Of course foreigners steal your job. But maybe, if someone without contacts, money, or speaking the language steals your job, you’re shit.
Not Louis CK
That fake quote sums up a lot of how I feel about Uber. If someone can walk into your industry and do a much better job than you, can you really be upset when your business starts collapsing?
There are a LOT of articles out there bashing Uber for privacy concerns, chauvinism, digging up dirt on journalists, blackmail, violence and Uber bosses being all round assholes. I don’t know about any of those things. I don’t have the resources to investigate those and I don’t have the reach for Uber to try and dig up dirt on me. So what is this all about?
Well, I think Uber is the consumer champion. As long as you are *decently intelligent, Uber provides a very good service at a very good price point.
* As long as you understand surge pricing and don’t cry like a little bitch after having to pay what you agreed to in the first place.
So Uber under-pays their “external contractor” drivers and doesn’t actually employ them so they don’t have to give them benefits. They also skirt around a lot of regulations by being a “ride sharing app” and not a “taxi service.”
I didn’t use “meter cabs” before Uber. In fact I had a car. I drove myself everywhere. I had no intention of using cabs either. They were always dodgy cars and had very unintuitive pricing. This got difficult when alcohol was involved. This meant getting lifts or even walking. Drinking and driving is a BIG problem in South Africa.
I read about Uber launching in South Africa and see that they are offering promo codes for R90 worth of free rides. I sign up and try it out. Sitting at the pub, a few beers in and ready to head home I round up a group of friends and lead them outside. Waiting there is a brand new BMW ready to pick us up. He dropped us all off safely and I still had change to spare from the R90.
I told all my friends and got them all to sign up with my promo code. I didn’t pay for an Uber for a few months. This “word of mouth” advertising is the best kind. Uber was barely rewarding me and I was selling their product to everyone who would listen. The reason for this was REAL, MEASURABLE rewards. I didn’t have to climb a mountain to get a reward. It wasn’t a big reward but it was relatively easy to come by.
The Uber bug had bitten me. Fast forward a few years and I’m living in Cape Town. Uber has launched UberX, their low cost branch that is pissing off taxis the world over. I’m still using Uber. I still haven’t used another meter cab. I probably wouldn’t have ever used cabs. So Uber didn’t steal my business from the taxi industry, they created clients from people who wouldn’t normally use a cab.
Every issue I have ever had with Uber has been dealt with in less than 24 hours and most have netted me a voucher or some credit if the issue cost me something. Good service mixed with cheap prices and a better quality product and people wonder why the taxi industry is in the shit.
So no matter your feelings about Uber you have to admit they have done an excellent job at creating a new market and then pivoting it to threaten an existing market. They did it so quickly and with so much force that it might just work. They did all of that by being the consumer champion. They put the customer first and asked what the customer would want. They set high expectations and then beat them.
Business is business and winning over customers and paying your staff just enough to keep them from working for a competitor is good business. Evil, maybe? More evil than any other taxi company, no. More evil than any other tech company? Probably not.
For the consumer wins I say Uber is good. Disrupting industries to make them better is a good thing. Providing a service people didn’t know they wanted until they tried it is a very Apple-esque thing to do. And very good.
So if you haven’t tried Uber, go ahead and let the bug bite you. Click here for your first ride on them. The promo code uber_byron will give you your first ride up to R150 free. I would highly recommend Uber Black for your first ride. It is on them after all.