What Is The Point Of Uber?

What Is The Point In Uber?
I keep hearing about this shamazing driver service called Uber. It's mentioned on social media all the time with '£10 money off codes' offered on Twitter with increasing regularity. When I look it up it appears to be an uber-expensive (see what I did there?) taxi service and very much a 'city thing'. It feels to be marketed more as a 'private hire' or 'personal driver' type experience with all the Uber marketing being accompanied by pictures of sleek black cars with drivers that are suited and booted to match. 

Here's what happens with Uber...
You open your app, you set your pick-up location (presumably using your phone's location services because what if you don't know where you are?), enter the address of your destination (what happens if you don't know that either?) and the nearest driver accepts the job, After pick-up the driver is provided with your destination and you are shown your route and estimated time of arrival. Because all payments transactions are by pre-registered debit/credit card or PayPal, no cash changes hands.

Here's what happens in my home town...
I ring my local, trusted taxi firm (of which there are many) and order a taxi, a few minutes later the taxi arrives and I receive either a text or a phone call telling me that the driver is waiting for me with the make and model of the car that he is driving.  I am driven to my destination (my own vagueness is not a problem) and I pay in cash when I get there. It generally doesn't cost me more than five quid for a local(ish) journey.

My country bumpkin friends seem to think along the same lines as me:

@Rachel_IRL : Not sure I get it either.
@loveitloveit : Someone I knew was murdered by an unlicensed taxi driver. I wouldn't chance it.

I've also asked a few of my uber-cool (ok, I'll stop now) city-dwelling friends what they think about Uber and there was generally positive feedback:

@markusj75 : I think people like the lottery aspect of it! Will I get some disgruntled, rude boy who charges me though the nose??
@DannyUK : Benefit is that a cab comes to you when you click on the app. You can see estimated fares and where the cab is in a map. It also allows you to see feedback for each driver too.
@HPMcQ : You get all the drivers details up front. You can pay by PayPal so even if in a tight spot with no cash you can get home.
@Jssccaa : Cheaper than local taxis, no pressure to tip as you've already paid, free rides as a new user and for recommending others. It's about a pound per journey cheaper [..than regular taxis..] in Leeds, Downside is there's not always one available. Always go to Uber first, don't have to make a phone call. 
@khloee : I use it. So much cheaper, no cash needed and lower wait times than cab firms.

So, what is the point in Uber? It seems that city taxi firms (un)officially leave you hanging around for ages whilst Uber drivers are hanging around waiting for you to switch your app on. I (now) understand that all Uber drivers have to be registered but as discussed with one of the afore-mentioned contributors to this discussion, there's always the risk of swapping their registration/licence around but that can happen with regulated taxi drivers too. There are countless horror stories about how Uber drivers have turned into stalkers too *shudder*

I'm probably really old-fashioned by wondering if this is something that has yet to filter into an old mill town in the middle of Lancashire or if the latest trend will actually fizzle out before it reaches here. If you're using an app in a city why not crack open Google and search for "taxi in [insert name of city here]" using your location service to find something nearby?

What are your experiences of Uber? Good? Bad? Same as a regular taxi? Let me know in the comments. 


Photo Credit : Angel.Co

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