Uber is Uber-tastic… but… Experience of a first time user and some suggestions for Uber

This past weekend I had the opportunity to join a great event that announced the launch of JIRA development team in Vietnam, hosted by Atlassian themselves. Think of it like a glorified recruiting event, because guess what? The #1 place to work in Australia and #7 in USA is hiring! Learn more here.

So I sorta went off topic above but yet not entirely as my story about the JIRA Landing In Vietnam event above is the reason I got introduced to Uber. Atlassian worked with Uber to receive a special promotion offer to new customers of Uber to receive 100,000 VND for their first trip (note: 100,000 VND is just under $5 USD in case you were wondering). Free taxi, heck, why not! But I never seen anyone use it before so I was a little hesitant to use the program. I sent out a mayday to my friends on Facebook for past experience using it in Ho Chi Minh. One of my friends is awesome! She sent me a promotion code with a free 100,000 VND on my first ride (and you can too, I’ll explain later how to send your own code to friends).

Anyway, I took off to the App Store (I am using an Apple iPhone 5, latest iOS version) and downloaded the app. Upon launching the app, it asks if it can use your location services. Since this app brings taxi to your doorstep, of course you need to click Allow 🙂

Access LoatoinNext step is to setup your account, click on Register to begin the process:


Sadly I do not have screenshots of the registration process but I will give you some tips:

  1. It will provide you steps to setup Name, Phone Number and profile photo, I suggest you do this, easier for driver to find you 🙂
  2. You can enter the Promotion Code after you setup your account if you do not have one on hand, I’ll explain how later.
  3. You must enter a credit card to finish the registration process, you cannot register without it. Even if you know the promotion credit you get from a friend will cover your first ride, you still need one.

After successful creation of the account, you should see one of the following 2 screens:

A. There is a car close enough to you that is available, this is shown by the black button in the middle of the screen that says “Set Pickup Location”


B. There is no cars close to you resulting in No Car Available Button

No Car

Going back to the case where there is a car available, notice the button has a number on far left. This is the estimated time it takes the Uber Taxi to reach you and in the example above, it is saying 10 minutes. Now this is where I had my first problem with Uber 😦

When I first opened and registered the app, I did not have a button. All I saw was the example seen below:


As you can see, I was missing a black button, and the bar below to select the type of Taxi I wanted (UberBlack, versus UberExec). I tried click on the menu (top left icon) and selecting “Get an Uber”, tried taping the screen, tried signing out (see later where sign out option is hiding), all to no avail. I also reviewed Uber web site for instructions, but they provide no visual aids in the documentation, but that sorta makes sense as lets face it, the app is really straightforward, when it works.

So off to Uber Support I go. I gave them all the details about my experience, and in all 3 times I tried working with them (by email) all they recommended (spoke with 2 different support members) was to remove the app and reinstall it :-(. Now I will admit, I can be stubborn sometimes and think i know better than tech support and not do what they ask but this time I did follow their instructions but to no luck, same issue. So I decided to try things on my own. This included trying particular order of steps in attempt to reset the account, move the map around, zoom in and tap the green pin, still no luck. Then finally I decided to check the payment details.

In the menu I mentioned earlier (accessed by clicking the profile icon in top left) I then selected Payments –


In the payment screen you will see a list of credit cards you configured in your account, in my case, I just had one (AMEX card)


Press the payment and you will see a visible of a card (with most numbers blocked of course) –


Click Edit (in very small text in top right) to see an edit view –

Modify Creditcard

This brings us to the second mystery.. what the heck does that flag mean beside the expiration date field?


When you click on the flag, it opens a country selection window. Now in my case I am using a US credit card, in Vietnam and the Vietnam flag is displayed, so my guess is (this is wild and not confirmed guess) to identify the type of currency to be charged. The odd thing however is the fee charged to my account was in American USD and not VND, so the flag is still a mystery. Anyway, the process I did was from this screen I reentered the CCV code (it was blank on open, and then click on flag, set it to United States and click Done. the credit card view returned to the Display card view (3 images up). I then clicked Back located in small text in top left. Now here is the tricky part (mainly cause it is hidden) click on your picture to open your profile, then scroll to the bottom to find Sign Out:


Now Log back in and wahla, we have our black button! Whew!

Some other things I learned:

  • UberBlack cars are NOT actually black hahaha. When I got successful request through, my driver drove a white Kia.
  • Not all drivers enter their license plate details (I guess not a requirement?)
  • Not sure the maximum distance an Uber driver can be to be requested, but appears between 22 and 25 minutes is the magic number for maximum distance for pickup.
  • Uber Drivers could also chose not to accept a pickup by simply driving away after being requested and chose to cancel the request.
  • If you have a friend thinking of trying Uber, send them a free promotion code to help them get started (and receive credit yourself if they use it). To do so, go to the menu and click Promotions. You will see a screen as shown below with your unique coupon which you can send to as many people as you like. Again, this coupon is only good for first time users only –

So here are my recommendations for Uber to help make it a top notch app:

  1. Provide a “demonstration mode” to the app that provides customers a complete walk through of what they should expect. Those who are not savvy or used to features like Uber, will be weary on their first timeout and may not know all the cool features and ins-outs of the app. Yes, the app is built very simple, but if something is not working right (like my case) we are lost and not sure if something is correct or not, and since your documentation provides no visuals, it is a real handicap.
  2. Improve information in the Payment Modify step. For example, what is that flag for? Also help clarify in the app in cases where someone is traveling in a different country that supports Uber, how payments are processes would be helpful.
  3. When entering promotion code and an error occurred, the screen displays 2 errors as shown below. First error is chopped off
    Error while the second error is displayed completely in the actual screen below the field. This is confusing as the error in the actual screen is very small and easy to miss.EnterCode
    I suggest making the first error more general like “Sorry, Failed to Apply Promotion” then in the actual promotion screen make the error text larger and in Red to help standout.
  4. Not sure if this is a bug or what, but when in actual Trip mode (meaning I was picked up and traveling) my destination shows a black marker that says — min and never changes, I assume this means amount of time traveled so far, but as I mentioned, the value never changed, bug maybe?

I hope these tips help others with their Uber experience, and hope Uber takes my recommendations and experiences to make that perfect taxi app! 🙂


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