Once upon a time, long long ago, people who couldn’t (or didn’t want to) drive had limited transportation options.
They could take public transportation, which was usually affordable but put them at the mercy of the bus, subway, or train schedules.
They could take a cab and pay an exorbitant amount for their fare.
Or they could ask a friend, family member, or co-worker for a ride and risk not being able to get a ride when needed.
Then along came Uber and everything changed.
WHAT IS UBER?
Founded in San Francisco in 2009, Uber (pronounced o͞o-bər) is the most popular and recognized taxi alternative available today.
Unlike cab companies that employ drivers and provide them with a company vehicle from their fleet, Uber hires independent drivers who operate their own vehicles.
Passengers and drivers are matched by geographic location. The driver closest to the passenger’s location gets the first option to accept the fare.
Uber is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and the fare is usually significantly lower than cab fare.
CHECK OUT UBER FOR YOURSELF
To get started as a passenger, you must first create your free account.
You’ll be asked to fill out some basic personal information (name, address, etc.) and to provide a credit or debit card for payment.
PRO TIP: When filling out your account information, be sure to put your cell phone number as your primary contact number. That way, your driver can contact you if they’re running late or are having trouble finding you.
TIPS FOR A GREAT PASSENGER EXPERIENCE
Just as with any type of relationship, both the Uber driver and Uber passenger have an effect on how well a trip goes.
Following are some ways you can help make your passenger experience a great one.
DO CHOOSE THE RIGHT UBER OPTION FOR YOUR NEEDS
In order to better serve their passengers, Uber offers a variety of options.
To ensure that you select the ride that suits both your needs and your budget, here’s a rundown of the different options. (Not all options are available in all locations.)
The most commonly used and affordable Uber options (and the ones that I’m going to focus PM here) are:
- UberPOOL (carpool) – Share the ride with up to 3 other passengers going your way and get rewarded with a low fare. Share the ride with up to 3 other passengers who are going your way and get rewarded with a low fare. NOTE: There’s a 2-person limit per UberPOOL ride request (that includes the baby and the car seat).
PRO TIP: If you’re on a tight schedule (i.e., you have to catch a plane, get to a meeting or appointment, etc.), UberPOOL is not a good option; select UberX instead.
- UberX – Private rides for 1-4 people in comfortable sedans (the most commonly used Uber)
Other options are available as well including:
- Economy Options – UberXL, UberSELECT
- Luxury Options – UberBLACK, UberSUV, UberLUX
- Accessible: UberWAV (new!)
DO GET A FARE ESTIMATE BEFORE YOU GO
Contrary to what you might think, your Uber driver doesn’t know how much your fare will be. In fact, he/she doesn’t know your destination until they start the ride after they’ve picked you up.
If you’re anything like me, you hate being surprised by how much something costs, including transportation.
Uber allows you to get a ballpark idea of how much your trip will cost so you can make an informed decision about which Uber option to choose and so you’re not shocked by the cost when you get your email receipt.
To get a fare estimate, enter your pickup location and your destination online or in the app. The results will show you fare estimates for all of the Uber options available in your area.
Choose the option that is best for you and hit Confirm. Then, you’ll be shown the closest driver. Once he/she accepts the ride, you’ll be given an estimate of their time of arrival and be able to track where they are on the app.
DO REQUEST YOUR RIDE WHEN YOU’RE READY
One of the great things about Uber is there are usually several drivers within a few minutes of any given location. From the Uber app (or on the website), you’ll be able to see if there are any Uber drivers in your area.
When you order a ride, you are given an estimate of how close the driver is to your location. It’s important to be ready as soon as possible after the driver arrives. Drivers are only required to wait for a few minutes before they can cancel the ride. Don’t request a ride, then make the driver wait.
If you ordered Uber Pool, it’s possible (even probable) that other passengers will be added. This makes being ready in a timely fashion that much more important. If you’re late coming out, you will be making the driver and other passengers wait.
DON’T REQUEST YOUR RIDE WHEN YOU’RE ALREADY LATE
There’s nothing more stressful than running late for work, an interview, date, or another important event.
Well, there IS one thing: a passenger who waits till they’re already running late before they request a ride, calls the driver asking when he/she will arrive, and then jumps in the vehicle in an agitated state and sits up between the seats giving driving instructions, creating a stressful ride. No fun at all for the driver or the passenger. :-/
Be sure to allow enough time to get to your destination on time. If possible, allow a little extra time for traffic and unforeseen events.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY IF A DRIVER DOESN’T ACCEPT YOUR RIDE REQUEST
When a ride request comes in, the driver has no idea who the passenger is. The only thing shown is the type of request (UberX, Uber Pool, etc.), how far away in time and miles the passenger is, and the passenger’s rating. If you request an Uber Pool, the driver will see the number of passengers, too.
There are many reasons that a driver may not accept a ride request: they’re in the process of going offline when your request comes in; they need to stop to eat, get gas, use the restroom, etc. after they drop off their current passenger; and so on.
DO ENTER ACCURATE PICKUP & DROPOFF ADDRESSES
One of the keys to having a great passenger experience is your Uber driver’s ability to find you. That’s why it’s important to be as accurate as possible when entering your pickup address.
For example, instead of “Tysons Corner Center” (a big shopping mall in Northern Virginia), it’s better to enter “Panera, Tysons Corner Center” in as your pickup point. Places like malls typically have multiple entrances; some are mall entrances, others are store entrances. The more accurate you can be, the better able your driver will be to locate you quickly and easily.
PRO TIP: Don’t hesitate to call or text your driver to relay a message or help them locate you faster. Your phone number will be masked when you call, so there’s no way they will have your direct number.
Another key to a great passenger experience is getting to your destination. Your driver wants to get you as close to your destination as possible, so be as specific as possible with your destination address.
DO MAKE IT EASIER FOR YOUR DRIVER TO FIND YOU
Sometimes, it’s difficult for drivers to locate their passengers, especially when its dark outside. If you’re being picked up in a residential neighborhood, be sure to turn on your porch light so your driver can see your house number.
DO CONFIRM THE DRIVER’S IDENTITY BEFORE GETTING IN THE CAR
Before hopping in a car when it pulls up, take a moment to make sure you’re getting in the right car. The Uber app provides passengers with the first name; make/model/color of the car; license plate number; and headshot of the driver.
When the car pulls up, verify the license plate number. Then, ask the driver his/her name.
This is an important safety factor, especially in foreign countries where there have been many instances of people posing as rideshare drivers when they aren’t.
If anything seems “off,” don’t get in the car. Cancel the ride. Better safe than sorry, right?
DO BE COURTEOUS TO YOUR DRIVER
Although this should be common sense, I think it bears mentioning.
Uber drivers are people just like you. Their reasons for driving for Uber vary, but their goals are the same: to provide you, their passenger, with a safe, pleasant ride.
CONVERSATION. Some drivers are chattier than others just as some passengers enjoy engaging in conversation more than others.
If you enjoy talking with your driver and he/she seems open to it, by all means, let ‘er rip! However, if you prefer a quieter ride, that’s fine too.
Most drivers will be able to read your non-verbal cues (such as keeping your focus on your cell phone) and will act accordingly. However, some may not get those cues.
If your driver tries to engage you in conversation beyond introducing him/herself and asking how your day is going but you don’t feel like socializing, politely let them know. You can say something like “I’m sorry. I’ve had a really stressful day and would just like to sit quietly if you don’t mind. Thank you.”
EXTRAS. Most Uber drivers have phone chargers for iPhones and Androids on hand for passengers. Some drivers go even further and keep water, candy, gum, and other items on hand to help make your ride more enjoyable.
I rode in an Uber in New Orleans and the driver had strobe lights and karaoke installed for a fun passenger experience (see the picture to the left). My ride was a blast and it was definitely memorable!!
Although you may not want any of those items, take their offer in the spirit it was intended and politely decline.
DO TREAT YOUR DRIVER’S VEHICLE WITH RESPECT
Unlike cab drivers who drive vehicles owned by the cab company, Uber drivers drive their own personal vehicles. This means that the cleanliness and maintenance of the vehicle is completely up to the driver.
How you, the passenger, treat the vehicle during your ride affects future passengers (and the driver).
Be considerate by:
- Asking your driver if its ok to eat, drink, or smoke in the car before doing so
- Disposing of your trash (in the car if a trash bag is available or taking it with you when you exit the car)
PRO TIP: As a passenger, you get rated by your driver at the end of your trip (1★ – 5★). Treating your driver with respect will result in a great trip for you both…and a high passenger rating for you.
DO BE UNDERSTANDING IN THE EVENT OF NAVIGATION ISSUES
Rem1ember that time your GPS directed you to that “shortcut” on your route and you ended up at a dead-end only to hear the GPS announce “You have arrived at your destination”? O.M.G. You wanted to bang your head against the steering wheel, didn’t you?!
Well, guess what. Uber drivers sometimes experience similar navigation issues, but instead of being alone in the car, they have one or more passengers with them at the time.There are a few ways you can help out in this situation:
- Tell the driver if you have a preferred route you’d like to take and help him/her with directions as you go
- Offer suggestions for shortcuts if you know any
- Be patient and understanding in the event that the GPS takes you off course
Even if your driver is from the area, it’s pretty difficult for a driver to know how to get everywhere.
DO RATE YOUR DRIVER AT THE END OF YOUR RIDE
Rating your driver after your trip is important because it lets both Uber and the driver see how passengers feel about the quality of service the driver is providing.
Once your trip is complete, you’ll have 30 days to rate your driver. You can do so on the app at the end of the trip or on the trip receipt that you’ll receive in your email.
Earning a 5★ rating is the goal of every driver. Unless there is some issue during your trip, you shouldn’t hesitate to give a high rating.
If you do give your driver a 5★ rating, you have the option of providing additional feedback by choosing one of the pre-set compliment options (great conversation, great service, above and beyond, all-star driver, awesome music, etc. ) or by writing your own note.
In the event that there was an issue during your trip, you have the opportunity to provide that feedback as well (navigation issues, etc.)
DO TIP YOUR DRIVER IF YOU HAD A GOOD EXPERIENCE
Although Uber didn’t originally allow passengers to tip drivers, that has changed. Passengers are now allowed to tip drivers with the credit card associated with their account or with cash.
Tips are a sign of appreciation for good service…and they help offset the expenses drivers incur such as gas and maintenance since they are using their own car.
Think about it: We typically tip waiters and bartenders 15%-20% for good service; we tip the valet a few bucks for bringing us our car – and none of them have to navigate through traffic!
Just like with ratings, you’ll have 30 days to tip your driver once your trip is complete. However, you will only be offered the tipping option after you have completed the driver rating.
Uber offers several pre-set tip amounts to choose from or you can select the “custom” option and enter your own amount. You may also tip in cash if you prefer.
When I get good service, I tip the person to show my appreciation for the extra effort and attention. Similarly, when I take an Uber, I tip the driver if my ride was pleasant. I love it when I’m able to sit back and relax while someone else does the driving.
Do you ride with Uber? What do think about it?
Please share your thoughts in the Comments below ⇓