Whose fault? Uber vs. Charles

I just missed an appointment because my Uber driver failed to show up. At first, I was really pissed at Uber but then I wondered…

When I asked for an Uber, it said that it would take 5 minutes even though the driver was completing a trip nearby. As you can see from the screen shot, the completion point for the other trip was a few blocks away from my pickup. But when I looked at the screen again, “Charles” was actually driving away from my house and the completion point, apparently headed downtown.

As you can see from the screen shot, this was at 8am. I had called the Uber at 7:45am, planning for time to get the Uber and then to be driven to my appointment south of Market Street in San Francisco. I was cutting it close, anyway. But when I saw my Uber just driving away, I knew I would never make my appointment.

I texted and then called Charles. He texted back “Please cancel, the app is malfunctioning . Sorry !!!” When I talked to him, he said the same and that he couldn't do anything about it. Uber users know that, after 5 minutes, Uber charges you for canceling the trip. So Charles blew me off and made me pay a fee for canceling.

I’ve calmed down since cancelling my appointment. I don’t think the app malfunctioned. That’s not how software works. What happened, I think, is that Charles is one of those drivers who works for both Uber and Lyft. I think he accepted a Lyft ride after he accepted my Uber request, because the Lyft ride was closer to his Uber dropoff. Uber doesn’t let drivers cancel rides, so he just took his Lyft customer and blew me off.

I finally canceled the trip when the Uber app said Charles was 13 minutes away, when it originally said he would be 5 minutes away including completing his original ride. You can see from the screen shot that Uber keeps trying to show how Charles will get to my pickup; one owners if Uber’s developers have realized that a driver going away from a pickup might be an exception that should create different behavior — like calling the driver and asking him why he isn’t picking up Uber’s customers?

I’m still pissed at Uber, but not because their “app was malfunctioning”. I’m pissed because they have relaxed their standards for drivers so much that they let Charles get away with double timing; they haven’t made their app recognize this pattern as bad behavior; they haven’t prioritized their customer over the driver or their own competitive situation. Since Charles seems to think that a Lyft customer is better than an Uber customer, I should probably start using Lyft.