Thanks to everyone who chimed in with opinions/advice on my aversion to Uber last week. With your encouragement Deal Girl and I took the plunge this week and the results, while not perfect, were better than I feared.
We’re in Mexico City thanks to Southwest Airlines and reader Tim mentioned he had positive experiences here with Uber. Locals kept giving me advice not to take hired taxis for safety reasons and hotel called ones were exorbitant. App in hand, I gave Uber a try five times over three days and can share some four tips I learned, a couple the hard way.
- If you’re leery of uber like I was, consider uber black. It’s the deluxe version of uber with nicer cars (and presumably better off drivers). Uber has five levels from x (meaning just anybody?) to lux. However, availability varies from city to city. In Mexico City you went from x to deluxe, skipping the in-between taxi level. Fares for the black cars averaged 1.5 times the x cars- a premium I was happy to pay. Even the deluxe fares were cheaper than a hotel taxi: for instance a hotel taxi from the Hyatt to the Zocalo (main square) was 250 pesos ($15) and 2 uber blacks were 221 and 187.
- The GPS may not pinpoint you as well as you think. You are much better typing in an address, at least in Mexico City. The problems I had with uber were not with the drivers, but with the system. Because my location wasn’t input accurately (one Hyatt pickup put us in the middle of the street over a block away) the driver was destined to fail.
- After 5 minutes you’re charged a cancellation fee, whether it’s your fault or not. One uber black we called from Coyocan showed itself 6 minutes away when I ordered. That six went from six to eight to ten to five to seven etc until we just gave up. I still got dinged 100 pesos (6$) and was told when I complained “the driver waited for you”. It’s irrelevant how long someone waits for you if you have no idea when they’re going to show up!
- Any credits you have may not work overseas. They didn’t in Mexico City.
Now to the important part: how was the experience? In a word, great, when it worked. The four cars we did take were all newish, clean, and with drivers who were bilingual and courteous. We were offered water in all cabs, gum or candy in 3, and one even had English language magazines. Pickups were seamless three times and only a bit bumpy once (the location was near a pedestrian zone so it was hard for him to see us). Getting out without worrying about payment was a big plus, especially in a crowded area. None of the fares were out of the range I was quoted and one was lower.
I mentioned “with kids” in the post title because safety with Deal Girl in the back is more on my mind than if I were solo (although perhaps it shouldn’t be. At 8, Deal Girl no longer needs a carseat, but in very limited cities you can get an uberfamily with carseats. Obviously if you have an infant you’re going to want a bucket seat. Laws vary whether taxis are exempt from car seats: notably in California they are not.
So would I uber again? Yes, with qualifications. From public place a to public place b, in a taxi level or above, sure. From my home? Unsure. An uberX? Unlikely.
The obligatory plug: If you want to give uber a try, use invite code UBERTHEDEALMOMMY and get $20 off your first ride (in the US).
Did the comments in the post last week about uber or does my experience change your opinion of uber? I’m especially curious to hear from those who were in the “creepy” camp as I was. As always, please share your thoughts in the comments.
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