This weekend, I gave Uber a try. If the name is new to you, Uber is a service that aims to seamlessly help you request a cab ride and pay via a mobile phone app. The Uber app is available for Android, Windows Phone, and iPhone. I was able to try out both the Android and Windows Phone apps and the service this weekend. Here is my review of how it went, plus all the details of how to use the mobile apps.
I downloaded the Uber app to my Nokia Lumia 930, clicked the Signup button, entered my details and completed signup in moments without a hitch. The app requires Location Services to be active, because it uses GPS and maps to locate you, your destination, and to show you the progress of the car you have booked.
The app also requires an active internet connection. You will be required to enter your credit/debit card details too for billing purposes.
After signing up, I got N2,000 free credit from Uber, and a promo code from a friend gave me a few free rides. Free rides are a perfect way to test how a service like this costs.
I also later downloaded the Android app on the Samsung Galaxy K zoom so as to have a feel of that too. Both apps are evenly matched and have the exact same features and functionality. Rather nice.
Saturday morning was hectic on the domestic front. there was a lot of cleaning up and all that. By evening, Mr & Mrs. Mo were ready for some fresh air, and we thought it would be a good idea not to drive. I launched the Uber app and it found our location, but there was no car available. Here is what you see when no car is available:
Every few minutes, I went tapping again to find and request an available car. This went on from around 4pm till 5.30pm when we both decided it was time to call it quits. Mrs. Mo dashed out with Girl Mo for the salon, and I was promptly abandoned alone at home for the rest of the evening. I blame Uber! *stares*
On Sunday, I had places to go and thought to give it a try again. This time, I did get a cab – a Mercedes Benz e-class. I hope that my neighbours are reading this review, so they know my money hasn’t arrived yet. It was an Uber cab o! First thing I noticed was the iPhone installed in the car:
My return ride had an iPhone setup in a similar way, so I am guessing that this is the default setup in all Uber cars. The driver accepts ride requests, navigates roads and terminates rides with these. When a driver arrives to pick you up, he calls you up as well.
My morning trip cost me one free ride and part of my free credit. The way billing works is that each free ride I got was worth N3,000, but my bill exceeded that, so the balance above the N3,000 was deducted from my credit balance.
On my return trip home, I rode in a black Toyota RAV4 and that cost me a free ride and some too. Here is what my account balance looked like after both rides:
Me in the Uber ride back home last night:
Both rides went quite well and were comfortable. The drivers were courteous as well. This is a service that comes in handy on days one is tried of driving on Lagos roads or when one needs to be productive on the road.
The app lets you call or message the driver you have booked.
The app shows you where the car you requested is and its progress as it makes its way towards you. It also displays the progress of the car all through your trip.
The base trip fare is N500, and trips are billed at a rate of base fare plus N10 per minute plus N125 per kilometre. If you enter mega traffic, you pay more. The farther your destination, the more you pay. Having billing based on a combination of factors instead of a single one is a smart business strategy that should work well.
You can get a rough idea of what your trip will cost before you request. Set your pickup location, enter your destination, and tap Fare Quote at the bottom of the app. A trip from Ojodu to Akin Adesola at VI gave me an estimated quote of N4,621 to N5,996 (when I ran the Fare Quote a second time, it gave me slightly different figures). Of course, it is an estimate being given. Traffic will determine how much one pays.
After each ride is over, a receipt is presented to you on the mobile app, so you can see your bill immediately, as well as rate the ride.
Complaints & recommendations
Whenever I checked the Uber app for an available ride and there was none, I had to manually keep checking. This can be quite distracting and irritating, especially if one has other things to do. Uber needs to implement an automated system such that if I request for a ride and no car is available, the app checks for me at intervals and notifies me immediately one is available, so I can act on it.
Of course, Uber Lagos also needs more cars on the road, especially for busy days. It wasn’t cool that I couldn’t take that Saturday ride with Mrs. Mo. She was quite looking forward to it.
To Get Uber…
Download Uber for Android, Windows Phone or iPhone, signup with Uber and go to Promotions in the app menu to enter this code: uberMoverick. That should give you N2,000 free credit or so. Or just click here to signup now 😉