My Foul, Fearful Uber Experience Proves Why We're Better

Jim Luff
Posted on January 16, 2019
Look out for crazy Uber drivers. Your safety is at stake. (Flickr.com image by Greg O'Connell)

Look out for crazy Uber drivers. Your safety is at stake. (Flickr.com image by Greg O'Connell)

It’s really hard to be an armchair quarterback when you’ve never played the game. It seemed as good of an opportunity as any to try an Uber and head to the annual GCLA party from our Hollywood hotel last month. For some reason, the host hotel was quite some distance from the party venue, so getting there became a last-minute challenge for me and a staff member from the other industry magazine. We agreed to share this (Uber X) ride and experience, and I quickly claimed the rights to the story...and it was about to become a story.

The ordering process was very simple and Dustin arrived within three minutes of my request. It was clear Dustin would not be helping me with my bag or getting the doors for either one of us. During our 45-minute ride from the hotel to the downtown Los Angeles venue, there were times I wanted to hold the hand of my travel companion due to fear.

At times we exchanged text messages although we were seated side-by-side. We shared our safety concerns of nearly rear-ending a vehicle, not once but on numerous occasions, during the ride. We were also concerned about our route, why it was taking so long, and why our driver kept joining in our conversations and even freely dropping F-bombs as we traveled along.

Dustin didn’t hold back in sharing the seats we occupied were also his living quarters. Dustin was “in between places” at the moment, so his car doubled as his house. That may explain the pungent odor that forced me to roll my window down in a quest for fresh air. Dustin probably had his dirty laundry in the trunk. He also shared with us his need to have orthodontic work and his conversations with his father about giving him any expected inheritance today rather than making him wait until after his father passes. Let’s face it, Dustin needs that money now! If for no other reason than to have a decent place to sleep or maybe even shower.

The ride included passing through a blind intersection in a residential area where a car bolted into our path forcing Dustin to swerve and question whether the other vehicle had run a stop sign or whether there was even a stop sign at the residential intersection. Either way, we should never have been in this residential area.

I finally had to tell Dustin I knew exactly how to get where we were going, and I asked him to avoid looking at his GPS one more time. Instead, I asserted Dustin was to follow my orders, my route, and my directions for the duration of the trip. I had to do this. Our lives quite literally depended on me taking control at this time. To say we felt unsafe was an understatement. Regardless, I tipped Dustin $10 as we got out. Whether his sappy story about living in his car was true or he was simply a hustler, it worked. I had taken pity on Dustin after he shared proprietary information with us about how much Uber paid him, how much gas he bought each day, insurance matters, and so much more we should have never heard anything about.  

The trip back to the hotel would be in an SUV ordered from MOTEV. As the evening ended, I walked out with a 25 lb. briefcase slung over my shoulder and carried a plastic crate full of marketing materials and supplies. The chauffeur bolted out of his shiny black SUV and asked me if he could take them from me. He had found me and introduced himself when he arrived. He opened the doors for my colleague and me, and I never heard from him again until we arrived back at the hotel. The trip lasted about 10 minutes, and we talked so much I don’t even know what route we took. That’s the way it should be.

Another member of our industry also decided to try the Uber experience and her driver wanted to know how much Uber was charging her when he closed out the ride. Her ride was also a stinky one forcing her to open the windows. The Uber driver took a photo of traffic as he was driving down the road, and then, tweeted it! I am now fully qualified to be an armchair quarterback in this arena, and can affirm from experience the ongoing stark difference between an Uber ride vs. a chauffeur driven vehicle.

Related Topics: California operators, customer service, driver behavior, Jim Luff, LCT blog, Los Angeles, Los Angeles operators, passenger safety, TNCs, Uber

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
Comments ( 5 )
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  • Anthony

     | about 2 months ago

    Your story is not typical. I have used Uber and Lyft many times and never experienced anything like this. I only use Uber and Lyft when traveling and every time they exit the car and help with luggage. Some drivers are chatty but not to the detriment of the safety of the passenger, me.

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