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The Pros And Cons Of Uber – Are They Better Than Taxis?

The Pros And Cons Of Uber – Are They Better Than Taxis?

We offer the pros and cons of Uber and ask if they are better than taxis, but my cowardly response is “Yes” and “No.” I both like and hate taxis, just as I like and hate Uber drivers. Most of the pros and cons I have chosen apply to Lyft as well, but I thought we would pick on Uber this week.

Uber Waiting Times Are Lower Than With Taxis

I know this point is situational, but the fact remains there are times when an Uber is going to turn up before a taxi does. A taxi may turn up at a grocery store before an Uber driver, but if you are getting picked up from home, and your home is not close to the town center, then there is a good chance an Uber driver will arrive before your taxi does.

Confirming A Taxi Is Far Easier Than With Uber

I am not saying that booking a taxi is easier than booking an Uber driver because that is just not the case. Being able to book an Uber on your phone and then track its movement is fantastic, but getting confirmations can be tricky. I have had times where I have seemingly confirmed an Uber driver, and then the driver has not set off, and then had to cancel it and pick another driver. This sort of thing happens with taxis, but I would say it happens more with Uber drivers than with taxis.

Uber Is Far Cheaper Than Taxis

On the whole, I would have to say that Uber and Lyft are both far cheaper than taxis. This is especially true if you live close to a town or city where the cost of taxis is outright stupid. I hate that thing where they charge a bunch of money before they even arrive, or how a taxi parked at a train station or airport is always more expensive than one you call and book.

There is a lot of propaganda online telling people that taxis are cheaper than Lyft and Uber, but it is just not the case. Try it out for yourself a few times. Experiment with Uber and Lyft and compare their prices to taxis. Unless you are using the luxury functions with Uber, then your regular fare is always cheaper than a taxi.

Many Uber Drivers Are Taxi Drivers Anyway

As a veteran user of taxis, Uber and Lyft, I cannot help but notice a few familiar faces. If you are trying to get away from the smelly, rude or abrasive people who drive taxis in your area, then think again because around 30% of the time I was hiring the same people. If your primary reason for taking an Uber is because you want to get away from the people who drive the taxis in your area, then you are out of luck.

Does the quality of your driver improve with Uber? Sometimes it does not. Some people may have fantastic taxi drivers in their local area, and if that is the case, you will probably meet some of those drivers again if you use Uber.

The Uber App Is Fantastic

Order an Uber on your Smartphone using the app and it takes just a minute or two. Find drivers who are close, pick a driver, see ratings, and track how far away that person is. You are not able to do the same thing with a taxi firm. You cannot pick the highest rated driver with a taxi firm, nor can you see how far away the driver is.

I know there are some taxi firms who have their own app, and I have tried them, but it is not as good as the Uber app. In most cases, a taxi app simply allows you to book a taxi without having to phone somebody, which is a brilliant thing that Uber, Lyft and some taxi companies do. However, with Uber and Lyft you get all the extras that taxi apps do not offer.

I would welcome a taxi firm that gives you all the benefits that the Uber app gives. I would love to see how far away my taxi is, and I would adore an app that allows me to pick taxi drivers based on their ratings from other people. If taxi apps offered the same features that Uber apps offer, then taxis may start to win their war against ride-sharing services.

You Do Not Need A SmartPhone To Book Your Uber…But You Do

You can go to the Uber website, create an account, and book an Uber online. However, having the app on your phone is one of the big benefits of using Uber. You can see where the driver is, and it is far easier to find the driver if the driver is moving towards your GPS location. I know you are supposed to pick the spot where you are picked up, but it just isn’t the same without a Smartphone, mobile Internet, and the Uber app.

Even though you do not need a Smartphone, or the app, or mobile Internet to use Uber, the fact is that the service is not as convenient or trouble-free if you do not use the Uber app.

You Do Not Have To Call To Book A Taxi

I know a service in my town where when I call the woman says, “He is on his way, he is just around the corner.” To which I respond, “Would you at least let me book the taxi before you start lying to me.” There are plenty of reasons to dislike taxi companies and one reason is the phone call you need to make. I won’t list the potential problems with calling a taxi because you could probably list a few yourself without my help. The fact that you can book a ride with Uber without having to speak to somebody on the phone is great, and I fully support any taxi companies who allow online booking or who have their own app for online taxi booking.

The Review System Is Good-But-Not-Great

I can talk for hours about how brilliant it is that Uber drivers are rated. However, if a driver takes your booking, but doesn’t turn up and the request is canceled, there is no way to negatively review the driver. If you book an Uber, but the driver decides not to turn up, you need to cancel your booking in order to book another driver. Once the booking is canceled, you cannot leave a negative review because the driver didn’t turn up.

Uber Drivers Rate Their Passengers Too

There is a passenger ratings system that many customers do not even know about. When a driver gives you a lift, the driver is able to rate you. As a customer (passenger), you never see the review, but other drivers do. If you mess your drivers around, then you may discover that other drivers refuse to accept your lift requests. This means that passengers are never upset by receiving a negative rating, but also means that drivers can help protect each other from scammers, from rude, aggressive, violent, drunk or overly-annoying passengers. The benefit for you as a passenger is that if you treat your drivers well, then they are more likely to favor you over other passengers.

Some Uber Drivers Are Held Blackmailed With Negative Review Threats

Passengers blackmail good Uber and Lyft drivers by threatening to post negative reviews about them if they do not do extra driving, or if they do not issue a fee refund. Even though drivers may rate their passengers, there is nothing stopping a passenger from pulling this scam a few times, getting a bad passenger rating, uninstalling the app, reinstalling it and registering with a different email address or different phone number. Getting a free email address is easy. What stops this scam spreading is because you need to provide a phone number and verify it, which means scammer need a new number each time they re-register. Still, some people get away without paying because of this type of blackmailing scam.

Becoming An Uber Driver Is Not As Easy As Many People Think

The taxi industry has waged war on ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, and they have led people to believe that any nutcase with a car can become an Uber or Lyft driver, but that is just not the case. Here are the rules regarding becoming an Uber driver:

  • Your car must have a clean title
  • Your car cannot be salvaged, rebuilt or reconstructed
  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You must have at least one year of fully licensed driving experience
  • People under 23 must have at least three years of fully licensed driving experience
  • You must not have any sort of criminal record
  • You must possess a clean driving license
  • Your car must be insured and road legal
  • Your car must be less than 15 years old
  • Your car cannot be a rental unless it is rented from an approved Uber lender
  • Your car must have no missing pieces
  • Your car must have no taxi signage or commercial branding

The Starting Gifts Are Dumb

Uber is a great service that lowers itself with startup offers and new-user offers. I get why they do it, but they shouldn’t. Companies like Uber and Lyft give away new-user coupons and discounts because they want a way to convince people to give the service a try, but there has to be easier ways than giving people Uber fare coupons or starter discounts.

Uber should try rewarding people for word-of-mouth marketing, such as giving credit/coupon codes to people who are already users of Uber and who get their friends to sign up and take a ride. Offer incentives to have drivers promote their services and then reward the drivers.

Uber Allows The Use Of PayPal

I like the fact that I can order a taxi online via my computer or the Uber app and am able to pay online too. It means I do not have to find the right amount of cash, and it means I can get a ride even if I am miles from an ATM. However, my most favorite part is that Uber allows PayPal payments. Paying through the app is a good way of making sure your money is safe when getting a ride, but the added layer of being able to use PayPal means extra security. It means I do not have to put my bank card or credit card details into my phone because I can use PayPal instead.

You Cannot Pay By Cash

I know I am contradicting myself here, but the fact that you cannot pay cash for your trip is also a bad thing. Some people think it is unfair that passengers cannot pay with cash. In many cases, they target older people who are not comfortable using their phones to pay for things, but there are plenty of other people who are happy paying with their phones, but would rather pay with cash. Those who want to pay cash are forced to use taxi services rather than ride-sharing services like Uber.

Pay With Your Bank Card, Credit Card Or PayPal

You can set up bank card or credit card payments on Uber, so that you are then able to pay with just a click without having to enter your details again. I love paying for stuff in this way. I was thrilled when the takeaway industry embraced online ordering and allowed people to order online and pay online. I like the fact that ride-sharing services are doing the same thing for the taxi/ride-hire industry.

Personally, I would rather take cash out of the equation completely when hiring a taxi or ride-share service because I would rather pay online (preferably with PayPal). Some people want to pay with cash, and so are forced to use taxi services rather than ride-sharing services.

Some Uber Drivers Are Review-Obsessed

I believe that the review system means that Uber drivers are more courteous and generally more nice than taxi drivers. Uber drivers know that they will lose their ability to drive if their rating falls too low, so they try to be more polite and offer a better service than their competitors (taxi companies).

Sadly, some Uber drivers are a pain in the arse with this sort of thing. I have had drivers say that they will give me a good review if I give them a good review, which is dumb because I never see my passenger rating and most passengers do not even know that passenger ratings and reviews exist. I have also had drivers drop very heavy hints about how they are trying their best and how they really need good ratings to the point where it still makes me cringe.

It is not just drivers trying to offer deals or drivers using hints and guilt, there are also drivers who do not know what a good and courteous service really is. Some Uber drivers talk incessantly because they think their chat is what makes their service the best, and then there are others who are transparently putting on a “Niceness” act that is sometimes creepy and often embarrassing.

two people with fake smiles

These smiles represent the sort of “Fake Niceness” I am talking about when dealing with review-obsessed Uber drivers who are trying too hard to be extra nice. It always ends up being creepy and embarrassing. The people in the picture are not Uber drivers. The lady on the left lost an election that was rigged for her to win, and the guy on the right ruined the leftist party in the UK to the point where nobody in Scotland votes for their party anymore (and the guy in the picture is Scottish).

I am not saying that all Uber drivers are review obsessed or creepy. I am not saying this sort of thing happens all the time. You can use Uber all year and only have a handful of review-obsessed drivers, but it is still annoying.

I am also not saying that taxis are better because I have had a handful or terrible taxi drivers in my time. I have had more than one Pakistani driver brag about sexual assaults. I one had a Puerto Rican man brag that he had been dropping acid shortly before starting his shift as a taxi driver, and I had a fat bald driver tell me he caught a disease off the woman who was his last fare. I have had my share of terrible taxi drivers as well as unprofessional and dumb Uber drivers, but the review-obsessed Uber drivers still make me cringe when I think about them.

Get An Estimate On Your Ride Before You Order

There are tools within the Uber app that help you see how much your trip is likely to cost. Unless you are forced to take a massive detour, your trip should cost roughly what the app suggests it will cost. There is a trip estimator function that gives you a fairly good idea of how much your ride will cost, and this is something that taxi companies do not do. I have known very few taxi companies that give you a fairly accurate estimate prior to you making your booking.

Guessing how much a taxi ride will cost is always annoying, which is why services such as Uber have removed the fare-guessing side of booking and ride so that people have a good idea of what each ride will cost prior to booking the ride.

Uber Drivers Are Better Drivers, But Are Not More Intelligent Drivers

Some people say that Uber drivers are better drivers because they lose their Uber listing if they get a low review rating and if they get things such as speeding tickets (i.e. if they dirty-up their driving license). People forget that some Uber drivers are only driving as a hobby, so they couldn’t care less if their Uber membership and listings were pulled.

Plus, even if an Uber driver is more conscientious than a taxi driver, a taxi driver is typically more intelligent when it comes to driving. A taxi driver spends most of his or her week driving a taxi, which means he or she knows things that other people do not. He or she knows which roads will have heavy traffic at what times, and he or she knows which lane to get in during heavy traffic to get there faster. If there is a diversion, an experienced taxi driver will get through it more efficiently because he or she knows the surrounding area better than somebody who is not a full-time driver.

There Is A Complaints Team That Is Pretty Good

Complain to a taxi company, and you get a mixed response. I have had responses from taxi companies that range from offering me a full refund, to telling me I have the wrong taxi company and then giving me their competitor’s phone number.

Complain to Uber, and they take the passenger’s side more than the driver’s side. If you have a legitimate complaint, it is good to know somebody is there to help you and who will take your side.

Surge Pricing Is Not Correctly Explained

Surge pricing is a system where Uber drivers are allowed to charge a little more for their fare because of the time of day or because of the date. For example, most people know that taxi fares cost more on New Year’s eve, so that is when Uber’s surge pricing kicks in and Uber drivers are able to charge more.

Uber introduced Surge pricing because there are times of the day and there are dates on the calendar when taxis are typically more expensive, and taxi companies were losing a lot of money. Plus, many Uber drivers are also taxi drivers, which means on higher-fare nights and at higher-fare times, drivers were taking shifts in their taxis over shifts as Uber drivers. The final reason why Uber introduced surge pricing is because there are times of the day and dates where taxi fares are higher, and they are usually times that are inconvenient, so Uber allowed for higher prices.

What bothers me is that Surge pricing is sometimes unfair, and it is often poorly explained. People check their Uber app expecting to see one fare estimate and end up seeing one that is far more expensive. I also think it is unfair because Uber is supposed to be different from taxis, it is supposed to be for regular people to make a little money giving people a lift, and yet Uber drivers are also able to charge premium prices too! Did Uber drivers become professionals all of a sudden?

There Is A Bigger Mix Of Drivers

Plenty of towns have several taxi ranks, and many are staffed by people of the same ethnic background. There may be one with mostly Caucasians, one with mostly Pakistanis, one with mostly Indians, and so forth. Obviously, there are some taxi companies with a mix of people, but most hire people of a certain ethnic background and that is all.

Uber and Lyft have drivers from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. You get to meet a broader range of people and speak to a wider variety of people when you use Uber.

Sometimes The Uber Coverage Sucks

There are places, towns, and villages where there are very few Uber drivers. There are times when you need an Uber or a Lyft and there are no drivers around. Sometimes, you want an Uber, but the only driver available is one you have had a problem with. In towns and cities where Uber coverage is great, you get a great selection of drivers to choose from, but if you are located in an area with few Uber drivers, then your user experience becomes less enjoyable.

About The Author

Ash The Great

After a varied career in different industries from the hospitality industry to the financial consultancy industry, Ash now spends his days working as a professional writer.

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