Yesterday, Uber announced on their blog that Parisian Uber users will now be able to make user of Uber’s “Uber Taxi” feature, which allows users to hail taxis using Uber. The service has already rolled out in Chicago, DC, Toronto and San Francisco – in Paris, users have the choice between a Taxi, a “moto” (a super comfortable motorcycle), a Black Car, and a Van.
The service will allow Uber to compete with rival smart phone apps which allow users to hail a cab with their smart phone, such as Taxibeat, which launched in Paris last December. It’s obviously still early days for Uber with this service in Paris – you can see in the screengrab above that I tried to order one in Paris, and only the Black ar and Van were available – then again, not many people ordering at 8:30AM.
I said Uber Taxi, not “UBER TAXI”
As covered in an article in TheNextWeb by Ken Yeung, Uber seems to be having a bit of trouble with some name-confusion around the Uber Taxi brand, having issued a statement on its blog. It seems that Uber users have been seeing cabs marked “UBER TAXI” riding around San Francisco, and have been confusing them for official Uber Taxis – an easy mistake to make, though I am surprised that Uber does not have some sort of trademark in place. Uber has stated that, while users can order taxis using Uber in San Francisco, taxi’s are ordered through a licensed taxi service,and Uber has no relation to the so-called UBER TAXI’s.
A taxi for the price of an Uber, or an Uber for the price of a taxi?
While I completely understand the positioning and value that Uber provides (‘…yada yada yada we’re not a taxi cab replacement, we’re a luxury service….’), I have personally only ever used Uber in Paris about three times: the first time to test, the second time when I had a huge discount on it and split it with 3 friends to justify the luxury, and a 3rd time to order it for a friend (thanks Michelle for the suggestion) who was late for a meeting. Because the public transportation is so good in Paris – Velib (rentable bikes), Autolib(rentable electric cars with designated parking spots around the city), Metro (runs until 2AM), etc. – I rarely find myself in a position to need one.
Nevertheless, the possibility to order a taxi via Uber may be interesting, but it will come down to one question: am I ordering a Taxi and paying the price of an Uber or am I ordering an Uber for the price of a Taxi? What I mean here is that Uber has been known for two things: the high cost, and the great service. By working with existing taxi services, Uber users are going to find themselves confronted with one of two possibilities: they are either going to pay a similar price as they would for an Uber and get a Taxi, because Taxi’s in Paris are some of the only ones in the world who charge you for the time it takes them to pick you up, and may be an added fee to cover the affiliate revenue Uber is taking in. Otherwise, if the Taxi’s are vetted and Uber has negotiated a great deal, you might be ordering a Taxi with the customer service of an Uber (remember, on Uber, you can give feedback about each driver – I wonder if you can do this for the Taxi’s, too?), but the price of a regular Taxi.
UPDATE – a comment regarding pricing from Uber Paris’ Marketing & Communications Head, Michelle Chmielewski:
Regarding pricing, a taxi ordered via Uber will be the prices that are mandated by the city of Paris. We’re ensuring a limited pickup radius, so as we said in our blog post[fr], this is just the beginning but supply will grow quickly. That means that by law drivers have to start their meter when they accept an order, but they’ll never be far away.
For anyone going out this week, give Uber’s taxi service a try and let me know what you think! (this is where I’ll put in an awesome discount code like “UBERRUDE” if Uber contacts me this afternoon with a promotional code) UPDATE 09:58AM – now that’s great Community Management. Promotional Code UBERRUDE now gives $10/€10 on any travel, so go out there and try Uber Taxi and tell me what you think!