Ice Cream Doesn’t Fix Uber’s Systemic Problems

This blog post isn't so much about ice cream - because everyone loves ice cream. It's more about how Uber can better improve their level of service. And until they do...I preface this article with the following disclaimer: ever since a poor experience with multiple UberX drivers in Boston, I’ve not been a fan of the 21st Century car service. I’ve also not been a fan of their customer service policy: instead of addressing the problems the customer faces, their customer service policy seems to dictate that community managers keep giving the rider free credits to placate them. Placing all those previous experiences aside momentarily – who doesn’t love having ice cream delivered to their workplace?

Maybe my experiences were a set of strange, isolated incidents. Perhaps the Uber experience in Columbus was better, and this could be the first step in what would be a grand new partnership for my travels. With sheer curiosity in mind (and the want of ice cream), I put my $20 down, and ordered my very own Uber delivery.

What resulted was a less than stellar experience.

After ordering my ice cream delivery from UberX, I was given the update and location of the ice cream delivery driver, and a time estimate. Like a kid counting down to Christmas, I watched with great anticipation as the wandering ice-cream cone made it’s way towards my location. And like a child who got underwear instead of the brand new bicycle under the tree, I watched in utter disappointment as the UberX car pulled into a completely different parking lot that wasn’t my location. After watching the UberX driver get lost, my cell phone rang. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hello?
UberX: Hi! This is [NAME] from UberX! We’re here with your ice cream delivery!
Me: Um…no, you’re not. Where are you?
UberX: We’re in your parking lot!
Me: Um…no you’re not. I’m standing in the parking lot.
UberX: Yes, we are! You’re at [ADDRESS], right?
Me: Yes, that’s where I’m at…are you looking at a Tim Horton’s, by chance?
UberX: Yeah – we’re parked right beside it!
Me: Okay. You’re on the other side of the building. Stay right there. I’ll come to you.

Despite giving the UberX driver the name and address of my office through the app, the clear roadside sign, and company logos adorning the doors of each office, the UberX driver did not pull up to the right side of the building. Not that I minded walking – but I would expect a little higher quality of service. The driver & sidekick weren’t that impressive either: the driver said nothing, while the sidekick (community manager, maybe?) was working hard to sell me on the UberX service in Columbus.

While the ice cream delivery was overall entertaining, this experience brings to light the larger systemic problems that Uber – and other rideshare services – continue to face. Before Uber becomes my regular ride when I travel, I would love to see improvements in their background investigations, and lack of regulation.

Why Uber needs better background checks

As NBC 4 Los Angeles reported back in April, basically anyone can be an UberX driver. Additionally, drivers do not need to have licensure or additional insurance to be an UberX driver. This creates a potentially dangerous situation for anyone riding. Taxi drivers need to pass background checks and have licenses, and are held liable for their passengers. Shouldn’t Uber drivers be held to the same standard?

Why Uber needs better regulations

In of itself, regulation is not a bad thing: it sets operating parameters for everyone to do business within. If Uber truly considers itself an alternative to taxis and other vehicle for hire services, why not agree to a similar level of standards? While Uber is still allowed to do business in Columbus, rules and regulations are starting to take shape with the input of multiple stakeholders.

While ice cream is nice, it doesn’t fix the potential problems that riders may face. Until those problems are solved, I’ll opt to use Taxi Magic or HailO – both of which hail licensed and regulated taxis.

Am I the only one facing this problem while I travel? Have others had similar problems with the Uber service? Let me know where you stand in the comments below.

Ed. Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tagging Miles,, or any blogger in the Saverocity family of blogs. No compensation nor incentive was given to mention or link to any product or service in this article.

3 thoughts on “Ice Cream Doesn’t Fix Uber’s Systemic Problems

  1. If your biggest beef with Uber is that they came to the wrong side of the building, I think that’s pretty minor. I had an Uber driver come to the other side of the street from where I was standing in downtown SF a couple of weeks ago. So what? I crossed the street and got in. I’ve had great experiences with both Uber and Lyft the few times I’ve used them. I hope they succeed, although agreeing to meet standards similar to what taxis face is probably a good idea.

    • For me, it was the entire experience: watching the driver get lost and the lack of professionalism. Comparatively, it was much better than almost getting in a couple of accidents in Boston. I didn’t mind having to walk around the building so much – and it is entirely possible that my expectations are simply too high. My point is that the regulation for “ride sharing” services is not a bad thing, and should be encouraged.

  2. My main issue with Uber is one that you kind of circle around – they need to grow the F&*! up.

    I absolutely LOVE the idea of the company and service. Love it. Completely adore it. Great stuff.

    I even like the execution the few times I’ve used it (including ice cream delivery last Friday, mine went great).

    BUT – the folks at Uber act like they can just skate by being smart and disruptive and stuff.

    The example you mentioned about just doling out credits instead of you, know, fixing problems? Spot on.

    The fact that a number of cities are sending cease-and-desist letters? Just flaunt the law.

    Concerns about background checks and insurance? Trust us, we’re totally taking care of it. What you poor old-economy folks have to prove that you do this stuff? And get licenses? Like with paperwork? We don’t DO paperwork old man, it’s a new world! HAHAHAHHAA!

    I’m very interested to see what happens as they start toying around with deliveries… who pays when stuff gets lost/stolen/damaged? A few UBER credits aren’t going to cover it.

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