Tuesday, December 3, 2013

An Uber Nice Ride

The taxi situation in Shanghai has been a mess lately. I had no issues with cabs during over first year here. But slowly over the past few months, I've gotten yelled at more, was thrown out of two cars, had drivers refuse to take me to my destination, and others who didn't want to use their meters. The consensus among my friends is that this is all thanks to a phone app where you can bid on fares, allowing drivers to be more selective in who they pick up and where they take them.

I refuse to use this new app for two reasons. One, I don't believe in helping to drive up the price of taxi fares which is exactly what this app is doing. And two, and the real reason to be honest, is that the app is in Chinese which I clearly am not able to read.

So what is a cab adverse girl to do when she has to go further than she cares to bike but is too lazy to take the metro? Enter Uber.

Uber is a mobile app that you can use to summon a luxury car to pick you up and take you where you want to go. You simply download the app and sign up for an account. You'll have to enter a credit card number as all transactions are cashless.

I tried out the service last week on my way to Pudong. I selected my pick up location and pressed go.

I quickly received a text message that my driver PengRong was 7 minutes away. I watched the progress of the car as it made its way to me and received a text message when it was nearby.

I waited on the corner and saw a black Audi pass by. Then it stopped and my cell phone rang. The driver informed me he had arrived and I waved from across the street.

The smartly dressed driver hopped out of the front seat to open my door and I settled in for my ride. I was happy to find an immaculate interior, kitted out with a fresh smelling air freshener (much better than the usual stale vomit and smoke taxis tend to favor), bottled water, and more importantly, a cell phone charger. Seriously? I was stoked.

I watched our car move along the route via the in app map as the charge on my cell phone went up.

When we arrived at our destination, the driver pushed a couple of buttons on his phone and I received an email receipt detailing my trip. No cash was exchanged and with a friendly farewell, my driver was off for his next pickup.

So here is the thing. Uber is not as cheap as a taxi. My fare would easily have been half the price if I used a cab. But the big difference here is that the service is incredible and you are riding in style. Will I use Uber for all my transportation needs? No. But I will use it again, especially for special occasions or on days when I simply don't feel like dealing with the poor quality of Shanghai taxis.

I had such a great experience that I asked the kind people at Uber to offer up a discount for my readers. Enter the code donuts to your Uber order and you'll be granted 50 rmb off your ride.

And if all of this isn't enough to convince you that Uber is a pretty cool company, you should know that for National Cat Day in the US, they delivered kittens to your office for snuggles. I die.

Disclaimer: Uber provided me with a voucher for a free ride, however, this review and all the opinions reflected are my own.

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