When Uber was launched in December last year, customers were immediately taken by the ease of access in booking a cab as well as the luxury line of cars that showed up at their doorstep.
The company’s homepage announces two major services, uberBLACK and uberX Livery. Essentially, an enabler and not a cab service, Uber invites professional chauffeurs to “earn money” with their cars by connecting them with customers. The website makes no mention of the low-cost Uber Go service, which is what the victim in the December 6 rape case is believed to have booked.
For the uberBLACK service, Uber invites professional chauffeurs with a “commercial licence and a commercial auto insurance”. For the uberX service, the company asks for a “commercially insured” driver. Vehicles for the high-end uberBLACK service include black sedans, town cars and SUVs while the other service provides any mid-size cab that seats four.
Till recently, all payments for Uber cabs were made via credit card but post an RBI intervention, payments are routed via a PayTM wallet. Post-launch, base fares for cabs were Rs 95 and Rs 67 respectively. However, the company cut rates in October, bringing them down to Rs 71 and Rs 50 respectively. The uberGo, ferrying customers in hatchbacks, was launched only last month with a base of Rs 40. All cars come equipped with an iPhone that records ride details.
The cabs’ location-tracking service was also considered a hassle-free way of getting a cab and the model was adopted by other operators, such as Ola. Uber’s quick arrangement of rides for drivers is also a hit with the customers as they believe the app saves them time as cab operators normally ask for a pick-up address, which drivers sometimes find difficult to locate.
With the help of a GPS- based location, they know exactly where the car is, from the moment that it is booked. This is the basis of a sense of security that, for customers, became synonymous with Uber. Until Friday evening, that is.