Smartphone apps have completely revolutionised the way we interact with the world. They have made organising our lives easier, provided us with valuable information, and provided hours of entertainment. In this new age of mobile apps, many startups have revolutionised entire industries with unique ideas and streamlined experiences. Uber is one such company. With a single app (on iOS, Android, Windows Phone), Uber has turned the entire taxi industry on its head, but is it worth all the hype? Let’s check out the usefulness…
Uber – How It Works
What makes Uber such a great app is how convenient & widespread it is. Once you download the app, you just create an account (either through Facebook, Google+, or a valid email address) and register a payment method. In most cases, this will be a credit or debit card, but Uber also accepts Google Wallet (on Android) and PayPal. The PayPal option is especially nice for those of us who do not like to connect our credit cards to apps and online services. There are few regions where Uber offers to let you pay via Cash.
The Uber app is pretty straightforward; it will load a map of your location, which frankly is quite pointless because you can’t interact with it besides moving around. You will have to type in your pickup location, at least in part. The app is powered by Google Maps, so it will be able to guess your location after several characters. After you have selected a pickup spot, the map changes to show you nearby drivers as well as the various rides available. The map updates in real-time so that you can see a driver’s location in proximity to your own.
Various Irritating Aspects
One huge irritating thing about Uber is that you can’t really set a drop-off location. Why do I say that? I say this because manually selecting a relative’s house is not possible, but choosing a famous landmark is not an issue. So for instance, you want to tap in your drop-off location manually then you are busted. Also, because of this glaring missing feature (which is not there in Careem), the driver can accept another ride after accepting your ride, and there is no limit to this.
According to Uber, this feature in the driver’s app is there avoid the ETA or lessen the ETA for fresh rides. But, this is a huge nuisance because if you get hold of a greedy driver, your Uber ride could be showing an 11 minute of ETA but in reality, the driver could be dropping off his current ride… and maybe 11 minutes away from your location but may also be 10 minutes away from driver’s current rides’ location. This means, your ETA is not 11 minutes but 21 minutes.
I call this goof-up a major blow for Uber, and it all stems from this ridiculous notion of not being able to pin drop-off location manually. Oh, and if you do manage to set a drop-off location and it shows the pin in red colour, it again means that the drop-off location is not set. Go figure!
Let’s talk about the next irritating aspect, the incompetent support system.
One would think with Uber being available in so many countries, that it would have an established customer support system that can cater to the ever growing riders. But no, there happens to be no phone support. You cannot call them and they won’t either. You can launch a complaint via Email, Twitter, Facebook and even via the app but if you are one of those people who want quick answers and speedy feedback and swift action, you will need anger management classes.
Email responses are swift, but the action is slow like snail mail. Twitter is quick, but the action is dead, Facebook is dead slow, so naturally the action and capability to take feedback is dead in the grave. Feedback via the app is possible but please don’t think you can write something there. You can select many options and keep going into more options and eventually land on an in-app page which says ‘Thank you for your feedback’. Like I said, you need anger management classes before and after using Uber.
In regions where Uber accepts cash, I would recommend that you keep a lot of change with you because if you don’t give the driver exact amount in cash, the remaining amount becomes part of the driver’s tip… unless s/he has some change to return you. Careem, however, has a better solution for this predicament and allows the money to be inserted in an online wallet which is credit that you can use at a later time. Do check out our review for Careem…
There are four types of Uber rides: UberX, UberSelect, UberXL and UberGO.
UberX is the standard package, and your driver will show up in a “normal” car. It is also the cheapest fair. UberSelect is a bit ritzier, and your driver will show up in a luxury sedan of some sort. Naturally, this one is more expensive. The name says it all for Uber XL. Your driver will show up in an SUV or minivan, and you will pay the most. There is also an UberBlack package where the driver shows up in a black luxury vehicle, but this is limited to a few select markets. UberGo is also for select regions where they don’t want to confuse the public with various names so I’m guessing they’ve decided to keep it simple for the masses who just want to get going.
Once you have picked your location and driver package, Uber will give you an estimated arrival time as well as what kind of vehicle your driver will arrive in. From here, your experience is all based on location and the individual driving it.
Once you arrive at your location, there is no need to exchange payment information with your driver. Uber automatically draws it out of your pre-selected payment method. The driver’s pay, including the tip, are already included in that amount.
Use TechVise exclusive promo code RIDINGUBER20 to get $20 OFF your first ride with Uber (this code is applicable for the USA only and can’t be applied on any rides in other regions)
As far as the service goes, Uber is a pretty good service. The map it provides is completely useless (it would be nice to pin my location by tapping on the screen), and support feature is dead, but other things about the app are stable. Tracking drivers, getting estimates on fares, and choosing the kind of experience you want are all great features that standard taxi services don’t provide. Couple that with PayPal support and automatic withdrawals (where PayPal is accepted), and it is easy to see why Uber is so famous.