I like to know what I’m doing. Some may say this borders on the OCD spectrum. Others will agree with me, and know that planning is the key to happiness, and minimising life’s surprises is a worthy goal. So when it comes to getting taxis to catch planes or be picked up from airports, the knowledge that it’s booked, that the company you’ve chosen will arrive on time, is priceless and is critical in smoothing all journeys.
I’d heard lot about Uber, but the thought of arriving at the airport without a confirmed taxi reservation home, without knowing that you’ll see that Addison-Lee board with your name on it, makes me break out in a cold sweat of uncertainty. There is nothing worse than the feeling of not knowing, the gut clenching fear as you head towards the unknown.
And that’s the way I felt on my flight back from Milan to Heathrow Terminal 5. I’d used my normal Addison-Lee service on the way out to Heathrow, but was dithering about trying Uber on the way back. Don’t worry, said my son – an avid Uber user – just get out of immigration and customs, fire up the app and choose the level of service you want. Simple.
I cleared immigration, exited to the arrivals hall in Terminal 5, whipped out my iPhone 5 (encased in the Morphie battery pack, in true OCD style I had to make sure I had enough juice for the journey) and got the Uber app running. I chose the “Exec” option as I don’t like the Toyota Prius, but that’s another story. Uber told me that I had a driver ready in 3 minutes. I had his name, make of car and registration number. A few seconds after that, I got a call from the driver asking where I was. Within minutes, I was safely mounted in the passenger seat of a very smooth and very comfortable Mercedes, heading home. Brilliant, it worked. As soon as I got to my destination, up popped an email telling me how much I’d spent, and how long the journey took.
The journey home was as instructive as the booking experience. I learned that Uber takes 20% of the fare, that my fare was a fixed price, and most importantly that the driver was very happy working with such a “professional company” as he called it.
What I know is that Uber worked, brilliantly, and at a price far less than I normally pay for the same service. I don’t think black cabs are being that affected in London, but Addison-Lee and the mini-cab trade in general… be afraid. The pundits are right. Uber is a game-changer.