Interesting, but good. My experience using Uber for the first time.


Interesting, but good. My experience using Uber for the first time.

Today due to track work on City Rail and not paying attention, I boarded the wrong train and ended up in Bankstown. Determined to turn a negative into a positive, I decided to try Uber.

So I got my phone out and opened up the Uber app. I created an account and added my payment information. It showed me a map and my approximate location. Like most GPS it was close but not exact. I moved my position to where I was. Next I selected my destination and type of vehicle. I selected the cheapest UberX.

UberX is the most controversial type of Uber travel.

UberX is the least expensive Uber service. The vehicles seat 4 people. Drivers use everyday cars that are 2000 or newer. They are also able to offer cheaper rides than the traditional taxi.

Within 2 mins a driver had accepted. This is where the difference in experience between a taxi and a Uber vehicle started to show. I was given the name of the driver, a picture of him, the registration of the vehicle and the vehicle type.

I waited at the side of the road and saw the Toyota Camry. I confirmed it was right by comparing the number plate to what was in the app. The picture was also accurate and looked like the driver. It felt weird at first, getting into a strangers personal car. It was super clean.

The second surprise was how quick he was to ask what I would like on the radio and whether I wanted the air conditioner turned up or down. In my 100’s of taxi trips, not one driver has ever asked me those two things.

I told him this was my first time using Uber. He told me that he has been an Uber driver for 5 months. He then proceeded to tell me that it was not his fulltime job, but a way to make extra money to support his family on the weekends. What a great idea, you can be a driver every Saturday or Sunday for additional income.

The whole trip I felt like he was trying to impress me.

Asking me questions. Telling me about his life. I felt like I was a valued customer. The reason for the effort is because of the rating system. After the ride is finished. The driver rates you and you rate the driver. This creates an incentive for the passenger and driver to be respectful to each other. Because drivers won’t pick up a 1 star passenger and passengers won’t accept 1 star drivers.

It made me think that the taxi service could have stopped Uber before it got popular, by implementing the same ability. It would have forced them to increase the level of service and people wouldn’t be so quick to jump to Uber. But like Blockbuster before them, they dismissed the disruptive technology and it could now kill their old business model.

Back to the story. I felt as safe in his car as I would in a taxi. There are more sexual assaults by taxi drivers than Uber drivers to put things in perspective. I soon arrived at my destination. Uber automatically debits the money for the trip out of my account using the payment method I supplied. He jokingly says as I get out of the car, “I am going to rate you 5 please rate me 5 too”.

After I got out of my car the app prompted me to rate him and an option to leave a comment. I gave him 5 stars. Reason being it was my first experience and although interesting it was a good one.

The only reservation I still have about Uber is about insurance.

Uber is still in a legal grey area and considered illegal by governments. This means that if you were in an accident the insurance companies could be able to pull out leaving you without protection. Whether insurance companies can or can’t do this is still up to debate and until it’s tested in court or made legal it is something you should consider.

So I would never take it with work for example. I don’t want my workers compensation to be affected because of what may be deemed an illegal mode of transportation.

But after my experience I would definitely consider using it again for my personal travel. I think next time I will try one of the more luxurious service where you get things like drinks and snacks.

Update 17/12/2015:
NSW has legalized Uber as of 12:01 18/12/2015.

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