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Thread started by Dave Winer on Sunday, October 21, 2012.

Uber strikes out at JFK

The CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, did a great presentation yesterday at Startup School. So great, that I decided I wanted to try the service, first chance I could when I got into JFK on my trip back to NY.

So I set up a new account, entered my credit card info, installed the software on my iPad and my iPod Touch, and read a few docs that explained that it was not possible to arrange for a pickup in advance, that I would have to request the ride from the location where I was to be picked up.

So here's what I did when I got to the front of Terminal 7 at JFK at about 4:30PM today.

1. Opened the Uber app on my iPod, but it thought, for some reason that I was in the middle of Kansas. So that wasn't going to work.

2. I got out the iPad, and it knew where I was (it has GPS, apparently the iPod doesn't).

3. I got a confusing dialog that seemed to be asking me to choose which kind of ride I wanted. Either an SUV, or a Uber-x, or a regular ride. Too many choices.

4. Then the moment of truth. A nice big button that you click to request a ride. The caption below it says the nearest car is 9 minutes away. I click the button. Expecting to be congratulated with a map that showed me where my car was so I could watch it come to me! But nooooo...

5. A big error dialog comes up saying that before I can order I ride I have to have my phone number verified. Why didn't they have me do it at the hotel. I'm standing in front of a busy terminal, with people rushing around me, and I'm supposed to do what? So I get out my cell phone, and do what they tell me to do. Text the word "GO" to a number they specify.

6. Now I'm juggling three different devices. And my luggage, and remember the nearest car is 9 minutes away. And there are cabs coming and going, any one of which would be happy to take me home.

7. I try clicking the big button again, on the iPad, but again I get the error message. You have to text to this number blah blah.

8. I look at the cell phone, and there's an error that says the number isn't registered with Uber. At this point I guess that my phone has identified itself by its T-mobile number, not the Google Voice number that I registered with Uber. I can never remember the T-mobile number (there's no need to, no one but Google Voice knows it). I figure maybe I'll go to the Uber site and register with that number instead of my real number.

9. So I get the iPad out and go to the Uber site. But I don't remember my password (I used my Macbook Air last night to fill out all the forms).

10. So I open up Gmail, and start to search for the password and at this point I realize I've given it my best shot, and close everything up and get in a cab, give him my address and he takes me home.

And I was so excited to try the service! Oy.

If anyone from Uber reads this -- validating the number is something I should have been asked to do when I was setting up the account, not when I'm standing on the street wanting to go home.

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