Thursday, 26 March 2015

Uber Cool

You know how in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun orbited by an utterly insignificant little blue green planet at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles? And you know how the ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea? Well, being a member of those life forms I am sad to admit that I am always late to the party. I still think analogue watches are a pretty neat idea. Anyhoo, all I am saying is that I am behind when it comes to all the cool things. The current cool thing is the Uber taxi service that originated in the good ol’ US and has since been spreading in major cities around the world. I live in Cape Town and tried the service out yesterday and it was pretty freakin’ rockstar as all hell!

I live in Cape Town’s CBD and though the public transport is better than what you’d find in my home city, Johannesburg, it still leaves a lot to be desired. Living in the CBD it’s easiest for my housemates and I to get around using cab services, which are quite cheap in and around the city but are rarely on time and some of the companies have vehicles that are nowhere near roadworthy. Some of the companies provide great service though but the thing that really grinds my gears is when meter taxis refuse to use their meters! I hate having to haggle for a fair price every time I’m out and just want to get home. Then there are the overpriced meter at Waterfront that make me want to pull the little hair I have out. The driver tells you his meter charges R10.00 a km and 5 km later the meter is sitting on R100.00! These things make me very angry so I was pretty happy to give Uber a go.

Get to the UberCHOPPER! 

The whole service is quite seamless. You download the app and add your credit card details. Some people are a bit concerned about this part but I figure I buy stuff online on the regular and trust all those folks with my details so I’ll give this a go. It’s still early days though so if something shady does go down with my bank account I will let you know and we can go to Uber’s house together and beat them up. Once that’s done you’re ready to ride. I got my first ride free because of the whole referral thing they have going on. If you refer a friend to the service and they enter your promo code you both get R90.00 free credit. A friend referred me so that was pretty nice. I see they have an offer of R150.00 a referral for both parties now so support a Charlie boy and enter my promo code when you sign up: mnqxg. I love me some free stuff and I bet you do too.

Anyhoo, once you’re all signed up and want go out you simply request one of three types of rides: UberX, UberXL or UberBLACK. X is the normal one and you get something in the line of a TOYOTA COROLLA, HONDA BRIO AMAZE SEDAN or VOLKSWAGEN POLO picking you up and it’s charged at a base fee of R5.00, R0.70 per minute in addition to R7.00 a km. The minimum fare is R20.00. The XL is an SUV when you want to bring more of the gang along and is charged at the same rate as the XL but with a minimum fare of R30.00. The last option, the BLACK is the classy one where you get picked up in a BMW 3-SERIES, AUDI A4 or MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS. It’s R15.00 base fee, R1.10 per minute in addition to R11.00 per km if you feel like balling. If you feel the need to channel your inner Arnie and yell, "Get to the chopper!" Uber has you covered with their UberCHOPPER service. I'm not sure on the pricing for this one though.

The GPS in the app picks up where you are (you can adjust if it gets the location a little wrong) and then you can type your destination in and it shows you an estimate of the costs for the vehicle type you’d like to use. If you’re happy you just click to request a taxi and they send you the details and photo of the nearest driver. They even show you the driver’s location as they drive to you on the map. When the taxi arrives you get a text and are ready to be on your merry way. I took to UberX service and got picked up in the HONDA and it was very pleasant. The driver didn’t drive at breakneck speed, he asked if my partner and I would like the aircon on and it was just all very professional. The driver on the way back even had bottles of still water in cool holders in the car. When you jump out at your destination you don’t worry about paying and arguing over price. You get an email with a receipt of your trip and how much you were charged. In the app you get to rate the driver as well.

My first Uber experience was uber cool and I’d recommend it to the masses. Download the app and give it a bash. Enter my promo code and both of us get R150.00 credit: mnqxg.

Stay cool.

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