Get on Board with Ride-Sharing/Ride On-demand Services before You Need Them, But Do Your Research First

I finally did it. But I didn’t want to – I  had no choice. I signed up for not one, but two ride-sharing/ride on-demand services.

And I strongly suggest you do it long before you need to do it. Or, do some serious research about your transportation options before you go on vacation.

Straying from more traditional taxi-cab service was not something I was comfortable with (and I’m still working on that). I grew up being told never to get into a stranger’s car … unless the stranger is a cabbie licensed by the local government and employed by a company I can sue if something goes wrong.

I had, and still have, a million questions about using these services – and about linking my ride on-demand account to a credit card or bank card. I’ll explain how I got around that, sort of, in a minute. First, let me explain why I had to, as my friend said, “Go, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century” with this ride-sharing/ride on-demand service thing.

My boyfriend and I went on vacation that included a two-night stay in Oakland, CA., with a daytrip into San Francisco. We had no problem with transportation getting to and from neighboring San Francisco, thanks to our hotel’s complimentary shuttle that took us to the local train station. That part was fine.

That free shuttle also went to and from the airport, and the hotel was less than two miles from the airport. But the shuttle started running at 4 a.m., and we had to be to the airport at 3 a.m. (long story about why, but I’ll spare you that story).

The hotel concierge said we’d have to get a ride service because cabs won’t run that early in the morning. Me being a native New Yorker, I had a tough time wrapping my brain around that one. A New York cabbie would drive you across country is the price was right and the money was guaranteed. I didn’t understand it. We were at a nice, safe hotel in a decent part of town – and we were so close to the airport. Perhaps cabbies felt the fare would not be worth working so early.

Whatever the reason, I had no choice but to get a ride on-demand/ride-sharing service. Luckily, I looked into this the day before we needed it. So, I wasn’t trying to work on this at 2:30 on the morning we had to be at the airport at 3 a.m.

This linking to my bank card or a credit card was bugging me. A lot. But a month prior, I had been looking into the mobile wallet option. You might know it better as “Apple Pay” or “Google Pay” or “Android Pay.” I’m not saying which I picked. They’ll have to pay me some coin before I give them free advertising … even if I am a customer of one of them! Psst … mobile wallet companies, call me!

Uh … as I was saying: I signed up for a mobile wallet option. And, since I don’t do online banking (my account gets phished when I try to use online banking – another long story I will spare you), I had to call to get my bank account verified. Doing this on a Saturday morning, the task took forever.

After I finally got my bank account verified, and linked my bank card to my mobile pay option, and then signed up for one of the ride-sharing services, nearly an hour had gone by. Then, I found out that I could not schedule my ride for the next day using that service.

I tried to schedule a ride, and then I saw that the driver was on his way and would be there in four minutes! Oh, if only I could add 14 hours to the 4-minute ETA! I cancelled it as quickly as I could figure out how to, and I was assessed a $5 fee. I have no problem with the fee. But the frustration with this app was growing and growing inside of me. After researching this online, I found out that scheduling rides is not an option in all areas, and the San Francisco Bay Area is one of those areas where you can’t schedule that far ahead of time.

Sigh … more time wasted before our daytrip to San Francisco.

That’s when I got an account with a rival ride-sharing/ride on-demand service. That one let me schedule a ride to pick us up between 2:30 a.m. and 2:40 a.m. the next morning.

It took me a little bit of time to calm down and for the frustration to melt away so I could enjoy our daytrip to San Francisco. But I eventually got over it and we had a blast in San Francisco. Great public transportation system they have out there!

And everything worked out well with our ride to the airport early Sunday morning. The driver was professional and his car was clean and functioned well. I gave him a good tip. Hey … that is pretty early for a fare that was well under $20. He definitely earned his tip.

So, here’s my tip for you: If you do a fair share of traveling in America, get a ride-sharing account. Or two. Get ‘em before you need ‘em.

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