Monday, July 21, 2014

UberX Napa Valley Part 3: No-Shows and Filter Issues

A driver went online and was ready to give rides on Saturday night. They saw Napa Valley surging at 11:00 pm, and decided to risk it all in the wine country once again. As poor client ratings have created past problems in Napa Valley, now the new issue are clients requesting rides from furthermost cities and being no-shows.

Problem #1 - This driver noticed Napa Valley surging high. They exited Highway 12 and headed toward Napa. A ride request arrived from Novato, which is almost an hour away if a driver takes the recommended Highway 37 East route. This ride request should have been given to another driver servicing Marin County. We're sure there are UberX drivers in Marin County on Saturday nights. 

On the first ride request, the driver accepted and declined this ride based on the 1-hour pick-up time between Napa and Novato. There is no easy way to cross over to Novato without taking a journey. This driver canceled the ride so another closer driver could accept it. By the time the driver reached this pick-up spot, the client would have canceled the request. 

Problem #2 - Ride request number two arrived a few seconds after. This driver picked up two clients in downtown Napa. Napa Valley was surging because of peak demand in the busy summer months. For the most part, this driver assumed this ride would be surged for the 10 mile trip; however, a really small surge was applied to this fare that this trip cost didn't increase much.  

On the second ride, a client sent out a ride request. This driver accepted this ride request, but a second later the client sent a text message to change this pickup location. Nevertheless, this driver thanked their client for sending this text message. Once the driver navigated to this new pickup location, they contacted this client. The client indicated this driver was not at the address given via text message.

On the Uber system, the client claimed this driver was 4 minutes away. However, the Uber system only detected the original address rather than this new requested pickup location. This driver was across the street from this client; however, the client told me to keep driving down the street and to go around the other side. This driver realized this client was confused, so they drove right back to this location and waited on the roadside. 

Eventually, the client walked outside and entered the vehicle. She requested a ride to some location near Sonoma. As soon as the client pointed out a small entrance off the side of the road, the driver turned into this location. This driver had no idea the destination would take longer, because the drive home took 4 miles to reach. There were windy roads, steep inclines, dirt, gravel, and other mysterious surrounding on this trip into reaching the final destination. Finally, the client dropped this client off at their destination, and then departed. 

This driver accepted another ride request from downtown Napa. It took them some maneuvering to exit this property. This new client sent a few text messages to inform the driver of their pickup spot. The driver thanked this client, sharing they would be there soon. Nonetheless, this client requested an ETA. This driver exercised precaution responding to this text message; driving on a dark highway required extra awareness. 

The driver arrived at this pickup location. Their client wasn't positioned at the location they requested via text message. This driver waited a few minutes to send out a text message. No response. The driver called the client. The client answered; they instructed this driver the system is stating their location is a few minutes away. This driver knew their location to this client was accurate, so they remained at this location until the client called back again. 

Eventually, these clients realized they were standing a hundred feet South of their requested location. These clients walked to the vehicle. This driver completed the trip, which the clients kindly appreciated this ride. This client realized the driver made a long journey to retrieve them. 

The next ride request arrived from Saint Helena, a city that is located about 19-21 miles North of Napa. This driver immediately called the client to make sure they would wait for them. However, the client never picked up their phone. The driver already canceled the first Novato trip and didn't want to cancel again unless a problem arrised that warranted this action. This driver drove to Saint Helena and reached the pickup location in 30 minutes. But for the most part, the client was not at this location. 

This driver sent a text message to the client, including they were at the requested location and to notify them if this address was different. No answer. This driver called. Answer machine. This driver waited longer. They called one final time. Answer machine again. At 2X surge, this driver hesitated to cancel this ride. In any case, this client was a no-show and the driver canceled using that option. 

Problem #3 - However, this driver noticed the system didn't charge a cancellation fee of $5. Nearly 45 minutes invested in this trip, and this driver got nothing in return. They were now positioned in a desolate location outside of the action and would lose plenty of ride requests in result of this client no-show. 

This driver left Saint Helena. They pulled over and submitted a support request to inform Uber of this cancellation not charge to the client. This no-show ruined the driver's night. It took the driver away from the hot spots and nothing was given to them in return. 2.5 gallons of Premium gas were lost.

Uber revised the no-show to reflect the $5 cancellation. If drivers experience any trip issues, be sure to send an immediate request for the support team to make adjustments. 

Problem #4 - To top this off, a new ride request from the mountains arrived. This driver didn't know it would require them a trek through the mountains to reach the client. There were deer, racoons, windy roads, no light, steep inclines, dirt, and other obstacles. It took nearly an hour to reach the clients. These clients knew the driver traveled far; they appreciate this driver for making the trip to retrieve them. It took serious dedication to reach the pickup location, which this driver located the pickup location on the first try. 

The problem with this ride request above is that no filters are set in place. A driver who ignores ride requests will get penalized with a low acceptance rate. If the driver could have set filters, these trips would have been avoided. With valuable gas gone, the driver didn't make one-third of their usual Saturday night earnings. To salvage the night, this driver accepted one last trip in Santa Rosa. 

Napa Valley is a bad region to work. Clients are inexperienced with the Uber system. Furthermore, clients give low ratings, move away from the pickup spot, change addresses often, and filters match rides from many miles away (i.e. Novato, Saint Helena and location on the coast). Additionally, clients attempt to exceed the seating limits and try to bring glasses of wine and other drinks in cars. Drivers are put in situations that may cause them extreme problems. 

Not many bar patrons understand what Uber is, so they knock on windows and ask if UberX drivers are taxis and if they can cancel their trip to drive them. If personnel informed the Napa Valley community better, people would know of this service. A good portion of clients who use UberX don't live in Napa Valley. Whereas Downtown Napa can potentially represent a good spot to work, prospective clients are misinformed and require valuable information on how the platform works.  

This driver drove nearly 200 miles. They invested 6+ hours driving. $45 in gas used. 5 trips made only $81.  After commission, this driver will make $20 for 6 hours. Typically, this driver has earned $220+ driving the same hours in the East Bay and/or in San Francisco. If filters were set into place and clients were not ordering rides and disappearing, drivers can make good money in Napa. 

It is irresponsible clients that ruin this new service in Napa Valley. The worse this problem becomes, the great chance ridesharing drivers will avoid this region. Clients who need rides will then have to depend on taxis. Most taxis don't drive out to regions where they risk no-shows, such as wineries in the middle of nowhere and restaurants in low volume areas. 

Taxis will never drive through the mountains to reach the other side near 12 West and 101. Gas and time are too valuable to waste. Quite a few clients have no respect for their drivers. They increase the risk for drivers by sneaking open containers of alcohol inside vehicles and requesting to exceed seat occupancy limits. 

As mentioned in Part 1 and Part II of Napa Valley, drive in Napa Valley at your own risk. It is a region where there are no-shows, clients submit wrong pickup locations, clients move away from pin, GPS problems, no filters to block ride requests from an hour way, outsiders who visit Napa rate drivers poorly (1-3 star ratings are common), pickups are much further away, Napa Valley is too spread out, and business declines after bars close. A driver can make $120 for 3 hours in the early evening hours, but then gets only one fare before noon and nothing else. These same problems occur in Walnut Creek, Dublin, San Ramon, Lafayette, Moraga, and nearby cities.

Want to make good money in California? Drive in dense areas such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Drivers can get fares at all times of the day and night, don't travel that far to retrieve clients, pickups are faster, GPS is more accurate now, clients understand how to rate drivers, better fares (i.e. airport rides and outside-the-city rides), and clients almost always need their ride unlike the problematic areas outside big cities. 

Happy Ridesharing!