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The consumer watchdog gives the two most popular ride-sharing services its lowest possible grade.

To be fair, the Bureau has received 110 complaints about Uber as of this writing, compared to only four for Lyft.

For those not in the know, Uber and Lyft are car services that operate through your phone and compete directly with taxis. Lyft connects independent drivers with passengers for a fee, while Uber has a range of options, from a more expensive black car to a Lyft-style option. Both can be significantly cheaper and more convenient than a traditional taxi, but there are other considerations.

For one thing, their drivers are all considered independent contractors, and you’re trusting Lyft and Uber to do the work of performing background checks, vehicle checks and securing a certain level of insurance, as required, for instance, by the state of California. For another, both companies have been criticized for undermining organized labor.

The main complaint on the part of customers seems to be “surge pricing,” something both companies do. Essentially, during peak hours, when it’s difficult to get a ride, passengers are forced to pay a premium. On New Year’s Eve, for example, you could pay three times the normal rate to get home. Some passengers say that’s gouging. Uber and Lyft would say it’s how they entice more drivers onto the road to make sure passengers don’t have to wait too long.

As The Huffington Post points out, airlines and hotels engage in similar practices.

A search of the BBB’s website shows that American Yellow Cab in San Francisco, for example, also has an “F” rating, with only one complaint. That doesn’t seem like a very good sample size, but it’s the first “yellow” cab company in the area I could find with a rating. The Yellow Cab Company of Los Angeles, where Truthdig is based, also has an “F” with one complaint.

Full disclosure: This blogger has been both a Lyft driver (for fun) and passenger (for convenience) and found the experience to be much more pleasant on both ends than the Better Business Bureau would suggest. I’ve never taken Uber.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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