Yesterday evening, after taking the Metro to the opera, walking to dinner and wanting to get home quickly the easy way I summoned an Uber. I watched it approach on my iPhone and within five minutes a smart black car was waiting for me outside my restaurant ready to take me home in style. And it cost less than a normal Parisian taxi.
If you haven’t already read about or heard about this ridesharing company, Uber is based in San Francisco and was founded in 2009. You can now access Uber from 45 countries and more than 100 cities worldwide. They won’t meet and greet you at the airport, although you can call one when you arrive. And they most likely won’t pick you up in the depths of the countryside, but if you’re in the Metropolis they’re a really efficient service.
Uber is the largest ride sharing/pick up service at the moment, and is likely to stay that way, being valued currently at $15bn. However there are a couple of things you need to know:
Pay attention when booking Uber through the app on your smart phone in peak times to avoid the much complained about ‘surge pricing’ which can increase the cost of your trip substantially. The app will tell you when this is in force, and what the multiplier is for your trip, but you may go too fast and miss this. Don’t.
Also you may be charged if you mess up the interior of your Uber ride (fair in my opinion), you will be charged for a road toll, or airport toll. also make sure you know which type of Uber you book. UberX – which I took last night – is one rung above UberPop, the cheapest option in Paris, after which there is UberX, Uber Berline, and Uber Van. To check what options are available in your city click here.
What you need to do is to download the Uber app on your phone and have a good browse through the app and the website so you always know what you’re letting yourself in for. The sign up for an account, put in your payment details and tap to call.
The Competition. As with any great idea there is competition. Licenced taxi companies in may cities are up in arms over Uber as the drivers are not subject to the same regulations as licenced taxis – we’ll see how that one plays out.
Similar services: Read this article in the Wall Street Journal comparing Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. Plus Forbes article on Gett. Then choose which you like the most.
Also read Wall Street Journal’s article on the infighting between Uber and Lyft. I have to say that out of peak time, and for the moment, I am sticking with Uber. Great service experience wins every time.