Wednesday, 2 March 2016

My first uber experience as a passenger

My first uber experience as a passenger

I finally caved.  And used my 'free' uber ride from one end of Sydney city to the other.  And it was OK, but not revolutionary.  To be clear it was an uberX trip.  Which is the ride sharing version.  Where every day people can sign up and become an uber driver and effectively start up a business providing rides.  Think of it as a rickshaw service with GPS location and air conditioning. Oh and an app.  It's all about the app.

I covered the uber app user experience for onboarding a little while back. I think it's great.  A great use of the squillions of dollars they have raised too to invest in user experience.  But the user experience extends to the experience in the car.  And more importantly the experience waiting for a car.

When starting the app it automatically picks up your location (turn on location services on your phone peeps!  yes they are tracking us but the benefit is huge... ).  Unfortunately the location can sometimes be a bit off so you may want to adjust it if you are in a place that could be confusing.  The default option is uberX and indicates a time for the pick up.  Well that's what I am assuming is.  The Black and white call to action is clear that it will lead you to the request a pick up.  At this point there is an indication of the credit card to be used, location and the option to check on a fare estimate and add in a promo code.

uber has a market model pricing system so when there is high demand for cars the price will go up.  When there are a lot of drivers around the price comes down.  To get the estimate you need to add the destination.

All this was great.  Except for the time to wait.  The time the other day was 4 minutes which doesn't sound that long... but it was much lower than the actual wait. Or the perceived actual wait.  And the main reason it felt long?  I saw maybe 5 available cabs drive past.  I could have been on my way already!  *wail*

But I waited.  I had waited till it was something that wasn't seen as illegal before taking my first trip.  Although I had already used RideSurfin' which was the uber clone that tried to make it in Sydney... and didn't.  It pivoted as Shopwings but that's a story for another time (and for another person - not me!)

I waited till the car rocked up.  And the good thing is the app showed me a picture of the driver, the licence plate, the make and model of the car and where he was.  Although it was a bit confusing I suspect due to the GPS system in the city.  And I kept wondering why if it was just 'there' I couldn't see the car?

The driver was lovely.  He and I chatted.  Me quizzing him!  He was starting up his own business deals and needed cashflow.  He also happened to have a newish model LPG car.  So it was almost a no brainer.  Like me he waited till it was legal as he couldn't afford to not be able to drive.  He had tried different hours including before 10pm so he wouldn't get too many unrurly customers but the real money was to be made by driving till 1am.  So he starts in the afternoon and drives to 1am.  But he can set his own hours.  He was clearing (before expenses) around $1500.  So around $60k+ by his estimates.  Something he was quite happy with.  He only had a couple of weird incidents including a lady who was sick in his car and made him lose the rest of the night and cost him a detailing job.  But overall he was a happy camper.  Where else can you get up and running quickly with your own business and almost instant cash flow?

But this blog article isn't about becoming an uber driver.  I've been told there are a lots of articles on this side of things.  This article is about the user experience as a passenger in Sydney, Australia in an uberX.

I have friends who swear by uber.  They love the convenience.  The use it leaving the airport.  They use it to get around the city or to go home. The tracking is the part that is the winner for a use case.  If I wanted to know which car I was in or who was driving me it is tracked.  Unlike in a cab.  A taxi in Sydney isn't tracked so if I lose something I'd be hard pressed to remember the brand of taxi let alone the driver 'number' or the taxi number.  Unless I paid by credit card then I may have a chance.  But I try not to do that on personal trips.  Because there is a 10% additional fee charged on credit card transactions in a cab!

I love the uber payment system (which I believe is processed through Braintree).  I love the payment especially when it's free (in this case it was free for me.  Oh and if you want to get $10 off you can use my promo code which I got after my first trip).
Sign up using my promo code and get A$10 off your first ride!

The payment system takes it directly off your stored credit card.  Which is fabulous.  Especially in NSW as you don't have to pay an extra 10% which cabs add for credit card payment.  And you don't need to worry about having your wallet or cash or fumble around at the end of the trip paying.  Just get out.

So overall it was a good experience.  So would I exclusively use uber?  No.  It would depend.  If it was night time and the cabs are scarce then I would probably get an uber.  If it was broad daylight and an uber was over 3 minutes away and I could see cabs are available (and I had my wallet) I'd get in a cab.

I work for Transport for NSW as my day job but these opinions and writing is done off my own bat and do not have anything to do with Transport for NSW.  Although I did hold off my uber trip just so I could toe the line.  Now that it's legal and all that...