Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Warmth of the "Sharing Community" vs Lyft & Sidecar's Terms of Service

Photo of the aftermath of an uninsured vehicle hitting a motorcycle on Lombard Street.

When people sign up to either drive for or ride with Lyft or Sidecar, they need to download an app. In order to download the apps they need to click a box saying that they agree with the companies' terms. Most people never bother to read the terms (or contracts) to which they are agreeing, and I used to be the same. Any time I needed to agree to anything to download something, I just naturally clicked "yes." 

Lyft  & Sidecar are counting on us to act this way. The terms of both these companies print out to over twenty pages of 12pt type and would be almost impossible to make sense of on a smart phone. Before I wrote 100,000 Uninsured Rides and Counting: Undercover at Lyft and Sidecar, it was very difficult to even find the terms on their websites because they were buried in obscure places. The terms can now be found on the front pages of both sites – near the bottom in very small print.

After coming into contact with Lyft and Sidecar, I now print out whatever terms I may be interested in and read them thoroughly before I agree to anything. I'd like to thank CEO's John Zimmer and Sunil Paul for correcting my overly optimistic views on the natural goodness of human nature. I'm sure my new found skepticism will serve me well in the future.

By way of contrast with a legitimate business; When I signed up to drive for Desoto Cab, Operations Manager Greg Cochran and I went over the contract together, and we both signed off on every clause.

For those of you – especially those of you who ride with, or drive for, one of these illegal taxi services – I'm providing you links to the contracts that you've signed so that you can read them (probably) for the first time. If you haven't, I strongly advise you to do so.

Lyft's Terms

Sidcar's Terms of Service

But before doing so you might want to glance at a recent post about a female Lyft customer who has been stalked by a Lyft driver. To be fair, I should point out that no background check is likely to turn up the fact that somebody is a creep since being a creep isn't illegal - at least not within limits.

However, if a woman would run into the similar behavior in a legal taxicab, she would be able to call both the cab company and 311 in San Francisco, and expect some action to be taken on her behalf. At Lyft & Sidecar, one can expect no help whatsoever.

(To read some highlights from the agreement you may have signed, click below.)


A few highlight from Lyft's Terms:

(The capitalization is Lyft's. The underlining is mine.)

"LYFT DOES NOT PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, AND LYFT IS NOT A TRANSPORTATION CARRIER. IT IS UP TO THE DRIVER OR VEHICLE OPERATOR TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO OFFER A RIDE TO A RIDER CONTACTED THROUGH THE LYFT PLATFORM, AND IT IS UP THE RIDER TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO ACCEPT A RIDE FROM ANY DRIVER CONTACTED THROUGH THE LYFT PLATFORM. ANY DECISION BY A USER TO OFFER OR ACCEPT TRANSPORTATION ONCE SUCH USER IS MATCHED THROUGH THE LYFT PLATFORM IS A DECISION MADE IN SUCH USER’S SOLE DISCRETION. LYFT OFFERS INFORMATION AND A METHOD TO CONNECT DRIVERS AND RIDERS WITH EACH OTHER, BUT DOES NOT AND DOES NOT INTEND TO PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES OR ACT IN ANY MANNER AS A TRANSPORTATION CARRIER, AND HAS NO RESPONSIBILITY OR LIABILITY FOR ANY TRANSPORTATION SERVICES VOLUNTARILY PROVIDED TO ANY RIDER BY ANY DRIVER USING THE LYFT PLATFORM."       

"You will defend, indemnify, and hold Us and Our officers, directors, employees, agents and any third parties harmless for any losses, costs, liabilities and expenses (including reasonable attorneys' fees) relating to or arising out of Your use of the Service, including:
  1. Your breach of this Agreement or the documents it incorporates by reference; or
  2. Your violation of any law or the rights of a third party, including, without limitation, Drivers, Riders, other motorists, and pedestrians, as a result of Your own interaction with such third party,
  3. any allegation that any materials that You submit to Us or transmit to the Services or to Us infringe or otherwise violate the copyright, trademark, trade secret or other intellectual property or other rights of any third party;
  4. Your ownership, use or operation of a motor vehicle or passenger vehicle, including Your provision of rides to Riders; and/or
  5. any other activities in connection with the Services. This indemnity shall be applicable without regard to the negligence of any party, including any indemnified person."                         

"WE DO NOT SCREEN THE PARTICIPANTS USING THE SERVICES IN ANY WAY. AS A RESULT, WE WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL AND/OR CONSEQUENTIAL, ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF LYFT OR THE SERVICES, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, TO DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF COMMUNICATING AND/OR MEETING WITH OTHER PARTICIPANTS OF LYFT OR THE SERVICES, OR INTRODUCED TO YOU VIA LYFT OR THE SERVICES. SUCH DAMAGES INCLUDE, WITHOUT LIMITATION, PHYSICAL DAMAGES, BODILY INJURY, DEATH AND OR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS AND DISCOMFORT. "

"LYFT HAS NO RESPONSIBILITY WHATSOEVER FOR THE ACTIONS OR CONDUCT OF DRIVERS OR RIDERS. LYFT HAS NO OBLIGATION TO INTERVENE IN OR BE INVOLVED IN ANY WAY IN DISPUTES THAT MAY ARISE BETWEEN DRIVERS, RIDERS, OR THIRD PARTIES. RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE REGARDING PROVIDING OR ACCEPTING TRANSPORTATION REST SOLELY WITH YOU. IT IS EACH RIDER AND DRIVER’S RESPONSIBILITY TO TAKE REASONABLE PRECAUTIONS IN ALL ACTIONS AND INTERACTIONS WITH ANY PARTY THEY MAY INTERACT WITH THROUGH USE OF THE SERVICES. LYFT MAY BUT HAS NO RESPONSIBILITY TO SCREEN OR OTHERWISE EVALUATE POTENTIAL RIDERS OR USERS. USERS UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THAT LYFT HAS NO CONTROL OVER THE IDENTITY OR ACTIONS OF THE RIDERS AND DRIVERS, AND LYFT REQUESTS THAT USERS EXERCISE CAUTION AND GOOD JUDGMENT WHEN USING THE SERVICES. DRIVERS AND RIDERS USE THE SERVICES AT THEIR OWN RISK."

"In the event that You have a dispute with one or more Users, You agree to release Lyft (and Our officers, directors, agents, subsidiaries, joint ventures and employees) from claims, demands and damages (actual and consequential) of every kind and nature, known and unknown, suspected and unsuspected, disclosed and undisclosed, arising out of or in any way connected to such disputes with other Users or to Your use of the Lyft Platform or the Services. If You are a California resident, You waive California Civil Code Section 1542, which says: "A general release does not extend to claims which the creditor does not know or suspect to exist in his favor at the time of executing the release, which, if known by him must have materially affected his settlement with the debtor."

A Few Highlights from Sidecar's Terms of Service           

"THIS AGREEMENT CONTAINS A MANDATORY ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES PROVISION THAT REQUIRES THE USE OF ARBITRATION ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS TO RESOLVE DISPUTES BETWEEN A USER AND SIDECAR, RATHER THAN JURY TRIALS OR CLASS ACTIONS."

"Passenger, at Passenger’s sole and voluntary discretion, may request and accept a ride offer from a Driver through the Sidecar Service. Passenger understands that each Driver (not Sidecar or its affiliates) bears sole and absolute responsibility for all aspects of a ride, including safety, driving practices, conduct, as well as securing all required licenses, insurance, and registrations, and compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws, rules, and regulations....By accepting a ride with a Driver, Passenger agrees to comply with Sidecar’s . Passenger acknowledges that Driver is solely responsible for all aspects of a ride, including safety, punctuality, vehicle cleanliness, and conduct. Except as expressly provided otherwise herein, Passenger agrees to look to the Driver, and not to Sidecar, for any complaint, claim, or other issue that Passenger may have in connection with a ride; ..."






  • "DISPUTES WITH DRIVERS OR OTHER USERS. YOU ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR INTERACTIONS WITH DRIVERS OR OTHER SIDECAR USERS. WE RESERVE THE RIGHT, BUT HAVE NO OBLIGATION, TO MONITOR AND FACILIATE THE RESOLUTION OF DISPUTES BETWEEN YOU AND OTHER USERS. SIDECAR SHALL HAVE NO LIABILITY FOR YOUR INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER USERS, OR FOR ITS OR ANY USER’S ACTION OR INACTION."


  •  "Driver, at Driver’s sole and voluntary discretion, may agree to accept a request and provide rideshare qualifying transport to a Passenger through the Service. Driver acknowledges and agrees that Driver bears sole and absolute responsibility for all aspects of a ride, including safety, securing all appropriate licenses, insurance, and required registrations, as well as compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws, rules, and regulations....Driver agrees to look to the Passenger, and not to Sidecar, for any complaint, claim, injury, or other issue that Driver may have in connection with a ride."

    "Disputes with PASSENGERS OR OTHER USERS. YOU ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR INTERACTIONS WITH PASSENGERS OR OTHER SIDECAR USERS. WE RESERVE THE RIGHT, BUT HAVE NO OBLIGATION, TO MONITOR DISPUTES BETWEEN YOU AND OTHER USERS. SIDECAR SHALL HAVE NO LIABILITY FOR YOUR INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER USERS, OR FOR ANY USER’S ACTION OR INACTION."





  • "No Warranty OR Guarantee Provided as to Driver or Passenger Safety
    Sidecar has taken commercially reasonable steps to collect information from its Drivers, including proof of automobile registration and insurance, and has used commercially reasonable efforts to conduct Driver background checks. This however, is not to be deemed a warranty or guarantee, either express or implied, for the safety of a ride, the reliability of a Driver, a ride or the Driver’s vehicle, or for anything else, and Sidecar expressly disclaims all warranties as to its Drivers and Passengers. You should take all reasonable steps in determining whether to accept a ride from Driver or give a ride to a Passenger.
    In no event will Sidecar be responsible for any damages (including personal injury, death, property damage, lost time or wages, etc.) Resulting from or related to a ride facilitated by the Service, or for resolving any disputes between you and another user. You hereby agree that your use of the Service is at your sole risk.

    "SIDECAR DOES NOT WARRANT, ENDORSE, GUARANTEE, OR ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY RIDE YOU REQUEST OR PROVIDE THROUGH THE SIDECAR SERVICE, NOR DOES SIDECAR WARRANT, ENDORSE, GUARANTEE, OR ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY PROPERTY DAMAGE, INCLUDING TO YOUR VEHICLE, PERSONAL INJURY, UP TO AND INCLUDING DEATH, THAT OCCURS AS A RESULT OF THE RIDE OR YOUR USE OF THE SERVICE."

    "TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, SIDECAR ASSUMES NO LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY (I) ERRORS, MISTAKES, OR INACCURACIES OF CONTENT; (II) PERSONAL INJURY, INCLUDING DEATH, OR PROPERTY DAMAGE, OF ANY NATURE WHATSOEVER, RESULTING FROM YOUR ACCESS TO OR USE OF OUR SERVICE (INCLUDING RIDES FACILITATED BY THE SERVICE); (III) ANY UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS TO OR USE OF OUR SECURE SERVERS AND/OR ANY AND ALL PERSONAL INFORMATION STORED THEREIN; (IV) ANY INTERRUPTION OR CESSATION OF TRANSMISSION TO OR FROM THE SERVICE; (V) ANY BUGS, VIRUSES, TROJAN HORSES, OR THE LIKE THAT MAY BE TRANSMITTED TO OR THROUGH OUR SERVICE BY ANY THIRD PARTY; (VI) ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS IN ANY CONTENT OR FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE INCURRED AS A RESULT OF THE USE OF ANY CONTENT POSTED, EMAILED, TRANSMITTED, OR OTHERWISE MADE AVAILABLE THROUGH THE SERVICE; AND/OR (VII) USER CONTENT OR THE DEFAMATORY, OFFENSIVE, OR ILLEGAL CONDUCT OF ANY THIRD PARTY"

    Have a nice ride. Take a cab.

  • 16 comments:

    1. I read online that Mayor Ed Lee declared July 13, 2013 Lyft day.If true this is outrageous that the city's SFMTA should take millions of dollars from cab industry and turn around and support form of unregulated cab that is in direct competition with the City's legal regulated cabs..
      http://blog.lyft.me/post/55570217082/lyft-day-in-san-francisco

      ReplyDelete
    2. Troll.

      Done and done. Try the spinach before you tell me that *all* spinach is terrible. You are biased as a cab driver and have an obvious agenda.

      You site one example, which is dubious and lacking details, as proof that alternative private transport is dangerous and to be avoided. Using such logic you should avoid *every restaurants* because there was once a restaurant that that spread disease in some forgotten town. Do us all a favor, Fear Monger, and take a course in ethical journalism.

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    3. Your point is?

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    4. ed, keep up the good work. like one of the eagles founding members (glen frey) used to sing ...the heat is on.

      to illustrate the point, here is what the heat is doing to uber:

      friend of mine, got an email from uber for the the first time ever (he has been working there almost 2 years)

      the subject line read "IMPORTANT: uberx Policy Update" the email was reminding drivers that there is a "incident report form" - for a car accident that is...and if drivers did not have a printer (yup. drivers don't have printers) they could come to the uber building on howard to pick up one.

      as far as i know, neither lyft nor sidecar and the rest of taxi-pirates have a "process" to deal with a car accident other than first call YOUR insurance company, then send us an emai, at least not visible on their site.

      ReplyDelete
    5. Mr. Stanwyck,

      Actually, I can't remember the last time a cab driver ran down a motorcyclist but you can rest assured that, if it ever happened, it was given front page coverage by the local press. In addition, I don't think that is an isolated incident. There was major accident involving a Lyft at Pine and Franklin not long ago. This sort of thing happens when you let untrained amateurs drive under stressful, peak-time conditions. And, if a cab driver does run down a vehicle, you will be able to find an insurance certificate for one million dollars in coverage in the taxi's glove compartment. Not something you'll find in a Lyft car.

      Biased me - I've driven professionally for 30 years and never caused an accident. And, yes, I have an agenda. I want to get these illegal vehicles off the street before they kill somebody.

      There is nothing isolated about monumental irresponsibility to which the "Term of Service" of these illegal taxi companies give voice.

      I should take a course in ethical journalism? What a joke! Despite repeatedly being shown proof that the vehicles of Lyft and Sidecar are either underinsured or not insured at all, the local press refuses to so much as mention this fact. I'm also aware of at least two articles where the editors of the magazines cut out all negative mention the illegal rideshares - including the basic fact that they are illegal.

      Word on the street is that the venture capitalist's backing Lyft and Sidecar are threatening to sue any news source that is likely to downgrade their investments.

      I'm merely filling in what the should-be press has left out.

      If you're looking into ethical questions, why don't you ask John Zimmer and Sunil Paul why they refuse to show the public the details, limitations and exclusions of the million dollar insurance policies that they claim to have?

      Any legitimate cab or limo company will show you theirs.

      Ed

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    6. Hi Ed,
      I'm wondering if a lawyer would be willing to file a class action lawsuit against the city and Mayor Lee for taking $250,000 from Taxi drivers for medallions while actively promoting Lyft, Uber and Side Car. This is so outrageous. These medallion buyers are the real entrepreneurs who also helped the city out when it needed money. Isn't this why Mayor Newsom initiated the sales program? If Mayor Lee wants to replace taxi's with illegal ride shares, perhaps he wouldn't mind refunding $250,000 to any medallion buyer who wants their money back. It doesn't really seem plausible that the SFMTA can continue to sell these medallions for a quarter of a million dollars into the future if these illegal companies continue to operate.

      Also, if it is true that Ron Conway and Mayor Lee's daughter are involved in these companies, wouldn't this be the kind of conflict of interest that gets politicians investigated by the FBI and eventually prosecuted? This looks like something that is going to blow up in his face.

      Thanks for you great reporting.

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      Replies
      1. I think you are spot on my friend especially about the lawsuit..laws not enforced, and competition actually promoted over law abiding citizens who paid 250,000 good faith money to city..

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    7. Interesting how Mayor Lee says that tourism is the strongest industry in San Francisco. An industry that relies on taxi service. People traveling from other countries don't usually use their smart phones because its to expensive. They take taxi's from the airport to hotels and elsewhere. If taxi's are eradicated or can not be operated profitably, who is going to handle the tourists? Once the taxi's are run out of business, the people will see how fast the ride shares raise their prices especially on week ends and during busy months. They could even raise their price because it's raining and thus harder to get a ride. Price surging, Uber calls it. They stopped doing it for now to compete and run taxi's out of business.

      ReplyDelete
    8. Maybe cabbies are just the first pickings as I could see some forces wanting to privatize the bus service over the long haul..
      http://leaptransit.com/
      Muni bus drivers better keep there watch out for this..

      ReplyDelete
    9. Yeah. I had a couple of broken car windows in London after a run in with an uninsured cab driver. The expenses, the stress, the argument. It's got to stop.

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    10. ed, do you know when the cpuc is going to issue the "new" regulations about these pirates-cabs ? is it a public known date ?

      also. have a look at how uber is treating their "disposable" drivers...apparently they cut them off on a customer's whim. maybe the driver di not use the proper english ? or the proper route ?

      apparently the so-heralded uber clients are full of themselves and rate drivers down like in the old days when the british empire ran the show in india.

      post is from march 15, 2013.

      http://allthingsd.com/20130315/uber-drivers-protest-outside-the-companys-san-francisco-headquarters/

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    11. Judge Mason of the CPUC was supposed to give his ruling on July 19th. Instead he said that he would give a ruling "soon." Once he does, the CPUC Commission still has to make decisions. I think they meet once a month.

      As soon as I know, I'll post it..

      ReplyDelete
    12. This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post.

      cpc training course & Cpc transport manager courses

      ReplyDelete
    13. I have driven a cab for 26 years and the other night a passenger requested I take her and her husband to Marin reason: The UBER limo had vomit all over the read door and the window was smashed out: She asked him about it and he said VOMIT???? I don't see no vomit she took a taxi: UBER keep on letting people vomit in your limo and don't please don't clean it up: Taxicab drivers do not mnd getting their hands dirity we can use your passengers steve webb big dog city 804

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    14. Good article. Don't blame the rideshare drivers, they are been suckered in also. I agree that they are not trained and it is a tough job.

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    15. The CEO of UBER was just interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and they have him a full page. Forbes magazine interviewed him. This is just a good example of Corp. Greed in America. If you read history they ran all of the small brewers out of business by pricing beer far below the brewers cost of .25 glass. They charged a 5 cents. Once all of the small operators were out of the picture they jacked their prices to .25 I expect the CEO of UBER to next have Dennis Rodman as the poster child for the company or Linsey Lohan saying don't drive drunk take UBER. steve webb big dog city taxi thetaxidriversguidetosanfrancisco

      ReplyDelete