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Cab Hailing Service Uber Collected Just $9M of Fares During 15 Months In Boston

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the taxi-taxi-proven-more-effective dept.

Transportation 112

curtwoodward writes "Uber, the well-funded startup that hails cabs and black cars with a smartphone app, is a pretty slick way to book a ride. But how competitive is Uber with the traditional, highly regulated cab market? According to results from the startup's move into Boston, not very. Figures released in a court case show that, over 15 months, Uber processed just $9 million in gross fares (the drivers get most of that). Meanwhile, Boston's overall cab industry is pegged at doing about $250 million a year in fares. Despite the publicity, Uber still has a long way to go."

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It seems that (2, Interesting)

arcite (661011) | about a year ago | (#44463889)

Uber is rather pointless. Why would someone go through a 'middle-man' app, thus incurring a surcharge, when they can just reserve with the taxi company direct?

Re:It seems that (4, Insightful)

malzfreund (1729864) | about a year ago | (#44463945)

The cost of the "middle-man" app is tiny. In fact, it may be cheaper to use an app as opposed to having real people answering phone calls. I guess you're right in the sense that taxi companies wouldn't wanna share revenues with another party. But this doesn't make the app intrinsically useless. In fact, taxi companies may well respond with an app of their own (that's what happened in Germany).

Re:It seems that (4, Informative)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44464351)

I'd rather be able to speak to an experienced human on a 'phone when arranging a service than use another shitty automated middle man which can only deal with the simplest cases and which operates on volume rather than quality. There's always a significant cost to automation for the end user - it's just more profitable for the system's owner.

Outsourcing is logically less efficient, because someone else is always taking a cut of pure profit which they wouldn't if you provided a service in-house or cooperatively. Giving a middleman control of the initial sale (cf. Amazon, eBay) is one of the worst ways of permanently guaranteeing that a leech will make sure that you have to do an ever-increasing amount of work while they do very little new on your behalf. It's just not business sense.

One must admit (1, Offtopic)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#44464409)

Using an app makes metadata collection much easier for marketers and the NSA.

Re:It seems that (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#44464915)

And I'd rather deal with an automated service, rather than a minimum wage human who will manage to screw something up even when everything has had to be repeated three times.

And outsourcing isn't "logically less efficient". Economies of scale and specialization kicks in. For example, I outsource my electricity generation to a power company rather than building and running my own electricity generation system in my house. I outsource my food production rather than obtaining enough land (and all the other associated costs) to grow all the food I consume. At my work, we need a fair number of servers that sit in a data center we have outsourced the production of CPUs for those servers to Intel rather than trying to design and build our own chips in our own fabrication plants. Those all work out more efficient for me.

Of course there are a bunch of things for which outsourcing would be a terrible move - but that's not true for all things.

Re:It seems that (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44464955)

And I'd rather deal with an automated service, rather than a minimum wage human who will manage to screw something up even when everything has had to be repeated three times.

Agreed. I just had a screwup for a human-made reservation from the airport. They had me scheduled for the wrong time (PM instead of AM) and then when they fixed that, they entered the wrong MONTH! If I hadn't checked the day-of by calling, I would have had to split our party into several regular cabs. Not the end of the world, but at least with a web form or app I can be pretty sure that if a mistake is made, it is mine.

Re:It seems that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465045)

Wow, how can we tell you're not a programmer? Your faith in a web form is bloody absolute.

Let's just say that any app can make at least as many mistakes as any low paid wage slave. Also what you are referencing is an HR problem, not a problem with humans making the booking in general.

Re:It seems that (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44465291)

HR problem? People make more mistakes than computers. Sure, there are programming errors - but those are likely to affect multiple people and get caught. I wouldn't worry too much about those after a business has been around for a little while.

Re:It seems that (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year ago | (#44466765)

I just booked a pickup truck a uHaul the other day, for an hour or two's work. When I went to pick it up the at location agreed to on the phone, they told me I didn't have any reservation. I told them to look it up using different criteria and they told me, 'oh you booked the truck in Anchorage, Alaska.' I don't live anywhere near Alaska, and the uHaul CSR on the phone was the one who gave me the address in my city where to pick it up.

Re:It seems that (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44465147)

"Outsourcing" - an annoying neologism, I admit - means rather more than "getting someone else to do something for you". Consumers, in particular, do not "outsource".

Economy of scale/specialisation does not kick in by default, and even when it does, that usually justifies only a cooperative effort, not outsourcing to a third party. The third party option is only appropriate to consider when a complex business process needs to be implemented which is already delivered well by an established provider.

Really, geeks didn't have a problem understanding the fallacy of outsourcing only a decade ago. Times have changed.

Re:It seems that (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year ago | (#44465333)

Most people who do use my companies new app like the fact that they can quickly get a cab. They love the fact that they get location updates on their phone of where their cab is in near real time. (Delayed about 2 min.) They really like the fact that they can also call if they do not think the app request went through or if they feel that their cab order is something a bit more complicated than an app can handle. The future is both.

I work in a company that has over 300 cabs leased out. Computer dispatched, GPS tracked, 20 people on the phones that can also take web or app based trips.

You aren't everyone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465011)

Therefore what YOU would prefer is not what everyone else prefers.

Therefore your assertions about the utility of this company are based on a fallacy that everyone thinks like you. The system is worth it to those who want it.

A company or service is not worthless if some people don't want to use it.

Looking at your postings I don't think the problem is you think you're everyone, I think the problem is you're either a cabbie or working for the dispatch.

Gotta be frightened of competition, aintcha.

Re:You aren't everyone. (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44465267)

I am a cabbie/dispatcher in the same way that everyone who says that Windows isn't awful is a Microsoft shill. Sigh.

Re:It seems that (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year ago | (#44466547)

For Christ's sake, you're calling to get a ride from point A to point B in someone else's car. Someone who drives anonymous people (to him or her) from point A to point B for a living, day in and day out. If you have a problem doing that simply, you have a problem.

Do you really think that by talking to someone you'll influence who they send to pick you up? (And we're talking about dispatched taxis, not ones that you hail... hailing is not common in every city or neighbourhood.) The guy at the cab company who answers the phone asks where you are going, then types it into a computer which is transmitted to a computerized display and metering system in a car. Joe Blow, or Abu Immigrantti, or whoever then comes to pick you up. You have no choice in whether you get the one guy in the fleet who takes pride in his car and hygene, or smelling whaterver the driver ate last night and now has coming through his pores, while trying to scrape off whatever the last passenger left on the seat.

The only advantage to a traditional cab company is that if they send a real fucktard, you can go after the cab company, but YRMV on that. Kind of like buying Oracle instead of using PostgreSQL. You can go after Oracle if something fucks up, but good luck with that. (There, since the post is about cars, I had to do a reverse software to car analogy!)

This is a complete paradigm shift (and I use that phrase very infrequently) in how one books a taxi. It disrupts entirely an establised method of dispatcching taxis, potentially leaving one party completely out in the cold. Of course it is slow to be taken up. As well, if it survives, it will definitely need to go through a number of process iterations before ease of use and satisfaction for the customers, the cab drivers, and (possibly) the established companies is acceptable. If it survives. A big question for any new system.

But this is true with every change in the way business is conducted in an esablished ecosystem. I'm sure that some of the same arguments were given when radios were first put in taxis decades ago. Never mind "if man were meant to fly..." Fuck, I remember seing the first tellerless bank I'd seen in Toronto (all ATMs) around 1981 or 1982. I said that would never fly, people want real tellers. Turns out I was half right. We still have tellers but people really like the convenience of ATMs as well. The same could happen here; or not.

Re:It seems that (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#44466631)

This is a complete paradigm shift (and I use that phrase very infrequently) in how one books a taxi. It disrupts entirely an establised method of dispatcching taxis

How so? Uber does not do anything that the local major cab company doesn't do with their smartphone app. As far as I can tell, the only real differences are that Uber uses fancier cars, and charges a lot more (they don't service my city, but their policy is a markup on normal taxi fares).

Assuming cab companies in other cities have similar apps, Uber just seems to be a case of "pay more to get a fancier cab", which isn't a paradigm shift, it's just dramatically restricting your market to people who care about paying more for fancier looking cabs.

Re:It seems that (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year ago | (#44466727)

It you unfamiliar with cab compnies, the bulk of their business in most places is done by calling a person at a dispatching office. This does away with the dispatch office, which is also a significant reporting structure. Leaving a major component out of an established business is a paradigm shift (good thing I proof read sometimes... I keep leaving the 'f' out). Even if the result is the same. But perhaps I'm making the assumption that the server at the end of the Uber smart phone app does the dispatching based on some quasi AI. But if so, it is akin to the 'paperless office'... which is starting to happen now. Except this is the 'peopleless office'.

Re:It seems that (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#44467027)

How is that different than, say, Taxi Diamond, where you enter your order in the smartphone app, it reserves a car, and the address pops up on the GPS screen in the cab?

Perhaps there is a human verifying it (because in the smartphone app you have to wait half a minute or so for it to allocate the driver"), but the user experience is the same. So that's not a paradigm shift, that's a slight change in behind-the-scenes process. At the end of the day, it's not an advantage to the user.

Not pointless at all... (5, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44463983)

Uber is rather pointless. Why would someone go through a 'middle-man' app, thus incurring a surcharge, when they can just reserve with the taxi company direct?

It's kind of pointless to hail a cab with it, if what you care about is cost; instead, you hail a rideshare. This is one part of what has the cab drivers panties in a bunch.

The second part that has their panties in a bunch is that cab drivers are notorious for "closest fare first" behaviour; so if you are outside the downtown area, or off the line between the downtown and the airport, they will leave you hanging and pick up other call-ins before picking you up. Uber and similar apps commit them to picking up the fare as booked, and they find this annoying because they don't get optimum road miles.

A couple of weeks ago, myself and two friends booked a cab to the Inner Sunset in San Francisco; this is a little way out of the way, wince it requires going about 10 blocks off of 19th Avenue, which is the normal cab travel corridor. We had a person standing outside the entire time, and the cab company tried to claim that the cabbie had attempted a pickup and "got tired of waiting". Twice. But in fact, there were no cabs through the pickup intersection, or either of the cross streets to that intersection for the entire time. We were over an hour past our scheduled arrival time to our destination, thanks to the lying cabbies.

This sounds anecdotal, but it is in fact common practice in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, where there are well known "hop-on" and "hop-off" spots, and if you want a cab, you get your but to one of those locations for your best change of getting one; otherwise, you are considered "off route", and the only way you get a cab is if someone isn't busy. This is not cool

Uber and similar services fix this problem by providing more vehicles for scheduling, through including rideshare and towncar services. This cones at the expense of the cabbies not being booked solid, but having had my butt left hanging in the wind by cabbies on multiple occasions, my heart is not bleeding for them in this case.

Re:Not pointless at all... (0, Troll)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44464321)

I've noticed weird trend among the middle classes to feel entitled when it comes to eliciting the services of those who they perceive as lower down in the pecking order.

Being a cabby is obviously a stressful and fairly tedious job (and I speak only as an occasional rider). More importantly, it's a job, not servitude. Of course they're going to prefer to the more profitable routes, and there are going to be some providers more competent than others. And if you were sat for an hour waiting for a single cab company in one place in a city, you were doing it completely wrong.

Re:Not pointless at all... (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44464353)

It's not the servitude, but the lying. "Yes, we'll send someone out."

The reality is "Likely nobody will come, if you walk Z blocks to the corner of X and Y, you'll likely be able to hail a cab." But the dispatchers lie to the caller, causing a loss. That's fraud, and the caller should be able to sue for a harming falsehood being told to them.

Re:Not pointless at all... (0, Flamebait)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44464387)

I sometimes forget I'm on an American site, then I read stuff like, "The caller should be able to sue because the cab company lied about the cab arriving," and I'm reminded again.

Company isn't delivering? Find another. Lodge complaint with regulator. But sue?!

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44464415)

It's a breach of contract. A verbal contract was agreed to. The cab company broke that contract, causing a loss on your part. The only reason the cab companies can do it is that everyone does it, and usually they have a monopoly/oligopoly, so you only have a few other choices, if any.

In the US, if you don't put a dollar amount on the complaint and file it in court, it is ignored, even if you go to the regulators..

Re:Not pointless at all... (0)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44464475)

1) Are you sure that merely calling for a cab obliges both parties? And has this ever been tested in SF?

2) It was not turning up which caused the loss, not the lie about turning up.

3) "Sue them!!!" is still a daft, overkill way to handle the problem of every crap business deciding not to serve you when you haven't even paid them anything yet. Anyway, the taxi company almost certainly won't have an obligation to pay for consequential loss, so good luck with that.

4) If your local (it'll depend on the city, not the country) taxi regulator ignores complaints, deal with the regulator as community - don't inefficiently and selfishly focus on your single loss.

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464699)

Yes, it's a verbal contract. Small claims court is the correct venue for this.

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44464701)

So you're recommending a class action suit?

Like we don't have enough of those.

No there should be something else. Zoning comes to mind. Taxis companies get zones. Maybe the most profitable. Anyone else (ride share, etc) can work outside the zone.

Or complete deregulation.

Re:Not pointless at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465061)

We get it, contracts are meaningless to you. Does your word mean anything or is it "daft" as well?

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about a year ago | (#44464623)

What on earth convinced you that it was a contract with penalities and not just a "best effort" assurance?

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44465151)

Slashdot has become a venue for amateur lawyers and hangers-on. Every so often I return to this site and it has got worse each time.

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44466729)

Have you ever called for a cab? They say "someone will be out there in 10 minutes, will you be outside in the rain waiting for them?" They don't say "Stand on the street corner, and if you aren't killed by a local in the next 30 minutes, there's a 35% chance a taxi of some kind will drive past. Good luck."

Re:Not pointless at all... (3, Informative)

Dambiel (115695) | about a year ago | (#44464489)

American here. Filing suit for a taxi that never showed is a bit much but having been in that position I can understand the anger. Sometimes it's necessary to read "sue" as an American idiom for "Grrrr, I'm really mad and they should have done better."

That said, these crazy new-fangled smartphone app taxi services show me exactly who's coming to pick me up and how far away they are. That's a big step up from "we'll send someone as soon as they're available".

Voting with your dollars (euros, whatever) and putting them towards a better service will ultimately make a big difference. But, wait! Are you going to find another company to provide a taxi or file a complaint with regulators (generally run by livery companies in the US) (it's a problem, we know) while you're waiting for that cab who's taken another fare and won't be coming to pick you up after all?

It's probably best not to think of uber, sidecar, lyft, etcetera as taxi companies. They're providing a marketplace for that kind of service. Folks that don't play nice (cabbies who don't show and customers too drunk to sit without vomiting) get weeded out.

Re:Not pointless at all... (2)

Lakitu (136170) | about a year ago | (#44464661)

you're insane. You think cabbies should be able to sue if you call and then try to cancel? Do you want to pay upfront for taxi service? if it's such a great loss, why don't you pay for livery service?

Taxis have their drawbacks, but their unrealiability in this sense is actually one of their positives -- their desire to stick to the major routes and highly trafficked areas are what contribute to their flexibility, general availability, and cheap service. If car service were restricted to "verbal contracts" which, if broken, would send them to jail or the target of a civil lawsuit, the prices would go through the roof or they would not be in business.

The dispatcher didn't lie to you, by the way. The dispatcher relayed information to you. If you think the taxi driver lied then lodge a complaint and it should be investigated or he should be reprimanded.

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44466707)

if it's such a great loss, why don't you pay for livery service?

From Wikipedia:
A "livery vehicle" remains a legal term of art in the U.S. for a vehicle for hire, such as a taxicab or chauffered limousine,

I'm trying to pay for a livery service. I'm unclear as to what distinction you are making here.

This is the same as if you went to a store to buy a couch, bought one, paid for it, then arranged for them to hold it for you for an hour so you could get a trailer to take it home, and when you rent a trailer for $50 and return to pick it up, they let you know someone else bought it, and they hand you your money back. Trade canceled. All money returned. So you should have no problem with it.

Re:Not pointless at all... (5, Informative)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44464511)

I've noticed weird trend among the middle classes to feel entitled when it comes to eliciting the services of those who they perceive as lower down in the pecking order.

Being a cabby is obviously a stressful and fairly tedious job (and I speak only as an occasional rider). More importantly, it's a job, not servitude. Of course they're going to prefer to the more profitable routes, and there are going to be some providers more competent than others. And if you were sat for an hour waiting for a single cab company in one place in a city, you were doing it completely wrong.

First of all, you're right: it's a job. They should do the job; particularly, they should do the job their dispatcher promised they would do on their behalf. If they have an argument with the dispatcher, that should be their problem, not mine. They're the ones who decided to be affiliated with Luxor instead of Yellow Cab, or Yellow Cab instead of Luxor, or who the heck ever. They have their hack license, and with it, they can pretty much pick what cab company they work for.

Second, I have no problem tipping well when someone has to go out of their way to accommodate me. Sometimes I forget that there are non-Americans on this site, and that most of them don't believe in tipping because they figure the person providing the service is being paid anyway. A cabbie going out of their way like this in America is going to *expect* a tip, where a European cabbie would just say "to heck with it" and pick up the nearest fare, knowing that the extra effort isn't going to be rewarded.

Third, I forgot one of the best things about Uber and similar companies: because they bill by GPS start and end point, you can't be "long hauled". The practice of "long hauling" is where the cabbie takes you on a longer route than necessary to run up the meter. When using GPS start/end points, "long hauling" will cost the cabbie, not you, so it stops the practice rather dead in the water. This is an incredible benefit, if you end up needing a cab at a trade show or conference in an unfamiliar place, since that's when you are most likely to be "long hauled".

Fourth, as far as "doing it wrong", I suppose you are suggesting that I, and my one friend, and my other friend with the walker, go 10 blocks down to 19th street and just hail a passing cab. You have obviously never had a physical disability.

Re:Not pointless at all... (-1, Flamebait)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44464557)

it's a job. They should do the job; particularly, they should do the job their dispatcher promised they would do on their behalf. If they have an argument with the dispatcher, that should be their problem, not mine.

Your beef is with the dispatch company. And it is your problem, evidently. And being able to watch "your" taxi approach with a creepy GPS monitoring device won't guarantee anything per se, will it?

they bill by GPS start and end point

Wow, that's absurd. In a city (particularly an organic one), straight distance between two points is a really unreliable way of assessing journey difficulty, hence cost.

Fourth, as far as "doing it wrong", I suppose you are suggesting that I, and my one friend, and my other friend with the walker, go 10 blocks down to 19th street and just hail a passing cab. You have obviously never had a physical disability.

Wait, did you just play some sort of disability card? I "obviously" don't helplessly wait for 60 minutes beyond the expected arrival time of a single cab, regardless of my health or the health of any of my companions. Although if I have special requirements or am familiar with the town - and I regularly travel with someone with a significant physical disability, so I am familiar with the dickish behaviour that a minority of service providers displays - I already know which companies I can rely on, so this sort of problem is less likely to happen.

Re:Not pointless at all... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464635)

good grief, would please just shut the fuck up? You're such a self-righteous twat.

Re:Not pointless at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465077)

Thank you, someone had to say it.

Re:Not pointless at all... (-1, Troll)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44465215)

Self-righteousness is wanting to a sue a cab company(!!) because you were waiting around for an hour in a big city for a single cab, claiming it's not your problem that you behaved helplessly, wagging your finger at the person furthest from your communication, then waving an irrelevant disability card for good measure.

This thread had well illustrated the worst excesses of entitlement attitude of the American middle-class chair warmer. Thank you for reminding me why America's now living off printed money and Chinese loans. Even if my argument doesn't convince you, maybe evidence will: Uber simply wasn't doing very well in Boston, and the attitude displayed in this thread has caused America to fall on the world economic stage.

Now resume barking... :-)

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

a_mari_usque_ad_mare (1996182) | about a year ago | (#44465709)

No, the ACs are absolutely right. Your posts are vacuous and insulting. You should be modded down so other readers don't waste time on your tantrums.

Re:Not pointless at all... (0)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44465935)

OK, champ, you go sue those taxi drivers and champion the American Entitlement Cause, argument and evidence be damned.

Re:Not pointless at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44467559)

You just don't give up... Shut the fuck up.

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#44464981)

Amusingly enough, we had one particular occurrence happen to us in Milan. I was travelling with my parents at the time and it started raining as we wanted to go to a restaurant nearby, so we decided we'd get the hotel to call a cab in for us. They agreed without issue, but a few minutes later another cab popped up and we asked whether we could just take it, but the hotel said another cab was already on the way and we had to wait. Another solid 10 minutes later and the cab arrives... with around 10 euros on the meter, before we'd even boarded.

So no, European cabs, or at least Milanese cabs, don't expect a tip; they just take it straight off the bat, apparently. We walked in the end.

Re:Not pointless at all... (4, Insightful)

TrekkieGod (627867) | about a year ago | (#44464961)

I've noticed weird trend among the middle classes to feel entitled when it comes to eliciting the services of those who they perceive as lower down in the pecking order.

Lower down in the pecking order? No, no. I absolutely do feel entitled when it comes to eliciting services which are offered for a price, and that I am willing to pay. Why the hell would I not be?

Being a cabby is obviously a stressful and fairly tedious job (and I speak only as an occasional rider). More importantly, it's a job, not servitude.

It's a job for which I am paying them, so they better do it well, with a smile on their face, leaving all their emotional baggage locked up for after they clock out and get to loosen up with their family and friends. It's not because I think they're "lower in the pecking order." It's because there is not a single person on this planet that doesn't have to do the same thing. When my boss tells me to do a tedious job I don't find particularly challenging or entertaining I don't get to say, "you know, I prefer to do something else." That's what I get paid to do, so I do it. When my boss has to deal with clients, he may have just gotten off a huge fight with his wife at home, but he will sure as hell put on a smile and treat them as if they're the most important thing in his life. When the fucking President of the United States meets with other world leaders, he is expected to follow protocol. Monarchs have a public figure they need to maintain...there is nobody, no matter how rich or powerful they are, who doesn't have to do shit they don't want to as part of their jobs.

And if you were sat for an hour waiting for a single cab company in one place in a city, you were doing it completely wrong.

He called a cab company up and asked them to pick him up at a particular time. I've done this and have never had a problem, but if things happened as he described, he most certainly was doing it right, and they disrespected him by wasting his time. It's a service they offer, so they need to do it. If they had told him over the phone, "we're sorry, we don't send cabs to pick people up in your area," that would have been fine. Like you said, it's not servitude and they have the right to decline jobs if they think the money isn't worth it. That said, the moment they agreed to the pickup, they're committed to be there, and to be there on time. He could have been going to an important job interview, and they didn't give him the chance to make alternate plans.

Re:Not pointless at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44466179)

I absolutely do feel entitled when it comes to eliciting services which are offered for a price, and that I am willing to pay. Why the hell would I not be?

I think by "entitled" he means that people expect you to go unreasonably above and beyond the service you're offering for the price you charge without them tipping or offering to pay extra for the extra service.

I work at a quick lube. What we do and what we charge for it are quite clearly stated on a menu board outside before you even drive in. We also have a sign stating that for health reasons, we don't remove roadkill debris or mouse nests and provide the contact info of a company that performs that sort of service. Several times a year, we still get people who think I should be pulling half a deer out of their engine compartment or removing a possibly hantavirus infected mouse nest from their air box without protective gear AND still do their oil change for the same price. Yeah, no.

We also have certain customers who expect us to perform free minor repairs on their vehicle or think we can reset a check engine light or want a free brake inspection despite the fact we have no jacks or even tools to remove the wheels. Yes, we do have people who offer the use of their spare tire jack/tools and say "Well, can't you just do it in the parking lot?"

Re:Not pointless at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465033)

I've noticed weird trend among the upper classes to feel entitled when it comes to eliciting the services of those who they perceive as lower down in the pecking order.

FTFY

It's really all relative, isn't it?

Seriously, were you suggesting that "upper" classes have better banners?

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

SvnLyrBrto (62138) | about a year ago | (#44466051)

> I've noticed weird trend among the middle classes to
> feel entitled when it comes to eliciting the services
> of those who they perceive as lower down in the
> pecking order.

Bull. "Pecking orders" don't enter into it. And trying to make the Uber vs. cabbies issue into some sort of class warfare nonsense is just stupid.

I regularly do business with people *higher* than me on your so-called "pecking order". My doctor, dentist, lawyer, and probably financial planner all come to mind. I still expect all of them to provide the services I pay for.

We're talking about a business arrangement, pure and simple. Cab companies and Uber offer a service in exchange for money. If the company agrees to provide said service at a certain place and time to a customer who is making the arraignment in good faith, the business should be obligated to fulfill their half of the agreement. If a particular pitch-up makes the company less money than another, it should not agree to that pickup in the first place. If it does agree, than tough cookies. Get the car where it's supposed to be when it's supposed to be there. Period. Full stop.

Re:Not pointless at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464785)

The second part that has their panties in a bunch is that cab drivers are notorious for "closest fare first" behaviour; so if you are outside the downtown area, or off the line between the downtown and the airport, they will leave you hanging and pick up other call-ins before picking you up. Uber and similar apps commit them to picking up the fare as booked, and they find this annoying because they don't get optimum road miles.

What are you basing that on?
I live in a rural area about 40 miles SW of DCA and IAD and take a cab back and forth often. I pay an average of $70-100 depending on the traffic in the area which normally totally sucks. I got the impression from just about every cab driver I've had that they really like the longer cab rides better than the short hops and wait method. One of them recently said he made more on my trip then he would have in the next 6 hours, He's going home early today.

Re:Not pointless at all... (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#44466641)

Uber and similar apps commit them to picking up the fare as booked, and they find this annoying because they don't get optimum road miles.

Traditional taxi company apps do this... You place your order in the app, it reserves a cab for you (by number), and you watch him drive to you. How is Uber's booking any different?

Re:It seems that (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#44464057)

Visa/Mastercard is rather pointless. Why would someone go through a 'middle-man' method, thus incurring a surcharge, when they can just pay the company with cash?

There are many good reasons for going through a middleman and add charges. And each case is different. Most of the time what you pay for is convenience.

Whether this is something you would want depends on situation and person. Having the option is good. Many people buy a computer a a whole. I like to buy it in pieces.

Others take up credit on their card, while it would be much cheaper to ask money directly from the bank. Why would they do that? because it is easy. People like to pay for easy. People pay a LOT for easy.

Pressing a button to get a cab is easier then actually calling and there are apparently enough people willing to pay for that.

Re:It seems that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464169)

cause you also secure a ride, rather than begging on the street

Re:It seems that (0)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44464427)

Dunno about you, but using my card gives me up to 56 day interest free credit, generous cashback, and statutory and/or provider purchase protection. I find maintaining a credit card to be more hassle and more intrusive than just using cash, but the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks. To implicitly pay the 1-2% credit card surcharge just because it's convenient would be absurd.

Re:It seems that (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#44464909)

So you get 56 days interest free credit. That is nice. However the store needs to include its price, so it will make the same amount of money. The customer pays that cost.

Put it in another way. Creditcard companies make money. That money has to come from somewhere. The customer pays that profit.

Credit card companies make money on two fronts.
1) The swipe fees.
2) People taking up the credit

read some about swipe fees for some prices.

See how many purchases you do with a card per month. Each purchase costs 21 cents (used to be 44). How much money are you talking about?
Now take the money and see how much extra interest you would have made.

I am pretty sure that you pay more in swipe fees than you would receive in interest of that money.

Re:It seems that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465235)

Except that there are no explicit 'swipe fees' when using cards as credit. I assume you mean debit cards? If you mean the fees that the card companies charge retailers/merchants, those are likely being 'passed on' to customers, but very few retailers offer a discounted price to those *not* using a card... so the folks using cash only gain the anonymity benefit of cash.

Re:It seems that (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44465253)

1) 1% (min.) cashback plus up to 56 days interest-free is comparable to what large outlets pay in merchant fees;
2) Anyway, I rarely get a discount for not paying by credit card;
3) In the EU, at least, where card usage is more common, cash handling fees may be significant;
4) There is no unform fixed fee per credit card transaction here - it depends on your bank, volume, specific negotiations for larger stores, etc. - for small stores, I'll ask what they prefer;
5) For nontrivial items, the card provider is jointly liable in law with the seller for satisfactory service performance/quality of goods. How smoothly this guarantee is applied depends on the quality of your bank, but for me, it's meant that I've never had a seller successfully defraud me.

Re:It seems that (1)

Teun (17872) | about a year ago | (#44466583)

Card usage may be common in parts of the EU but it's typically Debit Cards.

Like here in The Netherlands it's hard to find a regular store that would accept a credit card because of the 3-4% charges they would incur.
There even are a few stores that will not accept cash because the handling of and security for having cash is costing more than the easy transfer from a debit card.

Over here you need to be exceptionally dumb to not pay off credit on your credit card by month's end, the interest is criminal so the contract usually specifies an automatic transfer at months' end from your bank to the card company.

Re:It seems that (4, Informative)

platykurtic (1210910) | about a year ago | (#44464059)

Uber's app makes the taxi process at lot nicer than anything the taxi process has come up with. With a taxi you're still usually calling and talking to a real person. Then maybe they dispatch a cab, and if you're lucky they find you and not someone else. More likely you stand there unsure about whether to keep trying to hail cabs or keep waiting for the one you called. With Uber, you have a map of all the cards in your area and an estimated arrival time. When you reserve one, you have a car devoted to picking you up; they won't stop for anyone else. You can watch them via gps so you know what's going on. The payment goes through your credit cards so there's no fiddling with change. Uber also has nicer cars and UberX costs about the same as a cab, although how sustainable that is is up for debate, since they may be skimping on insurance. The laws here are still being worked out. Of course, this is the situation in SF, where taxis suck. As you'd think, Uber isn't catching on as well in places where the taxi service is better.

Re: It seems that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464241)

Talk to a real person, how inconvinient!

Re: It seems that (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44464359)

It is when the real person lies to you to get you off the phone, but doesn't provide the service promised.

Why the strawman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464621)

No, the parent did not claim it was inconvenient.

They claimed that if you have to talk to a real person, YOU HAVE TO TALK TO A REAL PERSON.

With this app, YOU DON'T HAVE TO.

Why the hell should I talk to a third person when I can just wait to get in a cab DRIVEN BY A REAL PERSON? So I don't have to talk to the cabbie? How inconvenent!

Re:It seems that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464195)

Oh, for crying out loud...

Quick: what's the nearest cab available to pick you up? Do you know? Can you guess what cab company it's affiliated with, so that you call the right dispatcher?

Re:It seems that (3, Informative)

Dambiel (115695) | about a year ago | (#44464347)

1) Currently in San Francisco uberX (their lower-cost, non-town-car service) is cheaper than a yellow cab and, unless you live at a Caltrain or BART station, far easier to find.

2) If you were to reserve a ride with a cab company directly there's very little accountability for how long it will take to get a pick-up. All of these apps let you to see where your driver is while en-route and allow you to give feedback regarding the level of service received.

That adds a lot of value for me on top of the fact that I don't have to wait on hold.

Re:It seems that (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#44466649)

All of these apps let you to see where your driver is while en-route

So do regular taxi cab apps from the taxi company. If uberX is cheaper, that's all well and good, but if they're not, doing the same thing as a normal taxi company isn't an advantage.

Re:It seems that (2)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#44464483)

because reserving with a taxi is often a pain in the ass, you have no idea where the cabs are and/or if you're going to be waiting if you're in a hurry, and you want to guarantee that you can pay by credit card without getting weird hassling from taxicab shenanigans. That's 3 things off the top of my head.

there are plenty of valid reasons.

Re: It seems that (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44464591)

NYC it is
Cabbies don't want to take you outside of manhattan or anywhere there won't be a return fare

Ãoeber won't solve that problem

Re: It seems that (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about a year ago | (#44464645)

And unicode, that's a problem Slashdot won't solve...

Re:It seems that (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464595)

Uber is rather pointless. Why would someone go through a 'middle-man' app, thus incurring a surcharge, when they can just reserve with the taxi company direct?

Those calling Uber "pointless" have never lived in a city with poor cab service.

In Washington, DC, for example, I use Uber over cabs many times (even to hail a Uber-participating cab than a black care). The cabs in DC are notoriously bad- they won't take you to certain neighborhoods, will refuse service if you're black, may not show up if you call ahead for an early morning airport run, drive around in circles to inflate the fare, and don't take credit cards and may not have change. One time, I had a cab drive urinate into a styrofoam cup as he was driving, and the DC Taxicab Commission didn't care.

I know several people of color who use Uber because street hail cabs refuse them service. I know others who need to mak sure they get to the airport early in the morning, and regular cabs no-show. And, competing app-enabled services (like TaxiMagic) have the same issues as standard DC cabs, as they simply integrate into existing taxi dispatch systems (TaxiMagic, for example, ties into Yellow Cab, which is awfully unreliable here, at least in my experience). You get the idea.

So, Uber is far from pointless- when I use them, I know that I'm guaranteed friendly, reliable service that will get me to my destination safely.
Sure, that should be the case with the larger cab system, but that simply isn't the case in DC. Plus, if there's any issue (and there rarely is), Uber will make it right and even removes drivers for a history of poor performance.

In most cases, there is no non-middle-man. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464611)

Because each cabbie is a franchise operation and the people you call up to book ARE the middle-man.

Re:It seems that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464745)

I actually use the service regularly. The app tells me how far away their various cars are from my location and is generally pretty accurate. I've never had to wait more than 15 minutes.

All the taxi companies I've scheduled a ride with tell me around 45 minutes, and the range of times I have been actually picked up is 15 minutes to an hour to not getting picked up at all. Scheduling cab service around here is a completely unreliable.

There are a of other benefits as well:

1. I don't have to use cash. The app charges my credit card directly. Added bonus is I don't have to deal with cab drivers getting pissed off about me paying with a credit card if I don't have cash. (Happens almost every time)

2. The cars are from car services and are generally Towncars/Cadillacs or nice a newer SUV. I don't have to gamble on being in a old Crown Vic with 300,000 miles that smells terrible.

If I walk out of a building and see a cab, or know I'm in an area where I will be seeing one shortly I will take the cab because it is cheaper. However, if I'm somewhere there's any question the ~30% increase in costs ends up being worth it in my view.

Re:It seems that (2)

Zebra_X (13249) | about a year ago | (#44464829)

Uber is rather awesome, actually.

#1 - No money exchanges hands.

Boston cabbies are some of the rudest businessmen on the planet. Many times they pretend their card readers don't work or make their customers feel awkward for paying by credit. It is extremely frustrating and in today's world of connectedness there is no excuse for not being more "normal" in handling everyday business transactions. Outside of Boston many cabbies don't take cards at all (despite having a card reader in the cab). Personally, I don't carry cash and it is a bit of a hassle to "prepare" for a taxi ride.

If you ask a cabbie about this they will tell you that the cab company (the middle man you don't see) takes some 5-10% of their fare if you use a card.

#2 - Definite pickup time.

Calling a cab in Boston is a bit of a crap shoot. You call a dispatcher and you are told a cab is on its way and usually given a time estimate. The estimate is likely provided by a magic 8 ball based on actual vs. estimated.

#3 - Driver phone number.

Not provided by a traditional cab service as far as I know - Uber connects you directly with the driver. This is very helpful when trying to coordinate a street side pickup.

#4 - Professional

Some will value this more than others but all of the drivers are very professional.

I am in no way affiliated with Uber. I am just a pleased customer who is happy to finally have a reasonable alternative to the terrible Boston cab services.

Re:It seems that (1)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#44465007)

If you ask a cabbie about this they will tell you that the cab company (the middle man you don't see) takes some 5-10% of their fare if you use a card.

The Boston taxi rates were raised a few years ago specifically to cover credit card fees and drivers still will bullshit you about their card readers being broken.

why? because it works. (1)

jdanilso (128963) | about a year ago | (#44465059)

uber. use app. get information on when your ride is coming and where it is now. There is no haggle over price, no need to have cash, and no decision on a tip amount. Overall experience: A

taxi. call. wait. no further information available. Some take credit cards, others not. There's always an issue of how much to tip. Many drivers spend the whole ride on the telephone even when asked not to. Overall experience: D-

In my area, taxi service is poor. I've waited up to 45 minutes for a cab. I've never waited more than 15 minutes for uber. Taxis could duplicate or better uber but they chose not to because they are protected (in my area) and have no incentive to spend any money on improving the customer's experience. (Recently it has taken a contentious law just to get taxis to accept credit cards.)

Re:It seems that (1)

SvnLyrBrto (62138) | about a year ago | (#44465961)

People use and like Uber because taxis are just so bloody awful. Reserving or summoning a cab by calling the cab's dispatch number is a crapshoot at best, and more often an exercise in futility. And if/when a taxi will deign to pick you up, as often as not the cab will stink of vomit or cigarette smoke. One cab company here even has a bed bug infestation in its cabs recently.

I don't use Uber often. I try to plan things out so Muni will suffice. But when I do, the Uber car I summon shows up when and where it's scheduled to do so. They're clean and well-maintained, and generally better cars in the first place. The drivers are courteous, well-mannered, and well-dressed. And since all payment is handles through the app; they never try the "my credit card reader is out of order, cash only" scam.

Yes, it's more expensive. But Uber offers a vastly superior service that's well worth the extra monet.

Unacceptable (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44463893)

Why aren't they making billions immediately? This is an outrage!

Re:Unacceptable (5, Insightful)

saihung (19097) | about a year ago | (#44463987)

A company comes out of nowhere to take 3% of a major market and that's "not much." Gotta love it.

Re:Unacceptable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464183)

And since when was $9M not much?

Re:Unacceptable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464377)

And note they talk about income, not services. Say a cabbie takes advantage of riders and charges more...he makes more.

Re:Unacceptable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464987)

There are price controls in regular cabs in Boston, you can't charge whatever you want, you have to charge the government mandated fees.

Tried it here in Australia (2)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about a year ago | (#44463895)

And it was $75 to go a distance I'd previously been in a taxi for $35... it was a nicer ride, but way too expensive to use regularly.

Re:Tried it here in Australia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464173)

that's cause you are a hillbilly, if it takes you nearly 100 bucks to regularly go places you should just save up and get a beater car that actually functions

Re:Tried it here in Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464343)

I wish I could remember my account and get modpoints to add flaimbait / troll to you. Ah well, going back on topic you're right crafty munchkin. Taxi fairs are way too high in some countries. Pay $4 to get across town which may take about 45mins to an hour in Manila but doing that in LA will cost you $200. The cost of gas is generally more expensive outside of the US so I don't really get why taxis cost so damn much. If they made themselves available at a much cheaper price I could guarantee you a lot more people would take a taxi for commute. I'd mention bussed but the US knows nothing about how to properly manage those. Toronto on the other hand knows a thing or two and if you try to get around Manila, you're going to either take a taxi or a bus. Using a car there is borderline suicidal.

Re: Tried it here in Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464503)

The overhead of offering a taxi service in the US is very high.

Obtaining a medallion in most major cities is near impossible even if you have the upwards of $375K - $1M cost covered. This model serves to limit the total number of taxis operating in a given city and it us nearly impossible to change the total number allowed.

Additional overhead includes strict insurance requirements and maintenance of vehicles that meet us environmental standards.

Add to that the fact that cab drivers require a living wage... Cost of living in LA is just a bit higher than manilla.

Explain (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#44463921)

I either drive my car, take a bus, or schedule a pickup using the cab service website. About the only time when I do an impromptu taxi ride, it is fixed rate downtown and the taxis are everywhere.

So what is the advantage of a hailing program for a phone? Is it like the food delivery service for outlets that don't have delivery? I suppose that might be useful in some areas, but I just walk down a few blocks and get the food.

This really seems like the tech bubble all over again when a sock puppet was going to make us all rich. There are some really good ideas out there that will generate profit, but even Amazon is only making $130 million on $13 billion in sales, or about 1% profit, so making money online is not trivial and we are no longer the innocents we were in the 90s, so we can't pretend it is.

Re:Explain (1)

arcite (661011) | about a year ago | (#44463999)

The funny thing is, the Taxi companies could easily implement their own Apps to automate the cab hiring process, perhaps some are doing this already.

Re:Explain (1)

JavaTHut (9877) | about a year ago | (#44464033)

The funny thing is, the Taxi companies could easily implement their own Apps to automate the cab hiring process, perhaps some are doing this already.

www.flywheel.com [flywheel.com]

Re:Explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464599)

The funny thing is, the Taxi companies could easily implement their own Apps to automate the cab hiring process, perhaps some are doing this already.

The whole point of using Uber is to avoid the crappy service offered by traditional cab companies.

Re:Explain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464031)

Here in Sweden Uber is great. They are actually cheaper than all the other cabs in the nighttime. But more expensive in the daytime. But what's great about it here is that you don't need to pay in the taxi. Either you provide your creditcard info in the app or they will send you an invoice later. Sure paying in the cab isn't a real hassle but it's still a nice thing not having to do it.

Also if you're travelling with friends that also have the Uber-app the bill is split among you automatically.

Re:Explain (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44464171)

benefit 1: you don't need to talk to call center people.

of course it has less point if you can just walk outside and you have a taxi spot right there, but that is rarely the case.

Re:Explain (3, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44464331)

I either drive my car, take a bus, or schedule a pickup using the cab service website. About the only time when I do an impromptu taxi ride, it is fixed rate downtown and the taxis are everywhere.
So what is the advantage of a hailing program for a phone? Is it like the food delivery service for outlets that don't have delivery? I suppose that might be useful in some areas, but I just walk down a few blocks and get the food.

A number of places are hard to find cabs unless you are on the right street. It's even hard to get them to come by phone. If you call in a ride too short, but are too far off the beaten path, you'll not get a cab out, and any complaints will be met with complaints you weren't at the pickup site. But this service guarantees pickup. That's a greater value than calling in a pickup. I've personally been stranded more than once. I wasn't far off the beaten path for one, so I stopped calling in from that location, and instead walk to a nearby hotel, where there is always someone waiting. But with this, if it covered where I live now, I'd use it for all trips in that area.

Re:Explain (1)

Dambiel (115695) | about a year ago | (#44464421)

Amazon's is hardly a comparable business model so we'll look past that straw man. Uber is already profitable in most cities so, as a business, it kinda makes sense.

Don't know where you're from but having recently moved to San Francisco from Boston it's not very likely in either city that you'd be able to hail a cab on the street save for at major transit stations. The value of this kind of service is to get a ride quickly, easily, and with a reasonable expectation for the level of service provided. Here in SF it's cheaper to use uberX (their not-a-black-towncar service) than a taxi for anything more than a couple blocks. Sure, Manhattanites south of 110th can live their whole lives without considering Uber but I've found it quite useful.

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first mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464541)

Introducing transportation innovation in Boston is a complete lost cause. Driving here is like a bad knock knock joke that you hear every day. Just substitute knock knock with a friendly phrase also consisting of two one syllable words.

Regulated cab services? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year ago | (#44464545)

How hard is the regulation? Is there room for competition?

If the regulation prohibits competition then that's the real problem.

Re:Regulated cab services? (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about a year ago | (#44464663)

As Tom Slee pointed out: There isn't one big taxi cartel controlling regulation from Aberdeen to San Fransisco. Taxi companies, like B&B (which Airbnb plays Uber's role for) are typically small scale operations.

Yet everywhere, from Aberdeen to San Fransisco, Taxi services and hosting services are regulated. Why is that? If it was just regulatory capture, don't you suppose there would be ONE municipality somewhere where it wasn't regulated, where it worked great, to serve as a beacon for would-be deregulators everywhere? Or maybe there are reasons for all this cumbersome regulation.

Good news for Uber (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464565)

The incumbents suck and they're not going to change, so Uber has all the time in the world to take their business away. Their biggest risk is regulatory, where your friend big government decides to protect you from your freedom to choose.

Better than WP8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465029)

That's a better marketshare than Windows Phone has after 3 years from a huge company.

Drunk Apping (1)

Guru80 (1579277) | about a year ago | (#44465043)

Since the only time I am hailing a cab is if I'm smashed, based on past experiences the last thing I should be doing then is using an App on a smartphone.

I've used it and I like it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465241)

I've used the app a few times in Atlanta. I loved it. Basically, you just pop on where you want to go and where you are, it gives you the cost and hails a black car, telling you how long it'll take the car to arrive. For drunken transport, it's fantastic. Your results may vary, but I've got nothing but good to say about it.

explain this to me (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44465537)

I'm from Wisconsin and I visited LA a bit ago. I soooo wanted to hail a cab but nope, someone told me that's illegal. WTF?! They said too many cabbies are getting robbed. Whaaaaat? So instead you call them from any untraceable or spoofed number, tell them to meet you in a more opportune dark side alley in a bad neighborhood for a pickup, and then definitely don't rob them. What kind of idiot made that law that now makes us use services like Uber? I'm glad I live in a 100,000 person city. Okay, so we still have cabs but you call on the phone for them just because they're not just driving around.
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