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I enjoy using Uber, the ever-expanding car service that allows you to use your mobile device to order a town car on demand, estimate cost in real-time, and pay automatically at the end of the ride (gratuity included).
One of my favorite features is being able to estimate cost based on real-time traffic and actual origin to destination distance. This allows me to make informed decisions when I travel to manage costs as I decide between a fixed price car service versus a taxi versus driving myself and parking. I’m used to plugging in my location, climbing in the car, and relaxing.
The other day, I did my usual evaluation after arriving at LaGuardia in New York and Uber appeared to be the easiest option to get into Midtown Manhattan at that time (midday on a weekend) although not the least expensive. After entering our exact destination in the Uber app for an estimate and subsequent car order, we met our driver on the curb, repeated the destination, and took off.
Everything seemed to be going okay although I was uncertain why my driver decided to sit in traffic on a cross street near Grand Central rather than take one of the avenues further up north. I realized why when he attempted to deposit us at the Hilton Midtown on 42nd Street. We had requested the Sheraton New York Times Square (further north between 52nd and 53rd on 7th Avenue). He then tried to take us to a Sheraton family property around the corner. We again repeated the hotel name and then the address – twice.
We finally made it there, but we got a tour of Midtown along the way. Our fare was 25% over the high end of the fare range Uber had originally quoted.
Our driver insisted we had asked for the Hilton Midtown first. What WE think happened was that he was listening to our backseat conversation about various hotels in Manhattan past and present (which definitely included commentary about why we were NOT staying at the Hilton New York where our conference is and the wear and tear at the old Sheraton Midtown) and he either forgot our destination or second-guessed what we’d told him.
So why didn’t the driver just follow what instructions I’d entered when ordering the car?
I researched this – it turns out that Uber does not transmit destination information to drivers even though it’s entered with the car order. So my lesson learned is to always re confirm my destination with the driver – both by name AND address – to be sure we are clear on where we are going.
I did correspond with Christopher at Uber who reviewed the trip and told me that he had “reviewed this trip and although the route could have been different, the fare is within our estimates”.
I’ll definitely be using Uber in the future but I’ll be watching more carefully!
Have you tried Uber and had a similar experience? I’d love to hear about it!
If you have yet to try Uber, feel free to use this special promotion code to get $30 off your first ride – 2jtm6 – (disclaimer: I also receive referral credits with this code)