BY HARRY ALFORD
I have seen many successes during my life, but I have never seen anything close to the rollout and rise of the car service known as Uber. Uber is an alternative to the taxicab industry. It is competitive in price and superior in service, quality of vehicle and professionalism with the driver. The taxi industry is up in arms with Uber and they should be. With a taxi, you don’t really know what you are going to get. With Uber, your expectations are set in place and if the service does not meet that expectation, there is fast corrective action. Wherever there is Uber, the taxis’ market share is quickly shrinking.
Here is how it works. You download the Uber app or go to www.uber.com. You download the information and put in the credit card you wish to use whenever ordering the car service. Now you are good to go. Whenever you need a car, you go to your Uber App and it will identify your location through a very efficient GPS system. You put in where you wish to go. In about two or three minutes, it will alert you the name of the driver coming, the license plate and make of the car and how many minutes it will take to pick you up. Our average waiting time in the D.C. area is three to five minutes. You can preselect for each trip a SUV, a sedan or an UberX type car.
The SUV is usually a GMC, Yukon or Lincoln. The sedan could be a Chrysler 300, Mercedes, Lexus, etc. The UberX is a Toyota or an equivalent. The SUV will cost a little more than a taxi while the sedan will be a little less. The UberX will have a rate significantly less than a taxi.
The service is guaranteed. The driver must open the door for all passengers. They usually provide bottled water and mints for the ride. Their discourse is that of a butler (customer always right). If a driver is not up to expectations or if they drive you on a route that is not the most direct you can address that. After each ride you will automatically be emailed a receipt with a map of the trip. You can challenge that as not being the most direct route and they will evaluate your claim. Their computer will decide who is correct. If you are correct you are immediately given a credit for the difference and an apology. Also, you are asked to rate your driver (1 star – 5 star). His average rating for past rides will be given to you when you order. Any driver receiving low scores will be dismissed from Uber contracting.
The drivers are independent contractors, most being private chauffeurs. They can choose their own hours. Many will keep their chauffeur business and work for Uber to fill the lulls in their volume. Uber offers auto financing for its drivers and a very affordable insurance policy. In some cities, such as New York City, Uber drivers are guaranteed $5,000 per month in revenue.
The fine service is consistent throughout the nation. I was in a taxi line at the downtown Sheraton in Chicago and was told it will be a 30 minute wait for a taxi. So I stepped out of line and walked to the curb and ordered an Uber SUV. It took three minutes. In Los Angeles they come in five minutes on the average.
In London, the taxis went on a citywide strike. Shortly into the strike Uber invaded London with a fleet of Uber cars and things haven’t been the same since. Through customer demand, LAX airport has authorized Uber free reign of its passengers. Yes, it is the rage of the world. People love Uber for the price and service.
According to the Wall Street Journal: “Uber Technologies Inc.’s whopping valuation of $18.2 billion is a bet by some of the world’s top investors that the car-hailing smartphone app can grow by expanding world-wide and branching into new arenas, like logistics….Investors see much potential in some of these companies. At $18.2 billion, Uber is worth about the same as Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. and Avis Budget Group Inc. combined.”
Taxi unions are trying to stop Uber but how can they? It is a legitimate business with a successful track record. Thus, they are suing the company saying that their drivers are in fact employees not independent contractors. There is the hustle. They want to unionize them and shake them down for dues. That isn’t going to happen because they truly are independent contractors by the definition that I know (and I know).
There is room for more. Another new entry into this car service is Lyft. They, too, are taking off with rocketing sales. This is good for the business people of the world who demand reliable and consistent service.