I decided to indulge my family by taking Uber. I paid S$123 for a 32-minute ride.
I promise, there will be a moral to this story.
Hi everyone, I am Edwin. I’ve never written anything on Mothership.sg before because I am generally an easy-going kind of guy.
I would occasionally sit in on this publication’s meetings, nod and give my sagely advice.
Otherwise, I don’t hold any grudges against my lot in life.
My spirit has been moved to pen something after my family and I took a 32-minute Uber ride that costs us a princely S$123.
My experience with, what any sane person would perceive as, an overpriced ride
My troubles began on Saturday morning, Feb. 6, 2016, a few days before Chinese New Year.
My extended family were at my place in Siglap and I decided it will be a good idea for everyone to pay the Singapore Zoo a visit.
Altogether, there were eight of us — big and small, young and old.
Because I drive a regular car and not a van, there was no way everyone was going to fit in my ride and there was no way I was going to leave anyone behind.
Being a well-travelled kind of guy, I have used Uber overseas, such as Australia. I’ve been a strong supporter of this newfangled sharing economy, gigs for hire thing — heard a lot about it, how cheap it is, how useful it can be, especially in your times of need.
And naturally, I have no qualms jabbing my app on my phone a couple of times to make just such a convenient ride appear right in front of my door.
And so, Uber it is. UberExecLarge, actually.
Here’s where things started to get hairy: Firstly, my entire family of eight could not fit into an UberExecLarge vehicle (like the one pictured above), despite it being in the category that supposedly allows more passengers to share a ride.
Due to law and order/ traffic regulations, the UberExecLarge driver was adamant his vehicle could take up to six passengers, plus one driver.
But this “only six passengers allowed” clause wasn’t made known when I booked the UberExecLarge ride.
Ok fine, the rest of us can take another vehicle.
Lo and behold, the sum total of the UberExecLarge ride from Siglap to Mandai on a traffic-jam-free Saturday morning that lasted 32 minutes, came up to S$123.
And there was no surge pricing.
In comparison, if I had booked a seven-seater Maxi Cab, it would have set me back at most S$60 for the same distance.
Yes, yes, I could have clicked on the “Fare Estimate” tab in the Uber app. Yes, I could have cancelled the ride if I wasn’t up for it.
And yes, I can Internet, unlike this woman who could not and paid S$169 for an UberExecLarge ride.
But that is besides the point now.
Long story short — here are three lessons I’ve learnt from this experience:
1. Humans enjoy deceiving ourselves.
“Ah, I’ve taken Uber before overseas, it has always worked out. How bad can it get?”
“What’s the worst that can happen?”
The folly on my part was in thinking Uber was competitively priced — across the board.
This experience has showed me that humans are too presumptuous.
Just because I’ve had good, affordable experiences with Uber previously, especially overseas, I fooled myself into thinking everything will be fine and dandy here as well.
2. Hence, Uber’s only fault is offering a service that is nowhere as nearly affordable or competitively priced.
Maybe, just maybe, Uber could have two apps instead? One for UberX solely because it is the affordable, competitively priced option, and another app for people who can pay through their noses to download?
3. Writing is cathartic.
As I know I am never going to get any money back from Uber, despite writing in to them to register my displeasure, I hope this article will generate some page views and help get some things off my chest.
Edwin Ramesh sits on the board of directors for Mothership.sg Ltd.