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
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?
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.
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.