One of the best parts of using Uber (or Lyft for that matter) is you can call a ride from the comfort of your home or office and then wait for the car to arrive before venturing outside. You could do that with a taxi, too, but the GPS feature of ride-sharing apps makes it possible to get realtime updates.
— sree sreenivasan (@sree) April 26, 2016
Apparently some people like to make the driver wait and wait. Uber is testing a new fee structure that penalizes these tardy customers. Drivers will be able to start charging by the minute for idle time after waiting two minutes, whether the customer is there or not, but a separate fee of $5-10 still won’t apply until five minutes. Previously no charges applied until five minutes had passed.
I’m all for this change. While I appreciate Uber drivers who wait a bit, I don’t believe it’s the driver’s responsibility to wait forever while I get my shit together. The TechCrunch article’s URL reads “no-you-cant-go-to-the-bathroom-first.” You can …just go before you request a ride.
What I’m not happy about is the poor ability of some (most?) drivers to find my location. I think everyone can agree that it’s not okay to be penalized because the driver went someplace else or because the estimated wait was wildly inaccurate. Three scenarios happen all too often in Seattle:
Drivers unfamiliar with one-way streets in downtown will give up and ask me to meet them. Hopefully they’re just a couple blocks away.
Drivers will wait a block away on a different street, even though my address is clearly listed as the pickup location. You don’t need to be at my door, but be on the right street.
Drivers go in a completely wrong direction. There is a dedicated pick-up area in the Sea-Tac airport garage, yet I’ve had a couple drivers go to the arrivals curb. By that point it’s too late to fix without circling around.
I get that Uber drivers think they should be paid more, which is a complex issue that depends partly on the delays caused by customers. Hopefully this new policy can help correct one aspect of that difficult situation. But at the end of the day I view UberX as a cheap alternative to taxis: lower fares justified by a lower standard of service. (I’ve had few, if any, problems with Uber Black.) If prices go up for delays that aren’t my fault, then I’ll start looking elsewhere.
(I originally found this on Slashdot which points to Verge which points to TechCrunch which credits the Twitter screenshot above. To people who complain that travel bloggers never write anything original… it’s not just us.)