Uber and Lyft have seemingly abandoned all efforts to provide an accurate pickup time.
My (Now Typical) Experience, And Yours Too
After hailing the rideshare, Uber or Lyft – it really doesn’t matter at this point – standing outside in the cold or the rain or the snow, rideshares roll by but not mine. I check the map, still four minutes away but my driver stopped making progress. I go to cancel but I receive a notice that I’ll be charged if I do, they are nearly to me, do I want to wait a bit longer instead?
Sure. Let’s do that.
Another five minutes rolls by but not my car service.
I click to cancel again, same warning, I follow through but the app asks me why I might want to cancel. “Driver is not making progress” so I am offered an opportunity to call my Uber. Yes, let’s just see if there’s a problem that will be resolved soon, maybe something is blocking the road.
Hold up, Faud doesn’t like to talk on the phone, he prefers to text (which is interesting because a notice appeared that he will be recording the audio from our ride and that I should be aware of it.)
I text. Nothing back. Damn your preferences, Faud, I’ve been stood here now going on 20 minutes while you’re four, no wait, three minutes away with no movement from your car.
There’s no answer, I’m cancelling for good.
I had tried Lyft before, and the experience was the ultimate in bait and switch. Here’s an attractive price, your driver will have you home in 25 minutes. Fair enough. I am instructed to wait 1-7 minutes for my driver to be selected. I’m cruising through the terminal heading to the commercial curb, 1-5 minutes, 1-4 minutes… then congratulations (mental confetti is tossed like flowers before the path of an arriving king) your driver is… 20 minutes away.
Because the driver is too far away.
“Are you sure? We are going to charge you since this driver [who is on the other side of town] has already [moved heaven and earth to make] his way to you.”
Pickup Time Does Not Update
Uber and Lyft appeared to have completely abandoned all honesty and attempts for accuracy in their pickup windows and progression. You’re telling me we have AI that can now, in real time, translate almost any language under the sun, generate custom business plans, predict price changes – but it can’t accurately update an arrival time. It can’t see that the driver hasn’t moved and though they may only be three minutes away if they choose to drive but after 15 minutes, maybe the company should reach out to see why they haven’t?
At this point, it’s a choice. No, it’s a tactic. As long as it’s only three minutes away, and knowing that there’s a penalty for cancelling, I’m not going to cancel, try Lyft or hail a cab.
The purpose of Uber, as we know it today (well beyond the utilization of solely black cars in New York City), was to create transparency over taxis, rate drivers and riders alike to create accountability, lower prices when the market is sparse, and compensate drivers with a premium when cars are in short supply.
But that’s not what this is anymore.
There’s No Penalty For Drivers
The biggest issue is that the economy of rideshares are controlled by the drivers or lack of them. Without drivers, they have no service to offer customers. If Uber can’t hold drivers on the service, customers will use alternatives on the market today, or worse, flee to the next best thing that learned all of the lessons of peers before it but without the R&D cost to get there. Drivers must be kept happy at all costs.
Riders have no control over the matter. Sure, we can choose to pick a car based on what features they promote, Uber Black for something fancy, UberX when we just need to get from A to B. But when a driver decides to accept a ride, park their vehicle, and not move for 15 minutes while they do whatever it is they want, the rider is the only one penalized for cancelling.
In my most recent examples, I did the only thing I could to penalize both services back. I hopped in a cab. It was slightly more expensive (about 10% more than Uber), and honestly, I didn’t enjoy it as much as my Uber rides where the drivers take pride in their cars and their service and want customers to have a good experience (leave a tip and a five-star rating.) However, I waited longer for either service to get their acts together than my 15-minute ride home from the airport. Supporting entrepreneurs and fighting the taxi cab mafia is a nice idea, but when it’s midnight and I have been traveling all day I don’t want to fight for principles, I just want to go home.
Another example of this was found on social media this week whereby an UberEats delivery person was making the 4.5-mile journey on foot a “walker” and despite the 85-minute delivery window (and for the poor contractor, potentially a 170-minute roundtrip) the purchaser faced a cancellation fee. Absurdity at its finest.
View this post on Instagram
Not Everything Is An Asterisk
“The driver might have had car trouble.” Sure, that happens, but the driver didn’t respond to text messages or phone calls and didn’t bother to text when their car trouble occurred.
There are myriad valid reasons for drivers to legitimately incur a delay.
Not everything is an asterisk leaving the driver blameless. The driver also might have forgotten they accepted my ride and done something else, they might have fallen asleep, or been texting a significant other. It doesn’t really matter what the reason was.
Regardless, the rideshare services have created transparency and accountability only for drivers and not for riders. I’m sure they have invested in technology to sort some of these matters out but the fact remains, there are still glaring, obvious problems. These are solvable problems that both of the major services have chosen not to resolve.
Perhaps someone can text me when they fix these issues. I once avoided taxis in favor of a more honest and competent service, it appears I’ll be back in cabs and car services because at least they can give me a ride home.
What do you think? Have you been left out in the cold by rideshare services that don’t update pickup times? Have you been charged for cancelling an unreasonable ride?