Uber is the most famous of the Unicorns. A Unicorn being a private company, in the pre-IPO pipeline, valued at more than $1 billion. Uber is the Big Dog in this space. It is seen by some as more valuable than AT&T, Kraft Foods, Delta Air Lines, General Mills, General Motors, CBS, Northrop Grumman, Kroger, Hershey, Harley Davidson, Campbell Soup, Clorox, Hertz, MGM or Mattel.
Some say this high valuation is a fantasy number. They point to the fact that Uber is not a technology company but is a service company. After all, they don’t make anything but rather provide the service of connecting riders and drivers. Both rider and driver use their own cell phones to access the Uber service.
I used Uber for the first time this past week. It was not the experience that I expected. Uber has marketed itself as the “Anti-Cab Company” … as the alternative to the money-grubbing monopolistic cabbies with their fixed rates and arrogance.
I discovered that, contrary to their marketing image, Uber is just another cab company. Their technology may be different but the often adversarial relationship between driver and rider is very much alive.
A significant negative for Uber is that they stack the deck against riders with “Surge Pricing.” My experience with Surge Pricing was that it changed by the second and raised my fare by 350%. My 2-mile trip from Union Station to the Los Angeles Ritz Carlton cost $40. Yep, you read that right. $40 for a two mile ride. If that isn’t money grubbing highway robbery, please tell me what is. This occurred after the Uber driver who initially responded to my call, cancelled on me after I had stood in the 90 degree afternoon heat for 15-minutes waiting.
In all my years of taking conventional cabs, I have never had a cab that was dispatched, cancel on me by the driver. … and I’ve never had a fare jacked by 350% … anywhere in the world.
Having been burned by Uber, I took a conventional cab on the return trip from my hotel back to Union Station. The conventional cab cost $15 dollars including tip. There was no question of the cabbie cancelling on me. There was no question of the fare jumping to $55.
Uber may have its place as a recreational provider, but if you want true professionalism and reliability take a conventional cab.