I'm an Uber newbie and loving it

Profile picture for user gonzodaddy By Den Howlett June 18, 2014
Summary:
Seeing is believing and believe me, Uber is a refreshing service for those who are time crunched or who are just fed up with shoddy service from state sanctioned monopolized taxi services. I love Uber. Here's why.

Uber-Taxi
While on this long tour of the US I'm using Uber in San Diego - or rather UberX. The fact they have a discounted promotion kinda helps but even without it I'd prefer the service to the cabs in this town. Why?

It seems to me that most of the cabs cruise around the Gas Lamp Quarter or are hanging out at the airport. That's hardly a surprise since those parts of San Diego are honey pots for locals looking to relieve tourists of their cash.

But I'm based in the downtown area, paradoxically on a hill that compares favorably with some of the mountain goat tracks you can find in parts of the UK, France, Spain and, I imagine, the US.And few of the public transit buses go in the directions I need.

Cabs come by my location but I have no idea when or where they'll arrive and so finding a cab is at best a hit or miss arrangement. Then there's the chore of finding the right cash, ensuring you add the right tip - even if the cabbie is a surly person - and remembering to get a receipt. All of that goes away with Uber.

Having handed over my credit card credentials to Uber, I don't need to worry about any of those chores. Instead, I simply punch up the application, a bit before I know I need a ride, check to see if there are any in the area and then request my ride. Once I'm done, Uber sends me a receipt and asks me to rate the experience, leaving comments should I so wish.

I've used Uber five times over three days and each time it's been a pleasure. They arrive within five minutes and, with GPS being pretty darned good these days, they get me to my destination in around the same time it would take in a 'normal' cab and at roughly the same cost. All the cars are in great condition and there's no need to check for rubbish and dirt before taking a seat.

All of the drivers have been chatty, friendly without being obsequious and got me to where I need to be without any fuss. All except one has only been working with Uber a short while but they all seem to enjoy the job.

I've heard elsewhere that others report a similar experience and that makes sense. New kids on the block always have to win business the hard way and so being courteous and friendly adds the 'service' element that we miss with normal cabs.

Am I going to try it out in other cities? Too right I am.

Whatever the cab drivers in some countries might say, disruption of this kind has to be good for the customer. My hope is that cities where Uber is trying to gain a foothold don't cave in to the cab mob who, in many parts of the world, enjoy what amounts to a state sanctioned monopoly. As my colleague Stuart Lauchlan recently pointed out:

When the industrial revolution got underway, bands of Luddites used to roam the countryside in the UK trying to smash up spinning machines and threshing engines to hold back innovation and protect the traditional ways. They failed.

Today, recalcitrant taxi drivers throttle the life out of essential travel routes in major cities. They will also fail.

Amen to that.