This seems to be happening a lot here suddeenly. It amazes me how one person gets an idea on how to scam passengers and then other people follow along. Now almost all of our Lyft drivers start the trip before we have even gotten in the car. The other day he was a block away and had not even turned on our street. REALLY? Um we know when the trip is started and while I always tip if you are going to build in your own little tip you are probably going to get a lot less than what I would have given you. To top it off the other day a driver not only started the trip early but ended it five minutes after I was inside the building. SURPRIZE BUDDY-You screwed yourself becaus not only did I not tip you but called Lyft to have $4 refunded. You would have at least gotten a tip from me plus the entire cost of the trip if you had some integreity.
what is with the starting my trip before you are even on my street ?
The Guru Take
Quick review of Uber and Lyft Driver apps - How pickup works.
I can't comment on why these drivers are doing this, but I can shed some light on how the pickups work from the drivers' perspective.
Upon arrival at the pickup location, with the Lyft app the driver must tap on "Arrive" and then "Confirm arrival." This sends a message to the rider that the driver has arrived. If the app indicates that your driver has arrived before the car is at your location, you are right; perhaps the driver has tapped on the button prematurely.
Caution: It is worth noting that with the Uber Driver App, this arrival is triggered automatically. When the driver gets close to the pickup location, the app sends the message to the rider immediately. This may seem to the rider as if the driver indicated an arrival too soon.
Starting a Ride:
Once the rider is in the vehicle, the driver can click on "Pick up <name>" (for Lyft) and "Start Trip" (for Uber). This effectively starts the ride. There is one important caveat however. If the driver starts to drive, the driver app will automatically start the trip.
Caution: This sometimes can happen inadvertently (i.e. the trip starts early) if the driver has a difficult time finding the rider. I thought this was relevant in your case, if you had noticed that your driver was starting the trip too soon.
Dropping off the passenger
Dropping off is definitely a manual step, in a way that the driver has to tap (for Lyft) or swipe (for Uber) to complete the ride. Yes, a long-hauling scam can happen, where the driver would not complete a trip and continue to drive in hopes of passenger not realizing later and getting paid an increased fare. (Check out this article: After dropping off the passenger, can the Uber driver keep driving without completing the ride? ...in order "to run up the meter?")
Caution: If the driver's phone does not have an Internet signal or its battery is dead, the driver would not be able to complete the trip. The trip will be completed once the driver is back in the range of the signal or the phone is recharged. (Relevant article: Can the driver complete and end the ride if he has no cell phone signal?)
In any case, I believe you are doing the right thing by reporting these infractions to Lyft and getting a refund. Many of these scams are attempted by the drivers, and while the GPS and record keeping of Lyft make it easy to dispute these attempts, they often do go unnoticed and end up working in the drivers' favor. (Taking Lyft tand Uber is almost too easy that riders often do not check the receipt or review the charges.)
Lastly, here's one more article that may be relevant ot you: