San Francisco’s Uber is trialling in Auckland (and here’s how you get $10 of free rides)

San Francisco’s cool next-generation taxi service Uber has started trialling its service in Auckland late March. They call this start-up stage of their activities ‘Uber Secret’.

Uber was introduced to me in San Francisco by Steve Simms last year. At that stage I signed up but didn’t get time to try the service. However now Uber is in Auckland I’m already enjoying having a new way of getting about that’s smarter and more cost effective than traditional taxis.

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Based around an app (or a mobile website that’s nearly identical to the app if you don’t use iOS or Android), Uber ensures a more refined experience than that of a typical taxi thanks to good use of technology:

  • Customers book a ride from an app that shows you where nearby vehicles are, how long it will take to pick you up, and an estimate of what the fare will be
  • When you’ve placed a booking you can see a photo of the driver who will collect you, the type of car that is coming (and it’s license plate number), a rating of the driver and a live map showing where the car is currently
  • The driver will pick you up from the GPS location of your phone – though you can adjust this if you want picking up at a slightly different location
  • You can have direct contact with the driver as the app provides an option to call or SMS the driver direct to their mobile. Handy for instance if you’re at a hard to find location, or if you need to check when they’ll arrive.
  • Upon reaching your destination, you don’t have to spend your time arranging payment – this happens automatically via the app
  • The app also emails you an invoice which includes a map of exactly where the driver took you. If you felt the drive didn’t take you the best route, you can alert Uber (and potentially obtain a credit).
  • After completion of the journey you can rate driver based on their politeness, safe driving skills and the route they took you, etc. And I believe the driver can rate you, the passenger.

Already launched in 33 countries globally, Uber has been growing quickly in the Asia-Pacific region with services in Australia, China, India, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Taiwan.

Initially there aren’t a large number of Uber vehicles on the road, but if you’d like to try the service now or once they’re in full service click through and get $20 $10 credit to try it out (I also get a $20 $10 credit if you sign up and take a ride). You can also enter this Uber Promo Code inside the app or on the Uber website: ubernz