"Sounds like a good problem to have.”
I left my phone in a Lyft in Las Vegas. I was getting dropped off at the airport after a speaking event. I realized it about 5 seconds after the car drove away. It took 20 days to get back.
In the first 3 days, I tried to work with Lyft on getting it back but the driver was non-responsive to them and to me. Then after another several days, the people helping me at Lyft went dark. That’s another story. (Details, what I learned, and what might be helpful to you ... personally and if you're a leader ... can be read below).
Without a response, after watching my phone move all over Vegas for a few days through Find My iPhone, I began my mourning process (I know … stop with the drama, Sam).
Around that moment, my 17-year-old son came into the room to tell me about his plans for the day and I reminded him that I’ll be difficult to reach because I don’t have a phone.
“Are you going to get it back?” he asked.
“It’s not looking good,” I said.
“Well … Sounds like a good problem to have.”
One of my lines coming back to me.
I smiled … took a breath … and let him know I agreed. He was reminding me that relatively speaking (humanity relatively speaking), that I’m very lucky. And with an extra pause, I found myself loving that he said it. (With a pause? I’m human. In the first moment, I wanted to lament, for sure.) But, then, I reminded him that few people will likely respond well to that statement during a frustrating moment.
“I know, Dad. I’m not stupid.”
Be thankful. Complain less. ( Smovish principle’s # 2 and #4)
The details, what I learned, and what might be helpful to you...
The story is below. If you only have time for what I learned and what might be helpful to you…
- Don’t be overly patient with customer service processes and people if it’s something very important or expensive to you (money, time, attention). Involve anyone and anything that can help you.
- If you lead a team of people that helps people, inspire them to help people faster and make the story better for you when they're telling it to their friends. Every exception and every challenge is an opportunity to shine. (Here’s how to help them be 212ers and this is how to help them Smile & Move.)
- Back up your phone and/or important pictures to a cloud service in case you lose it.
- Set up security on your phone (password/fingerprint/face recognition to get in, Find My iPhone/ Find your phone).
- Move slowly when you’re getting out of your cab, Uber, Lyft and look back into the seat before closing the door.
- Be awake. Try to learn the first and last name of your driver during your ride and take note of the car type and license plate number in case you might need them. A screenshot of your car service’s app when it notifies you of your driver works … unless you leave your phone, of course, and it’s not backed up to a cloud service.
- If you help people for a living, be a better part of someone’s day, faster. (It’s called Working Kindly.)
"How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people."
Albert Einstein | 1879 – 1955 | Swiss physicist, Nobel Prize winner
I was catching a red-eye flight out of Las Vegas. I needed to get back to the east coast for another speaking event the next morning.
I left the phone in the Lyft car at about 9:30 pm that night. I realized it about 5 seconds after the car drove away.
When I got to my gate, I reported the lost phone to Lyft through their website. When I landed in Charlotte, I learned by email that my driver reported the lost phone at about the same time as I did. That, and the fact that I felt we hit it off during the ride made me optimistic things were going to go well.
I shared my shipping address, office phone number, and wife’s phone number with people at Lyft and they said they passed it along to the driver. All of this was through email. They appear to do everything they can to block live human communication. I don’t think I’ve experienced an organization that does ‘we’ll control the way things go’ so well.
Fortunately, I had Find My iPhone set up so I could remotely put the phone in ‘Lost Mode’. This locks it down but let’s you send a notice to the phone of how someone can reach you. Because I also had a password and fingerprint locking the phone, I decided not to erase the phone. If I got the phone back, I wanted to be able to get the thousands of pictures back that I didn’t back up anywhere. (I know.)
Then things got strange.
For the next several days, I heard nothing from the driver and the people at Lyft said they couldn’t get hold of him. Eventually, I asked for his last name and phone number and they advised me, “To respect the privacy of our users on the Lyft platform, we are unable to provide you the driver's contact information at this time. Same as how we protect your privacy by not providing your info to anybody else without your approval.” Again, using a generic email address with customer service solution. No last names. No phone numbers.
5 days after losing the phone, I was advised by email that Lyft was done helping me. One of their suggestions: ‘We advise you to partner with local authorities to safely retrieve your phone.’
I asked if the driver was still able to drive for them. Two days later, I asked again. (During that time, I bought a new phone.)
The next day the supervisor responded, “Thanks for waiting for my reply. My bad. Yes, the driver is still an active Lyft driver. We can't hold the driver accountable since we don't require them to keep in contact with us.” That was 8 days after leaving the phone in the car.
Later that morning, my new phone arrived at my house. In the afternoon, out of nowhere, the driver texted my wife to let us know we’d have to cover shipping for the phone. It was his first communication with me since dropping me off at the airport.
I responded, “I can arrange to have it picked up from anywhere that's convenient for you. It would just need to be in a box. Just let me know the address and when it will be there and I'll have FedEx pick it up.”
He let me know he’d need another couple days to get it to Lyft’s hub in Las Vegas.
Three days later, after a couple contact attempts by me, he texted it was at the hub (the hub with no phone number or names of people who work there). So, I set up a FedEx pickup for the next day (12 days after leaving it in the car). That night, the FedEx tracking report said the package wasn’t ready for pickup at the location. I emailed Lyft. No response. I emailed Lyft the next morning asking for help. No response.
So, around noon, I decided to see if I could get some attention from Lyft using Twitter…
Left my phone in a @lyft 13 days ago. @asklyft's slow communication & lack of urgency to help continues to frustrate me. What I learned: Be careful not to leave anything in a car. Drivers don't have to respond to @lyft or you and @lyft will let them continue driving.— Sam Parker (@JustParker) May 16, 2018
Lyft replied with what appears to be a very standard canned response and then nothing more.
That night, after receiving the second ‘package isn’t ready for pickup’ report from FedEx, I emailed Lyft again. No response.
Later that night, I texted with the driver to confirm he left the package and then emailed Lyft letting them know he confirmed it was at the hub ready for pick up. No response.
The next day, with one attempt left of my promised 3 pick-up attempts by FedEx, I decided to make a bigger deal out of it.
One of my Twitter connections suggested I start tagging Lyft leadership with my tweets. So I did. And that got me thinking, “Why haven’t I tried to reach those leaders directly?”
I did a little research and found 3 leaders with customer experience responsibilities. I emailed all 3 and tried to connect with each of them on LinkedIn while periodically tweeting and tagging each of them.
Then we enlisted the help of our FedEx representative who made some calls. (We’re a customer and ship a lot of packages.)
I begged for Lyft’s help a little more on Twitter and that caught the attention of a FedEx customer service person who offered to help too.
Finally, I got my first email response from Lyft in 5 days. “Hey Sam, My name is Michael, I work on Lyft’s Executive Escalations team…” He let me know he was asked to help me by 2 of the 3 Lyft leaders I emailed earlier. That was about 3 pm.
At this point, with help from FedEx by Twitter, FedEx by representative, Lyft customer service leadership, and Lyft’s Executive Escalations team, I was hopeful.
That night, around 8 pm (5 hours after the previous email from Michael and 14 days after leaving my phone in the car in Las Vegas) an email from Lyft…
“Your phone is on the way to you! … If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know. All the best…”
I hope he understands he wasn’t my hero.
This was a $700+ phone. If it was a pencil or a book, I might be more understanding of Lyft’s lack of urgency for helping a guy out.
I lost a lot of time (life, money) to this but I did get my phone back. The upside of the experience … maybe this story helps someone avoid the mistakes I made … maybe it inspires a leader somewhere (at Lyft or in any organization that serves people … that’s all of us) to make at least one person’s experience better, faster (here are 5 ideas to lead that effort) … and maybe it inspires a few people outside of leadership to try and be a better part of someone’s day, faster.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Bill Gates | 1955 - | American businessperson and philanthropist