I’ve seen a lot of buzz about Uber on Twitter in recent months but didn’t get a chance to try it out until our recent SMX East conference in New York City.
I love it.
And whenever I’m traveling to/from a city where Uber operates, I’ll be skipping the taxicabs and shuttles and using it.
What’s Uber?, you say? It’s a mobile-based driver service. It’s like having access to a private towncar/driver, but without having to pay the often astronomical fees that regular driver services charge. (Another benefit: Since you’re not making a pre-reservation, you don’t have to pay extra if your flight gets delayed and the driver has to sit around waiting for you.)
How Uber Works
To use Uber, you have to do a couple things before you need a ride:
- Create an account on Uber.com and add your payment information (one of the nice things about Uber is that you don’t pay the driver at all).
- Download the iOS or Android app (and connect your account to it), or go to m.uber.com and connect your account there.
I used Uber twice last week: From Newark airport into New York City, and then from NYC out to JFK airport.
1) You start by indicating where you want to be picked up; this is usually automatic via your phone’s GPS. If it’s a little off, you can move the marker to where you want to be picked up.
2) Uber will tell you how many cars are nearby and how far away the closest one is. You have different choices of vehicles, from hybrid/smaller cars up to SUVs for larger groups. Prices are different for each type of car, and there are often fixed prices for popular routes — like my two airport trips in NYC had fixed prices.
3) After you choose your type of car and click “Set pickup location,” Uber alerts the nearest driver and gives him/her the option to accept the job. In both of my cases, the first/nearest driver responded immediately.
When the ride is accepted, Uber texts you and the app also shows you who the driver is and where s/he is. (see image below left) It also gives you the car’s license plate, which I’ve blurred out, and a “Call Driver” button — that was helpful for me to tell them what I was wearing and exactly where I was standing. And then once you’re in the car, you can follow your progress on the same map. (see below right)
If you’re curious, the drivers also have smartphones and their own version of the Uber app and that’s how they can accept jobs, indicate when a ride is complete, etc. Here’s one of my drivers’ setups — you can see his phone mounted on the dash at the top.
Both of my drivers — Amine and Nasser — loved the service. They say it’s more convenient and easier to get jobs. I’ve read articles that say Uber takes less of a cut than traditional cab and car service companies, too. These guys were in a great mood and made the rides very enjoyable.
When you reach the destination, Uber auto-bills your credit card and includes a tip for the driver. You don’t have to worry how much to tip or anything — the transaction is completely taken care of. (Although I’m sure if you wanted to offer an additional tip in person, the drivers wouldn’t say no.)
Uber tells you what the charge is right in the app, and also gives you a chance to rate your driver. (I gave both of my drivers five stars.) And, next time you check your email, you’ll find a detailed receipt showing your route, the total cost, and some cool stats like how many miles you drove and exactly how long it took.
Here’s a $10 Credit for My Friends
Uber is relying pretty heavily on word-of-mouth and social media for visibility. I had some conversations with their NYC area manager on Twitter to help me learn what to expect, for example — they’re very active that way.
When I finished my first ride, they also sent me an invite to share with friends. If you use the link below, you’ll get $10 off your first ride. Pretty cool! (And I’ll get a $10 credit, too.)
So, technically, I guess that’s an affiliate link that I need to disclose to be a Good Blogger.
But seriously, I highly recommend Uber. It was easy and fun to use.
If I ever had to get a cab, I’d use it. Though I was listening to tested.com’s podcast and they brought up Uber. They mentioned that there are cabs out there who fake the Uber sedan or whomever, and pray on those standing there looking at their mobile with bags to poach rides.
The whole industry is a pack of vultures. Walk out the door of any airport and you’ve got private drivers (and sometimes cabbies) aggressively trying to get you in their cars. I get that all the time.
But it sounds like whomever was talking about Uber on the podcast has never used it, because Uber takes away the uncertainty. You see your driver’s face. You get told the type of car. You see the driver’s license. All of this as soon as the driver accepts your pick-up request. It’s borderline impossible to be tricked into getting in the wrong car.