Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Uber - the greatest thing since sliced bread, except in Japan....

Having used Uber for the first time this week I'm now addicted. For those yet to have the pleasure, it's a taxi service controlled from your iPhone. The App is simple and payment for rides is made by credit card or PayPal, the details of which you input once and once only. As a result the service is cashless and rules of the game include no tipping. Perfect. And a great emergency system if you lose your wallet.

The system tells the driver where you are and you watch on your phone as the car approaches. On travels in America at the moment, I've used it a dozen times and barely had to wait more than two or three minutes for a meticulously clean car to arrive with the App already telling me in advance the model, registration and drivers name as well. And on top of all that, it's about half the price of a regular taxi. I really can't see any reason to use any other service ever again.

Except in Japan that is. Uber arrived in 2014 and to navigate the morass of regulations designed to restrict competition, they hopped on board with the taxi companies themselves. The cost is not only the regular taxi fare but includes an additional pick-up fee. And if you want a larger vehicle there's an additional $5 fee for the pleasure. In response, the president of Uber Japan has been reported as saying this approach is a 'win - win' solution for all. Not completely sure which planet that is on.

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