Uber: Everyone's Private Driver (Indeed!) [☝]

June 14, 2015

For the past few weeks, I was in night shift schedule at my work. Since I commute, it was a bit of a different setup because I won't be able to ride a shuttle because it's not available in our area during that time. This is when I got to utilize Uber, a ride-hailing app, which allows users to get a ride to their destination in the most comfortable way possible!

What is Uber?
Uber is a mobile app that allows users to hail a private car as ride to their destination. Its service pioneered in San Francisco, California and now has expanded to worldwide use.

How it works
Based on your current location, the app finds Uber drivers available near you and allows you to request their service. With one tap, you can send a request for a ride. The driver will then go to your location to pick you up. Simple, right?

When a driver taps the application agreeing to pick you up, certain information becomes available for the user, such as the name and photo of the driver, the car type and plate number, and his current location en route to your location. Remembering the car's plate number is the most important part because that's the only way to know that the car arriving is actually the Uber car that you rented. Their cars totally look like the private-owned ones.

Everything is charged on your credit card, which you register to the app. You ride the car, tell your destination to the driver, and upon arrival, just thank them and get off. Toll fees (if applicable) are paid by the driver and will just be added to the amount charged on your card. Very convenient, right? No need to use cash! Just a caution though - there's a fee when you cancel a ride, 5 minutes after booking which amounts to Php100 here in the country.

Through the app, you get to rate the driver. Based on one driver that I talked to, they also rate their passengers. Uber values user feedback very much. One time I gave a driver a three-star rating only because he didn't know the route and was just driving around the destination, just relying to the GPS. Several minutes later, I received an email from Uber support stating that they looked at my trip details and found that indeed, the driver did not do the best route to my destination, and will communicate this feedback to the driver.

The app also allows you to share your estimated time of arrival (ETA) to your contacts, in the form of a web page link containing essential information, including your current location en route to your destination (you'll have to refresh the page to get this updated). I always use this functionality when riding Uber. It's more accurate than just sending the plate number of the vehicle. There's also the option of splitting the fare with your ride companion, given both of you have the Uber app on your phones. Sweet.

Uber is available worldwide.
Uber's service pioneered in the streets of San Francisco, California in 2009. Today, it's use has expanded to several countries around the globe (it's very popular in China). It's service is cheaper than local taxis in some regions that is why commuters are really patronizing it. However Uber has been banned in several countries (including all of Spain) and still being petitioned to be removed in several others (like in France and Malaysia) because it's badly affecting the business of local traditional taxi drivers. There were protests here in the Philippines also, and Uber asked users to file a petition to counter them. I was one of those signed, and yes we succeeded. :)

Uber Promos and Gimmicks
Aside from its excellent service, Uber occasionally does entertaining promos for their users. There's the typical discount for first-time riders through a promo code shared by other users. The most recent special promos they had were their #UberManila4Manny which offered free rides for all users in case Manny Pacquiao wins against Floyd Mayweather (which did not happen, so yeah no free rides (>_<))  #UberGhost, and #UberCoffee.

I wanted to try this #UberCoffee, but I was on night shift during that week so caffeine was the last thing I needed. :p

There are also the price surges, which are in this case in favor to Uber drivers, during certain peak hours.

My feedback on Uber? It's the best thing that happened in my commuting life.
I now really like Uber. Though I have already availed of its use during late night trips to home and impromptu trips to new areas, I have just learned to truly appreciate it today. It saved me from the hassle and danger of commuting during my night shift at work. It's really very comfortable to use because I get to ask the driver to pick me up right outside our house. It saves a lot of time and effort!

One feature that I like with Uber is that there's no chance (and if there is, it's very slim) that you will be rejected by your driver. Upon booking, the driver does not actually receive information on the location of the destination. Upon passenger pickup, he gets informed when the passenger enters it through the app, or just through word of mouth.

If you do a second thinking, it's seems to be more dangerous to ride these kind of vehicles because from the outside, there's no way to figure out that it's a hired car and the driver is a total stranger to you. Fortunately with Uber, I felt safe during my rides. All of the drivers that I have encountered were very courteous and polite. They would ask if the car's aircon is just right or if I prefer to have music playing (Kuya, do you have KPOP songs? Hahaha!) There was even a time that upon arrival to the destination, the driver got off and opened the car door for me. xD Their driving was very good too - no swerving and no signs of road rage. Since some of them are actually the car owners and are not full-time drivers, you would have to guide them on your preferred route to your destination. Though some of them have solved this information gap through using map applications such as Waze, they would still ask you your preferred route.

 I really like this service. It's heaven-sent to commuters like me who wants to have a comfortable travel to places around the metro. Even my dad is fascinated with Uber. xD It's amazing what technology today is allowing us to do.

I hope Uber will continue to be this awesome, and I hope its service stays for good in the country.

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