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Tired Of Uber's Unpredictable Surge Pricing? This Car-Hailing App Hopes You'll Switch

Mar 30 2014, 10:31pm CDT | by , in News | Technology News

Tired Of Uber's Unpredictable Surge Pricing? This Car-Hailing
 
 

As a frequent Uber user, I find the problem with the company’s much-lambasted surge pricing isn’t just its high cost (which can sometimes reach as much eight or nine times a ride’s base fare), it’s how unpredictable the whole process is. Until you open the app, you have absolutely no way of knowing what multiplier you’re going to be subject to. Adding to this uncertainty is the mysterious black-box nature of an Uber transaction. Users can only guess what a ride will cost before getting in the car, and the cost is automatically deducted before there is any chance to see  the total tab.
(Update: An Uber employee pointed out to me on Twitter that the app can estimate a user’s total fare. I will admit that I had no idea this feature existed, despite the fact that I probably use Uber an average of about five times per week.)

The result: It is very difficult to plan ahead with Uber. If you’re on a budget or simply unwilling to pay eight times a ride’s base fare out of a matter of principle, it’s hard to really rely on Uber for a ride home.

Enter Gett: A new car-hailing app that promises a drastically simpler pricing model. Instead of being charged by a virtual meter that measures time and distance travelled, Gett uses a fixed neighborhood-to-neighborhood price structure. For example, the base fare from Midtown East to Wall Street is always $23, while a ride out to JFK airport goes for $63.

During peak hours, inclement weather, and major holidays there’s a small surcharge (a company rep said it would usually be $5 to $10); and additional stops and extended waits can also add to the bill.

Another differentiator from Uber: Gett allows users to book rides in advance. This allows users to prebook airport flights, or simply have the peace of mind of knowing a ride is lined up.

Will these differences be enough to get Uber users to switch? Well, only if the app can get them a car quickly and reliably. To test this out, I opened the app on several occasions to see the promised time before a driver would be there for me in different neighborhoods and at different times. When I set my location as being in Manhattan, the app consistently promised pickup times of between 5 and 10 minutes. This is totally on par with what Uber provides. For now, at least, outer borough residents don’t have it so good: Pickups in different parts of Brooklyn tended to come in between 15 and 22 minutes.

It should also be noted that Gett’s Uber-like car service is currently only available in New York, although the company  also operates a traditional taxi-hailing service called Get Taxi in six other cities: London, Moscow, St. Petersberg, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. Like Uber in its early days, Gett currently only provides one tier of service: luxury black cars. Still, the different pricing schemes mean rides could still come with lower bills than some of Uber’s budget offerings.

 

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Seth Porges is a writer and co-creator of Cloth for iOS. For more fun,  follow Seth on Twitter at @sethporges, or subscribe to him on Facebook or Google+.

Source: Forbes

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