Last night my wife and I decided to use the Uber service for the first time. Technically, it was the second time, our first experience was in the summer as we tagged along with some friends in their black Uber SUV. The Uber App is reasonably straight forward, you add a starting location and a destination and choose your vehicle type. The App has a fare estimation function, which offers you a price range, however that range can fluctuate based on demand and supply. A few test estimations earlier that day prompted me with a message “Surge Pricing 2.0 “Fares have increased to get more Ubers on the Road”
I placed an Uber request from our condo to the Distillery District, The Mill Street Brewery. The estimated fare was between $12 – $15. Within moments I received confirmation including an image of the driver, his vehicle type and licence plate number and from the map I could see his vehicle approach with an estimated arrival time of 1 minute.
It was very apparent that our Uber driver was not familiar with our location or destination as we spent our first few minutes assisting him with directions through traffic. After that, we sat back and left him to his google map technology to find his way.
We had an odd experience on the return trip. Within a few minutes after making my Uber request, a vehicle arrived and we assumed it was our car so we hopped in and began our trip home. The driver asked me to confirm our address and enter it into his Uber phone app as we departed. A minute or two later, I received a call from another Uber driver identifying himself as the Uber driver who had been scheduled to pick us up. Apparently, we had somehow managed to hop in a different Uber car. I must admit, I did not pay close attention to the pickup information or the driver’s picture, vehicle details, licence plate, etc. This was only my second time using the service and I had consumed a few liquid refreshments that evening. With the cancellation of our scheduled driver, our new driver pulled over to the side of the road and we went through a new process of requesting a new pickup from the stopped location to our home location once again.
Note: A history review this morning of my trips indicated that the cancellation cost me $5!
What did I learn from my first experience?
- Uber drivers don’t necessarily have any idea of city street locations and they are heavily dependent on Google maps.
- Always check that you are in the correct Uber vehicle! You could be scooped up by another driver who is in the area.
Will I continue to user Uber?
Yes, last night’s confusion aside, the service is polite and respectful and the vehicles are clean. I suspect the current Taxi/Uber business models to struggle to adapt in the face of driver-less cars in the next 20 – 50 years.