For those who are already aware of what Uber is, you can skip down to the list of things I learned about it.
For those who don’t, here’s a simple explanation: It’s a ride-sharing service that lets you and your friends book a private vehicle to take you anywhere within Metro Manila. I first booked a ride for free, because at the time I signed up for the service, they were giving away P300 credits if you used a friend’s promo code (mine is uberdocb2014). Now they’re only giving away around P200. That’s not so bad, considering your first ride is free.
To be honest, I only started paying for Uber around the 5th or 6th ride because some of my friends have also used my promo code when they signed up. So I had free P300 credits and they had free P300 credits.
Anyway, I was delighted when I first used the Uber app and saw where the car was coming from and how long it would take. I can even see if the driver is making a wrong turn — happened twice last week. Both drivers did not realize that there are many one-way roads in Makati.
Shown below was the first time I booked Uber and saw the car approaching.
I marked the ones that are important, so that readers would understand what makes Uber the safer alternative to the supposedly regulated means of transportations. (Taxis safe? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I could frickin’ write a book on cabbie horror stories and I’m considered one of the luckiest because I’ve never been robbed/raped/killed by a taxi driver. Only hit on or scared by around 5/10 of them while the rest would often tip themselves by insisting on not giving me the correct change. Only 1/10 cabbies can be considered decent.)
So here’s the thing: with the driver’s photo, name, plate number and car easily traceable, it minimizes the possibilities of the drivers thinking that they can get away with mauling you. Heck, I could send my grandmother off on an Uber ride and be able to see where she’s being taken to, and what routes the driver will be using. I’ve actually cancelled a trip when I noticed a driver going round and round in circles near Makati Medical Center and was taking too long to get to me (I was in Malate, Manila then and the car looked like it was stuck in horrible Makati traffic).
I figured it would be easier for him to just pick up someone who’s also in his area, and it would be easier for me to book another ride from someone who’s in my area. It was as simple as that.
I also managed to post my routes on FB one time. This is a nifty feature because I could post my ride’s status on my family’s FB group privately:
But these things are already common knowledge to those who have read up about Uber or have tried a few rides. There are also some things I learned because the boyfriend likes interviewing drivers. Others, I learned myself. The information from drivers are pretty interesting observations.
10 Things I Learned About Uber (Metro Manila)
1. Filipinos generally rate Uber drivers based on how fast they reach their destination. This simply tells me that we’re used to bumpy rides that very few of us complain about them. Considering how bad the traffic is in the metro? Getting to your destination on time has become a priority.
2. Filipinos are more generous when it comes to rating drivers. Non-locals usually complain if the ride is not smooth enough. I guess this means we’re so used to nasty cab drivers that we’re more forgiving of any other driver as long as we are not mugged. I usually give a 5 if I have a quiet ride or if the boyfriend enjoyed his ride. (He’s happy if there’s candy.)
3. Despite this, some Uber drivers appreciate it when they get feedback about their driving from non-locals. One driver admitted that even though non-locals wouldn’t give him a perfect 5, he at least knew the reason for it and the feedback helped him become more of a defensive driver.
4. Uber seriously needs to add another payment option besides credit card. Whenever I talk to someone who’s ready to book an Uber ride, the excitement over trying the service dissipates when they find out that they need a credit card to sign up.
5. Uber immediately removes “ugaling taxi driver” drivers. (This is the term used by the drivers we interviewed.) Because you don’t bring out cash and your ride is automatically paid by your credit card on their records, some drivers have tried wheedling for cash from riders. Unfortunately, Uber riders chose Uber because they’d take none of that cabbie crap. The moment you complain, the situation is dealt with immediately.
6. Majority of Uber users are women. They were probably sick of the 5 out of 10 cabbies who have hit on them. For the men who think that women are imagining things when they’re being catcalled or picked up, here’s a little demonstration of the difference between small talk and being hit on:
Small talk: Oh, you work at that place! (Asks about the nature of the business.)
Small talk: What subjects do they offer in that school?
Small talk: This move by (insert politician’s name here) isn’t the best, but he’s making do with the cards he was dealt with. (Yes, one of the decent cabbies I’ve encountered actually used these words.)
Creeper talk: Do you have a boyfriend/husband? (If the answer is no, creeper proceeds to sell himself as a possible boyfriend. This is one of the most common types of cabbies, and I’m not the only one who encounters them. Nearly all my female friends do.)
7. That driver rating system is serious business. Apparently, they’re all trying to work towards a 4.5 rating and above. They can’t afford to get a rating as low as 3 stars. There was even one driver that got kicked out of the program because he couldn’t stop ranting about his wife and that resulted in really bad ratings from riders. XD
8. You are also rated as a rider. Makes sense. I guess a system like this should also be able to protect their drivers from abusive riders. I mean, what if you’re the type to point your gun at someone just because you’re pissed? (I’ve met someone like this.)
9. That brouhaha with LTFRB raised the demand for Uber. I noticed this. It had become harder to book rides ever since LTFRB tried to stifle it. I thought it was because they were going to be out of commission, but a couple of drivers admitted that even the areas that never had requests now have requests. I think this is a good thing because LTFRB unwittingly made Uber viral and people are now demanding for other similar services.
10. A few Uber users actually switched from other app-powered taxi services. I can understand this. I don’t like taking out my wallet and foraging for small change, especially when there is a possibility that the cabbie might not even give you change. You can automate taxi-hailing, but the “ugaling taxi driver” is a culture that’s difficult to rehabilitate.
So for those who haven’t tried Uber, you can use my promo code to get yourself a free ride or two upon signing up. My promo code is: uberdocb2014. You can sign up for it at https://www.uber.com. Happy riding!