Recently on a trip to Southern California and due to lots of logistical issues, I was without a ride from the airport in Orange County to visit family in Laguna Beach. I was planning on taking a taxi since it seemed the simplest. My son suggested I use UBER. I have seen many articles on the issues of the regulation of UBER and have appreciated the news coverage of the ease of use and the new niche for these “on demand” options using a smartphone.
Ever fearful of the notion that I might become the “old dog” that can’t learn new tricks in this amazingly complex age of technology and apps, I decided to try. I went on-line to the UBER website and found an easy to use yet very sophisticated web-interface.
The options include: Uber X for the thrifty minded, the Taxi, Black for an upgrade with a private driver, SUV with lots of space, and LUX with lots on luxury and higher cost.
Once you go on site there are instructions for installation on a smartphone. I have two email addresses (Infinity and Gmail) and used the one that did not connect with the direct email service I used on my phone and linked to my credit card. After a few mistakes I worked my way through the verification process between the desktop computer I used to sign-up and my smartphone.
The first step which caused me lots of initial anxiety was that before I was really even able to get past the sign-on page, a requirement to move beyond was that credit card information needed to be added. After I decided that it was without risk, I moved through the steps easily. I really wanted to pre-schedule my pick-up but never could figure it out. I used the Q and A and felt reassured that I really did not need to do this.
When I got into the airport in Orange County, I was a little bit baffled because my GPS did not initially show my position. It kept asking for an address. Since I was in an airport, I really didn’t know the address. After lots of cajoling and trying my best wheedling, I was able to get one of the helpful transportation stand attendants to give my the airport address. Actually by then, my GPS had kicked in and showed the blue dot. The reluctant but ultimately helpful transportation stand attendant did advise me that UBER could not pick-up there. He suggested I take a regular taxi which was going to cost about $55.00.
I had verified online that UBER did pick up at the airport, so I took my luggage and went outside and clicked on the pickup button on my phone. Almost instantly, Elton, picture and all, called. I identified the poll location and he said he was one minute away and would walk to me to help with the luggage. He looked like his picture, helped me with the luggage, we walked a short distance to the SUV, he loaded my luggage in the back, and gave me some water. This was much appreciated since I had been on the trip already for 15 hours (driving to airport, plane trip, 4 hour delay in Phoenix).
I gave him the address and getting there was fast and easy.
Along the way I took the opportunity to ask lots of questions. How does UBER work? It is really just a software process linked to local companies and individuals. UBER collects the money and distributes it to their drivers directly or the companies employing the driver. The process for regulation of UBER is different depending on the type of vehicle. The SUV for me was way more vehicle than I really needed but airports restrict the level of access by type of vehicle. The UBER X would have been fine for me but they are not allowed at the arrival/luggage area. Some of the UBER vehicles are regulated through the same process for the taxis.
I also tried to inquire indirectly about the fee and tipping. I had a first time user code which gave me $30 off the cost of the trip, $65.00. So the trip for me was going to be $30, charged directly to my credit card. There is NO TIPPING (included in the fee) which was great and relieved the last minutes of exiting the vehicle. Immediately I received an email receipt, verifying my exact trip, the cost, the mileage, and Elton was my driver.
I ended up loving the entire experience. I also proved that you can learn new tricks of life, no matter your age 🙂
By the way, if you are really ambitious you can sign up to be an UBER driver!
Below are two sites that may be helpful if additional information is needed.