Diego Zegarra lives in San Francisco where ride-sharing apps had their start so he’s been using them for years. That’s why he says he didn’t think twice about taking a Lyft ride from Miami Beach to his sister’s home in West Miami when he was visiting over the New Year’s holiday.
“Everybody is a tourist here, everybody takes Lyft, everybody takes Uber,” Zegarra said.
Diego says he rode with his father and stepmother on a trip that cost $23. A few minutes after they got out of the car, he says he got a surprise message.
“I got another email with a damage fee receipt for $100,” he explained.
It happened because the driver claimed there was “a spill of blood” in the back seat, and provided a couple of pictures showing some kind of dampness in the seat. Zegarra says there’s no way anyone spilled blood on the seat.
“I don’t know how you could do that unless you got shot or stabbed, which wasn’t the case, thank God,” he said.
Zegarra contacted Lyft to dispute the damage fee but he says the company sided with the driver and refused to return his money.
“I got emails back saying 'no, no, no it’s you and the driver says there’s a spill of blood and the charge is ok. The claim is fine, and we’re just going to go ahead and charge you $100,'” he says.
That’s when he contacted the NBC6 Responds team for help.
A day after we contacted Lyft, the company sent an email that read in part:
“We take damage disputes such as these very seriously. Lyft’s support team investigates each incident individually and makes a determination based on the evidence available … upon reviewing this incident, we refunded the charges.”
That wasn’t all the good news. Zegarra’s Lyft account had been deactivated because he initially contacted the driver directly when he saw the damage fee, which is against Lyft’s company policy. His account has since been reactivated. The company says if you have a dispute, reach out to Lyft directly instead of contacting your driver.