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[personal profile] katekat
I don't know if any of you are into alternative modes of transportation that have arisen in the last couple of years, but if you live in LA like me, they pretty much have transformed the landscape. It used to be if I wanted to use a cab I had to call multiple times for one and it was pretty even odds that a cab wouldn't come. Even with multiple calls to the cab company to get multiple drivers. The rumor was that was there just wasn't enough money in giving rides to people throughout the city - if they weren't downtown or at a major hotel, or at the airport, then taxi drivers just couldn't make enough money picking people up. I remember one visit of my mom's where we called the night before to arrange transport from my house to the train station, and even *they* didn't show up and we had to call another transport to get her to where she was going. Luckily I knew the drill and called the second driver an hour before she needed to leave, so when they said they'd be here in 15 minutes and took 30, she still had time to get to where she was going.

So yay for Uber and Lyft!

They came into town and changed everything. I now have a totally different vocabulary for getting places, that's for sure. And when I'm out at a bar with friends I'm a million times more likely to make a safe choice and have someone else drive to and from. One of my best friends lives in a neighborhood with NO parking (I spent like half an hour last time I drove looking for parking), and now I happily don't worry about it. I've gone to over crowded events and happily paid slightly more than I would have on parking just so the headache of parking lot traffic-jams are entirely eliminated. I've known women who left their purses at their house and just had their phones and they can get a safe ride away from all kinds of places and parties. And the drivers I've talked to have pretty much been pleasant people - most are drivers for both companies, most mention trying to make ends meet as their primary motivation for driving, though a couple have been philosophically out driving around because they like getting out of the house.

So yay for Uber and Lyft!?

At first I was hesitant about putting my information into the app. But the ability to use the service trumped over the fear that my credit card will be misused. I did, however, end up deleting my Uber app and using Lyft exclusively based on a variety of things:

  • most of my friends used Uber and I wanted to be different

  • it seemed somehow as if Uber!exclusive drivers were a little bit more snotty, their cars less working-class

  • I heard more horror stories about Uber drivers abusing passengers than Lyft drivers

  • I'd talked to several drivers who did both services and *they* preferred Lyft because Uber took more money out of fares, had worse customer service, and often cut drivers' fares to offer discounts.

  • Also those same drivers (multiple ones) have also said that Uber doesn't help with insurance or maintenance, whereas Lyft does help a little and does offer insurance drivers can buy.

  • i liked the goofy mustaches (though those aren't really around much anymore)



Additionally it's clear that the companies themselves are troublesome. They don't scale well, and yet they've scaled rapidly almost world wide. They take business from regular cab companies in other cities (in LA honestly because the services offered by cab companies were so bad I don't feel as guilty about that). There are myriad charges against individual drivers and the larger companies don't offer resolution or oversight. Passengers are left entirely out in the cold at times.


I wrote all that so I could get to this.

Here's a horror story of someone who, because she refuses to accept technology, got completely shafted. Here's a horror story that I don't quite know the moral lesson to.

My ex-housemate from Japan (remember her? I'll try to tag this post appropriately if you don't) is someone who eschews mobile technologies. She's very frugal so I think she doesn't have a smart phone so that she can save money. She also pretty much refuses to text people. It's been a source of irritation for others of our friends just because that is an easy way to communicate that's pretty ubiquitous. I haven't talked to her about it, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't have a texting plan.

So she went to a conference on the east coast a couple of weeks ago, and she had to get a ride back to the airport. Apparently the public transit system was on the fritz due to a storm. The taxi line was really long. An Uber guy pulled up alongside the taxi stand and she decided to take it.

However, because she doesn't have the app on her phone, she gave her credit card to the driver, who said he could input her card into his phone - it would charge her for the amount they drove.

What was supposed to be a $50 charge (long drive to the airport) turned into a $300 charge.

That's right - $300.

And because she gave her card to the driver, she didn't even get a receipt for the transaction (all of these apps email you receipts in-app). Her bank won't let her fight it, because she can't show a receipt. She's probably going to be out $300 because she didn't use the service in the way it was intended. And because she took a risk going with a driver who then bilked her out of money (oh, and the charge to her card is UberBlack - their limo service... so she may have gotten ripped off because that WAS the charge for the service, not the $50 the driver told her).

Crazypants huh? I think so too.

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