After hundreds of rides through a variety of rideshare apps, I have given just a single one-star review. This is the story of the ride that warranted it.
Not For a Lack of Experience
I’ve had plenty of rideshares, hundreds, in fact, across a variety of providers all over the world. If I don’t type that last line then some won’t believe I’ve hailed from my phone before, while others will suggest that I am in some way trying to brag.
That’s not it. I am simply qualifying that this is far from my first rodeo and certainly and that I frequently use the services of Uber, Lyft, and Yandex Go for rides in lots of countries outside of the United States.
With that out of the way, this is the single worst rideshare experience I have ever had. I have hung off the bottom metal step and held the last rung of a songthaew howling down the highway in the rain with one arm and 30 lbs of groceries in the other arm. I’ve huddled up, four adults to the backseat of a Toyota Corolla.
This was worse.
The Vehicle Was Not As Expected
Minivans on the Yandex app – the premier rideshare app in Yerevan, Armenia – vary wildly. My family had a significant amount of luggage at the end of our month-long visit to Europe and the Caucus. Upon our arrival we had a massive, cavernous van made even more spacious by removing any semblance of interior comfort.
The morning of our departure (morning, evening – it was 3AM and we never went to bed) we called for a Yandex minivan. What arrived was not a minivan… it wasn’t even a midsize car.
Though the size appeared to be incompatible with a seven-year-old (almost eight, she won’t let anyone forget that), two adults, three backpacks, and four suitcases – we let him try.
He popped down the backseat to access a minimal but mighty compartment behind, but wait, that’s an LNG tank taking up half of the usable space.
He heaved the first bag (it was heavy, I would have heaved it too) into the back and I was certain it was hopeless. He got the second inside and I was looking for a secret spot where he might have put the third and fourth. The third fit in the back but there was no more room left at the Inn. The rest of the luggage occupied two of the rear seats.
He said “ok” and got in, but we didn’t have time to argue and unpack.
Our safety was compromised before he placed in luggage in that vehicle. Thick fog and a driver distracted by his phone are a bad combination. But then the various scrapes of the vehicle against the cement as we made our way riding between lanes (on empty streets) and crunching over inconsistent pavement levels.
There was more.
The vehicle struggled to stop, then it struggled to go. The driver seemed to be unfamiliar with the route to the airport, consulting not only his map but switching to other apps with confusion. Staying inside of the Yandex Go app, I was able to follow along quite clearly but the driver found this in some way insufficient.
There were issues with following too closely, nearly missing turns causing last-second decisions – I wasn’t only wondering if he was new to the app but also whether or not he was new to driving in general.
The Bonus Rip Off
Once we arrived at the departures lounge, the very oldest trick in the book made an appearance. When entering the departures area, cars must collect a ticket that entitles them to one hour of free parking. The sign is in both languages and was clear and conspicuous.
Upon parking at Departures, the driver grabbed the ticket and approached me as we unloaded the car ourselves. In Armenian, he began waving the ticket and motioning to his watch, then rubbing his pointer and middle finger against his thumb (the international sign for “more money, please”) and demanding additional payment. I ignored him as we unloaded the car and wagged a finger toward the end.
This is a common scam throughout the world, and while the amount may have been small, I didn’t have any additional Armenian Dram even if I wanted to help him out. But ultimately, I detest this method. Had he helped us with our bags I would have most likely tipped despite the precarious ride to the airport. Many of our rides were so inexpensive that we tipped 25, 50, even 100% on our rides (some were as little as $1.50.)
The demands continued as we made our way inside the terminal and I opened the app to rate my ride. Interestingly, when I submitted my one and only one-star review on any rideshare app, Yandex Go asked why I rated the ride so low and offered a variety of reasons why; one of which was that the driver asked for more money.
Despite a number of challenging situations, locales, and complications, this was the lowest-rated ride I have ever submitted. I generally don’t need to leave a bad review, because service offered tends to be competent, friendly, and consistent. I also dislike the repercussions on drivers of leaving poor reviews, and I treat rideshare services as a safety matter – they are always a guaranteed ride home. In this particular instance, we ordered a private van – not a carpool, vanpool, or anything else – and received a medium-sized car, unsafe ride with an insufficient number of seats, and were then pestered for additional funds that we’d neither agreed nor were obligated to pay. While I otherwise had an excellent experience with Yandex Go, this was the single worst rideshare experience I have had, for that, I count myself lucky.
What do you think? What’s your worst rideshare experience?