Uber, an American based transportation network and taxi company, started operations in Nairobi, Kenya, in January 2015 to provide Kenyans with affordable and efficient online taxi experience.
Its headquarters located in San Francisco, Uber has expanded its footprint to eight countries, namely: South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Egypt, and Morocco.
Uber has made fundamental changes to an old industry that operated the same way it did decades ago. Users in demand of a cab had to either wave at a taxi or call a local car service to hire a car at least half an hour before the pickup time. Still, thanks to Uber and its opponents, we can now obtain a taxi via a smartphone from any location.
Recently, due to its continuous driver strikes, Uber increased their prices from Ksh 200 minimum fare and 35 Ksh per kilometre to Ksh 100 base fare, Ksh. 42 per km, Ksh. 3 per minute, which means the minimum fare is now Ksh 300. Despite the convenience and popularity of Uber in Kenya, this disruptive technology has its pros and cons which I will list below:
Uber UX App user experience
The most relevant part of any ride-sharing app’s interface is the map, and this is where Uber got it right. The interface pinpoints your location so that you can see your planned trajectory, which enables you to watch your driver make their way to you, making the Uber UX design way ahead of its competitors. Uber dropped the problematic logistics of connecting cars on the move with customers who might appear anywhere on the map with the easiest of apps, meaning you can see your driver and your driver can see you too. The app is fast and connects you to the nearby driver on time. The most significant advantage of using Uber’s app is that there is a platform where you can report a driver for improper conduct and request for a refund right inside the app. Uber most often releases updates that improve the UX experience of its application.
Discounts and refunds
From time to time, Uber gives out numerous discounts to its loyal customers. First time users have the luxury of enjoying free or discounted rides like 25% on your first 10 rides, discounted rides to any events sponsored by Uber and for those who have friends who may need a ride, Uber gives out free ride worth up to KES 250 if you invite them to use Uber for the first time.
Also, if you ever find yourself overpaying for a trip, you can review your fare, and you will easily get refunded through uber credits, which means your next ride is partially or fully covered.
Great Customer service
The customer service response time with Uber is top-notch. If you ever find yourself facing an issue with overcharging, car accident and driver taking a wrong route, do not hesitate to contact Uber customer care through the app or their call support number. You will get a response with a possible solution as quickly as possible.
High volume of available drivers
Uber appears to have a considerable number of available drivers when you need them compared to its competitors. For those who have events to attend too and need to get there right on time, it is advisable to try uber services due to its driver availability.
Uber assist caters for the elderly
Uber recently added Uber Assist, a car type option that considers the safety of the elderly with certified drivers’ assistance. Prices might be higher than the average rates, but it is worth it knowing that the elderly one should be our priority.
Uber now allows customers to split the fare
If you decide to share a vehicle with a group, you can schedule your ride with an equivalent percentage share of the vehicle cost. That makes it easier to divide expenses. It also decreases the time it takes to figure out cash payments, restrict personal contact with the driver, and create a comfortable and candid way of ensuring you get to where you need to be.
In as much as Uber comes with a lot of advantages, it also has its disadvantages. With pricing, Uber is a bit on the high side, especially during bad Nairobi traffic. Regardless of the destination, Uber charges on base fare, the price per kilometre and price per minute. I went further to compare the prices of Taxify and Uber using the same destination, from Woodvale grove fortis tower, Westland to Nairobi sports house, Moi avenue, CBD, which is 4.2 km.
Lack of M-pesa (Mobile Money) payment option
Some believe that promoting local content adds direct value to the economy; at the moment, Uber Kenya is not an admirer of that belief. The payment options available are cash, credit or debit card and PayPal. Another option is sending money directly to the drivers M-pesa for those who feel comfortable with it.
Issues with driver misconduct
You might come across drivers who will try to make more money by using a longer route to get to a destination. Some drivers have formed a habit of driving slowly or making unnecessary stops when it may not be necessary. We rate drivers to weed out the bad drivers from the system, but with Uber open employment policy, there will always be a few drivers who will keep doing it.
It runs on an automated system
You ever wondered why you get overcharged during hectic traffic in the city of Nairobi, its because Uber uses automated systems and algorithms to decide which driver to send your way or the cost of the trip. I understand that no system is supposed to be perfect; however, there is always the possibility of being accidentally overcharged for a system error.
Bolt, an Estonian online taxi app, launched its services in July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. Formerly called Taxify, the online taxi company aims to bring the brand’s identity in line with the company’s vision of transportation that has already grown from ride-hailing, with cars and motorbikes, to scooter sharing. The Bolt app is easy to use and works on a simple system: passengers request a ride, track their car movement on the app, pay either in cash or automatically on the app, and rate their journey.
On the bright side, Bolt is cheaper than Uber. They charge Ksh. 2.3 per minute, unlike Uber, that charges Ksh. 3 per minute.
No cancellation fees
The thing about Bolt is that if you decide to cancel a ride before the driver gets there, they do not charge for cancellation.
You get the opportunity to view charge rates
While requesting a taxi, you can view the charge rate by clicking on your choice of car option, which means that you can see what you will pay per kilometre, per minute, wait time and minimum price.
Inviting a friend gets you a free trip
There is a bonus reward for inviting friends to join Bolt. Some promo-codes are also regularly offered.
No rewards for first-time users
Unfortunately, Bolt does not give first-time users rewards, unlike Uber, that offers discounts if you join newly.
Limited amount of drivers
The unavailability of Bolts cars around your area, especially when you need them, can be a significant set back for those who are in a hurry. The difference between Uber and Bolt in this regard is that Uber drivers are regularly available as compared to bolt drivers.
No customer care communication through the app
Unlike Uber, Bolt does not have the option where you can report a driver’s misconduct or an overcharge through the app. The only option available is to call Bolt directly through your phone.
The App user interface is poor
There are so many wrong issues with Bolt’s app. You are either going to have difficulties with technical errors like destination address not appearing on the map after the driver has accepted your request or your trip suddenly disconnecting on its own. Bolt needs to invest a lot more on its app to ease customer’s complaints.
The refund process is difficult
Uber gives Uber points as an option for refunds in the event of overcharging. Unfortunately, Bolt will only give you a refund if you input your debit or credit card digits inside the app.