Uber. So helpful, cheap and accessible, right? I have used them on and off for a few years, in the UK, USA and South Africa, and they have always been relatively reliable, presuming they kind-of know the area in which they’re driving and don’t ALWAYS rely on their sat nav app to get them to the destination.
I have recently had nothing but bad experiences with them, so have decided to delete the app from my phone permanently. The main reason being that I just can’t rely on them like I used to.
In my post ‘Rain, Rain, Go Away‘ I talked about one of the reasons why I am now feeling compelled to write this post. We booked an Uber on said rainy morning to take myself and Khaya to school. We had a driver accept the journey and he was making his way to us from our local train station, where he’d just made a drop-off. About three minutes before he was due to arrive, he cancelled the journey. Luckily, I was still able to walk/swim to the school to get Khaya there on time, but it was close! I was so angry that I complained to Uber and received some standard email in response, apologising for any inconvenience, etc, etc. Reason One.
Reason Two actually happened a few months ago. I went to our local Asda to get a big shop and I ordered an Uber to come and pick me up and take me home. I had limited funds in my bank account, so was shocked when they withdrew the upper amount of the estimated travel fee at the moment I booked the ride, rather than charging me for the actual trip fee at the end. It was a busy time, apparently, and the fee would be a bit higher due to high demand. I didn’t expect it to be as high as it ended up being, though. My driver arrived and dithered about which way he was going to get me home. He turned around a couple of times and eventually took a good back route, avoiding the traffic. When I checked the fare for the trip at the end, it was £9.21. For about a mile journey! I was so disappointed… More so because I probably could have called our local cab firm and got the same journey for about half of that price (A mistake I shall never make again!).
My grandfather always says he hates Uber and would never use them as they don’t have ‘The Knowledge’ of London like real cab drivers do. But, he also doesn’t agree with the ethics. I can understand all of this, but I always used them despite their problems, as they were so reliable and easy to use.
When we were staying in Johannesburg in 2016, we used Uber a lot. It was great – Cheap, reliable and efficient. I felt bad about not using the slightly-more-expensive cab driver that we had met, who worked for a smaller company, but Uber was so much easier. That was until we had a nightmare trip to Joburg Zoo and I realised that having no mobile data or wifi was almost life-threatening (or, at least, sanity-threatening!). We (Khaya and a pregnant I) arranged to meet a new friend there, but she didn’t show up. I had limited use of my phone, so tried to look around to see if any part of the zoo had wifi (I was even ready to pay for it!) so I could call her and/or order an Uber to go home again. No wifi at the restaurant, but there were wifi points all over the zoo. We made our way to the nearest one, which was next to the statue of the late Max, a gorilla who passed away at the zoo in 2004. I managed to send some iMessages to said friend, no replies (I later found out she left her phone at home). I managed to book an Uber, but I knew that as soon as I moved away from Max and towards the exit, I’d lose signal and have to HOPE that the driver met me at the right place, without being able to check if he was even still coming! Luckily all was OK in the end, but I wonder if the same happy ending would have occured in London?? I expect the driver would have just cancelled on me, leaving me high and dry, crying on the roadside after the zoo closed. Perhaps UK Uber drivers should take some lessons from the SA ones.
Reason Three is simple – I can’t ride in an Uber with my two boys without car seats. Either I carry two car seats around with me permanently in case I need an Uber in an emergency, or I leave the kids behind.
I rarely have the need for an Uber/taxi nowadays, and it’s always a no-go with the two boys. We have amazing public transport around us and we now have use of a family car when we need it. We’re all set without you, Uber, thank you. Now go and let down all the rest of London!
On another note, my lovely readers, I’d love to hear about your experiences with Uber and whether you have stopped using them and, if so, what was the clincher?
Cover photo credit: Austin Distel on Unsplash