(CNN Business)When Michelle, a rideshare driver for Uber and Lyft in North Carolina, came down with a fever and a cough in late March, she feared she might have coronavirus.
Her doctor had her tested for both the flu and coronavirus and gave her a note instructing her to self-quarantine until the results came back. In the meantime, she applied for coronavirus financial assistance from Uber and Lyft.
Another gig worker, Laura Richey, said that after she was discharged from the ER, she received instructions to quarantine herself until coronavirus test results came back. "That's when my fight started," she said. "I was not only fighting for my health but fighting to get some [financial] assistance."
While Richey received an email last Sunday stating the company had deactivated her but did not have enough evidence to support her financial claim, Michelle received a rejection notice from Lyft customer support, reiterating the policy on its website as well as criteria she hadn't seen before. Per the notice, she would need to have to have driven an average of 20 hours weekly over the past 28 days before she applied.
After pushing back and escalating the issue, including mentioning she was in touch with CNN Business about the additional criteria that was not detailed on Lyft's website, she was told there was a miscommunication and given $250. (Both she and Richey ultimately tested negative for the virus but had to quarantine until they received those results.)
When asked about this, Lyft spokesperson Alexandra LaManna told CNN Business that "qualification for the program and the amount of assistance are determined by the driver's previous activity on the Lyft platform, and payments range from $250 to $1,000."
LaManna said drivers who've driven at least an average of five hours a week over the previous four weeks qualify for $250, while drivers who've worked an average of 37.5 hours or more over the same period would qualify for $1000. The current policy is in place until April 10, at which point Lyft will re-evaluate the program.
"This is an unprecedented situation and we are doing everything we can to meet the challenge," LaManna said. "Over the past few weeks, we diverted team members away from other areas to handle these types of inquiries full-time -- and are actively adding more resources -- to help address these inquiries as quickly as possible."
Robert Poteete, an Uber driver in Tennessee, applied for the coronavirus pay after his doctor, whom he "visited" virtually, instructed him to self-quarantine because of his symptoms and provided him with a note. Uber first indicated he would receive a response in two to five business days, then two to seven business days, then two to 10.
Some gig workers, like Poteete and Richey, told CNN Business they went on Twitter to describe their experiences in the hopes of attracting the attention of the companies or, alternatively, reporters.
On his 11th day of quarantine, Poteete received a $700 deposit from the company. Richey said she received $170 from Uber.
"The unprecedented nature of this crisis has presented challenges for everyone - us included," said Uber spokesperson Kayla Whaling. "We strive to provide the highest quality customer service and recognize we can do better. We're continuously gathering feedback from drivers and delivery people and are taking steps to help improve this process."