“Hello? Hold on one second ...” “Uh, hi, yeah, one second ...” “Sorry, I have to take this ...” “You need a ri—sorry I’ll be right back.” Earlier this month, this was the life of Matthais Leul, who is a limo driver in California. He is not Lyft HQ, though Google seems to suggest otherwise.
Thanks to a weird accident of the Internet, for several days, Leul’s number was lodged into a square box on Google’s search engine under “Lyft HQ.” As a result, hundreds of people started calling him up, assuming they were dialing the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company’s headquarters. Nope.
Ironically Leul, an Oakland resident, is a limo driver who has his own business, Ras Limo, and sometimes works for Uber Black. In fact, he thinks that’s how the mix-up happened. He went to the Lyft site seeking information and entered his phone number in a box, he said, thinking he’d get a call back.
Instead he got a few hundred calls, from people who Googled “Lyft” and saw his number listed in a box called “Lyft HQ” that includes photos and the correct address of the company’s China Basin office in San Francisco.
“Even while I’m talking to you right now, I’m getting a call,” he said Tuesday morning. “It’s every five minutes. My daughter, Kal, she is 5. She keeps saying, ‘No, I’m not Lyft’ because she heard me say it so many times.”
The situation became appropriately Kafkaesque. The Chronicle reports that Leul tried to find the box on Lyft’s site where he entered his phone number, but he couldn’t locate it. And as a limo driver, he always needs to answer his phone, including numbers he doesn’t recognize. So, the calls poured in.
It’s unclear exactly why his number ended up in Lyft’s business information. The company told the newspaper that it contacted Google after it was notified about the problem, and the situation was promptly addressed. In an email to Jalopnik, Elizabeth Davidoff, communications manager for Google Maps, said the various types of data found in the app come from both user and business owner contributions.”
“Overall, this provides a comprehensive resource, but there may be occasional inaccuracies,” Davidoff said. “Business owners can update their information through Google My Business while both business owners and users can use the ‘Report a Problem’ tool on Google Maps (desktop) and ‘suggest an edit’ in Google Maps and Search (apps and mobile web) to correct information.”
Leul apparently took this unceasing barrage of calls in stride, and had the time to register an emotional response to some of the callers woes, despite his temporary role as a unilateral call center for Lyft. One rider, according to the Chronicle, said she heard about how he was in “Lyft hell,” yet he still gave her a ride when she called.
“Some of them, I feel so bad,” Leul told the newspaper. “One woman was having troubles with her credit card.”
The ordeal could make for a nice business card: Matthais Leul, Limo Driver, Survived ‘Lyft Hell,’ Nice Guy.