And the positives? The house has always been well looked after and respected. Some guests have left us gifts, and some have left our place spotless, stripped beds and all. The whole point about Uber is that it’s meant to be a cashless experience, which means no scrambling for your purse at the end of the trip, frantically trying to work out what a 10% tip would add up to. All you need is a smartphone and credit card. Uber has the following to say: You don’t need cash when you ride with Uber. Once you arrive at your destination, your fare is automatically charged to your credit card on file – there’s no need to tip.’ How can I show my appreciation, then? By giving the driver a five-star rating. What’s the rating system all about? At the end of the trip, your fee (which is automatically debited from your account) is sent to your cellphone, along with a request to rate your driver. A consistently high rating means they will continue to work with Uber. The opposite is also true: if the driver consistently receives low ratings, their driver-partnership’ with Uber will dissolve.
All drivers are rated by their clients after their trips and clients can give feedback immediately,’ says Alon Lits, regional general manager for Uber in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have a zero-tolerance approach to rider safety being compromised and we immediately terminate partnerships with these drivers. Drivers are aware of this zero-tolerance approach.’ But it’s also worth remembering that your Uber driver also rates you: if you are an awful passenger – i.e. you’re not where you said you would be; you’re drunk or abusive or you have a habit of calling and then cancelling cars, you will find that not many Uber drivers respond when you use your app. Can anyone become an Uber driver? Firstly, Uber likes to call them partner-drivers, because they see it as a partnership, not an employer-employee relationship. But yes, in theory, anyone with a car could become a driver.
As long as they undergo a comprehensive AFIS [Automated Fingerprint Identification System] criminal background check, they have a South African Professional Drivers Permit (PDP) and they have comprehensive commercial insurance, with passenger and third-party liability of R5 million per annum. Can we split the fare? Very easily, because of a smart little option called Split Fare which will come up on your phone. This lets you invite’ people sharing your ride to split the costs (they would also have to be linked to Uber). If they accept your invitation, Uber will split the costs. If they don’t, and you were the person who requested the Uber, you’re on your own. Can my kids use Uber? Your kids can link to your account with Uber and access it from their own phones, which can be useful if you don’t want to fetch them late at night, for example. You can watch their trip on your phone, which is also useful (and reassuring). But you must be aware that any risks here are yours: Uber’s explicit position is that you must be at least 18 years of age, or the age of legal majority in your jurisdiction, to obtain an account.
If they are younger than 18, your kids must be accompanied by you when using Uber’. WHEN DID IT START? Initially called UberCab’, it was launched in San Francisco in 2010 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, who came up with the idea for an on-demand car-service app. The Cab’ was later dropped from the name; authorities objected to it since they were operating without a taxi licence. THE CASE FOR UBER… According to Alon, Uber has created over 2000 work opportunities for drivers in South Africa, with plans to grow that to 15000 by the end of 2017. Uber users here completed over two million trips in the first half of 2015 – double those taken in the whole of 2014. With prices that are often half of what you might pay for a metered taxi, Uber is affordable. Kalanick told Vanity Fair in 2014 that the goal was to get to the point that using Uber is cheaper than owning a car’. An online petition created in Cape Town to keep Uber running was signed by more than 21000 people. [Uber] has the potential to raise the quality of service in our city and to make on-demand transport services more commuter-focused and commuter-friendly,’ said Councillor Herron.
And in terms of taking work from the metered taxi industry, some argue that instead, Uber is attracting a new client base: people who’ve never used a metered taxi are now using Uber as an alternative to driving home under the influence. That’s got to be a good thing. UBER-VERSATILE In October this year, a start-up called Convoy raised $2,5 million in venture financing from investors like Marc Benioff, Drew Houston and Bezos Expeditions. Based on the Uber principle, it provides an online service to companies that need goods transported, connecting them quickly to ships and trucks in their area. With funders like Bezos, it’s clear that the Uber model is being taken seriously in other areas too. What is surge pricing? Our goal is to be as reliable as possible in connecting you with a driver whenever you need one,’ says Alon. At times of high demand, the number of drivers we can connect you with becomes limited. As a result, prices increase to encourage more drivers to become available.
You’ll see a notification screen in your app whenever there is surge pricing, and you first have to accept those higher rates before we connect you to a driver.’ What about the tension between metered taxi drivers and Uber drivers? Metered taxi drivers make no secret of their ill feeling towards Uber; in July 2015, Uber drivers in Johannesburg were intimidated by metered taxi drivers, and an illegal protest broke out outside Uber’s Joburg offices. The metered taxi industry believes Uber is stealing its customers and routes, and is operating illegally. Is Uber illegal? At the moment Uber is in a kind of grey area: Uber drivers have got the required professional drivers’ permits (PDP), they’ve undergone security checks and they have insurance, but the government wants them to have public transport operating permits as well. In Cape Town, Uber executives were advised by the City that the drivers should get metered taxi licences as a temporary solution.
The City has started the process of compiling a by-law to create a legal framework for the e-hailing industry, but this process is still pending,’ says Councillor Brett Herron, mayoral committee member on Transport for the City of Cape Town. It is for the National Minister of Transport to put regulations in place to deal with electronic hailing.’ – It’s best to ask a shop assistant who’s trained to help you find the shoe that fits your needs, but these are touted as versatile enough for most distances and types of runners.