For A Little While, I Felt Like The Richest Man In Lyft-Ville

Here’s a fun way to start your weekend: Getting a message from Lyft about the fact that you have $1,275 worth of free ride credits.

No, that’s not a typo, and yes, that’s really a message that I got on Friday evening. Now technically, I knew about those credits already, because after the “will they/won’t they” drama of Lyft’s launch in New York, I was all ready to download the app when the ride service officially arrived last month.

As a result, I became a Lyft “pioneer”, with credit for 50 free rides — since each of them was worth up to $25, their total value was, yep, $1,275. But it’s one thing to know you’ve got some free rides coming, and another to get a notification about that rather impressive lump sum.

And what did I do with that big money notification? Naturally, I tweeted it, prompting a number of excellent suggestions about how I might use those credits. I’d even started to think about how glorious it would be take a cross-country Lyft.

As the weekend continued, those fantasies kept popping into my head, and I imagined how I’d live like a king as soon as I returned to the city. Sadly, it all came crashing down when I finally opened the app today. Those 50 free rides? Turns out they expired back on Aug. 10. All I have left is a single credit, worth a grand total of 25 bucks.

As you can imagine, that took some of the wind out of my sails. I was on an Amtrak back to New York the when I got the bad news, and as I stared out the window, the world seemed to lose some of its luster. My life felt a little emptier.

I mean, I also felt vaguely guilty about not using any of those credits sooner, but more than that, I felt annoyed.

Fellow New York pioneers may recall Lyft’s unimpressive performance out of the gate — throughout that first weekend, I tried to hail a car in Brooklyn three or four times, and every single time there was nothing available. It seems particularly cruel to make up for that bumpy launch by offering me free rides, and limiting those rides to the early weeks when there still aren’t that many cars available. Even if the streets had been filled with pink moustaches, who the hell has time to take 50 Lyfts in two weeks?

I assume the $1,275 was just a bug, albeit one that broke my poor little heart. (I mean, just typing the number bums me out now.) But hey, it reminded me to give Lyft in New York one last chance, and I can console myself: At least that I still have that one free ride.

Update: This totally wasn’t my intention in writing the post (… or was it?), but 50 free rides are showing up in the app again, and now they don’t expire until Aug. 23. A Lyft spokesperson said the new credits were issued on Aug. 8, because I hadn’t used any of the free rides from the first batch. (You know, I would’ve taken screenshots to show that I realio-trulio only had one free ride when I opened the app yesterday, but who would’ve thought that would be the hard part to believe?)

Anyway, for the next week, the subway can suck it.

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