The controversial app-based taxi company is taking some heat — justified in one ugly incident — for various things, but I did get my first Uber experience last weekend and thought I’d share it with you.
I flew into LA on Friday for a quickie overnight to attend Kurt Schlichter’s surprise 50th birthday roast. The Hilton’s airport shuttle wasn’t available, and I didn’t have a whole lot of time to clean up and enjoy a pre-party cocktail, so I marched down to the taxi stand and hopped in.
You probably know the drill from here, but just in case, here you go.
The curb attendee shoved a receipt at me. The cabbie told me three times, in broken English, of the $19 minimum to leave the airport, even though my hotel was only five minutes away. That price wasn’t his fault of course, but it did serve to focus my attention on trying Uber ASAP. Upon arrival at the hotel, I whipped out my ATM card to pay, but the cabbie raised his hands, shrugged his shoulders in a childish way, and made an unpleasant “muh” sound at my card.
It’s not that his cab didn’t take plastic; it’s that he just didn’t want to. To make matters worse, I overtipped the guy because I didn’t want to deal with him long enough to get change back from a fiver. Total paid: $25.
A little while later I used Uber’s iPhone app to summon a car. Within moments, a banner appeared telling me my car was almost there, what kind of car it was, my driver’s name, and a thumbnail headshot of her. A minute or two later, a black Prius (of course) pulled up, with a lovely Frenchwoman behind the wheel. The back seat was clean and comfortable, the conversation was pleasant, her English was impeccable. Stephen Kruiser (also attending) had warned me that Uber was undergoing “surge pricing” that hour, but still the price came to less than $13. And payment? The Uber app took care of that for us. She didn’t have to take any cash or refuse my card, and I never had to worry about how much cash I had on me. You get to where you’re going and simply… step out of the car.
(Tipping is not required, but your driver probably wouldn’t tell you no.)
On the way back to the hotel, many hours and many many cocktails later, my next car was waiting before I could even step out the door. Non-surge pricing back to the hotel was about $7. Another driver with excellent English, another car in pristine condition.
Needless to say I took Uber to the airport bright and early the next morning, paying just under $5 for the same flawless and frictionless experience.
My three Uber rides cost almost exactly the same as my single cab ride, and each time the experience was far better than anything I’d ever received in anything less than a hotel Town Car.
The party was epic. Uber was almost as good.
And this isn’t a paid ad for them, not in any way. It’s just that scare stories aside, they provided one hell of a great service at a very reasonable price.
As a man, I have less fear about getting into strange cars than women might — but does anyone around these PJM parts fear the Uber, or are your experiences like mine?