I had a question from Jerry about a term many have you may have heard, but not been too sure what it is all about. He asks, “I know I sound old and stupid here, but what’s an Uber? I’ve heard my grandson talk about it, but I’m not sure how it works.
Jerry, Uber is an app and car-service company. Notice I didn’t use the word “cab.” That’s because Uber gets around regulations that require cabs to be licensed and strictly controlled in most cities. Uber presents itself as a ride sharing service. You download the Uber app to your smartphone and set up your ride using the app.
While taxi drivers drive numbered and licensed vehicles, Uber drivers use their own private vehicles. Also, no money is exchanged with the driver, you pay using the app. The driver then receives a portion of that payment for “sharing” his or her car with you.
Since the Uber drivers are not traditional employees of a company in the way taxi drivers are, many people have expressed concern over issues like background checks. Uber says it does extensive background checks on employees, but there have been cases where Uber drivers have turned out to be criminals. Of course, there have also been cases where taxi drivers have been known to commit crimes.
Since there is no central office, you don’t have an HR director meeting each driver and getting a feel for the person. Plus the people you’re dealing with aren’t professional drivers.
Users are sent a picture of the driver and info on the car and its license plate to make sure they get in the right vehicle. Which is handy, since Uber vehicles aren’t marked like taxis. Instead of being sent out by a dispatcher, Uber driver check their apps to find out where services are needed.
Uber fares are generally a little lower than taxi fares, but not always. While many cities regulate the standard taxi fares, Uber uses “surge pricing” and raises prices during peak times. A ride that cost you one price on Tuesday could cost you a lot more on Thursday. The standard price could change every five minutes.
The app also allows you to split the cost of the fare with other passengers.
Customer can also rate drivers and you won’t be paired again with a driver you dislike. Uber is not available in every city. The Uber app is available for both Android and iPhones in their app stores.