Outside-IN

This app really gets you around

Sheryl Rowling takes a spin using the pseudo-taxi service Uber and enjoys the ride

Jul 30, 2014 @ 9:03 am

By Sheryl Rowling

With apologies to taxi drivers, I love Uber. How wonderful it is to be able to summon a nice car with a well-dressed driver in a matter of minutes at a cost not much higher than a taxi.

For those of you who use Uber, you already know the ropes. For the rest of you, here are the basics.

In almost any city, there are hundreds (or more) Uber drivers ready to give you a ride any time, anywhere. You can choose from a "black car" (typically a Lincoln Town Car) or the less expensive "Uber X" (another type of car ranging from a Hyundai to a Mercedes). And you do this from an app on your smart phone.

The first step is downloading the Uber app. Then enter your information, including cell phone number and credit card and you're ready to go. When you want a ride, instead of calling a cab company, waiting for an answer and hoping the taxi really shows up, open the app and instantly see how long it will take for a car to appear. Most of the time, the wait is less than five minutes after tapping the icon to call your Uber.

You instantly get the name of your driver as well as the type of car and license number. Looking at the app, you can actually track the progress of your Uber as it makes its way to you. Your nicely-attired driver will open your door, offer you bottled water and take you to your destination. As you exit, you will hear a pleasant "thank you and have a nice day."

You don't need cash. The ride, including built-in tip, is automatically charged to your credit card. Your receipt is emailed to you within minutes and you are given the opportunity to rate the driver.

I've used Uber in varied circumstances. Once, when my husband and I had a crack-of-dawn flight, we were ready to leave and realized we had forgotten to arrange transportation. Uber to the rescue. Our car was there within five minutes. When I was in Paris with my broken foot, my friend, another couple and I wanted to see Versailles. To get to Versailles, we'd have to take a cab to the train station in Paris, take the train to the Versailles station, then take another cab from there to the palace. Later, we would need to reverse the process. Believe it or not, we were able to take an Uber! We paid less than the cost of the taxi-train combination and enjoyed door-to-door comfort.

With the technology of a smart phone, we can each have our own private driver. Pretty cool!

Sheryl Rowling is chief executive of Total Rebalance Expert and principal at Rowling & Associates. She considers herself a non-techie user of technology.

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