Breaking up with Uber

I have never been completely sold on Uber.

I like the slick app for requesting taxis and sedans, yes, but not the mystery price that shows up after the ride is over and the driver is gone. Also, surge pricing.

Via Blogto.com

More than that, I hate being gouged.

On New Year’s Eve, for example, I was in a jam. It was about 1:30 am. After not being able to hail a yellow cab – a blood sport on NYE – I had gone down to the subway at Broadway and Lafayette to catch an M train back to Williamsburg. After what felt like ages (but was really more like 15-20 minutes) with no sign of a train, I gave up and went back into the cold of street level.

My feet were aching and I was tired. I opened the Uber app.

I knew it would be expensive and sure enough, surge pricing was in effect at a whopping 5X the normal rate. I clicked ‘OK’ and accepted that the minimum fare would be in the $50 range (I forget the exact dollar amount quoted). My ride would be a short one, I rationalized, and I just wanted to get out of the frigid air and into my bed.

Amazingly, there were lots of Uber drivers available. My wait time was quoted as 4 minutes. Demand was high, but so was supply. I was grateful to warm up in the car, if not for the loud EDM the driver played.

“Just get me home,” I thought.

Shortly after I disembarked at my apartment building, I got the Uber receipt:

Uber

To put this into proper perspective, my cab ride to the neighborhood hours earlier had been $13 with tip via yellow cab.

Is Uber within their rights in taking advantage of peak demand? Absolutely. But is a business that gouges customers sustainable? I think that no matter how many cute promotions Uber does, the answer is no. As a brand, Uber now makes me sick to my stomach. I sneer when someone suggests using Uber.

Making matters worse, I recently learned that Uber employees are engaging in a shady practice intended to squash competition (and not by offering a superior service). Via ValleyWag:

But Uber considers Gett a threat: over the past few weeks, Uber employees have been posing as pedestrians, creating Gett accounts for the sole purpose of scheduling and then canceling Gett rides. The result is clear: wasted time for Gett drivers, fewer available rides for Gett users, and general disarray for the whole service.

And it’s coming from the top brass at Uber NYC.

Screenshots provided to Valleywag show multiple instances of Uber staffers using dummy Gett accounts for the sole purpose of canceling rides as a diversion. This includes Uber’s New York General Manager, Josh Mohrer, who ordered and canceled at least twenty Gett rides from December 30th, 2013 to January 14th of this year. Uber’s Operations and Logistics Manager, Jeanine Mendez, faked three ride requests in two days—Uber’s Community Manager Kimiko Ninomaya faked seven in a single day. After these rides had been canceled, Uber texted the affected drivers in an attempt to recruit them—and after all the frustration they’d had with Gett, it’d seem like a sweet offer.

I just downloaded Gett.

Have I deleted the Uber app yet? No, but I have only very specific instances when I will consider it appropriate to use:

  • When traveling on business in markets that don’t have an alternative or easy access to regular local taxis.
  • Early morning trips to the airport when I can’t count on street hailing a yellow or green cab. In this instance, I’m going to try to break the Uber habit and go back to local car services.

Screw you, Uber.

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13 thoughts on “Breaking up with Uber

      1. Nellie

        Just one observation from a heavy Uber user and new Gett user. During the last 2 snowstorms (including the one happening right now, Feb 13), it is Gett who had/has a storm surcharge (currently a $20 flat fee), with no sign of an Uber hike either during the recent storm or so far today (not to say it won’t happen still — it’s early yet — 8:30am). But when you realize that one of Gett’s *major* marketing points in NYC was that they don’t “gouge riders during difficult weather conditions like Uber does”, you’d think they’d rather eat some losses than to turn right around and essentially break the implicit promise, made loudly, to induce customers to switch.

        How good is this in the Image fight in NYC? After reading on the Gett site that “…you can relax while you’re stuck in traffic and you’ll never have to worry about surge pricing or hidden charges”, this morning your app screen has some cute snowflakes and storm-cloud graphics, and the otherwise unadorned text: “due to the weather conditions an additional $20 charge will apply to all orders”.

        None of it leaves a good taste, does it?

        Also I note that perhaps Uber is smoothing out the self-staffing issue. This morning, as every morning (and afternoon: and evening), my hood is crawling with Uber sedans and SUVs 3-4 minutes away. Gett is currently at 18 mins.

        I realize no single observation can reveal very much, but it’s especially noteworthy, IMO, when ‘the new guys’ make a flap about competitors’ practice then do something similar (and I contend it *will be perceived* as something similar by the customer base, regardless of any actual differences in kind). Just wanted to throw my data-point into the pot.

        Thanks for your post, LoneGum!
        There are a lot of us who will be watching how this unfolds very carefully…

        Alex

  1. Kate @ GreatestEscapist.com

    $104, HOLY SHIT. Initially, Uber was great in D.C. because most cabs didn’t take credit cards, & Uber was a reliable ride without needed cash. But now all the DC cabs take cards, &… why bother with Uber unless you’re in a real pickle? Seriously, yesterday it quoted me 2.75x fare increase at 7pm on a snow-less Saturday; I hailed a regular old cab instead.

    Reply
  2. Ranting Crow

    Damn isn’t a hotel cheaper.
    Fair enough it is how they can run a business. But a 100 bucks is thieving. They take advantage of people that way.

    Glad we can call local cabs at any time 😀 in this little country or call private cabs (friends)

    Reply
  3. PinotNinja

    WHAT?! That is insanity.

    And all this time I have been DYING for Uber to come to my city (they are trying to fight their way in against massive pushback from the cab companies) because our cabs are so unreliable and don’t come even when you just called them and they said they were 3 blocks away and on their way. I thought that being able to track order and track the cab on my phone would be magical.

    So much for that dream.

    Reply
  4. Amy

    The one time we tried Uber, they didn’t even show up. And it was for my firm’s holiday party so we didn’t have all night to wait around and ended up having to drive (what a damper on a fun evening!). Now we use Halo – an app that calls a regular old taxi for you, no inflation. I don’t know if they have it or a similar app in other cities (or if it works as well there) but it is great for Chicago.

    Reply
      1. Amy

        Try it and let me know how it goes : ) We’ve been pleased so far. Even for early mornings, high volume nights (New Year’s, etc.).

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