You may already know that I’m not a huge fan of the new electric scooters that have taken over Charlotte’s streets. And until I see more people than just Katie Loveluck wear a helmet while riding one, my opinion won’t change.
But despite my head-injury anxiety, most of my friends love the new scooters. A few of them have even found a way to turn a profit from the Charlotte scooter craze.
My friends have become Bird Chargers, people who collect scooters, bring them home and then charge them overnight. (Lime also offers a charger program, but I’ve heard that they are much more selective and take almost three times as long to get back to applicants.)
All you need to do to become a Bird Charger is fill out an application — they prefer people living in urban areas with SUVs, vans or trucks. If you’re hired, Bird will send you three plug-in chargers (which requires a $30 deposit) and you can begin.
Interested in starting your own scooter side hustle? Here’s the good and the bad about being a Charlotte scooter charger.
1. You can make decent money.
Payment ranges from $5 to $20 per scooter charged, depending on how hard the Bird is to “capture.”
2. They give you a map to find scooters.
I don’t know why I thought people would be aimlessly driving around looking for scooters, but this isn’t a thing. Once you’ve been approved, you can turn on “Charger Mode” on the Bird app. This is where you see scooter locations and how much they’re worth to charge.
3. Bird’s QR scanner system makes things pretty easy.
The most time-consuming part of the job is tracking down the scooter, finding parking and then dragging it to your car. But once you actually “capture” the Bird, the scanning system is fast and simple.
4. You get paid fast.
Not sure about Lime, but Bird deposits your money as soon as you drop off the scooter the next morning.
5. You can request more plug-in chargers for free.
More chargers mean more money, so once you’ve been successfully charging for five days you can request additional chargers.
6. The Bird team is super responsive.
You can message them anytime through the Bird app and they’ll get back to you within a few minutes.
1. The scooters are deceptively heavy.
If you lack upper arm strength you may have trouble lifting them into your trunk.
2. You have to pick up scooters after dark (9 p.m.).
This can be totally fine or totally sketchy, depending on where you live. Maybe don’t leave your car running while you’re doing a pickup?
3. You have to drop off the scooters between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. the next day, and sometimes in weird places.
My friend wasn’t pleased with dropping off three scooters outside of Uptown Cabaret at 6 a.m. last week, but this is what Bird asked her to do. Also, if you wake up and late and drop off scooters after 7 a.m., Bird reduces your payment by 50%.
4. People may fight you for scooters.
Since all Bird Chargers have the same map, chances are you’ll arrive at a scooter at the same time as someone else. And from what I’ve heard, chargers are not always polite. Another issue is that some people will hoard scooters until the battery dies so you can’t get to them. Seems unfair, but who’s going to stop them?
5. If you forget to return a scooter you’re screwed.
Bird’s official charger agreement states “If a Bird Scooter is not returned to a Bird Nest or sent to an authorized Bird repair location within three (3) days from the date you initially picked up the Bird Scooter, it will be presumed that you will not be returning the Bird Scooter and you will be charged for the full value of the Bird Scooter ($1,000).”
Being a Bird Charger isn’t for everyone (AKA anyone who doesn’t want to be awake at 6 a.m.), but if you have a large vehicle, free time in the evening and some extra space in your house, it can be a pretty nice side gig.