We’ve all been there before. Take a Lyft ride, get out at the dropoff destination, then wave at the driver as they drive away.
Then the panic sets in. You forgot an essential personal item in the vehicle.
If it’s your wallet, calling the driver is easy… if you notice right away. But what if you don’t notice till hours later, or even worse, you leave your phone in the car with no way of contacting the driver?
You’re in luck because, as it turns out, people leave stuff in the car a lot.
Since it’s such a common thing, Lyft has refined the process of returning items to their rightful owners. Thanks to Lyft lost and found, your stuff will get returned in a timely and safe manner. Here’s how it works.
- What to do when you lose an item
- Essential information, tips, and tricks
- Anything lost can be found
- What drivers need to know
What to do If You Leave Something in a Lyft
If you leave something in your Lyft, like a phone or purse or wallet, you should first contact Lyft directly to get the process started.
Usually if you know the date of your trip, that will be enough – especially if you only take Lyft every now and then. If you use it multiple times a day, or used it multiple times on the day you lost something, then you’ll have to be more specific and tell them which trip exactly it was that you think you left your item in the car.
When using Lyft lost and found, it’s critically important to tell them all the details you can about what you lost. This will play an essential role in verifying that the item is actually yours.
If your ride was less than 24 hours ago
If you’ve lost an item other than your phone and your ride was less than 24 hours ago, the first thing you need to do is attempt to contact your driver. You can do so by following these procedures:
- Open the app
- Tap your photo in the top-left corner
- Tap ‘Ride history,’ then select which ride you lost your item in
- Scroll to the bottom, then tap ‘Find Lost Item’
- Tap ‘Call’ to give your driver a phone call (this is usually the simplest way to reach them)
- Tap ‘Send Message’ to send a text (in case the driver can’t answer a call)
Your ride receipt emails also have call and text options (look toward the bottom) up to 24 hours after rides end. Lyft will email your ride receipt after you’ve rated your driver. If your driver doesn’t respond in 24 hours, follow the instructions below.
If your ride was more than 24 hours ago
If you are attempting to contact Lyft lost and found 24 hours after you lose an item, follow these steps.
First, try texting your driver as described above. If the driver doesn’t respond, Lyft is here to help! Tap ‘Contact Support’ with the following info:
- Your first and last name
- A phone number where you can be reached
- Driver’s name
- Date and time of ride
- Pickup and drop off locations
- Description of the lost item
- The more details you give customer support representatives, the easier it’ll be for them to identify the item. If you lost a phone, what model of phone was it? If you lost a purse, what brand, color, and size is it? etc…
- Permission to pass your contact info to the driver
What Passengers Should Know About Drivers When They Leave Something in Their Car
There are several things passengers should be aware of that are happening on the driver’s end when you leave something in their car.
Lyft will try to help you, but ultimately, they do not accept responsibility for your lost belongings. Here’s what their Terms of Service says about it:
“We do not procure insurance for, nor are we responsible for, personal belongings left in the car by Drivers or Riders.”
Lyft tells passengers that their first line of action is to contact the driver directly. So, here are a few things you should know about what drivers will usually be thinking. Knowing these things will greatly improve your chances of getting your lost item(s) back.
Drivers want to return the items
More than likely if the driver has found your lost item, he will initially want to return it to you as much as you want it back.
Most drivers want to return items just because it’s the right thing to do. Other, perhaps not-so-decent drivers may not want to, but they’ll try to anyway because they know if they don’t it could be a lot of trouble for them eventually.
So first just know, that more than likely, your driver does want to return it to you.
But from there, it’s up to you to work with them in a way that will increase the chances that they’ll actually follow through with their initial desire to help you. If for any reason they decide not to, there’s just not much Lyft can or will do about it.
A driver might not realize there is a lost item in the car
Another thing you should know is that it’s highly possible your driver doesn’t even know you’ve left an item in his car, and there are several reasons for this.
Let’s say you leave your phone on the backseat. You get out and he zips off to pick up his next passenger. Well, several things could happen here. The next passenger might find it and decide to steal it himself! Or, the next passenger may sit on it, not realizing it’s there, and in so doing, pushes it between the seats. This will make it less likely that your driver will ever see it.
So, unless it rings or makes some noise while the driver is alone in the car, he may never notice it’s there. If it rings while he has other passengers in the car, he’ll just think it’s their phone. So don’t assume the driver even knows he has your phone.
On the other hand the driver may very well find your phone and he may report it to Lyft.
However, this is something very important to keep in mind… he probably will not know which passenger left it in his car. He may have just completed seven different trips. There could have been more than 10 people in his car during that time. And he will most likely have no idea which one left their phone.
So, when he reports it to Lyft, Lyft will ask him if he knows who left it in his car and he’ll say no. In that case, Lyft will wait to hear from you, then they’ll try to match it up.
Remember, Lyft first makes it your responsibility to contact the driver. You should only contact Lyft if you’re not able to reach the driver.
In that case, what is supposed to happen, is that after you contact Lyft, they will try to contact the driver and give him your phone number. Which can be a problem if it is your phone that you have left in his car!
If that’s the case, you’ll have to give them alternate number. Then, the driver is supposed to contact you to arrange a time to meet you and return your item.
Anything Lost Can be Found
One of the great promises of ridesharing when Lyft first started was that since both you and Lyft knew who you driver was, it would be a cinch to get something back from the driver if you left it in the car. They touted this as a benefit of using Lyft and in contrast to using taxis.
When people leave something in a taxi, they’ll rarely get it back, since almost nobody keeps track of the medallion number of the taxi they’re in. It’s nearly impossible to find a lost item simply because it can’t be tracked. If you don’t know which cab you were in, there’s no way to find it because there are so many thousands of cabs (in larger cities anyway).
So, Lyft touted this idea that, anything that’s lost can easily be found, as a reason to use rideshare rather than taxis. And it made sense.
You call for a driver on the app, Lyft’s computers know who your driver was and they can get in touch with them. You can get in touch with Lyft and simply tell them the date and time of your ride and they will automatically figure out who the driver was. Then they’ll get in touch with him or her and ask them to contact you to arrange a pickup of your lost item.
However, for some reason, it hasn’t worked out quiet this smoothly in practice. But, more on that in a minute!
Understanding Why Well-Intentioned Lyft Drivers May Not Return Your Phone
This is where things can take a turn and start to go wrong. You know what the driver is supposed to do and they know what they should do – but that may not be what they will always do. So, we will recommend things you can do to make it more likely that they will actually return your item to you.
The driver, no matter how well intentioned, now comes up against the reality of returning the phone to you. He may have started out with every good intention in the world, but now he begins to realize, this is going to cost him a lot of time and therefore money!
So, never be demanding of your driver when you contact him. He should help you but in the end, he doesn’t really have to. So anything you do that might offend him may ruin your chances of getting your things back.
Imagine your driver is a full-time driver and makes his full-time living driving for Lyft. Keep in mind that competition with other drivers and the very low rates drivers are paid, now make it very difficult for drivers to make ends meet. When they envision their working day – they envision every minute of it spent with a paying passenger in their car. Anything that gets in the way of that suddenly becomes a huge headache for them. And returning your belongings to you will become just such a headache for them.
In most cases, while a driver may initially genuinely want to return lost items to passengers, when they get into the actual process of doing it, they may find out that the passenger is now located far away from where they are. It may take them 45 minutes to an hour just to drive to the passenger. Understandably, they start thinking, ‘Who is going to pay me for that time? Lyft will pay them a $15 return fee, but that’s just peanuts if the driver is looking at two or more hours taken out of his day.
That’s a whole lot of lost time from time that could be spent earning money. Then they start thinking about the fact that it wasn’t really their fault that you left your phone in their car and they start to resent the fact that they’re now being asked to take an hour or even possibly two hours out of their working day to drop off your phone. So, it pays to be really nice and respectful when you talk to them. Because in the end you’re really asking them to do you a big personal favor.
The more they think about everything involved in returning your phone or other lost items to you, the more they realize they’re going to lose some serious money. They may tell you they’ll stop by when they’re in your area, but that could be days and days away… if ever!
At this point you, as the passenger with the lost phone, start feeling like you’re getting the run around from the driver. He’s not giving you a time when he can meet, he’s not returning your calls and you start to get an anxious feeling about your chances of ever seeing your cherished phone again!
Unfortunately, the driver in this video typifies the thinking of too many drivers.
Our advice, if you are really desperate to get your phone back, just offer to pay the driver – up front. Offer him $30 to $50, or ask him how much it would take to make it worth his time. If you do this, he’ll probably show up before you even get off the phone with him!
The bottom line is, to a driver’s mind, they don’t want to lose money during their working day. They simply do not make enough where they can afford to. They have to spend every working hour – working. Or they may not be able to make this month’s car payment or insurance payment. It’s not that they don’t like you or they want to hurt you – they’re just thinking in survival mode.
If a driver tells you he doesn’t have time to meet up with you – what he’s really saying is that he can’t afford the time. He doesn’t think he should lose wages from working to deliver your phone or lost item. Then, they start rationalizing and think since it wasn’t their fault in the first place that you left your phone in their car and since returning it to you will really make it harder for them to pay their bills that week, they reason that if you’re not willing to pay for them to come by, then they simply can’t make the time to do it.
They know some passengers might pay them when they show up – but they also know that most passengers don’t. Most passengers think it’s their right to get their phone back and don’t see any need to tip or compensate the driver for his lost time, so drivers are quiet reluctant to do it in the end.
You can quickly get around all that though, by simply saying, “I’ll give you $50 cash when you arrive.” It may sound crass, or not like the way civilized people should have to behave – but it is the best way to guarantee that you will get your phone back. Or, offer to meet him in a place that’s convenient for him.
While Lyft makes promises about helping passengers get their lost belongings back, in the end they don’t really have any control over it and ultimately they wash their hands of it and deny final responsibility in their Terms of Service.
Unlike taxi drivers, Lyft drivers don’t have to check into some central location every day at the end of their shift to return their car. Traditionally, taxi drivers would return lost belongings to their base when they checked their car back in at the end of their shift. Then passengers could go there to pick up whatever they lost. But there is no central base with Lyft.
In the end Lyft doesn’t have any control over what drivers do with lost belongings. They’ll tell you that they’ve called and texted the driver, but in the end that’s really all they can do. Ultimately, it will be up to you and your ability to persuade the driver to meet up with you at some point.
Lyft Lost & Found – What Drivers Need to Know
So, let’s flip the coin over and take a look at what drivers need to know.
The first thing you as a driver need to know is that Lyft tells riders their first line of action is to contact you directly. So you’ll either get a phone call or text message (through the Lyft messaging system) for up to 24 hours after the trip has ended. If you’re expecting the first contact to be from Lyft, it may not be.
Drivers, you need to know that the passenger desperately wants their lost item(s) back. You should also know that they think you are obligated to bring it back to them.
You should try to do everything in your power to get the passenger’s belongings back to them. You may be not be legally obligated to do so, but you should try your best. Just think what you would want a driver to do if you left something in their car. Yes, maybe the passenger was negligent or irresponsible but they’re human. And humans make mistakes from time to time. It’s a pretty sure bet you’ve lost a few things as well! Just remember, the right thing to do is to get the lost item back to your passenger.
However, you shouldn’t be expected to lose money. When the passenger contacts you, just tell them how much you’d like them to pay you for your time. Don’t be greedy, just give them a fair price. Base it on how long you think the transaction will take and then charge them about what you would normally make for that period of time.
When a passenger attempts to contact you, you owe to them to respond and try to work out a reasonable way of returning it.
If you absolutely can’t meet them, then get creative and work out some other way. Perhaps tell them you’ll leave it at the front desk of a hotel that’s convenient for you and let them pick it up from there. Ask the front desk clerk if he could help you out and hold the phone for them to pick up. Then put it in an envelope and write their name on it.
You should also get them to confirm this procedure in writing via a text message. That way you’re covered should they ever later try to charge you with theft. Also, take a photo with your phone of their item in the envelope with the clerk at the front desk.
That’s just one suggestion. You can think of your own. But you really should try your best to return the item. Just imagine if you left your phone in a driver’s car. You’d certainly appreciate it if the driver could make some effort to help you get it back.