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Uber is Mind-Blowing
Old 10-18-2015, 09:43 AM   #1
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Uber is Mind-Blowing

We used Uber several times in Portland, Oregon, and the system is so much better than traditional taxis that I can understand why cab companies are freaking out.

Every time we've decided to go by Uber, Jenny would bring the app up on her phone, and say something like "Okay, there's a driver around the block. He'll be here in two minutes." It was never more than four minutes. The driver knows where you are because of the GPS in your phone.

The cars have all been very nice and new. The driver takes you to the destination, and all of the payment stuff is taken care of by the app. You just get out and say thanks.

To be fair, I have to tell you about yesterday's bad/funny experience. Our driver hardly spoke English at all. He went through a red light, and didn't respond when we said something about it.

Then, I noticed that we were going south instead of north on the freeway. I told him and he pulled over to the side of the freeway!

Jenny and Lena and I had a discussion in our secret language (Swedish) and once we got going again and off the freeway, we said "You know, we've got some other things to do, so we think we'll get out here."

Jenny flagged the driver as unsafe and described the problems we had via the app, so I'm sure he won't be driving anymore. She uses Uber a lot, and hasn't had any other bad experiences. She hadn't noticed his rating (can't check after the ride).

We got a new driver within minutes, and were soon back at the AirBnB (another mind-blowing thing).

Al

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Old 10-18-2015, 10:10 AM   #2
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Uber is the best thing since canned beer. Cabs are doing everything thing they can to maintain their supply constrained monopoly, but I think they're doomed.
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:58 AM   #3
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A possibly unscreened driver took you the wrong way and couldn't communicate with you. What makes that an acceptable experience?
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Old 10-18-2015, 11:06 AM   #4
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First time I have herd about a bad driver on Uber. Uber needs a better customer support system IMO. Just electronically flagging an un-qualified / dangerous driver is not good enough IMO.

The traditional cab co's are going the way of telephone land lines if they don't adapt to change.

On the other hand. Uber will have to change too. Driver turnover this shows, IMO.
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Old 10-18-2015, 11:50 AM   #5
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My daughter is an investor in Uber. She observed that it is at its heart a logistics business. The software that manages the rides can as well be used for the delivery of goods.
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Old 10-18-2015, 12:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lakewood90712 View Post
Uber needs a better customer support system IMO. Just electronically flagging an un-qualified / dangerous driver is not good enough IMO.
They most likely looked at this and realized it's just not worth the cost. Probably 90%-95% of the drivers are acceptable, 3% are marginal, and 1%-2% (or less) should not be commercial cab drivers. Add in driver turnover for various reasons, and you probably have even less than 1% that clearly should not be driving for Uber.

But what would it cost to screen EVERY driver to weed out the less than 1% or so? Most likely far more expensive to screen every driver, than just have the riders do all of that for you through the ratings system.

Does it suck? Sure, if you get stuck with one of those 1% that shouldn't be driving....but people who use Uber and have a bad experience will probably use Uber again despite it - so very few lost customers. And eventually a few people will ride with the driver, give them more low ratings, and the driver will quickly be history.

Not saying I agree with Uber's methods, just pointing out it's much cheaper to do it their way than actually screen drivers.
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Old 10-18-2015, 12:09 PM   #7
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A possibly unscreened driver took you the wrong way and couldn't communicate with you. What makes that an acceptable experience?
Had this exact experience with a licensed cab the last time we used one, did not know where we wanted to go and when we tried to clarify and give some directions, he could not understand what we were saying. I think this driver was screened since he picked us up in yellow cab at an airport.
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Old 10-18-2015, 12:13 PM   #8
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I had a similar bad experience with a cab driver. It was a long ride so we negotiated a fixed rate before leaving. He missed his turnoff on the toll road, which added 45 minutes to our already very long drive. There can be bad cab drivers also.
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Old 10-18-2015, 12:15 PM   #9
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Had this exact experience with a licensed cab the last time we used one, did not know where we wanted to go and when we tried to clarify and give some directions, he could not understand what we were saying. I think this driver was screened since he picked us up in yellow cab at an airport.
Same here.

This was in Vienna Austria, the cabbie had absolutely no idea how to get to our destination. We crossed one bridge three times, then ended up on a freeway heading the wrong direction. Finally, we hauled out our phones and showed him that we were going way out of our way.

He was lost and apologized and didn't make us pay for the ride. But still.
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Old 10-18-2015, 01:59 PM   #10
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I don't travel much anymore, but say 10% of traditional cab drivers I have come across were below standard IMO , for someone driving the public for hire.

All the cabs in metro areas have gps, and generally require the drivers to follow the gps route . Have had some younger hacks ask me the best route to the destination. I appreciate being asked when the driver does not know, rather than pretending and wasting my time and $ . When this happened out of town,
( San Jose airport IIRC ) I asked for another driver.

The main thing I will not tolerate driver :" The credit card reader isn't working "

me: ok , I'l just mail a check driver: um, let me try it, it might work now.

I always tip in cash, so this dumb ass stuff doesn't work with me , and the only time I'l stiff them on a tip. Honest and struggling works for me, dishonesty gets zip.

Uber isn't going away , and the cab industry does need a boot in the ass , but to claim they are not a Livery company, and just a tech co , BS, IMO.
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Old 10-18-2015, 03:10 PM   #11
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Haven't tried Uber although I probably will sometime.

The horror stories, though, reminded me of a cabbie who picked me up in CA and couldn't find my hotel- a friggin' Marriott. He called his dispatcher a couple of times, speaking in a foreign language I didn't understand (may have been Armenian judging from his surname), stopped once to get directions, and finally I whipped out my rudimentary Blackberry and helped him navigate. I'd never used that function before but desperate times call for desperate measures.

And that's a cabbie for some firm that had the right to pick up passengers at the airport, which I'm sure cost them some $$. I'm so glad to see alternatives to these monopolies. And don't get me started on the NYC cab fleet. It was crazy not to grant additional medallions over the years and it's finally catching up to them.
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Old 10-18-2015, 04:00 PM   #12
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I have had many bad cab experiences...

My first cab ride in NYC, the driver went up on the sidewalk!!

I had another in NYC take me to the airport the long way... I knew the fare that should have been and his was $10 higher (I was not paying attention where he was driving)... he got no tip...


In London I had a car for hire (not a cab as they are great and know everyplace).... he was supposed to take me to my apt for a short term assignment.... dropped me off with all my bags at a place and drove away.... but the place he dropped me off was NOT where I was supposed to be... it was the weekend and calls to the company were not answered... finally got a real cab who took me to where I was supposed to be and I met the guy with the key.... but 4 or 5 hours late...
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Old 10-18-2015, 04:12 PM   #13
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My daughter is an investor in Uber. She observed that it is at its heart a logistics business. The software that manages the rides can as well be used for the delivery of goods.
T-Al's story is much worse than anything I've seen or heard of elsewhere with regard to Uber. I agree it could easily happen with a regular taxi also. What I don't understand is why the regular cab businesses would not push to use the Uber software and prepayment system which is what makes Uber superior in many respects.

We had a local radio host report his first Uber experience. He paid $23 for Uber one way to an event. The return trip by regular cab was $7. I think for longer trips Uber would probably be cheaper than the regular cab. I am still skeptical that Uber drivers are getting enough to cover wear and tear on their cars.
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Old 10-18-2015, 04:23 PM   #14
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I have had many bad cab experiences...

My first cab ride in NYC, the driver went up on the sidewalk!!

I...
That's a bad thing ? sure cut's down on the wait time part of the fare.
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Old 10-18-2015, 05:02 PM   #15
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My first cab ride in NYC, the driver went up on the sidewalk!!
Ya know... In Istanbul, that's how you make a right turn on red.

Oh, and 'red' means stop if the car in front of you stopped.
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Old 10-18-2015, 05:28 PM   #16
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We had a local radio host report his first Uber experience. He paid $23 for Uber one way to an event. The return trip by regular cab was $7. I think for longer trips Uber would probably be cheaper than the regular cab. I am still skeptical that Uber drivers are getting enough to cover wear and tear on their cars.
Uber bases their prices on demand. In one podcast, either Freakonomics or Planet Money, a guy talked about paying $$$ to get home from NYC on a cold, rainy night with his scantily-clad GF who was freezing. I once tried to get a cab from Grand Central station to LaGuardia on a rainy Friday at 5 PM. Funny, right? Finally a stretch limo driver who had circled the block and seen me several times took pity on me and made me an offer I couldn't refuse. It was higher than a taxi, but if I'd waited for a taxi I'd still be there. My boss paid it without complaint.
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Old 10-18-2015, 05:37 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
We used Uber several times in Portland, Oregon, and the system is so much better than traditional taxis that I can understand why cab companies are freaking out.

Every time we've decided to go by Uber, Jenny would bring the app up on her phone, and say something like "Okay, there's a driver around the block. He'll be here in two minutes." It was never more than four minutes. The driver knows where you are because of the GPS in your phone.

The cars have all been very nice and new. The driver takes you to the destination, and all of the payment stuff is taken care of by the app. You just get out and say thanks.

To be fair, I have to tell you about yesterday's bad/funny experience. Our driver hardly spoke English at all. He went through a red light, and didn't respond when we said something about it.

Then, I noticed that we were going south instead of north on the freeway. I told him and he pulled over to the side of the freeway!

Jenny and Lena and I had a discussion in our secret language (Swedish) and once we got going again and off the freeway, we said "You know, we've got some other things to do, so we think we'll get out here."

Jenny flagged the driver as unsafe and described the problems we had via the app, so I'm sure he won't be driving anymore. She uses Uber a lot, and hasn't had any other bad experiences. She hadn't noticed his rating (can't check after the ride).

We got a new driver within minutes, and were soon back at the AirBnB (another mind-blowing thing).

Al

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Early Retirement Forum mobile app
I have had some really bad licensed cabbies too in NY, really scary experience.
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Old 10-18-2015, 05:44 PM   #18
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T-Al's story is much worse than anything I've seen or heard of elsewhere with regard to Uber. I agree it could easily happen with a regular taxi also. What I don't understand is why the regular cab businesses would not push to use the Uber software and prepayment system which is what makes Uber superior in many respects.
Cab companies are highly regulated, so they can't make changes that easily. They wanted the regulation, because that allowed them to create the medallion system which has been used for decades to keep competitors out of the market, and created artificially high prices for the medallions. Now that their market model is going the way of the dinosaur they are screaming bloody murder, but it's largely a self inflicted wound.
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Old 10-18-2015, 06:31 PM   #19
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Uber users, how does the Uber fare work in the OP's case?

I signed up for the Uber app recently but didn't take a ride yet. When I put in for a fare estimate, it would tell me something like "$9-12 to downtown" with the variance depending on other factors. Does it cost more if the driver takes the long way around (like a metered cab?) or if there's a lot of traffic (a dwell time charge like a metered cab)?
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Old 10-18-2015, 07:32 PM   #20
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Cab companies are highly regulated, so they can't make changes that easily. They wanted the regulation...
Both the cab companies and the local government (i.e. politicians) "benefit" from the regulation.

As you pointed out the cab companies erect barriers to entry (or so they thought).

But local politicians also benefit from both above the table political campaign contributions and below the table kickbacks (in many cities).

It's not clear that the general public benefits from the regulation. Ostensibly they get various guarantees about quality and such, but this industry is a pretty good example of regulatory capture where the regulations benefit the regulated.

That's what Uber is up against.
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