Transportation startups are all the rage these days. Uber is one of the most popular in the industry. So, what's it all about?
Uber is is a transportation company that employees everyday people that drive their own personal vehicle to take you on trips from one place to another. Because of the low overhead, Uber rides tend to be less expensive than transportation services like taxis and shuttles (though not always). If you've been wondering what this ride-share business is all about and are thinking about trying Uber, we've got everything you need to know.
What's new with Uber?
Recently, Uber announced it will soon be implementing changes to its app that include the ability to tip your driver. You can also now request a ride for someone other than yourself. When you select a pickup location that is not your current one, you'll be asked if the ride is for a family member or friend. You can then select the rider from your address book, set their destination, and request the ride for them.
What is Uber?
Uber is a transportation service that allows riders to contact drivers that are in the area for a ride via the Uber app. When you request a ride, the closest available driver will be contacted with your request. That driver can agree to the ride and will pick you up.
Your payment information will already be set up in the Uber app, so you won't have to exchange cash or have your credit or debit card swiped at the end of the ride. You can just say, "thanks" and hop out.
Everything takes place within the Uber app, so there isn't any fuss or muss. You don't have to call a cab operator or make sure you have enough cash. You don't even have to have your credit card on your person as long as you have your phone with you.
In larger cities where Uber is permitted, there are oftentimes a lot of drivers on the road, waiting for their next ride, so you can easily get picked up within 5 to 10 minutes, which is much faster than the average taxi ride, which usually takes about 15 minutes unless you're already in a taxi-heavy area.
Because Uber drivers are hired as contractors, they are responsible for their vehicle, license, and insurance. This makes it possible to keep the price of a ride relatively low compared to taking a taxi or shuttle (most of the time).
How do I sign up?
The first thing you'll need to do is download the Uber app. Once installed, you can register your information, which includes your name, email address, phone number, and your payment information.
Uber supports Apple Pay, so you can connect your Apple Pay account and you won't have to give out your credit card information. It's a nice, convenient way to take care of payments.
You'll also have to allow Uber to know your location. This is required because the app pinpoints your location and suggests the pickup spot for where you currently stand.
How do I request a ride?
After you've signed up with Uber, you'll be directed to a map that shows your current whereabouts. There is also a pop up that asks, "Where to?" Tap the pop up and enter the address you want to go to. Then, you'll be asked to select the type of car you want. Pick the one that fits your needs and preferences.
Once the ride is officially requested, you'll see the app preparing your ride by finding a driver. Once a driver agrees to the ride, you'll be able to track the car to your location. You can also continue to track the car until your ride is over.
How can I request a ride for someone else.
If you want to help friends or family members get around who don't have the ability to download, install, and use Uber themselves, you can request a ride on their behalf. When you set a pickup location that is not your current location, the app will ask if this ride is for someone else. When you select yes, you will be asked to select the person's information from your contacts list. Uber will then send a text message to the rider with the name of the car and the license plate number, as well as other important information about the ride.
You'll still be the one to pay for the trip, and the rider doesn't have to do anything except get in and out of the car at the right time and place.
What are the differences between car tiers?
Uber provides a variety of options for your needs and preferences. You can choose a standard car that seats up to four, or a luxury SUV for you and five other friends. It's up to you.
- UberX - This is the standard car. It's usually a sedan or basic SUV and is set up to seat up to four people.
- UberXL - This is the standard car for up to six people. It is usually a basic SUV or a mini van. It is never a sedan.
- Select - This is a high end model of car. It's usually a luxury vehicle or larger-sized sports car. It seats up to four people.
- Black - This is a high-end model of car with a professional driver. It can sometimes be a limousine or other luxury vehicle that denotes expensive taste. It seats up to four people.
- SUV - This is a luxury SUV, fancier than a standard model. It seats up to six people.
- Assist - This is a standard vehicle with a certified assistant driver. It's meant for people needing help getting in and out of the car, but is not wheel-chair supported. It seats up to four people.
- WAV - This is a wheel chair accessible vehicle. It is a van with a raise/lower lever and a designated spot for the chair. It seats up to four people.
- Español - This is a standard car with a driver that speaks Spanish. The car model is the same as an Uber X. It seats up to four people.
If you don't see the type of car you want or need to request a ride for, swipe to the left across the ride options for more.
What if I change my mind and don't want a ride from Uber anymore?
You can cancel a ride if you change your mind. But, you must cancel within two minutes to avoid a cancelation fee. After two minutes, you will be charged a $5.00 cancelation fee. To cancel a ride, just tap the Cancel button next to your driver's name.
How do I know what a ride will cost before I agree to it?
Your ride is based on a base fair, a booking fee, and a price per minute plus a price per mile. There is a minimum fare price if you're ride doesn't meet the baseline amount.
In locations where up-front costs are available, you can see what your fair will cost after you enter the destination location. The cost will appear just below the type of car you can choose. The price will only change if you make changes in your route. For example, if you ask the driver to go through the drive-through on the way home from the bar.
For locations where up-front costs are not available, you will receive an estimated cost for your trip, but it won't be the final price. Usually, the estimated cost and final price are pretty much the same within a few cents.
How am I charged?
When you set up your account, you are asked to add a credit or debit card, or to connect your Uber account to PayPal or Apple Pay.
When you request a ride, you are agreeing to pay for it. Everything after that happens automatically. You don't have to do a single thing. The amount is automatically charged to your account after the ride is over.
If, for some reason, you are charged for a ride and don't feel you are obligated to pay for it, you can request a refund from the My Trips section in the Uber app. Your request will be reviewed and you'll receive a response within a couple of days, at the most.
What are Uber's hours of operation?
Uber drivers work around the clock. Any time of the day or night, you can request a ride. Some times of the day are slower than others, and it might take your driver longer to get to you, but you can always request a ride, no matter what time it is.
Can I schedule a ride in advance?
You can. If you know you're going to the airport at 5 o'clock in the morning and want to make sure someone is available to pick you up, you can schedule a ride in advance.
Follow the same steps to requesting a ride. But when you get to the section where you select a car, tap the little clock icon next to the Request a Ride button. Here, you can select a date and time for your ride. You can also get to the advanced schedule screen by tapping the clock icon next to the Where to? button pop up before you enter a location.
How do I get in touch with my driver before getting picked up?
If, for some reason, you need to ask your driver a question or let your driver know about a particular issue you have (like you have a dog and want to make sure it's OK to bring it in the car, or you are going on a 2 hour trip and want the driver to be aware of the length of time), you can contact him or her through the Uber app.
To contact your driver, tap the bar that displays the information and select Contact. You can then choose to call or text your driver. Be aware that texting while driving is unsafe, so a phone call might be the optimum way.
How do I know which car is my Uber driver?
Sometimes, you'll be in a situation where there are dozens of people leaving an event, and all of them have called for a car. Just because a car has the big Uber "U" logo in the window, doesn't mean it's your driver.
The first thing you should look for is the type of car and the license plate. The Uber app shows you this information, as well as the name of the driver and his or her picture.
When you think you've spotted the correct car, open the passenger door and ask the driver's name. This will ensure you have the correct driver. Once you've confirmed this information, you should respond by confirming with the driver that you are the correct rider. Your driver needs to know this, too.
Sometimes, though not very often, a driver will show up in a different car, or a different driver will show up in the correct car. There are a variety of reasons why this might happen. If you don't feel safe getting in a different car or riding with a different driver, you can deny the ride and report your issue in the My Trips section of the Uber app.
What are surge prices?
Ah, the surge price. Uber calls this "dynamic pricing," but it is a standard practice in high-demand industries like transportation. Basically, when drive times are busier, it costs more to get a ride. If you're going on a trip during commute times, you're cost might be twice what it would be during off-hours. If you try to request a ride at midnight on New Year's Eve, prices are known to surge by four or five times the standard rate. A $10 ride could end up costing you $50. It's happened.
If you're requesting a ride during a surge, you'll see the fare increase in the upfront price. If you live in a city where upfront fares aren't available, you'll get a notification that you are about to request a ride during a price surge.
How do I split the fare with my friends?
If you and three of your friends are all catching a ride together, you can split the cost amongst you by using the fare splitter. Everyone on the trip has to have an Uber account to participate in the fare split.
When you request a ride, you'll see the option to Split Fare when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. You can then enter the names or phone numbers of the people that you want to split the fare with. Those riders will get a notification and be able to accept the charge. This feature costs an additional $0.25 per person.
You can't use the Split Fare feature after the trip is completed.
How do I leave a tip?
Right now, the only way to tip your driver is with cash. Most drivers will willingly accept your tip, but every once in a while a driver will try to resist the offer. It's great practice to tip your driver. So try to have cash on hand before you get in the car.
Uber recently announced that it will soon add the ability to allow riders to tip their drivers within the app, which is a very welcome addition since having to carry cash for a tip defeats the purpose of using Uber for convenience.
Does Uber offer any other transportation services?
It does. Uber seems to be expanding all of the time. What started as a simple ride-sharing service has grown into a massive transportation corporation.
- UberEATS - You can have food delivered to you by an Uber driver. It's pretty much just like Postmates or GrubHub, but works with Uber drivers that are free at the moment instead. UberEATs requires a separate app.
- UberTAXI - UberTAXI, believe it or not, is a service for the taxi industry. Using your Uber account, in some locations, you can request a yellow (or orange or white) cab and pay for it through Uber.
- UberBOAT - I know what you're thinking ... "a boat?" Yes, a boat. In some locations, especially island dwellers, you can request a boat ride. The service provides a car for you and your friends from your current location to the dock where a boat is waiting for you. Uber takes care of the car transportation and the boat rental, which is all paid for within the Uber app.
- Uber Freight - For companies that ship a lot of stuff, Uber Freight offers a convenient way to settle up with the logistics of the operation. You can take care of the transportation and shipping arrangements without having to speak to a middle man. Uber Freight requires a separate app.
Do you have any questions about Uber or the services it provides? Put them in the comments and we'll help you out.