We at Betabeat are avid followers of Lindsay Lohan’s Twitter feed. After all, you never know what you might find there.
So when we saw a LiLo tweet promoting taxicab disrupter Uber’s services and offering a promo code, we just had to know: was this the result of an official partnership between the startup and the star, or was Lindsay up to something shady?
Use my Uber promo code, 8g4wy, and get $20 off your first Uber ride. Redeem it at uber.com/invite/8g4wy.—
Lindsay Lohan (@lindsaylohan) January 12, 2014
It turns out the latter is true — and Ms. Lohan isn’t the only celebrity pimping out Uber to her followers so that she can get discounts on the rides herself. Neil Patrick Harris and Snoop Dogg are guilty, too.
An Uber rep told us the partnerships weren’t official endorsements and that the stars’ choices to tweet the codes were “organic.” Every Uber user has the privilege of sharing their code in an effort to collect discounts. Each time someone uses your Uber code, you get $10 to use on future rides yourself. This month, a special is running so the person who owns the code gets $20.
What’s shady is that the codes only work the first time the fan uses Uber — so Lindsay Lohan is getting a $20 credit because your friend used her code, when you could have been the one to get it.
You know how whenever your aunt goes to a new hair salon, she bugs you to go get your hair cut there so that she’ll get $5 off her next ’80s perm? Linds, NPH and Snoop are all being that annoying aunt right now and hogging all the discounts for their rich, famous asses.
Furthermore, Uber told us there’s no limit to how many times one person’s promo code can be used. Lindsay Lohan has 7.6 million followers. She’s probably got free Uber rides lined up until 2026 at this point.
Here’s a look at some of the tweets the celebs have pushed. Snoop’s code is UncleSnoopATL, basically the vanity license plate equivalent of an Uber coupon, which doesn’t seem that “organic”:
Party wit tha boss this Sat in ATL n get a night of FREE rides on @Uber_ATL. Enter code "UncleSnoopATL" n share !! blog.uber.com/unclesnoop—
Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg) September 25, 2013
And Neil Patrick Harris has used his code under the guise of preventing drunk driving, when he was directly cashing out on it. Ew.
I love UBER! Way better than a taxi. Sign up using my promo code, get $20 off your 1st ride: uber.com/invite/8lf32 Don't drink & drive.—
Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) December 18, 2013
Don’t drink & drive this July 4th weekend. Use Uber instead – it’s rad. Sign up, use code ‘8lf32’ and you’ll get $20 credit. You’re welcome.—
Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) July 02, 2013
Seth Rogen apparently used the code to collect cash for charity. So maybe there’s some hope for Hollywood.
Signup to @Uber_LA w/promo code: HilarityForCharity and u'll get $20 off ur 1st ride! #Uber will give a donation 4 every person that rides!—
Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) April 24, 2013
This also explains why people are spending time to defraud Tinder users in an effort to get them to use an Uber promo code. Whoever was behind that fake Uber ad stood to make a lot of money in Uber credits off of Tinder users.
We asked Uber a bunch of followup questions about the stars seemingly abusing the system, and whether this was their intent when they created the promo codes. We noted that the system is probably very effective at getting the app onto users’ phones.
“We’re happy to see that all kinds of people, including celebrities, are excited about our superior service and want to share their Uber love with friends,” Uber rep Andrew Noyes told us.
Of course, it’s not morally wrong for these stars to exploit Uber’s promo code system by profiting off of their huge fan bases. But they’re taking discounts away from normal people, plus it’s just trashy — especially if they’re pretending to do it just because they’re concerned about drunk driving, as Mr. Harris did.
No matter how hard your last movie flopped, this isn’t a good look. Celebrities should let us plebes wallow in the first‐time‐user discount game while they stick to shilling Vitamin Water.