Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"“As a scooter charger you’re a legitimate bounty hunter"

TA:

As Birds and comparable scooter-sharing services continue to expand, charging has become a popular way for high-schoolers, college students, and young professionals to earn easy money.

...

“It’s really fun to grab a few scooters, charge them, and in the end it pays for a fancy dinner,” Abouzeid says. “It’s like a game and I would do it even if the prices were halved, which they probably will be.”

Like Pokémon Go, when you enter “charger mode” the Bird app displays a real-time map of Birds across your area that require charging. The reward for capturing and charging these Birds can range from $5 to $20 depending on how difficult the Bird is to locate—and some can be really hard to find. Bird chargers have described finding Birds in and under trash cans, down the side of a canyon, hidden in bushes, or tossed sideways on the side of the street.

“Finding the really hard ones is so awesome,” says Lucas, a young teenage Bird charger in L.A. who didn’t want his last name or his age listed since he technically hunts under his parents’ account. “It’s become a big trend at my high school. People are like, ‘Oh are you gonna charge tonight?’ I have friends send me Snapchats like, ‘I just got 18 in one night!’

...

But while Bird hunting is fun and games for some, other chargers take the job much more seriously. Charging in some cities, like San Diego, has become a cutthroat competition between workers where every last dollar counts.

Hoarding in particular has become a problem in these crowded markets. Bird and other companies will pay a $20 reward for missing scooters, so some chargers simply keep the scooters in their garage until they’re reported missing by riders or the bounty goes up to $20, then claim the finder’s fees.