With wise marketing ploys like discounts during tube strikes, and above all convenience, UBER has become increasingly popular with Londoners. UBER is an app that allows you to get a quote for a taxi journey and hail one to your location with a few simple swipes on your smart phone. Our CEO Tony Coe gave it a go last night and here’s what he had to say:
So I used UBER for the first time for a trip to the O2 Arena at 6:45pm. Normally I would use Addison Lee (AL).
Earlier on the day I used the UBER app to check the cost of the journey. – £28 UBER v £43 AL: big difference! But you can’t book an UBER car in advance. It’s strictly an on-demand service. I was also conscious of the fact that, at times of high demand, they operate “surge pricing”. On those occasions when you go on to check the price the app tells you that demand is “off the charts” and “to get more UBER cars on the road” prices are 1.75 times the norm, which (I think) puts them north of AL charges. I decided I’d use AL if surge-pricing was in operation when I needed the UBER.
At 6:45 I summoned an UBER using the app. I was told the make of car, colour, driver’s name and sent his photo, all via text. It would arrive within 10 mins – and it did. I was able to track its progress on my iPhone! The Prius looked new and clean – much cleaner than some AL cars I’ve been in!
The driver was a nice guy but quite difficult to communicate with. He was also totally dependent on sat nav. “We’re going to the O2 Arena!”, we said. He clearly had not heard of it! He needed the postcode which we retrieved from the internet for him. He entered it into Mr Tom Tom and off we went.
He drove safely and much less aggressively than some black cabbies and AL drivers I’ve experienced!
When we got close to our destination the sat nav failed him when it came to finding the drop-off point. Do you have the street number, he asked. We said, it’s that immense building right there! Still no flicker of understanding, but we used our commonsense to guide him to a sensible drop off point. To be fair, the signage could be a lot more helpful!
As we went to leave our driver asked us if we’d like to know the cost which is automatically charged to the credit card you register when you download the UBER app. He tapped his device and I was told the cost was £28 – very good, I thought, for the hour-long+ journey from Kensington!
During the drive I asked him about his UBER experience so far as a driver. He was very positive. He thought it was a win-win for the customers and the drivers. It is safe for customers and the prices are great. He enthused that all his UBER customers had been such nice people!
At 10:45pm when we emerged from the O2 Arena, UBER told me there were no cars available, so it was back to faithful old AL. I summoned an AL Galaxy using their app and it arrived within 25 minutes. I don’t know the cost yet of the return journey, but it will be closer to £50 I’m certain! The AL driver was great and far easier to communicate with. He too had problems finding the drop-off/pick up point but we talked him down via mobile phone conversation.
All in all, I think UBER will provide a great alternative service for me. I will try it first when I don’t need to book in advance because the cost is much lower for essentially the same service as AL. My second choice would be AL and a black cab will remain my last resort, which is no doubt why they are up in arms against UBER!
Download the UBER app using promo code: nhzyr
This will get you £10 off your first ride!
And let us know about your experience by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so we can keep our Expat community informed.
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