Comes down to the fact that it's just soooo much easier to track down a lost phone or item. Thanks, ride history!
Okay, you still have to do stupid things like take a picture of a taxi receipt if you're in a place that doesn't have technologai (most likely abroad in some underdeveloped country, but good luck getting a receipt then). I still have traumatic memories of tracking a Hong Kong taxi via my laptop, watching as my phone got further and further away...
Interestingly enough, losing a phone in a car is only the second most common place to do it. Because the first place where most people lose their phone than a tax is a swimming pool (yes).
Is the driver a bad or good egg?
Sometimes there's a person who ruins it for everyone. And it's always fun to discover which variety you had the night before when left the wallet or phone in the car. (No wallet means no money, which means no transportation, which means you're at the mercy of the driver. Unless you call ANOTHER Uber to meet the driver, which I've done.)
By no means are customers required to pay an additional tip, surcharge or—let's just call it for what it is—bribe for bringing a lost item back. Both Lyft and Uber are remarkably great at trying to get a lost item back to you, but if you're under time-sensitive constrictions away, be aware that it might mean sucking it up.
I've met drivers who snail mailed a set of keys across the country to drivers who pretty much wallet-raped passengers for a phone. (Get the item, and I'd subtly suggesting provide "feedback" within the app.)
How Lyft handles lost items
The best news about losing something through Lyft, is once a rider figures it out, on average, 85% of drivers will contact passengers in the first hour. Compared to nothing for a yellow cab.
Officially, Lyft doesn't keep track of how often a passenger is reunited with their lost item but my guess it's that a lot higher than if I lost it in a Mexican taxi.
Perhaps the best reason for Lyft's responsiveness rates? A Lyft spokeswoman told us this:
...within 30 minutes of a passenger logging a lost item, we reach out to the drivers to make sure they're aware. If the driver confirms [the passenger] has the lost item, we can coordinate shipping the item or provide contact information for the driver and passenger to meet in person.
Technically, if the driver tries to ask for a tip or bribe for bringing the item, know that is not kosher under company policy. In this case, Lyft will make arrangements so that the item can be shipped back to the passenger free of charge.
Same policy goes for Lyft (and Uber) New York City drivers, who tend to be the most notorious for this. NYC drivers are generally encouraged to drop off the lost item at Lyft offices in Long Island City.
Updated: October 10, 2016One user emailed in saying that when it was clear that phone was indeed taken, Lyft emailed them this information:
I definitely recommend exploring other options in locating your lost phone. At this point, we encourage you to take any additional action you feel necessary towards retrieving the phone. We're happy to work with any local authorities, should you file a police report, but we're unable to release any user info without first receiving a subpoena.
How Uber handles lost items
Uber's official policy, for better or for worse, seems intentionally vague and did not respond to any requests for more information. (Despite accidentally making part of it's "lost and found" database public last year.)
According to Vice:
Back in 2011, the company noted that the "meticulous trip details that we log at Uber make it easy for us to track down your driver, trip information AND lost items."
"The drivers often contact us to let us know when they’ve found items in the car in hopes that we can get them back in your hands quickly," the company said.
That's not always the case, it appears. At least two drivers seemed to be demanding money in exchange for returning the items, according to the site. "INSISTENT ON GETTING $10," read one note on a lost car key. “Requested payout,” another driver noted on three separate entries for lost items.
Good to note Uber is at LEAST tracking that stuff.