Uber has recently expanded rapidly across many Asian cities, covering over 70 cities worldwide right now. One thing that really caught my attention was its unorthodox method of marketing. During the Chinese New Year period in Singapore, Uber allowed users to request for a Lion Dance performance. It has also partnered with top night clubs to offer free limousine transportation to venues. During Christmas time in USA, Uber also partnered with Home Depot to bring users live Christmas trees.
As such I was extremely excited when I finally got a chance to try it out a couple of weeks ago. I received a complimentary ride (of up to $40) after leaving my account inactive for a while. As such, I decided to request for an Uber Black Limousine from One George Street back home. The iOS application is gorgeous and the recent addition of UberX (a low cost extension of the Uber brand) is easily accessible via the polished interface.
The fare estimator quoted me $39 to $51 for this ride (essentially giving me a free to $11 ride home when using the $40 discount). I requested for an Uber Black taxi and was immediately given one, accompanied with a photo, name and contact details of the driver. The driver then gave me a call to confirm my location which I thought was a nice touch (I had a similar experience using the GrabTaxi app in Kuala Lumpur).
Note: Parts of the photograph, name and car plate number has been removed to protect the identity of the driver.
It was really impressive watching the driver make his way to my location. Until I realised that he wasn't.
Somehow the driver went around in circles and eventually found his way to me (after approximately 20 minutes). During this time, at least thirty vacant taxis went past me. However, when I was finally on the limousine, the taxi driver was pleasant. One really cool feature that Uber provides is the ability to track the ride real-time via web link. In a pretty safe country like Singapore, I do not really see the use of it (apart from it being cool and visually pleasing). Then again, it's probably a great way to know whether or not your friends are truly "reaching soon".
The entire ride ended up on the highest end of the fare spectrum quoted ($51) and was generally a rather pleasant ride. As you may have noticed, assigned drivers come with a rating. At the end of your ride, you may choose to leave a review or feedback which will supposedly affect the driver's overall rating.
As cool as this ride may have been, there really is insufficient justification for the premium (approximately 3x the usual rate) charged over regular taxi rates. Perhaps UberX may cater to those whom enjoy such services without wanting to pay a high price. If you really want to try it and fancy a $20 credit bonus, you may use my link to sign up for a new account (I get $20 credit after you take a ride too!). For now however, I think I'll stick to the regular taxis. Besides, I do enjoy my local conversations with an overly zealous uncle who complains about everything from politics to daily life.