uber and out

seems like i wasn’t the only one who had issues with uber this past weekend – in the states they were charging 9x the usual rate at peak times on halloween – and some people who were a tad inebriated when they summoned their ride, got a shock the next morning.

one man paid $539 for an 18 mile ride (that’s about R6000 for under 30km) and one resourceful young woman crowd funded her $362 uber fare.


the reality is that you have to accept the rate before you can even order a ride, but here’s the crap part: so you decide to be responsible and knowing you’ll have a big night, you decide to use uber. at party’s end, even if you’re stone-cold-sober, you’re carless. all you want is to get home and horizontal and suddenly it feels like your ride is holding you to ransom. i understand a surcharge, 2x, 3x more, yes, but 9x!!! yikes. i think that’s something that’ll make me think twice about using the service if i know i’ll be needing it at peak times. admittedly, i had the choice of using one of the regular cabs who were available, but the whole point of my night, was that i’d be able to get to and from my destination and not have to worry about paying cash.

jenty commented on my previous blog on twitter and added @uber_joburg to the conversation and i must say that they followed up. my issue wasn’t so much the surge pricing, but the fact that the first driver cancelled on me after i’d been waiting for a while and that the second driver parked on the side of the road and made me, a woman on her own, walk 2 blocks at 1:30am in order to find him. the person who handles their support desk wrote me to explain that this was not acceptable and offered me a R45 credit to my account as an apology.

i certainly didn’t write my previous post in order to get financial compensation, and i give them an A for following up and responding, but i’m just going to shake my head and smile at that R45.

uber riders caught off guard

uber’s defence

an über balkan halloween

i’m somewhat behind the curve here, but i tried uber for the first time last night when i was heading out to join my friends for a party. after two days of over-indulgence, i wasn’t in the mood to drink, but i definitely didn’t want to struggle with finding parking and walking the streets of newtown at 11pm. also, i had some unused credits from when i’d signed up, so i thought i’d give it a go.

it’s pretty damned cool, i gotta tell you. you fire up the app, click on uberx or uberblack which costs more (though why you’d want to pay more just to drive in a mercedes or an audi, i don’t know), you enter your starting point and destination and then you can even get an estimate of what your journey will cost you.

there was a bit of confusion at first, when i got two different texts to tell me my driver was on his way. a minute later there was another one to cancel one of them and about 15 minutes later my ride was at the door. the guy was chatty and friendly and even more so when i told him that this was my first uber ride. 15 minutes later we were at my destination and with my discovery card discount, it cost me a mere R60.

btw, my destination was the huge balkanology halloween party at carfax and the place was packed with people who had gone to great lengths with their halloween outfits. there were lots of painted faces and fake blood, etc and my friends and i who love cosplay and dressing up were pleasantly surprised at everyone’s commitment. 5 years ago, this would have been unheard of. halloween is obviously taking hold in south africa.
one of my favourite outfits of the night, was the woman dressed as the girl from that sia video.

anyway, i must be getting old, because as i walked onto the dance floor, the music was so loud i thought my ears would start bleeding – and it didn’t get better. most people didn’t seem bothered by it. it was fun to hang out with my friends (some of whom are at least 20 yrs younger than me!), but after a while the packed dance-floor and people stumbling around me while i was sober, made me decide to rather head home.

this is where uber turned out to be not so great. as i logged on, i got a message to say that because of heavy demand, the rate was now 1.5 times what it usually was. it also said that the rate was valid for 2 minutes. when i logged on 2 minutes later, the rate had jumped to 2x the usual. i clicked to accept the rate, as i was standing outside in the cold and by now all i wanted to do was get home. i was instructed that the car would be there in 13 minutes. 20 minutes later, i got a message to say that the driver had to cancel and i now had to request another ride. by this time, though, the rate had dropped back down to 1.2 times the usual and once again, i got a notification to expect a car in 13 minutes. another 20 minutes and 2 phone calls to the driver later, i had to walk 2 blocks to find the car where the driver had parked on the side of the road. needless to say, i was not impressed. it seems that the gps is not as accurate as it should be, which meant the driver could not find me – and i wound up having to walk the streets of newtown at 1:30 in the morning in any case.

all in all, i think uber is a great idea. seems like there are still kinks to be ironed out, but studies have shown that in the states, drinking and driving arrests are down since the service started.

pu-za* thursday!

the silly, social season seems to have begun and being gainfully un- i mean self-employed at the moment, gives me great lee-way to get myself in trouble. i don’t have to be up at 5am or have some pressing business to attend to, so suffice to say that after going to visit with good friends whom i haven’t seen in months, i stumbled home at 7am, barefoot…

why barefoot? because the dog ate my shoe, miss… s’trues bob! guess that’s what happens when you take your shoes off around a rambunctious puppy!

at least the stumble home wasn’t a walk of shame. well, not that kind.

and i didn’t drink and drive! 🙂

p.s. i recently discovered that both santam and fnb have a drive-home service for their clients which can be used 6 times a year. so, if you’ve been drinking, need to get home without breaking the law or endangering others, and are a client of either, use them! or there’s always that uber-app on your phone.
santam – 086 0505911
fnb take me home service – 011-991 8679
don’t drink and drive. stay alive.

*in south africa puza means drunk and puza thursday, when people lubricate themselves into the weekend, has become an institution.