, and anything else that folks might want to buy, and get rid of as much as possible.  The best part is that we’re usually profitable after a few hours, and can head home (lighter than when we came) typically by 2pm.

Other Rideshare Apps

Although hucking my wife’s old dresses and shoes is fun, it’s not going to be enough to support me.  Let alone the two of us.  I’ve talked a lot about working for multiple rideshare apps on this blog (here, here, and here too), and this week has truly brought the notion of job security to the forefront.  Typically I work on Via’s platform full-time; however, do have an active Uber account to fall back on in situations like these.  If you’re reading this blog, and don’t at least have an Uber driver-partner account, I suggest signing up with my referral code here.  We’ll both make $300 bonus cash, after your first 20 rides.  Use this blog as a resource to navigate the first few trips, and avoid costly expenses as you get started.  Of course you can message me personally at thedriver@ridesharelove.com too, which I will respond to with any questions or concerns that you might have.

For drivers who want to do rideshare driving in NYC, there’s a pretty in-depth post on this blog about getting started with that too here.  Although I personally was just doing Uber in NJ for almost a year, and somehow paying off debt too, it’s recommended for full-time drivers in this area to make the step-up to NYC driving; however, that does come with some more risk as I’ve experienced.

Hedging against lost income

Just want to wrap up this article with a few other examples that make the case for diversifying your income streams.  Aside from deactivation, drivers might be unable to work due to several factors such as:

Therefore, it’s important to save as much income as possible when the good times are rollin’.  It should be obvious, but rideshare drivers, like taxi drivers, don’t make money if we aren’t working.  So any unexpected occurrence that derails us from the weekly grind (or foreseen events like a vacation or a planned surgery) will result in using money that’s already been worked for.  Which of course means less money to invest into the stock market for our futures and/or retirement.

Stay tuned to see how my issue gets resolved.  In the meantime, will be applying to Lyft and Juno rideshare apps.

*Update*

Heard back from Team Via, and they’ve imposed a 5-day timeout to my account.  They found out that I knocked over a pedestrian (who was crossing against a full red) from one of my pax.  So I’m officially back on the road, and only had to suffer through a few days of driving Uber.  Fortunately my net worth was still able to increase this month despite this, and other, significant setbacks.  Once you have money systems in place, it definitely makes saving income easier.  As not touching my paychecks, or using income as little as possible, has become my default financial habit.

Takeaways

  • Pedestrians are time-greedy, and will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, try to cross whenever it behooves them.  Or suits them best, at least.  TLC drivers never/rarely have right of way.
  • Stop and check on the person or biker who was hit; even (especially) if you have pax in the vehicle; otherwise they’ll notify the rideshare platform that you work with, and you’ll be deactivated.
  • Have an Uber account handy in case you find yourself in the unenviable position of restricted access.  Lyft, etc. works too.  Another job entirely would be ideal.

Check out my recommendations page, where you’ll find what works best for this tri-state area rideshare driver-partner.