Posts Tagged ‘Uber’

The mytaxi experience

I believe in competition, and when in London, Dublin and Spain, I don’t only rely on the Uber app, but also the Hailo app. A while back I migrated to mytaxi because Hailo got consumed by them.

mytaxi may be Europe’s largest taxi app, but it sure is weird compared to Uber or Grab. Setting it up was “interesting” as pretty much all credit cards would be declined (or my issuing banks clearly worry about fraud too much?). So the fix is to use PayPal. That “just works”.

They have partnered with Lufthansa Miles & More to give you miles for all kinds of money you spend with the app.

When you order, presumably you use WiFi, and you’ll find a cab in no time. But when its time to pay with the app, you’ll need a mobile data connection or have the driver turn on a wifi hotspot, because you’ll have to authorise the payment either via a password (?!?!), or Touch ID (better to configure this). But the whole “confirming” you’re making a payment is clearly added friction in the entire process.

I find it funny that you’re also allowed to provide a tip to the driver. In Europe, this is quite unheard of. Then its the usual rating.

Frictionless experiences, that’s what I’m after. I can’t imagine people use mytaxi and enjoy such an experience at the moment.

Uber Data Extractor

This is pretty cool: Uber Trip History Bookmarklet.

It allows you to get your complete Uber trip history, download it as a CSV file, and then run the Uber Data Visualiser. You get to learn quite a bit about your trips. I’ve attached a snapshot of mine, there’s more data and you should run it too!

Would be interesting to see this kind of history for Grab rides (and all the other various ride services out there).

Uber Data Visualizer

Austin ridesharing reminds me of Chinese protectionism

Its no secret that a lot of the Internet economy in China is fuelled by protectionism. A reddit user managed to post some service equivalents.

In May 2016, I landed in Austin to see that there were no more pickups in Austin. I took exactly two cabs during my stay (to/from the airport), and walked everywhere I needed to go. It wasn’t a great experience as the weather was pretty bad as well, and Paul Graham also chimed in. Apparently there are hacks to get around to using Uber in Austin, but I’ve never bothered to use them (that article also talks about the requirements beyond just background checks BTW).

People get creative naturally – they started a Facebook group, so much so the police have started to crackdown.

But I’m starting to see all these other services crop up that presumably abide by whatever Austin asks for:

  • at the airport, ads at the baggage carousel for FARE (some news about their launch)
  • at the hotel I saw a brochure for Wingz which promises pre-booking, flat rates, surge-free and around town you pay a minimum of $20, and to get to/from the airport its a $25 minimum.
  • at the hotel again, I saw a brochure for Fasten with a $20 off my first ride promo code as well (their font initially made me look for “faston” instead of “fasten”).
  • Get me via an email from the hotel informing me that I wouldn’t be able to use Uber/Lyft in Austin.
  • zTrip was also in said similar email as above.

So its not that Austin doesn’t like ridesharing. And with time, presumably enough people will complain so we will see Lyft and Uber make their way back. This week I’m walking around Austin as well (its 38C, but thats better than rain I guess). But it sure feels very protectionist.

Uber and the Black Cab

My residence in London is the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill at 30 Portman Square. I’ve been staying there for years and find it to be a phenomenal location with phenomenal staff.

I’ve ordered many Uber’s from there despite there being a taxi rank right outside the hotel. One of the reasons I dislike taxis in London is that not all of them accept credit cards or any form of electronic payment — I’ve got to have cash handy and it is a real hassle.

So why not Hailo? Hailo kind of works but has horrible customer service. Every time I’ve used them be it in London, Singapore or Barcelona, it’s left a bad taste in my mouth. Cabs will claim to have arrived starting the 2.5 minute timer long before they have arrived; if it’s raining enjoy looking for them while you call them only for them to tell you they’re not where they claim to be. In addition they’ll give you £10 coupons that will “expire” on you so you end up paying full fare. The crux of the Hailo problem is that a cab driver is always going to be a cab driver…

During rush hour traffic in London, a Hailo may make sense (since cabs can use lanes reserved for them). So will a UberTAXI. 

Anyway, this isn’t about Hailo. Today I finally tweeted to Uber about the fact that their maps are inaccurate and most drivers never arrive at the front of the Hyatt but at the side, on Seymour Street. It’s incredibly annoying to have to call to get them to come to the front or walk to the side – it’s all added inefficiencies.

The @ replies from the taxi drivers tend to be strong encouraging you to use their services. I’ve never seen this in any market I’ve used Uber in. It’s smart – take it on to social media.

Twitter Notifications

Later on in the day I did take a cab. I wanted to go to Harwood Arms from the Natural History Museum. Of course the cab driver didn’t know where it was so I stated the street name, Walham Grove. Lo and behold, the black cab driver had no idea where this was! I even provided the post code if it helped.

He asked if I had it on my maps. I said I did. He wanted to know the cross road. Even after I told him Farm Lane, he took out the maps and had it in his lap for the whole journey.

This is the same guy whom represents the lot that have studied The Knowledge. In an Uber, at least they would have used the maps. And if there were route inefficiencies I would just complain to Uber from the app and get a refund. Here I paid for the drivers mistakes. In cash.

Are cabs safe from the losing fight?

Race to the bottom

The way I see money being invested lately makes me think of a proverb, “a fool and his money are soon parted”.

There has been a lot of talk recently about “the gig economy”. The FT has a series titled the New World of Work. The NYT has been covering this as its part of the US election campaign as well (see: Defining ‘Employee’ In The Gig Economy). The WSJ continues on with What’s the Gig Deal?. The Economist was ahead of this trend in 2011 — Labour markets: The gig economy.

Anyway, this isn’t a post about the gig economy per se. For one, I’m enjoying the fruits of such a labour market, say every-time I ride in an Uber. This is me wondering if there’s a lot of money floating via a venture capital fuelled binge, in where companies spend lots of cash to acquire users, while trying to outspend their competition to become the monopoly in the space. This is basically a race to the bottom, except it doesn’t happen via government de-regulation, but more venture capital, the attitude that its better to do first and ask for forgiveness later, and governments wondering what hit them.

Why such a thought? Quite simply, read the headlines. Passport Asia wants “seven figures” to be the ClassPass of Asia. They’re entering a market where KFit exists (and is well funded, by meme hustlers, even). The bottom line being that this is all just a copy of ClassPass. Hopefully it’s “localised”, with the best option being an exit to them, eh? That was the modus operandi for Groupon Malaysia.

What about Uber? They lost a lot of money and will continue to lose more. They’ve even decided that its OK and this isn’t news.

It’s the case of business 101: you raise money, you invest money, you grow (hopefully), you make a profit and that generates a return for investors.

So let’s look a little locally at MyTeksi/GrabTaxi. They championed taxi drivers when Uber came into the market in Kuala Lumpur. They promoted the service like crazy, causing TaxiMonger to basically not exist, and Rocket Internet to pull EasyTaxi out of the market. Once the competition was removed, it became much easier to launch GrabCar and GrabCar Premium, which basically competes with Uber on the same MyTeksi platform! The taxi drivers finally woke up to a protest. But there are now a lot less choices in Malaysia and that’s the crux of the problem – the taxi drivers are using a platform that they’ve become dependent on but don’t necessarily like to be beholden to. And its only now that people might remember that they performed anti-competitive acts, like preventing taxi drivers from having competing apps on their phones (if detected, MyTeksi wouldn’t start).

Today, the headlines are: VCs see a bubble in food delivery services. $1 billion raised last year, and $750 million this year. Imagine the valuations. How much has GrabTaxi raised? Uber?

Yes, its a race to the bottom. As consumers, we should enjoy all these subsidised services. But never allow them to become a monopoly. Don’t be reliant on one app. Spread the love. You’ll get your subsidised services for a much longer time.


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