Getting somewhere as quickly as possible is not always easy—especially if you have to deal with public transit, rush hour traffic or cab services. The convenience factor is often quite low.
There are already a few mobile apps out there that tell you information about traffic congestion, highway accidents or public transit routes and times. Now, there’s a limo service that’s taken itself mobile to help make grabbing a ride as fast and as easy as possible. It’s called Uber, and it’s gaining steam in a few big cities around North America.
What Is This Uber Private Limo Service, Anyway? How Does It Even Work?
The idea goes a little something like this: You download the Uber app for iPhone or Android, and you use it to signal your need for a ride. Within a few minutes, a nice, shiny black car will show up to take you to your destination. Since your credit card is already configured to the mobile app you used to call for the ride, your payment and tip will be charged automatically.
Nice, right? Here are the three simple steps you need to take when using Uber:
Use the app to tell Uber where you want to be picked up: You can use the map and your phone’s GPS to tell Uber your current location so they can pick you up. If you’re using their mobile website, you can type in the address or you can text the address to UBR-CAB (827-222) if you’re using Uber in Canada or the US.
Wait for Uber to respond: Uber will send you a text notifying you of how long you’ll need to wait before you can expect to be picked up. When your Uber ride arrives, you’ll receive another text to let you know.
Wait for your payment to be automatically charged: Your card will be automatically charged, with the tip already included. You don’t need to manually hand over some cash or your card to the driver before you leave. It’s that simple.
Uber Availability and Other Details
As you may have already guessed, the service is not yet available worldwide. Right now, you can use the Uber mobile app service if you’re located in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., Toronto or Paris. Uber actually has a few flat rates for some places like airports and arenas, which is quite convenient. You can find those on their website.
Cars can fit about four people and operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week--so you can use the app to call one any time you really need one. At this point, you can’t reserve a ride ahead of time as the service currently only operates as an on-demand private driver service.
Uber prices start with a base fare and are charged according to speed. The minimum amount for a trip is $15 (at least in the San Francisco area) and the cancellation fee is $10, charged to your account.
Uber App & Private Driver Service Guide Review
I live in Toronto, so the Uber private driver service just recently became available in my city. I personally love apps that make my life easier, and the Uber Android app was easy to use and set up. After you create an account and set up all your credit card information, Uber sends you a text message to welcome you to the service and so you can confirm your phone number and your email address. You can view or change any of your details from within the app or by signing in on their website.
I’ve used Uber twice now in Toronto. After hitting the green Set Pickup Location button to signal for an Uber car, I got a text message telling me that my cab would be coming in 14 minutes. It actually took maybe four or five minutes before my ride arrived, which was nice. The app also tells you the name of your driver and how far away he is. Both times, the car driver had to call me by phone to find out exactly where I was standing. During my second ride, the driver was confused because the GPS was off a little and told him to stop farther away from where I was actually standing.
The cars are very nice, high quality black sedans with leather interior. I was impressed that the drivers were very quick to react to my call and were very pleasant on the phone and in person. When you get in the car, you can actually watch your phone to see your cab moving down the road on the app.
Once I arrived at my destination, I didn’t have to do anything but thank my driver. Both times I used Uber for a ride, each driver got out to open the door for me. Within minutes, I received the bill by email and the app prompted me to give the driver a rating out of five with the added option to send feedback. Once I did, I received a nice message from the Uber Toronto community manager thanking me for my feedback.
Overall, my experience with Uber was great. The price may seem a little expensive to some people who give it a try, but when you work it out with the tip and realize that you’re paying for more of a high quality private driver experience, it’s actually well worth the cost. The biggest downside I think is the subtle inaccuracy of the GPS system for specific locations. It can take some time for the driver to figure out exactly where you are, which can be awkward and frustrating when you’re trying to explain exactly where you are by phone. When I asked the driver about it, he said it’s a pretty common problem at the moment.
If Uber is in your city, I highly recommend checking them out and taking a trip. I think they’re doing a great job so far and it can only get better from here.