Sunday, June 29, 2014

Uber - Week One

So far, so good, although my nightly earnings have come as a disappointment. I usually log-in and check my stats the morning after a six to eight-hour night on the clock downtown. Last night for example, my latest, busiest weekend night driving in downtown Nashville, I had a steady flow of passengers from around 6 p.m. through 2:30 a.m. Big bucks, right?

 So I wake up and look at my take and it's $170-something, which is great, but this is no $60,000/year business. Something else that perplexes me is the sometimes whole point drop in ratings after what seems like a night of great interaction with my passengers.

I never get a clue that anything is less than perfect from my people. The car is a clean and air-conditioned, late model Volvo. These kids are young-in their twenties mostly and seemingly well-off for the most part, so maybe they're basically rich and hard to please. That's my guess.

Listen you little brats! Consider yourself lucky to even have an affordable, air conditioned private ride show up in 5 minutes, instead of calling an over-priced taxi from a pay-phone, which may or may not show up in an hour, which was the only way to get anywhere when I was your age and poor as shit, back in the eighties!

So it's good work for a little pocket-change, but eventually your car's gonna' blow up. This ain't new car income and you're gonna' be calling Uber yourself, for a ride too. Basically, you're sucking the value out of your car and transferring it to your bank account.

My favorite ride was the two hookers I picked up and dropped off downtown, where the one did a little dance for me in the street before they walked off and I did notice everybody present who was close by on the street on 5th avenue just stopped and stared at me for a moment, slack-jawed, even the local cop.

I'm going to change my strategy from accepting every ride request, to just taking the rides that are within a ten-minute drive of where I'm at. I did that Thursday and it was a high income, low mileage night. When the ride request comes through on the iPhone, it gives the estimated minutes of drive time that passenger is from your location. Uber has been pressuring us to accept every ride, even those that are 15-20 minutes or more away for pickup.

I followed that strategy last night and it was a lot of miles on the car. Plus I think the one girl I picked up a distance west of town must have gave me a low rating, because she was very short with me, after I got a bit lost trying to find her house, which did not come up on my GPS unit. So this is the thanks I get, for driving 20 minutes to pick up this kid.

Regardless, I'm going to enjoy the steady work, while it lasts. Seems like Uber's days are numbered and everyone is trying to sue them or regulate them out of business anyway, as is the custom in this country when anything good is happening.

First time Uber riders, get $20 off!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Driving for Uber

Having been chronically underemployed during the year 2014, due to my trying to escape my previously ill-advised involvement in the chiropractic personal-injury racket, I am always searching for ways to make money, as it seems I am unemployable in my old age for anything other than "self employment", which means I'm on Craigslist a lot, searching in desperation for any opportunity to earn a buck.

Regardless, I spied this ad for Uber drivers on my local Craigslist, so, naturally, I applied. To my surprise, I actually got "hired" after a lengthy month-long background check and they promptly sent me an iPhone programmed for the Uber share a ride system. This is where you take your vehicle to your local city where Uber is operating and hang out until some stranger, who is already signed up for the Uber system, requests a ride through your Uber-issued iPhone.

Then you have 15 seconds to tap the phone screen and accept the ride. Punch the requested address into your GPS (purchased with your own funds) and, hopefully, it directs you to the waiting fare. There, you pull over, greet the customer and get the destination address, which you also punch into your GPS, unless you already know your city really well. Proceed from point A to point B, after touching the go button on your Uber-phone and it records the time and mileage and computes a fare, after you touch the stop button on your phone at the end of the trip, of which Uber takes 20%. The rest is deposited a few times per week directly into your bank account.

Sounds like the perfect job, right? No day is the same. Meet lots of interesting, tech-savvy people. Set your own hours, get immediate feedback on what you earned on any ride given, work in any major city.

My experience after three nights? Here are my numbers after being available from 4 through 8 p.m. two nights and 4 p.m. through 2:37 a.m Friday night:

  • Total Miles: 493.2. So I put about 165 miles on my car per working night. To be fair, I drive 34 miles just to get to the city before turning on my Uber-phone, although I did turn it on immediately Friday night and actually scored a rider halfway to town. So I am spotting myself 68 miles every day that I work, regardless.
  • Total Rides: 34. So I'm averaging just under 12 rides per session.
  • Hours: Weeknights, I work 4 to 8 p.m. Friday night I worked 4 p.m. to almost 3 a.m. 8 + 11 is 19 hours on the clock.
  • Earnings: After three days, my stats show total earnings of $371.82. So, let's see. The reward for totally killing my car for three nights is 371.82 - gas at about 23 mpg comes to about 22 gallons of gas at an average price of $3.45/gallon currently for regular = around $76.00. 371.82 - 76 = $295.82 net income. I forgot to mention that my GPS cost $200, so I have netted only about $95.00 so far. So it looks like about $100/night profit.
  • Keep in mind that commercial insurance is recommended if you ever want your car to be repaired by your insurance company if you get in an accident. Research shows that insurance runs around $1,000/month,which of course, I don't have, although Uber does cover your passengers at one million dollars each, so if I'm in an accident, I'm out of a vehicle.
In conclusion, I see ride-sharing services as a nice novelty and the software system is ingenious, but I think it's a fad whose time is limited, especially by the time these drivers have an accident, or have to buy a replacement vehicle for their beat-up Uber-wagon and realize how they've actually been run over by the costs involved. It looks like the passengers and the company are making out great, but, ultimately the driver is getting totally screwed.

In summary; It looks like a good strategy to make some quick cash, if you have a good vehicle and a clean driving record and are somewhat tech-savvy, but it's no full-time job.

The End