What The Uber?! Uber Tricks Riders with Phantom Cars

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If you are an avid Uber user, then you know the wonderful feeling you get when you turn on your app to hail a ride and notice a slew of Uber cars sitting right near your location. You click the button to order an Uber knowing the wait time shouldn’t be more than a couple of minutes, yet when your phone alerts you that an Uber driver is on their way you notice that the wait time is now 15 minutes! Why would a driver so far away pick up your request and not one of the many drivers sitting on your street?

According to Motherboard, those cars that appear to be sitting right on your street are in fact “phantom cars”; fake cars placed in the app by Uber in an attempt to get more riders to request rides. Motherboard explained it like this, “If a potential passenger opened up the app and saw no cars around, she might take another cab service. But if she saw a cluster of cars seemingly milling around on the same street, she’s more likely to request a ride.” When Uber spokespersons were confronted about the phantom car issue their answers ranged from “the number of cars and their location are generally accurate” to “the app is simply showing there are partners on the road at the time”. It seems as though Uber is choosing to be sly (real shocker, we know!) about their phantom car secret.

Have you ever experienced Uber’s “ghost cars” or “phantom cars”? Tell us your stories below!

If you have a What The Uber moment or want to share a What The Uber story please email [email protected] or use the hashtag #WhatTheUber to get your story featured and shared on our social media!

Just How Far Is Your Uber Driver Willing To Take You?

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Most Uber passengers love the convenience and low cost of calling an Uber.  But many may be unfamiliar with a lot of the company’s policies.  Drivers on the other hand, have to stay on top of the changing landscape in order to protect themselves: whether it’s new rules regarding insurance requirements or issues with airport drop-offs, change is the only constant in this industry.

So passengers actually have it pretty easy when it comes to calling and paying for an Uber ride.  And that’s exactly how Uber wants it: their goal is a frictionless experience for passengers that allows seamless transportation from point A to point B.  That’s why you can enter your destination ahead of time, choose a Spotify playlist and rate the driver at your convenience.

Do Drivers Prefer Longer Or Shorter Rides?

According to Sherpashare, a company that sources ride data and provides driver analytics, the average Uber ride is 5.41 miles.  Sherpashare co-founder, Ryder Pearce, says “Drivers like longer rides to break up the monotony of city driving and mentally, it’s a huge boost to get a larger fare from time to time”.

Drivers actually make more money too on longer rides but since there’s no way to control the destination, they could be forced to do a return trip empty handed.  There are some features like Lyft Line’s destination filter (and Sidecar’s drop-off radius) that allows drivers to target riders headed in the same general direction as them but those features haven’t really caught on yet.

Most drivers that I talked to still prefer long rides over short ones though and for some reasons you might not expect.  Bradley Zane, a driver out of Dallas, Texas, told me that, “I prefer long trips, but not to the extent that I would lower myself to the cab driver mentality where I would refuse short trips. It is the nature of the business that some rides will be long and some will be short and the law of large numbers will shake it out.”

Sam Rubin, a driver out of Park City, Utah, also noted that, “Since most of my rides are 35 miles+ to the airport, I have close to 45 minutes to chat with my passengers. I greatly enjoy the time to learn about their career, family, visit, which restaurants they dined at, etc. And as someone that also owns a sales focused business, I feel this is great time to further practice the art of selling.”

One common complaint from drivers was that Uber’s cut can actually be as high as 40% on a $4 minimum fare (instead of the advertised 20%).  Zane stated, “there is a much higher cost for shorter trips that earn as little as $2.40 (after Trust & Safety fee and the TNC cut) in the Dallas market.”

Zane is referring to the fact that after the $1 safe ride fee and 20% Uber cut is taken out, drivers only end up with $2.40 from a minimum fare of $4.  That seemed to be a common gripe amongst the drivers I talked to.

How Far Is Too Far?

So while drivers seem to overwhelmingly prefer longer rides, is there a limit to how far your Uber driver will take you?  According to Uber’s company policy, there isn’t.  An Uber representative that I spoke with let me know that drivers are free to drop off in any state as long as the trip originates in the driver’s home market.  Some drivers in San Diego have even gotten special approval and licensing from Uber to make trips across the border down into Mexico.

Uber competitor Lyft, on the other hand, has instituted a 100 mile limit on all rides and re-requesting a ride with the same driver won’t work if you travel outside of a driver’s home market.  But even though Uber’s company policy dictates that there is no maximum distance limit for rides, drivers always reserve the right to cancel a ride if for example, they don’t want to drive to another state.

The longest such request/ride that I could find was given by a driver named Joe Strandell who picked up a woman in Santa Barbara, California and took her all the way up to Palo Alto, California.  That trip was 320 miles, took just over 5 hours and totaled a whopping $658.45.

When Joe’s navigation loaded, he was shocked to see the destination but he was up for an adventure regardless.  ”I had this epiphany while I was driving and just thought how cool it was to be getting paid to do a California road trip.  I was lucky to be a part of it”.

Not every driver will share Joe’s enthusiasm for a 320 mile Uber ride though.  Joe recommends “If you plan on calling an Uber anytime soon to take you on a cross-country journey, just make sure you give them a heads up so they can bring a change of clothes.”

 

About Harry Campbell, The RideShare Guy

Hello TFF Readers, my name is Harry Campbell and I run a blog for rideshare drivers called The Rideshare Guy and I also write about the on demand economy for Forbes.  I’ll be sharing articles from time to time on what’s going on in the world of rideshare and what you need to know as a passenger whether you enjoy taxis, rideshare or all of the above!

 

This post was originally posted on Forbes.com

Fun Ways to use Rideshares

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Rideshare companies like Uber are commonly used as a convenient way for people to get from point A to point B, but as of recently, they are good for so much more! With many small rideshare companies emerging, and opposition getting stronger from taxi companies, popular ride hailing services are using their creativity to stand out from the rest!

Uber is the largest and most popular rideshare service available, and in the past year they have come up with some really cool ideas to offer users a unique riding experience.

During finals time, Uber introduced UberSTUDY, which partnered with Insomnia Cookies in Georgia. All you had to do was request the Uber and a driver would provide you with warm cookies, and milk to go with them! Because who likes cookies without milk? And the best part—the study package was free for people in the area!

Another popular offering that Uber launched was UberPUPPIES. They partnered with animal shelters in 10 cities across the United States and allowed users to request a visit from a furry friend! The 15 minute play time cost only $30 and the proceeds were donated to the animal welfare organization. And to make it even more exciting—most of the puppies were up for adoption, too!

More recently, just a few days ago Uber announced UberICECREAM where customers could order ice cream for themselves and their friends on demand! When connected, people were delivered 5 frozen treats from J.P. Licks for only $25. What an awesome way to cool off during the hot weather!

One service from Uber that is available year round during meal service hours in 5 major cities is UberEATS. Users can go to their app and tap VIEW MENU, and then place the order of what they want to eat, and their meal will be delivered to them curbside in a short time.

There are also other services besides Uber that offer passengers something different—including companies such as KangaDo, Shuddle, and HopSkipDrive, which all were created just for kids! They provide ways for parents to shuttle their children from one place to another, and they have become a big hit for those busy soccer moms around the world.

All of these unique offerings made the rideshare companies stand out, and gave customers a unique and unforgettable experience in the meantime!

Felicia is an intern at Unleashed, LLC. She is from upstate NY, and is currently pursuing a Marketing degree at Bentley University. One day she hopes to travel the world and visit every continent.

 

 

 

 

Animal Taxi Monday 7.27.15

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The frog would get to where he is going a lot faster if he wasn’t taking a “Snail Taxi”! ‪#‎AnimalTaxiMonday

Click here to view all of our Animal Taxi Monday pictures.

Paris, France – Tips on Taking a Taxi

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Hailing a Taxi

When hailing a taxi in Paris, France you will almost always want to go to a taxi stand or a major transportation hub. Many taxis in Paris line up at these popular places instead of picking passengers up off the streets. Some of the most popular places where taxis are known to congregate are near the Louvre at the Place Andre Malraux, near the intersection of rue de Rivoli and Avenue de l’Opera, Gare du Nord, Gare de L’Est, Gare du Montparnasse, Gare d’Austerlitz or Gare St Lazare.

If you are unable to make it to a popular taxi stand and are looking to hail a taxi from the side of the street there are a few things that will be helpful for you to know.

  • Taxis in Paris have lights on their roofs that indicate whether they are available. If the light is green the taxi is available, if the light is red the taxi is occupied, and if the light is off it means the taxi is either off duty or already on their way to pick up a reserved fare.
  • Licensed taxis have a sign saying “Taxis Parisiens” on them; make sure you only get in a licensed taxi!
  • Unlike the standard yellow taxi of NYC, taxis in Paris don’t have a common color or make so you will have to recognize the taxi by the sign and light on top of the car.
  • Taxi drivers are not allowed to pick you up if you are within 50m of a taxi stand or if they would have to stop in a bus lane to collect you.

Main Paris Taxi Services:

Paris Taxi: http://www.paristaxi.fr

City Cab Paris: http://www.citycabparis.com

Les taxis bleus: http://www.taxis-bleus.com

Taxis G7: http://www.taxisg7.fr/index.php

Rates

All taxis apply the same rates, which vary according to time and day of week. There is always a starting charge of 2.40 euros and a minimum fare of 6.40 euros. See the chart below to determine when certain rates are applied.

*Note: All Taxis have three smaller lights below their big red/green light. These three smaller lights are there to indicate what rate is currently being charged. Each light is labeled with either A, B, or C to easily identify the current rate.

Surcharges

  • If you reserve a taxi in advance, you will have to pay a reservation and pickup fee on top of the fare itself. Also be aware that when you book a taxi by phone, many taxi companies will start the meter the moment the taxi leaves to come get you, so when the taxi arrives, the meter will show more than the minimum charge.
  • Expect a 1.00 € surcharge for each piece of luggage and/or bulky items
  • After the 4th person expect a 3.00 € charge per person

FAQs

How many taxis are there in Paris?

  • There are about 15,000 taxis in the city of Paris.

Do you tip the Taxi Driver in Paris?

  • Tipping is not the custom nor is it expected in Paris. The driver is not working for tips so you do not need to feel as if you should tip, however, rounding up a euro or two is not uncommon and it is generally appreciated by a good taxi driver

Can you pay your fare using a credit card?

  • The use of credit cards is not common in taxis in Paris, it is always best to have cash with you! Check is also seldom accepted.

Can you smoke in the taxis in Paris?

  • You can smoke in Paris taxis that don’t have a non-smoking sign. The driver, on the other hand, can only smoke if you give your permission.

Taxi from Airports to Paris

There are two main airports near the city of Paris, the Orly Airport and the Charles de Gaulle Airport. Both of these airports have signs and icons starting from your arrival terminal that will point you in the direction of the taxi stands.A trip from Orly Airport to the city center will cost you anywhere from about 30-40 Euros depending on the time of day and day of week.  A trip from the Charles de Gaulle Airport will cost you a little bit more, around 40-50 Euros for a trip to the city center. Since the rates in Paris change depending on the day of week and time it is always a good idea to ask the taxi driver for the average fare from your point of departure before accepting the ride.

In the Event of a Dispute

You can address a written complaint to:

Préfet de Police – DTPP – BTTP
36, rue des Morillons
75732 Paris Cedex 15

What The Uber?! The Uber “De Blasio Mode”

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It’s What The Uber Friday and we are excited to share this What The Uber moment with you!

Since Uber’s inception in 2009, they have expanded to operate in over 50 countries around the world, deliver goods to thousands of people, and can even be found competing with Google to build the first driverless taxi. Uber certainly is allowed bragging rights over their laundry list of accomplishments, but they have also been known to stir up some trouble amongst city officials during their rise to power.

Most recently, Uber has been in the news for protesting against a NYC bill pushed by Mayor Bill De Blasio, that would limit the amount of drivers Uber could have driving through their app. Uber has tried to abolish this bill by gaining support via a few normal venues; rallies, multi million dollar ads, etc. However, Uber recently went to a whole new level to gain support from fellow NYC residents. The company just released the “De Blasio Uber” feature on the Uber app, which is available to all NYC Uber users. The feature, designed to show residents what Uber would be like under the new bill, will either show no cars available or wait times of 25 minutes. When clicked on, the De Blasio Feature will prompt users to take action and send an email to Mayor De Blasio and the city council showing their opposition to the bill. Quite a cheeky move on Uber’s part!

The proposed bill would limit the number of allowed new Uber drivers to just 201 over the next year (Uber is currently adding more than 200 drivers each week!). Mayor De Blasio has been cited saying that Manhattan is overwhelmed by the addition of 2,000 new rideshare vehicles each month. In the New York Daily News, he said “”We’re facing the addition of over 25,000 cars to our streets over the next year — the rough equivalent of two times the total number of yellow taxis in all of New York City.”

Uber is now trying to engage the Mayor in a real, live debate regarding the above issues. Maybe they shouldn’t have attached the Mayors name to a “fake Uber mode” in their app if they are trying to encourage him to join in on their debate!

 

If you have a What The Uber moment or want to share a What The Uber story please email [email protected] or use the hashtag #WhatTheUber to get your story featured and shared on our social media!

How to Boost Your Rating: Driver Edition

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Uber and Lyft drivers – you all know how important your personal rating is for your continued career as a rideshare professional. A low driver rating, generally lower than 4-4.5 stars, can result in the suspension or even termination of your job. Most passengers understand the high importance of giving a five star rating and will do so unless something awful or unacceptable occurs. Keep in mind the following tips to keep riders happy and maintain that high rating.

Be timely. Open communication is important to passengers. Text or call when you arrive at the destination: a simple “your Uber/Lyft has arrived!” text will be much appreciated. This ensures that you will not be waiting longer than necessary and they are aware that you are ready to begin the trip. Although passengers can monitor your location through the app, a gentle reinforcement will confirm and notify.

Be personable.  Confirm the name of the passenger as they enter the vehicle, “Hi, John!” to make sure that you have the correct rider. There are so many stories about rideshare mix-ups, so this friendly verification can be very useful for both parties.  Greet the riders in a cheerful manner, welcoming them to the vehicle.

Be flexible. Once the passenger is in the vehicle, the first subject to address is the end destination. Confirm that the address submitted through the app is correct. A route will be automatically calculated, but it is always a good idea to ask the passenger if they have a preferred way.

Be courteous. Every time you pickup a passenger, it’s like welcoming someone into your home. Act as a host making sure the ride is clean and comfortable. Is the temperature suitable? Is the music type and noise level all right? There should be no clutter, trash, or excessive dirt in the vehicle.

Be conversational (or not). Assess the mood of the rider. Sometimes you may be able to carry on a nice conversation while other times you may ride in silence. Small talk is generally always welcomed, but each ride differs. Some groups may want to converse amongst themselves without feeling as if you are eavesdropping and other groups may include you in conversations, asking for opinions and stories. Test the water with each trip.

Be responsible. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest factors of a rating is the quality of driving. If a driver speeds, runs through red lights, or seems distracted the rider will take notice. Abiding to the speed limit, traffic regulations, and never showing signs of road rage are very important to make the ride enjoyable. Safety should always be the number one concern of the driver and the passenger.

Be humble. Mistakes are bound to happen. However, the manner in which you deal with these mistakes is what will affect your rating.  If you inadvertently miss a turn or go the wrong way when the road splits, own up to it and apologize immediately.  The GPS will recalculate and you will be able to reach the destination a different way. Worst-case scenario: mark the trip as complete so that the passenger does not get overcharged.

Good luck, drivers!

 

The Coveted Uber Sixth Star

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Most people know about the popular ride share service, Uber, but what many users do not realize is that there is finally a way to reward your driver for going above and beyond.

Uber introduced the Uber Sixth Star Award Program in October of 2014. Typically when you ride in an Uber, at the end of your ride you are able to rate your driver up to five stars and leave a comment. Now, with the secret sixth star being introduced, you can nominate your driver by leaving an excellent rating and writing a comment to elaborate about your experience and explain why your driver deserves additional recognition.

Every week, Uber selects Sixth Star drivers from across the globe to be selected to win this package of Uber Sixth Star Gear and a $1000 American Express gift card!

The drivers who are selected to be awarded the Sixth Star are not only just good drivers– they are good people too. Previous honorees have been men and women who took extra time and effort to give their passengers a hand. Mikhayel from LA was one of the Uber drivers that made a difference in his passenger’s life. The passenger was late getting onto a plane, and Mikhayel not only helped him carry all of his bags, but when there were bags that did not fit the man gave Mikhayel money to ship them the next day and he agreed. That’s a lot of trust to have in an Uber driver, and it ended up being well-deserving.

Next time you encounter an Uber driver who goes above and beyond, make sure you nominate them for the Sixth Star Award Program so they can get the recognition they deserve.

 

Felicia is an intern at Unleashed, LLC. She is from upstate NY, and is currently pursuing a Marketing degree at Bentley University. One day she hopes to travel the world and visit every continent. 

Animal Taxi Monday 7.20.15

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This is SO cool!! ‪#‎AnimalTaxiMonday‬

Click here to view all of our Animal Taxi Monday pictures.

Los Angeles – Tips for Taking a Taxi

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Hailing a Cab

There are more than 2,300 taxis in the city of Los Angeles; however, this does not mean they are easy to hail! Most people in Los Angeles own and drive their own cars making the amount of people who use public transportation less than most cities. This causes many taxis to wait at cab stands where they are guaranteed to get a fare instead of driving around to find the few people who are trying to hail a cab. Popular places for cabs to wait are in front of prevalent restaurants, bars and clubs (like those on the Sunset Strip), Downtown Union Station, and in front of the bigger hotels. At many hotels if a taxi line is not present, there should be someone near the entrance of the building who can call one for you.

If you are trying to hail a cab make sure you are in Downtown Los Angeles or Hollywood as those are the only two areas where you will find a cab roaming the streets for a fare. Make sure once you have hailed your cab that it is an official city of Los Angeles TaxiCab. There will be a seal on the car and taxicabs bearing this seal are insured and have trained drivers so you know you are in good hands. Any cab without this seal is known as a bandit cab and has no legal authorization to operate in the City.

 

Rates

The rates in Los Angeles are as follows, $2.85 flag drop (first 1/9th mile), $0.30 for each additional 1/9th mile ($2.70 per mile), and $0.30 for each 37.0 seconds waiting time and/or traffic delay ($29.19 per hour).  There are also a few popular flat rates such as $55.00 flat rate for trips between Norwalk and LAX and $46.50 flat rare for trips between LAX and downtown.

Surcharges and Extras

  • Expect a $4.00 surcharge for all trips originating at LAX.
  • There is a $15.00 minimum fare for trips originating at LAX (In addition to the $4.00 surcharge)

 

FAQs

Do you tip your cab driver in Los Angeles?

  • Yes, it is customary to tip your cab driver about 15%.

Is the traffic bad in Los Angeles?

  • Yes, you should always allow more time to get to your destination than you might think. Rush hour in particular can add quite a bit of time to your trip! Rush hour is typically from 7am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm.

Do I have to wear a seat belt in the cab?

  • Yes, California has a seat belt law for both drivers and passengers, so buckle up!

 

Airport to City Center

Taxi stands at LAX can be found outside the lower/arrival level in front of each terminal. There will be yellow signs indicating Taxis to help you find them. Once at the stand you will be given a ticket that will state the typical fares to major destinations, so you know what to expect. A ride from LAX to Downtown Los Angeles is a flat rate of $46.50. A ride from LAX to Norwalk is $55. Also there is a $4.00 surcharge for all trips originating at LAX.

 

Disputes

In case of a dispute, reach out to LADOT by calling 1-800-501-0999.

 

For more information please visit: http://www.taxifarefinder.com/info.php?city=LA