UberX Bangkok Has Some Things to Work Out
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If you’ve been to Bangkok you know taxis are incredibly cheap but can be somewhat problematic. Because the rides are so cheap, you need small bills and coins. And there’s sometimes a language barrier (especially with my awful pronunciation of Thai landmarks and attractions). And occasionally you get the opportunist who tries to trick you/bully you into paying an exorbitant fare.
Feeling like someone is trying to cheat me can sap all joy from an international vacation, so I was very excited last year to see that Uber had finally come to Bangkok. It was a great experience and Uber black was the same price as arranging car service in advance and much cheaper than the hotel car. The only catch was very limited availability.
Now UberX has become available in Bangkok and I was excited to try out on my spa weekend this spring. It was a much different experience and there are definitely some kinks to work out. We had no trouble taking UberX to Nahm, but it turned into a huge deal trying to get back to our hotel.
We requested the car. We tracked the car’s progress via the app. Watched it pass (via the app) the hotel entrance two times in about 10 minutes. I didn’t have cell service so wasn’t able to respond if he’d called for instructions and if we left the hotel to stand by the road I’d lose the wifi signal for the app. After he passed by us for a third time 15 minutes after the expected arrival time, I decided to cancel. And was promptly charged 45 baht for cancelling more than 5 minutes after the driver had accepted.
I contacted Uber to explain the reason for cancellation and was given a credit in that amount. Which I appreciated but would not have found helpful if that was my last ride in Thailand. The next driver also had trouble finding us, though did eventually, and seemed unfamiliar with the area and our destination.
So nearly an hour after first requesting an UberX, we were back at our hotel, a 15 minute drive.
Using UberX in Bangkok can be a great way to avoid getting cheated or having to carry cash, but what it saves in money you might pay in time. So here are some things to be aware of:
- Availability is much better! At most I had to wait 10 minutes for a car vs the previous year when 30 minutes could go by without one.
- Estimated time of arrival, not so much. At least back in April. The map location does not really account for the craziness of Bangkok traffic and your driver could be 1 minute away for 5 minutes.
- Many of the drivers do not speak English. One of the joys of Uber is that this isn’t essential to know the language since you convey your destination electronically. It is a problem however, if the drivers need to contact you for directions or updates.
- Many of the drivers are unfamiliar with the area. Fortunately they all have GPS maps, but it can lead to long delays if they’re having trouble finding your location. It can also lead to some harrowing feats of driving when they realize last minute they need to be 5 lanes over. 🙂
- If you cancel a ride for a missed connection, be prepared to contact Uber. It’s not a big deal, but I didn’t really feel like paying a $1+ just because our driver couldn’t find us and I was tired of waiting. So if you experience similar difficulties, just take screen shots and submit a request to Uber’s help center.
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