Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Uber - Good or bad?

Until last night I had not tried Uber. I tend to use the tube or walk when I am in London, or drive myself when I am at home.

But last night I was at an event where the tube was not very direct, and I had hurt my foot recently so did not want to walk. I do not like buses and I had been sent a '£10 free trip' code for Uber to use before the end of the month.

Ok, I thought, let's see what all the fuss is about.

Normally being very organised I did not like the idea of leaving it until I needed it and so 'scheduled a ride'. This gave me a 15 minute block when a ride might turn up if there is one in the area. Hum, I did not like that but decided to go with it.

So off I went to my event, which was very interesting, and then at the time I had scheduled I was outside the building waiting.

Imagine being in London at 8:45pm. It is dark, and there are people around, but you do not know if you are safe. There is lots of traffic and right now you have no idea how Uber tells you which car is yours. Your phone is not telling you anything and seems very bright in the dark - a perfect target for someone to snatch. And you have a train to catch.

I am inside the 15 minute block where I had requested a ride, but the app is not telling me anything and I can not even find a reference to it.

"I am now in the state which is not panic as such, but nerves"

I am now in the state which is not panic as such, but nerves where I am not really reading stuff on screen or thinking quite straight.

My colleagues think I am a little odd when I try to describe this state to them while explaining how important it is to make things in our app really really obvious. Not only does it help people in a bit of a panic like me last night, but it helps any user who maybe has a cognitive issue and needs things to be as clear as possible.

After 5 minutes messing around with the app, and nothing to help me (that I can see), I decide to try what I should have done in the first place and just ask for one when I needed it.

Now all the things I had heard about how good a service it is happened. I found my location using a pin on the screen (location services had done most of the work here), I told it where I wanted to go, then sent my request.

My ride was 3 minutes away. That sounded good.

As he got closer I was updated. He is 1 minute away. Now I start looking out for the car whose details are showing on my screen. The drivers name, number plate and car type display. Car types do not mean much to me, but the number plate was perfect.

And there he was. A quick check from the driver that I was who he was looking for and off we went.

I was at Waterloo in time for my train, and by the time I found a seat I had an email with my receipt.

I turned the mobile data and location services off, as they cost me battery and money and enjoyed my journey home, pretty impressed with the Uber service.

That is till I got home and my phone connected to wifi. Now I find messages saying I had been charged for a cancelled ride.

I can only assume it is the scheduled ride from earlier that I could not find when I wanted it but it is too late in the day to look into now so I go to bed annoyed.

The next day, more awake than the night before I start to have a look to see what happened. This is when I realise that I put the wrong time down for my pick up; 9:40 instead of 8:40.

Easy mistake to make when you are focused on a 9:00 train, and so I feel bad for the poor driver who waited round for me when I was already on a train home.

This at least answers one of my questions - why I only receive notifications when I got home.

But I wonder if an email confirmation of my scheduled ride, when I booked it, might have helped me spot my mistake before hand, and maybe some sort of indicator on the homescreen to show there is a booking waiting might have helped too.

So Uber, for now, gets a thumbs up but I think I would have to try it again to really decide if it is great or not.

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