I heard read great reviews about Uber posted on Facebook by my eldest brother Chin Tian and my secondary school teacher Jay She. I told myself that I must try out the ride-sharing app as soon as I have the chance.
The opportunity came two days ago when I had to fly to Kuching for Ching Ming. I was taking the AirAsia night flight to Kuching so instead of using a taxi to go to the airport, I tried out Uber for the first time. In the past, I used to pay about RM45-50 for a taxi from my house in Senadin to Miri Airport.
I got a ping a few seconds after requesting for an Uber. A pop up of the driver’s picture, his name, current location, the car’s brand and model and estimated distance in minutes from my house appeared on the screen of my Huawei. I confirmed my acceptance and within a few minutes, the Uber car arrived.
It was a new Honda City driven by a 29-year old man who is a life insurance agent with Prudential. Jonathan is a very polite young man and we chatted all the way to the airport. It was his first day as a Uber driver and I was his second passenger. It was a most pleasant ride. The fare was about RM22. I regret not asking Jonathan for permission to take a photo of him and his car.
On returning from Kuching to Miri this afternoon, I made use of Uber again. This time it was a young Iban lady in a white Isuzu D-MAX twin cab. The vehicle looks almost brand new and it was another comfortable ride from the airport to my house. The fare was slightly over RM20.
Doria is a very friendly lady and was most upfront about how her Uber business is going. She told me she started two days ago on Friday. Though she started late in the afternoon on Friday, she managed to have six rides on her first day. Yesterday, a Saturday, was a great day for her as she had 16 rides. She started at about noon today and I happened to be her sixth customer for today.
She also shared with me that nowadays teenagers are really so pampered. Yesterday a few teenagers used her service to go the short distance from Imperial Mall to Bintang Megamall. The ride only cost RM3.
Though Uber only started operations in Miri in the middle of last month, it has become increasingly popular with the masses, particularly the younger generation who are more smartphone savvy as all bookings and transactions are made online.
Uber offers three categories of cars: UberX, UberXL and Uber Black. UberX is the cheapest way without hurting your wallet too much. The range of cars under Uber X are Perodua Myvi and Axia, Proton Saga, Toyota Vios, Nissan Almera and Sylphy, Toyota Vios, Honda Jazz and City, Naza Citra, and many other models. UberXL typically consist or 5 doors or 7 seater. Typically MPV cars such as Toyota Innova, Nissan Grand Livina and Proton Exora will be under this category. UberBlack is the premium Uber service under which you get high end 4-seaters and high-end MPV or mid-size SUV. Cars such as Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, CR-V, Toyota Velfire, Honda CRV, Mitsubishi ASX, Kia Sportage qualify to be in this range. In Miri and Kuching, Uber currently only offers UberX.
There are some minor concerns regarding Uber’s surge pricing, which kicks in during high demand. Surge rate is calculated based on supply and demand of drivers. As such driver will receive a boost rate that is higher than the standard rates. If you don’t want to pay the surge rate, you can wait for the surge to end. But because Uber is so new in Miri, it has not imposed surge rates yet.
Another interesting thing about Uber is the rating system that keeps drivers on their toes. The rating system works both ways. If the driver does a bad job, you can rate him accordingly and if you are a difficult passenger, the driver can rate you too. If a driver’s rating falls below expectations, Uber can ban the driver, and if your rating as a passenger is bad, Uber can blacklist you from their service.
Having used Uber twice, I have to admit that I am impressed. I have absolutely no complaints about the service. I left a 5-star rating for Doria and I would have left a 5-star rating for Jonathan on Friday if I was aware of the rating system. I tried to see if I could still leave a rating for Jonathan just now but I was unable to.
I have become a fan of Uber and I will be using their service from now on instead of taxi. Goodbye taxi, hello Uber!