What is UberTaxi, Why it is Pointless & My Recent Experience in Berlin

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uber taxi berlin review

Taking Uber in Berlin

By now everyone has heard of Uber. The company has several different products or versions of their service. In most markets they have the low-end UberX for cheapskates like me and then UberBlack which has fancier cars. There is even UberLux for the truly posh among us.

In certain markets though Uber has had to skirt local laws. For that reason in places like Berlin they created another service called UberPop. UberPop is very similar to UberX, however the drivers aren’t supposed to make a profit. Even that wasn’t good enough in Berlin, so Uber was left with one choice. A service called UberTaxi.

In case you guessed it, UberTaxi uses licensed taxi cabs. The ride is still requested and paid for through the app, however you actually take a normal metered taxi. I was “lucky” enough to experience UberTaxi the other day in Berlin on my way to the airport. It was an interesting experience overall.

My UberTaxi Berlin Experience

uber taxi berlin review
My UberTaxi in Berlin driving away after dropping me at the airport. Just a good old fashioned normal taxi.

I was originally planning to take the bus to the airport in Berlin, however my morning walking tour went a little long and I was running too late. Following the tour I headed to the Grand Hyatt Berlin (great hotel by the way) to pick up my bags and called for my ride through the app while I was at the front desk getting my receipt. In what seems to be a normal experience with ridesharing, the app said it would be 2 minutes, while it took about 7.

Finally after waiting and tracking the driver, he approached my area and passed right by me. I was looking for a taxi, however three came around the corner at once and I didn’t have time to catch the plate number. Thankfully I did finally see my driver before he turned off of the block. Unfortunately he had already cancelled the ride.

To get things back on track, I had to go back into the app and request a ride again. Eventually it all went through and he accepted my ride. Before long we were on our way to the airport with the normal meter running the entire way. It took about 20 minutes from the hotel, which was close to the estimated time from Google Maps.

The best part of this experience was saying goodbye to the driver at the curb without having to deal with paying or getting change. Uber took care of that which was nice, but it did take longer than normal to get my receipt. Normally a receipt comes almost right away, however this time it took about 10 minutes. When I finally received the receipt, the price was Euro for Euro the same as the meter. My guess is Uber has the driver manually enter in the amount.

What is the Point of UberTaxi?

uber taxi berlin review
Our route from the Grand Hyatt to the airport.

The truth is I don’t really see the point of UberTaxi. I used it because I wanted to try it out and because I really do like the convenience of paying through the app. Using Uber also helped me to see the route we took to the airport and to make sure the driver wasn’t running up the tab on me. For those reasons I suppose it has some benefit, however there were some drawbacks too.

First off, I could have just walked outside of the Hyatt and hailed any cab and not had to deal with waiting 7 minutes when I was already running late in the first place. Also, one of the reasons I like Uber is because it allows me to avoid taxicabs. This service just sort of took the whole taxicab experience and complicated it.

Conclusion

I guess Uber is trying to keep their presence in cities like Berlin where their other products have been banned. From what I read, Uber is providing this service for free to drivers in Berlin, so I’m not sure what their long term strategy is. Either way, it was interesting if not pointless. As many of you know Uber does give out $20 for your first ride. If you haven’t ever used the service, you can find my referral link here. Every member has one. It definitely is worth a try, but do it in a city with the normal products and not UberTaxi.

 


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15 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Shawn, I was in Athens and noticed the same thing, only UberTaxi. I actually like the idea because when you’re out internationally you dont always have the ability to call a local # so using wifi to call a taxi worked out plus you also know that you’ll be able to pay with credit card without driver saying machine doesnt work and only accepts cash. Quite convenient when needing to arrive at airport at 5am.

  2. Yes, this is definitely a good way to eliminate taxi scams. I do Uber taxi in Seoul, and I like it. At times, taxi drivers will drive around especially if you’re a foreigner, and you end up paying a few dollars more for nothing but a scam. This ensures that taxi drivers are honest.

  3. Uber is most successful were taxis are dysfunctional, like kun San Francisco. In cities with good availability, reasonable prices and honest drivers, there is a lot less of a differentiation and need… like Singapore or Germany.
    Despite that, I hope by working with the authorities and taxi companies in Germany, they can eventually figure out how to address the safety, insurance and other requirements. Germany is so “rule based” it might take a while…

    • Very good point. German taxis are known for being honest, so perhaps there isn’t a huge market for Uber. When they were operating UberPop it seems their big selling point was cheaper fares which of course pissed the taxi companies off.

  4. Uber taxi is a great service, for a variety of reasons not mentioned here. We have uber taxi in Washington DC in addition to uber X, and often times when uber X is on surge pricing I can still easily get a cab without the surge pricing and come out ahead in price. Additionally, I don’t have to wait on the corner trying to hail a cab in the traditional manner. Lastly, the whole issue of paying and tip is eliminated. I understand why it’s easy to miss the benefits though if you were running late already and didn’t have the issue of surge pricing on uber X to contend with as at that point it could certainly make more sense just to walk out of your hotel to the cab waiting outside.

  5. Chicago has UberTAXI, but also has all the other Uber services. Even UberEATS where they bring lunch or dinner to you. In Chicago, there are a lot of reasons to use UberTAXI.

    1. Surge pricing. When surge pricing is in effect, instead of paying 2-5X the normal fare for UberX, you can fallback to a taxi.
    2. Rush hour or bad weather. Rush hour it is pretty hard to get a cab. Also don’t want to stand in the rain or snow to hail a cab. Nice to be able to get one from the app and wait inside.
    3. Waiting for credit card transaction to finish. Sometimes you can spend a few extra minutes in a cab waiting for the credit card transaction to finish.
    4. Cab drivers know the streets (usually) and can take shortcuts or get around faster.

  6. I recently used Uber in Berlin and had terrible experiences. The Taxis didn’t know were they were going. Once driver never showed up and I was charged a cancellation. The most disturbing was that a 15 Euro Uber ride in one direction was a 5 Euro taxi ride back. While I strongly recommend Uber in Mexico, Brazil and the US. Stick with regular Taxis when in Berlin.

  7. Was in Dublin for a week. It was handy to have the uber app on my phone which I use alot in the States. I tried hailing a cab in Dublin but none would stop for me. I even asked a stopped driver and he told me I have to reserve the cab. I didn’t want to pay 20 cents a minute to call a cab using my phone, but I do get free international data. The uber app (with ubertaxi) saved me many times in hailing a cab just using my data plan. And super easy to just walk out of cab after the ride and not deal with money.

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