3 Years Down The Line, How Is Uber Doing?
As Uber goes into its fourth year in South Africa, we take a look at the service as well as any problem areas they could work on.
Published: Wednesday, January 11th 2017
It's been three years since Uber opened it's car door to the public in Johannesburg in August 2013. A short while later, the taxi service was made available in Cape Town and Durban to complete South Africa's metro trifecta.
Some customers were at first, a little hesitant to use the new service. This is understandable given the state of crime in South Africa but once the initial teething phase was over and brand awareness had peaked, the company was in high demand. Party-goers, businessmen, students, and slackers started to incorporate the taxi service into their daily schedules.
Not too long after its inception, trouble erupted as metered taxi organisations protested lost sales and revenue as a result of Uber. The chaos even brought Cape Town CBD to a standstill as taxi operators protested against Uber.
Uber has also faced licensing issues. The South African government has impounded all Uber vehicles that did not have a taxi permit. One Uber driver told CompareGuru that the reason they did not have a taxi permit was because the government would not issue more taxi permits to the company.
The driver added that in the Cape, there were only 450 taxi permits issued to Uber drivers, whereas the total amount of drivers far outweighed that number. He said they were hoping to be issued with more taxi permits so that they don't have to avoid certain areas with a high police presence.
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Security Issues With Vehicles
Several incidents have been reported with passengers using the Uber service being attacked (physically and sexually) or abducted by their drivers.
The mother of South African songstress, Tamara Dey, was abducted and raped in September last year. This promoted Dey to take a stand against taxi service violence.
Several Uber drivers have also been physically attacked by other taxi drivers in order to intimidate them. A driver in Ballito, Kwazulu-Natal, was driving a couple home from a nightclub when he was apprehended and forced to stop. The driver was beaten up by a group of men, who then drove away.
Uber has seen a decline in sales recently, which could be largely attributed to a fear of safety whilst using the taxi service.
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Drivers Cancelling Trips
One of the biggest grievances passengers have had with Uber is the cancelling of trips moments before the taxi is supposed to arrive. Several users even noted the app had indicated the vehicle was arriving only to have the trip cancelled.
This trend of cancelling trips has been widely noted and is assumed to be a ploy to receive the cancellation fee, which is possibly higher than an actual short distance trip. This was confirmed by another Uber driver.
recently conducted three tests to test the functionality of the taxi service. An Uber Black was ordered and promised to arrive in four minutes. When the time elapsed, the driver said he was a further eight minutes away from arriving but cancelled the trip soon after. The user was still charged R70.00 for the cancelled trip.
With the second test, an Uber X was ordered and promised to arrive in four minutes, ten minutes later, the user was still waiting and the driver had now extended their arrival to eight minutes away, before cancelling the trip. The user was still charged R25.00.
The last test, another Uber X is ordered, again promising to arrive in four minutes. After eight minutes the trip is cancelled and the driver is now seven minutes away from the pickup point. They are charged R25.00.
A spokesperson for Uber said each case needed to be evaluated on an individual basis. They went on to say that problems experienced when waiting for a trip could be as a result of poor GPS signal or traffic, which impacts arrival times.
“We are always looking to improve the experience, such as our current road mapping in Cape Town. We have also started location tracking to evaluate how accurately driver-partners are able to deliver riders to their destination.”