Uber has several technical issues that cause issues for riders and drivers. These cost both sides of the equation money yet Uber hasn’t or won’t fix the app.
I gave a couple of examples of how scheduling trips fail riders and learned from drivers that it also fails drivers. For riders, plans are made hours, even days in advance and expect a precise arrival from their driver and a start time to the trip. Drivers have no idea the ride was scheduled and the technology simply calls them about 20-40 minutes in advance as a normal ride.
If Uber’s technology on the driver side matched the expectations set on the rider side, there may be less heartburn for both. As a rider scheduling a ride in advance with a ten-minute window, I don’t expect the driver to arrive ahead of the window, I don’t want to force them to wait. The driver loses revenue by arriving early and not getting paid very much for their wait time. This is all because Uber’s technology can’t schedule rides in advance, though that’s what it looks like to riders.
Waiting for my Uber can sometimes make for very humorous tracking. Cars go the wrong way down one-way streets, spin around in place, jump city blocks or suddenly track at insanely high speeds. This is obviously just another incident of bad technology.
The frustration for riders comes in when wait times aren’t properly communicated. I had several rides in Rome which were always listed as just four minutes away. But that four-minute wait often meant 10-15 minutes. I’m not talking about when drivers get stuck at red lights unexpectedly, that will happen. All rides started out with a four-minute wait when booking but once the four minutes passed, then it would fluctuate between 8-15 minutes before arrival.
This is particularly difficult when travelling with children, standing out in the cold, or watching available taxis drive by while riders wait for a time that Uber drivers never had any ability to meet. It’s not the driver’s fault, it’s Uber’s bad technology.
I frequently take an Uber from my home to the airport. There is a county road that runs parallel to a toll road expressway but ultimately ends at the toll road two of the seven miles in. Regardless of whether you take the toll road at a shorter distance and higher speed the whole way or join the toll road midway, the toll is the same rate.
However, it takes more time and costs more money to run down the county road that Uber technology directs drivers to take. Deviating from the route opens the driver up to disputed fares because they didn’t follow the path, but following the bad route cost me time and money as a rider. Both of us lose.
I raised it to Uber and received a boilerplate response that failed to address my concern. A customer service agent reached out following my last Uber post and said that it should have been addressed, but nothing further happened and the issue remains.
The worst piece of technology baked into the Uber system has to be driver cancellation. I have waited outside the airport for a ride for ten minutes only to have the ride cancelled at the last minute by a driver. Maybe the driver found a better fare, maybe they didn’t like my destination. Regardless, drivers can cancel these rides at no cost.
Riders, however, don’t have the same prerogative. For example, if Uber initially says a driver will be to me in… four minutes, and then the driver hasn’t showed up in ten minutes (real example for me in New York earlier this year), I pay the cancellation fee to take another ride. If Uber says the driver will arrive within eight minutes and doesn’t, I pay a fee to cancel, but the driver can cancel on me up to arriving at my location and starting the ride.
Uber has a number of technological challenges to overcome but I sense that many of these hurdles could be overcome simply by better communicating or offering riders the same flexibility as drivers. Their minimal customer support (no phone number and outsourced email responses) doesn’t help them to efficiently manage rider nor driver issues. Don’t believe me? Just ask your Uber driver the next time you get in if they are happy with Uber.
What do you think? Does Uber technology have a lot to improve upon? Is it more a case of managing rider/driver expectations?