Yesterday I signed up for Uber, I am not an early adopter of things these days as I am just too busy to jump on the next craze. I like to see what is happening in the field, see who is excited and why, and then make decision. My biggest problem with Uber was that it is being pimped the heck out of by every man and his dog, and rightly so, it is a great thing to pimp Uber, because they give you a referral credit for your troubles that makes it very attractive.
I’ve not heard a bad thing about Uber. Actually for a while I thought it was a teleportation device that had been linked to your iPhone that magically lifted you out of one touristy, over priced Irish Pub in Manhattan into the street near your hotel, depositing you neatly around the pile of vomit and dog pee and onto the red carpet of ‘home’.
My biggest peeve in traveling is being screwed over by locals
I hate it, going to a new town, getting into an unmetered cab and being screwed over. Even in my neighborhood of Brooklyn I would avoid taking Black Cars because if you don’t know what you are doing they will mark up your fare, as soon as you say ‘how much?’ you are dead to them. So when I see a new service that allows me to avoid these black cars, the first thing I ask is: “Excuse me kind sir, are you about to screw me over on the price?”
In Ubers case, the answer is yes.
If I use a car service in Brooklyn, the rate from my Mansion in Brooklyn to JFK is $35 (a $5 -$7 tip is gratefully accepted too btw) and for that you are getting exactly the same thing that Uber is providing, you get a person who has their own vehicle, either a nice SUV or a nice town car (I use nice kindly here, sometimes they are a little older, but more than acceptable for the ride) but when I quote the same price on Uber, the range starts at $46 and ‘UP’ so even best case where I get the cheapest possible option, we are looking at 31% markup. And that is BEST case.
You cannot allow the company to set the benchmark
When you evaluate any service, you can’t just accept the price being offered by the company, you have to compare it to the actual rates on offer, and if you don’t know the actual rates on offer you have to find a company that you can trust to do that for you, this isn’t that company. I’m not sure of their cut, but with inflated prices like this, I reckon it is pretty generous.
Oh and I love tipping!
I find it really sad that the Uber website tells me I have no need to tip my driver, as a person who grew up on Tips to pay my way around the world, I really find that is such and important part of service:
Oh wait, I do have to tip, and you decide in advance it should be 20% I see. Phew. This amount can be adjusted, but I think it is a little deceptive to imply you don’t have to tip, when the reason is because you already have a default tip added to your fare!
Taxi’s are everywhere
Another I hear from these teleporting bloggers is that it is just so easy to get an Uber car in NYC. If you can’t get a cab in Manhattan you should go back to Oz Dorothy, because it is hardly rocket science, sure in the pouring rain it may be a little harder to find one, so have another drink wherever you are and head to the next party 15 minutes late, by which time a regular car service arrives – there is nothing less cool than turning up promptly, using Uber, and far more sober than you could be.
Borough Taxi’s are here
Finally, those living in the other boroughs there have been 6000 NYC Taxi licenses issued, these new cars look like the regular NYC taxi other than are green in color, so there is no need to haggle for prices with the town car drivers, and all is well.
How can you be a savvy traveler and rely on a service that charges 31% above the market? Oh, that’s right, by using your Uber Credits instead! Here’s my link!!! https://uber.com/invite/ubersaverocity you get $20 to sign up and you get a further $40 off your first ride if you enter this code: C2E2 You don’t have to use my link (which gives me a $20 credit) but if you don’t, I will have to take the bus with the poor people when I next fly Business Class, and that would be a sad thing.
After that first ride, you are going to have find friends and family to signup too, or you will have to walk. It’s a bit like ‘The Ring’ if you can’t pass on your code and get freebies you might aswell give up on life.
So at the end of my impartial analysis I have determined that Uber is a wonderfully innovative company that offers a service that is over market price in order to take away the fear of actually asking a car service to pick you up using a telephone. No different from something like a Seamless or GrubHub service (other than the price markup). It’s clear if you go to a new town and don’t know the ‘market rate’ you could well get screwed over by an unmetered taxi, or you could use Uber and pay a similarly poor rate from the convenience of your phone (but without having to talk into your phone).
Why the hype? From bloggers I imagine because they want your $20 referral fee (I know I do!) from other people, probably a lack of social skills and understanding of market prices.