Uber recently came to my city and since then I’ve been excited to give it a shot. I used it once earlier this week and found it lived up to all the hype.
Uber came with some controversy related to the city and the process for licensing/insurance. I’m not familiar with the background of the debate but it looks like the city was hesitant to grant them a business license due to insurance issues, so they went ahead and set up shop anyway.
I needed a ride earlier this week and it was late at night – a perfect chance to give it a shot. I knew it was generally cheaper than a cab but I wanted to find out how much and how the service was to use.
Using Uber is very easy and can be done in minutes. You download the app using your smartphone, enter your payment details (how you’ll pay for future rides) and away you go. It’s like using Google Maps but you get to choose where to get picked up and where to get dropped off. You’ll know ahead of time how much the ride will cost so there’s no guessing involved.
No More Tipping
One of my pet peeves about riding in a cab (and the service industry in general, actually) is that a tip is expected to be added to the total.
I don’t mind tipping for good service, but the problem is that cabs still expect a tip even when the service isn’t that great.
Luckily, Uber figured this out and passengers don’t have to tip. When you order a car through Uber the payment is done using the credit card information already stored in the app, so you don’t have to scramble for your wallet at the end of the trip like you do in a cab. The payment process is so simple that there isn’t the opportunity to tip (unless of course you have cash handy, which I rarely do).
I’d probably still tip with Uber if the service is great, but I like that it’s not expected that passengers add a tip to their fare cost.
Service Ready in Minutes
I booked my first trip from a residential area that is not exactly central within the city. I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to get a car since it was late in the evening. No problem – the app automatically tells you when the expected arrival time is for your driver. I only had to wait 10 minutes which I thought was great.
And not only that, you can see the vehicles moving in the Uber app (which looks exactly like Google Maps) so you can tell when your driver is near you.
I’m sure the service times may not be as fast in inclement weather or in times of peak demand but in my case I didn’t have to wait long.
Cost – Pleasant Surprise
The biggest plus for me using Uber is (no surprise here) – the cost. Uber would have a hard time selling the service to the general public if the price of an average trip cost more than a cab fare.
I was pleasantly surprised – my trip cost a total of $22 and with a cab I estimate it would be about $30 (not including a tip). I like saving money and I think the lower Uber can keep costs the more people will be drawn to using it.
Downsides of Using Uber
There are a few minor drawbacks to using Uber:
– Recommendations. Since you don’t know who your driver will be you might not be able to rely on them for any recommendations like good restaurants or city sights to see. I could potentially see this being an issue for tourists new to town who like asking cab drivers for recommendations but a quick Google search can solve this problem.
– Surge pricing. I’ve been told that Uber prices based on demand, so in times of higher demand (a ‘surge’) there will be higher prices. I’ve checked the app a few times since taking my first trip and haven’t noticed any price increases though.
– Insurance issues. In my city the local government has told Uber they technically shouldn’t be operating because they don’t have adequate insurance. Not sure if all cities are the same though.
If you use the promo code “danw4684ue” you can get $20 off your first ride – which means you might be able to ride for free. This offer is system-wide which means you can use it in any city where Uber is available.
Conclusion: Uber is set to change the transportation industry and I hope it gains in popularity. My first impression was a system that was easy to use, quick and cheap – essentials to succeed by gaining more customers.
Have you tried Uber? What do you think?