I have this irrational fear that even if a cab ride is quick, even if the price has been established beforehand, and even if I see the red glow of $7.50 from the backseat, the driver is going to turn to me and say, “That will be $680, please.” And I would be so scared, because I don’t have $680, which means I’d either cry or call my dad, but probably both. Nothing quite so extreme has ever happened, but I think the root of my concern is that a cab ride is still a big treat to me, like a doughnut or queso dip.
The genius of Uber is that it acknowledges the luxury and ease of door-to-door car service while cushioning it with transparency and options. After getting a fare quote and booking the car through the app, you can see the name of the driver, how far away he is, and the model of the car he’s driving. You can even select a high-end vehicle for those extra fancy days. My cousin visited me from Florida recently, and one night we stared at my phone as a Chevrolet Suburban wound its way through the streets of Hoboken toward us. I felt like I was showing her a clip from The Jetsons, but as it turns out, the future is not flying cars — it’s watching cars move around on a small screen in your hand.
I’ve used Uber four times now, and on three out of four trips, I was asked if I wanted any change to the temperature of the car or the music playing. All cars were clean, all drivers were friendly, and all rides went smoothly. And even with that said, the best part each time was the end. There was no exchange of anything other than “thank you so much” and “have a great night.” No cash, no cards, no math under the influence of Miller Lite and hastily consumed pizza. Your account is charged and your receipt is emailed. This may make me sound like a cog in the convenience machine, but Uber is a nice option to have, especially when other options start to dwindle.
A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I rented a car for a quick trip to visit friends. We got back around 2 a.m. to drop the car off in a place where the chances of seeing a passing cab were slim at best, and the walk to the train a solid 20 to 30 minutes. A long walk or a long wait in 15 degree weather is less than preferable, and this is when the Uber model reveals its true beauty. You immediately get the fare estimate and an approximate wait time before committing, and then it’s your call from there. (We booked it.)
Give Uber a whirl and see what you think. Sign up through The Digest and get $25 off your first ride. Use the promo code: DIGEST. The offer expires May 1, 2014.