The first time I used Uber services, which was sometime this year at the height of their fights with taxi drivers in Kenya, I faced two major challenges which I did not write anything about at the time. At the time, I wrote about my experience with the ride that morning in a Facebook post which I have reproduced on this blog.
I was testing the app after downloading when I called up Uber by mistake. There was no way of ‘testing’ the app without actually requesting for a pick-up. So, in my attempt to test the up, I ended up requesting a ride.
The driver who responded to my request was magnanimous enough to understand me when he called up to confirm the pick-up request and I explained that I was just fiddling with the app after downloading. He then asked me to cancel the request. I did not incur any charge for my gaffe.
The second, and the most significant, challenge was when I tried scheduling a ride. See, we are used to calling up a taxi and telling the company, or the driver, to pick us up from Point X at Time Y. That was an impossible task with Uber. You had to make a request at the time you actually needed a ride. To some of us, we do not work this way.
That problem seems to have been solved.
Just recently, Uber began allowing third-party software developers access to Uber app through “Ride Request” button. Now, some developer has come up with TaxiLater app which allows Uber users to pre-schedule their pick-up requests.
According to a TIME magazine article, the greatest drawback of this app is that those pre-scheduling their pick-up requests are not guaranteed that the drivers will accept their request. It is a small price to pay, but a great innovation to help improve Uber services.