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I enjoy using and riding Uber; it’s quick, easy and much cleaner and cheaper than taxis. Uber is part of the sharing economy and is self-policing. It uses a system where both passengers and drivers rate each other on a scale of one to five. All the billing is done by credit card and no cash changes hands between the driver and passenger. But, as I found out this week by talking to those who have not used the service, it can be a bit daunting. So here are some first-time Uber user tips.
Most people are accustomed to calling the local taxi company and arranging a pick up at a set time or requesting as soon as possible. The ‘as soon as possible’ request can take anywhere from twenty to sixty minutes. Not the case with Uber, on average Uber only takes seven minutes to pick you up. It is a real on-demand service. If you keep your driver waiting, the driver may give you a lower passenger rating. One thing I do is to keep an eye on the estimated pickup time in the Uber app starting an hour before I need a ride. If the ride is for four or more, request a Uber XL, Extra Large vehicle. This is Uber’s policy.
Make it easy for your driver to find you
It is very frustrating trying to find someone you have never met, particularly at the airport. It’s the same for your Uber driver. If at pickup point at an airport or convention center, walk a block or two away from the crowd before requesting a ride. I also like to text the driver with a brief description of what I’m wearing and doing. For example, I’m dressed in all black and sitting on the wall, or I’m seated outside the Holiday-Inn Hotel. Your driver will really appreciate this bit of extra information.
Send your destination address from your Uber app.
Your driver and Uber need to know where your heading. Unlike taxes, the Uber system relies on GPS. By entering your destination address ahead of time, drivers will have an Idea of how far they need to drive before accepting your ride request. Uber also uses this information to estimate your fair. Moreover, when you’re picked up, the driver already has your destination address in their GPS and are ready to go.
Check the name and license plate before you get in.
Most drivers don’t display the Uber sign in their windshield. So you should always check the license plate of the vehicle before you get into that your phone app. Also, greet your driver by name. This way you’re certain it is your Uber ride, and you’re not jumping into a strangers’ car. Your driver should greet you by your name as well.
Nervous about a home Pickup
Most of us have heard the news about unscrupulous Uber & Taxi drivers driving back to your home after an airport drop-off to rob you. Although these types home robbery instances are very rare, the news media like to make a big deal about the Uber ones. It’s almost as if they have some type of grudge against Uber. So it is not surprising that a home pickup makes some first time Uber users are a little nervous. I was at first!
If a home pickup worries you, request a pickup up at the top of the street. One of the great things with the Uber app is that it uses GPS for your pick-up location and does not need a physical address. You can also move the pin on the map to your intended pickup location ahead of time. This saves you a little waiting time on the street corner.
Remember to be nice
Both Drivers and Passengers rate each other. Drivers try to be as nice a possible as they want a good star rating to stay on Uber. You should always be as nice as possible too. Be friendly and thank your driver for the pickup and ride. Don’t complain unless it’s about the weather, and be patient in heavy traffic. Also, avoid conversations about politics and religion as most people are very passionate about these subjects which can lead to heated arguments.
If you can, leave a small tip
Uber does not require you to leave tips. But I like to leave a little cash tip with my driver especially if they are super friendly and help me load and unload my luggage from their car. I don’t give them a big tip, but large enough for a cup of coffee or soda from Mickey D’s. It shows that extra bit of appreciation, and this goes a long way towards your star rating.
Uber drivers own their vehicles, take good care of them and keep them clean. It’s not much of problem keeping the outside of a car clean. But cleaning mustard and ketchup stains the inside upholstery is expensive costing upwards of $60. So help keep your driver’s car clean and smelling fresh inside by not eating, drinking or smoking while on the trip.
Let the driver do the navigation
Let’s face it, none of us like backseat driver’s, including your Uber driver. Your driver may not know the area he’s driving but is most certainly accustomed to using a navigation system. Unless your driver asks for directions or you are within a mile from home, don’t tell your driver which road to take. Besides, you might learn a new route home
After the trip
At the end of each ride, both passenger and driver rate each other on a scale of one to five. If your ratings fall too low as a passenger, drivers will not want to pick you up. Even worse, Uber could kick you off the system. At the end of each journey, the Uber app will ask you for feedback on your driver. Unless I have ridden with a smelly old drunk, who is driving an old pickup truck leaking oil and had to throw a mountain of trash out to make room for me, I like to leave five stars. In the comments section, I always express my thanks for the ride.
If you have not used Uber before or only once or twice, following these tips will make for a good riding experience. You will also find yourself relying more and more on Uber saving you money.