We’ve been all over the world and one common theme is the need to ride in a car owned and driven by someone else. Some experiences are pretty sketchy. For instance, we once took a cab in Cancun after we got off the ferry from Isla Mujeres and rode into town. The driver changed his fare after dropping us off and Bella never forgot. She saw him on a subsequent trip in the same area standing amongst his fellow cab drivers. She made sure she told all the other drivers that he was a crook and shamed him into leaving the scene.
I wrote before about getting in a cab in Amman and the driver deciding to ask for more than the agreed upon price. Bella wasted no time hopping out of that guy’s ride.
We’ve had good experiences, too. We hired a guy to take us to our resort in Montego Bay and, after a beer on the beach, called him back to have him show us the town. He was fantastic. He was personable and proud of his city and more than happy to show us off the beaten path.
Some are indifferent. When we finally flagged a guy down outside of the Allenby Bridge near Jericho, the driver wasn’t doing anything more than letting us accompany him on his trip into work, yet he charged an arm and a leg and never said a word to us.
Every time we hail a cab, though, we have that anxiety over cost. You can never tell if you’re getting ripped off. Cancun airport is notorious for that. There is a fast talking guy hustling fares at the doors of the airport and he swears that all cabs are rate controlled and he charges well over twice the return fare. You just KNOW you’re overpaying.
With a cab, the other concern is if the driver is actually going the correct direction. It seems like it would be easy for the driver to just turn on the meter and take the long way around.
We finally tried Uber today. We wanted to save a walk and downloaded the app and gave it a shot. The app estimates your fare, tells you how long before the driver will show up (less than five minutes), his name and the make of his car, and you get to see how others rated him. It’s so refreshingly painless I’m sure I’ll use it again. The app maps out the trip and you never have to fork over cash and get shamed into a tip. When you reach the destination, the driver just says “good-bye” and your stored credit card is charged.
Since the connection is made on your app, the driver knows who you are, too. That means you need to be on your best behavior or you’re going to get rated poorly and the next time a driver sees you pop up, they may just pass on you. After all, drivers are inviting you into their cars. They don’t need to put up with jerks.
Also, if you leave something in the car, it’s easy to get back in touch with the driver to retrieve your lost item.
Later, you receive a nice email receipt with the details of your ride. It shows your exact trip with the time in the car, a breakdown of costs, and a reminder of your driver.
One last thing. There’s a “Share a Ride” program where you can send refer somebody and when they sign up and ride, the first ride is free and you get a free ride, too. Pretty cool. If you’re interested, drop us a comment and we’ll send you a free ride.
Update: Uber works in Lithuania and parts of Russia. Fortunately, my son took an Uber Back to the hotel last summer. When he left his passport in the car the young lady working the desk at the Marriott was able to call the driver and order him to return it. Had he taken some random cab he would have missed his flight back to North America.