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Saturday, September 24, 2016

My Uber Experience - Great Value for the Passenger

uber.com

Not so great, it seems, for the driver.


After finally getting a smart phone a couple months ago, I decided to get signed up for Uber after hearing from one of my bosses about his experiences with them in San Francisco.

I’ve now used them four times in the last couple of weeks and have found it to be an excellent experience with prompt service and low fares. A really great feature is when you open the app, it shows all the Uber cars in the area around you and the approximate wait time to get a driver.

My first trip was to get a car to my house, pick me up and take me to get a rental car to drive back to Wisconsin about five miles away. About 8 am on a Friday after punching in my address and destination and requesting a ride, in a couple seconds, up came a picture of my driver and his make and model car informing me that he was four minutes away! I barely had time to collect my things, get my shoes on and get out the door before he was there. After the short ride, the fare was $8.52 with Uber getting about $1.50 booking fee and the driver getting the rest. Total time from my request to time of arrival to destination was about 20 minutes!

Two days later, on Sunday, I was visiting my brother in Minneapolis and we decided to go out to a nice restaurant for dinner. I was telling him about Uber and figured we may as well try it out in the Twin Cities and see how it worked. Once again the destination was less than five miles away, after requesting the ride, the driver was six minutes away. Fare, $8.59 with the driver getting about $7.00. The ride back after the meal, wait time eight minutes, fare only $6.88.

After getting back home and turning the rental car in, the wait for my ride back home was 11 minutes, fare $7.01, but Uber said I had earned a promotional discount and the ride was free!

As you can see, great prices for the passenger, but I think, not so great for the driver. He (she) is only paid for the actual time spent transporting a passenger. They are not paid for the time and fuel used in going to the pick-up and departing from the destination.

Notice that my first trip took twenty minutes from the time the driver was notified, arrived to pick me up and drop me at my destination. His take for that 20 minutes was about $7.00. If the next passenger is too far away, I just don’t see how they can be making much of anything. Let's say that he could immediately do the same thing twice more (very unlikely), his take for one hour is $21.00! That's not much when you consider the fuel and maintenance has to come from somewhere.

The guy who took us back from the restaurant was driving a late model Cadillac Escalade, we asked him how long he had been doing Uber and he said “two days”. The guy that took us to the restaurant had been doing it for two weeks. My first driver said this was his second summer and my last one in Salt Lake appeared to be retired and only worked in the mornings. In fact, he complained that Uber had attempted to cut rates back so low for awhile that he stopped driving for them. Evidently, they lost a lot of drivers and he went back after they raised the rates back up some.

With Uber, your fare is automatically charged on your credit card on file and there is no need for cash. Tipping the driver is not required and drivers cannot request a tip, however they can accept, if offered. I tipped $2.00 on every ride, considering these guys are not getting rich off this deal. When you consider the wear and tear of your vehicle and cost of fuel, I doubt I would ever consider doing it myself, but I won’t hesitate to use them for rides in the future. Great service!

Have you had a negative experience using Uber? If so, I'd love to see your comments about it below.

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