Hailing a cab in busy cities is not always easy, especially after partying hard on a Friday night. Even worse, the awful experience of encountering a rude driver, a smelly car or being charged additional fees can easily ruin a great night and make you reconsider taking a cab next time you go out. The simplest way to avoid these problems, but also to impress friends and ensure a spotless drive, is to hire a personal driver. While this doesn’t seem like an option for most of us, Uber is the perfect solution to the problem: an on-demand private driver, who’s always sharply dressed, comes to pick you up in the fanciest vehicle in town and makes sure you’re seated comfortably during your trip.
The first thing you’ll need to do in order to use Uber is to sign up for the service. This can be done directly on your phone, or on Uber’s website.
In addition to your basic information, you’ll be asked for your credit card details and your mobile phone number. The latter is needed to send you request confirmations and for the driver to contact you in case he can’t find you. Many people feel uncomfortable entering this information, but the reason for it is simple: Uber will never ask for it again, and requesting a ride only takes a few seconds.
Your credit card information is stored securely and you won’t need to have your card with you next time you ride an Uber. The amount will automatically be charged when you step out of the car, but don’t worry, your financial details are safe with Uber: we’ve tried it, and have only been charged when actually riding an Uber car. Once you complete the registration process, you’re all set and can request a cab immediately.
Android.AppStorm has negotiated a special deal for you! When signing up, use the invite codes below to get a special discount: • United States: Use invite code AppStormUS to get a $15 credit on your account, which can be used for Black Car and SUV rides – This code is valid until the 8th of May 2013. • France: Use invite code AppStormFrance to get a €15 credit on your account, which can be used for Black Car, Van and Moto rides – This code is valid until the 8th of May 2013. • All countries: Use invite code uberappstorm to get a $10/€10 credit on your account, depending on your country. This credit will be applied for your first ride – This code doesn’t have an expiration date and can be used in any country. You can also use it instead of the US and France codes after they expire.
These discounts will be automatically applied the first time you use the service.
Step 1: Requesting a Ride
Whenever you need a ride, requesting one is a breeze with Uber. When you launch the application, you’ll be shown a map with your location and a pin that you can move, in case you’d like the driver to meet you at the corner of the street for example.
Uber automatically locates you and estimates your wait time
When requesting an Uber, you will have to select the type of car you want to ride. The Black Car will be selected by default, but there are other options you can pick from. However, keep in mind that depending on your location, not all Uber types will be available.
Black Car / Sedan: This is the default Uber ride and also the one that made the service so popular. Uber has a sense of style associated with its name, and so-called Black Cars are the key element to this image. Requesting a Black Car means your driver will pick you up in a gorgeous luxury sedan so you can travel comfortably and in style.
Van / SUV: Because you don’t always ride Ubers alone, you can always request a bigger car, which will be as stylish – if not more – than a “regular” Black Car. These big SUVs can accommodate up to 7 people to make sure you get a comfy ride next time you go clubbing with your friends.
Moto: No matter how stylish your ride is, getting stuck in traffic jams is annoying. Don’t worry though, with Uber’s motorcycles, you can quickly cut through and get to your destination a lot faster than you would if you were in a car. The motorbikes are very comfortable, feature actual seats and a trunk. For safety, the driver will provide you with a net, a helmet and jacket. This also prevents you from being cold or wet, in case the weather is acting up.
UberX: These vehicles are slightly different, as they are not luxury cars but hybrid models and are only offered in some North American cities. Nevertheless, thanks to their fuel-efficiency, they are cheaper than Black Cars and taxis while remaining very comfortable and consistent with the overall Uber experience
Taxi: This last option is the newest yet most basic one, as it lets you get a regular taxi through Uber. Because it is an actual cab, local regulations apply and cars are definitely not as nice as Black Cars and SUVs, but the cheaper fares can definitely attract people who would rather not spend a lot for a ride.
Now that you’ve selected your ride and know its estimated time of arrival, you can go ahead and request it. You’ll be shown the exact address communicated to the driver and the credit card on which you’ll be charged. You can change this information if you need to, and also apply a promotion code if you forgot to put it in while signing up.
Confirmation screen when requesting a ride
Step 2: Experience Riding in Style
While you wait for your driver, you can check your ride’s location on the map, see the driver’s name, the car’s model and plate number and have the option to call the driver if needed.
The screen shown while you wait for your driver
For most vehicle types, Uber has very strict guidelines that require the cars to be luxurious and well equipped. Therefore, almost all cars feature leather upholstery, satellite navigation, personal climate controls, Bluetooth connectivity and tainted windows, not to mention other pleasant surprises you may encounter, depending on the car. Similarly, all Black Cars and SUVs are required to have a little bottle of water and other amenities, such as a mobile phone charger, soft drinks, tissues and more.
The Uber Experience – Uber Berlin Jaguar XJL on the left, Uber Paris Mercedes-Benz S-Class on the right
Because Uber focuses on style and comfort, drivers are required to wear a suit and a tie – for Black Cars and SUVs– and will always offer five star service. Hence, many will offer to tune in to your favorite station or to stream your music from your phone using Bluetooth. They’ll also make sure to open the door for you – or your date – when you arrive, ensuring you leave the car delighted and pleased to have ridden with them.
When you leave the car, you don’t have to pay or tip the driver: you’ll immediately receive an email with the fare details and a map of your trip. Thanks to this map, you can make sure the driver has not taken a longer itinerary, or request a fare recalculation in case this happens.
Uber prices are calculated in such a way that tips are automatically included, to make it even simpler for you. The only thing you should do after your ride is to rate your driver, as the application will automatically pop back on your screen prompting you to do so.
You’ll be asked to rate your driver after a ride
Unlike taxis, Uber rides don’t have meters in the cars, which means you only know the exact amount you have to pay after you reach your destination. Prices are also very different from a city to another, which is why Uber can show you a rough estimate based on the distance and duration, but won’t provide you any exact price.
From our personal test, french prices were fair and quite close to regular taxis. However, pricing calculations are very different from country to country, which is why you should have a look at what to expect before requesting a cab – we’ve been told Canadian prices are higher than the others.
The great thing about Uber is that you can use a single account and application no matter where you are, which means that your account is also accessible when you travel. For instance, if you’re a New Yorker and spend a week in Paris, you’ll be able to use the application as you usually do back in the States, without having to register or go through any additional steps.
Uber is currently available in the US, Canada, France, Italy, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Singapore, Australia and the Netherlands. You can check a list of the corresponding cities on Uber’s website.
Based on our information, Uber should also soon be available in Dubai, Seoul, Honolulu, Auckland, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Mexico City, Perth, Zurich, Tokyo, Taipei, Prague, Rome and Oslo. Unfortunately, we have no specific details on when these cities will become active.
The only notable limitation we see with Uber is that you don’t always have a clear picture of the price you’ll be charged. We advise you to check it carefully before requesting a cab in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
However, even if it seems pricey, riding with Uber has always been a pleasure for us: nice cars, friendly drivers and hassle-free experience. Because we’ve come to know the service very well, we can really recommend it to our readers. You won’t be disappointed by the great and reliable quality!