My First London Uber

And I Didn’t Get Mugged

I recently visited London with the wife, taking a day out from the usual grind to enjoy each other’s company and explore some of Notting Hill. We had been walking for most of the day. By mid-afternoon, we were assessing how long it would take to walk back to where we had parked. Oh, did I mention that my wife was quite heavily pregnant?

I checked Google Maps for the walking time to our car. I noticed a new mode of transport listed in the Google Maps app and it was a taxi ride option. I checked it out, and it suggested Uber as well as a couple of other providers that I have already forgotten about. The Uber option was free because it came with a coupon code for a free ride (the code is “GOOGLE” by the way).

Would I ever have considered a taxi prior to seeing this? No way. Too many unknowns. I’m the kind of guy that wants to know how much a journey is going to cost before I even book the taxi. I want to be in control. Call me a control freak (or just sensible).

I decided to take the risk. Let’s get some stranger to come and pick us up! We were picked up within 3 minutes. I actually had to download the app and sign up first, but that only took a few minutes. I was on 4G and I registered using my existing Facebook login which sped things up.

My report? It was a pleasant drive. We felt safe. The car was clean. We had a courteous driver. Being able to see a photo of our driver and her car details in advance was very reassuring. We could even track her car as she got closer. There was no need to mess around with cash. Payment is made via the app. The fare was also clearly stated in advance (even though I did actually get it for free this time). As a customer, I experience the perfect user experience.

Now, I appreciate there are certain socio-economic / legal / political issues around Uber, but I’m not looking to delve into them here. Kudos to Uber for innovating, regardless of their corporate ethics or attitude towards taxi drivers.

The taxi industry surely has had time to innovate, right? But as far as I am aware, they haven’t. (If they have and I’ve missed it, then why don’t I know about it? Uber got themselves in front of me on Google and offered me a free ride.)

Do other companies offer the same service as Uber? Sure. But, Uber barged their way into my line of sight first.

To sum it up, why did I use Uber?

  • Because I had already heard of it. (Funnily enough, this was mainly due to bad PR about the company’s founder and management.)
  • Because the first journey was free. (I’m a sucker for free stuff.)
  • Because it was listed prominently on Google Maps with a coupon code.
  • Because I had friends that were already using it. (For me, this reduced the perceived risk.)

Will I use Uber again? Well, I should be able to get another free journey by referring my wife (and she’ll get a free journey too) so we’ll make use of that I’m sure. Beyond that, I don’t know whether I’ll ever actually use it as a paid service. If the need arises, I’ll probably check out a couple of other apps to compare pricing and see what’s on offer.

For now, though, I can cross Uber off my bucket list.

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