Uber and Lyft passengers may soon find themselves subject to a whole new, rather unusual kind of ride. Geostellar is a company that markets and sells solar panels online. Recently, the firm made a move to use Uber and Lyft drivers to pitch its products while providing rides to passengers. Instead of a door-to-door salesman, the rideshare drivers who pick you up and have you trapped you in their cars will feed you the sale pitch all while you were just expecting to get from point A to point B.
It looks like a great model for Geostellar, a small upstart company, because they’re using cheap labor with a captive audience. Drivers, who will work on commission, are expected to receive up to $1,000 per sale, out of the $18,000 total cost of the solar system. To date about fifty drivers from New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, Dallas and Miami have begun participating with about 220 panels sold so far. At lest as of now, there seems to be no pushback from the rideshare companies regarding drivers working with Geostellar.
Given how wildly successful Uber has been, it should come as no surprise that this isn’t the first time corporations have used it to target a different market. Viewswagon tried back in 2015 to use tablets in Uber vehicles to display advertisements to riders. Those ads reportedly earned drivers $3 per hour that they displayed them.
Officially, Uber doesn’t condone it drivers working with third-party advertisers in regards to the Viewswagon pitch. The goal, the company has stated, of riding with Uber should be to have a relaxing experience and being sold products was not in keeping with that business model. They also stressed that Uber was in no way affiliated with Viewswagon and that Uber wasn’t providing information about riders or drivers to any company. Drivers are not being terminated for participating in that program, however.
And so far there has been no word from Uber or Lyft on this latest effort to sell directly to riders.