Tips For Using Uber

The ride sharing service is evolving quickly
BY: DUSTY RHODES

If you don’t want to drive a car in Mexico, Uber can fill in most any transportation need you have. Unless it’s after 8 pm in Cabo. For now.

But, Uber here is a little bit different, so listen up:

In Mexico, you can pay with cash instead of using a credit card. Use cash if you can. The drivers prefer it. Drivers cannot see how you have elected to pay until they arrive. If you have chosen to pay with a credit card, they might drive away right in front of you. In that case the app automatically sets you up with another driver. However, it can be annoying.

Unlike U.S. cars, which will have the Uber sticker on their windshield, Uber drivers will flash their lights to let you know it’s them when they pull up. You just need to stand there looking like you’re waiting for an Uber ride, whatever that looks like.

Americans usually climb into the back seat of an Uber ride, while most Mexican passengers sit in the front seat in both taxis and when taking Uber.

Uber rides are great opportunities to practice your Spanish. Think of a topic and look up a little accompanying vocabulary to practice for each ride. The words left and right come to mind as useful.

Drivers have generous self-assessments of what it means to “speak English” as described in their profile on the app. Most will not understand your English.

Write down your complete destination, as addresses in Mexico can be long and detailed. Keep your home address in your wallet also written down. Do not depend on your memory or the application to serve up the address to the driver.

To help them find you, have a standard phrase in Spanish and text them after your driver is confirmed (“La entrada está en frente de la restaurant La Casa Country” (The entrance is in front of the Casa Country Restaurant.) No matter if the app says they speak English, write these instructions in Spanish.

Mexico is a busy place. Prepare a few words in Spanish to describe what you are wearing, “Llevo un vestido azul.” (I’m wearing a blue dress). Text this information immediately after the ride is confirmed. See, now you don’t have to look overly earnest as a ride seeker. OK, so now you’re going to have to wear a blue dress every time you call for an Uber because your Spanish sucks. Guys will be very noticeable in the vestido azul, which is a big advantage.

Uber in Mexico is half the cost of Uber in the U.S., why not tip generously?

Uber drivers are great sources of information and good places to start if you are looking for other service providers. To hire an Uber driver per hour for errands will cost about $10 per hour.

Uber drivers are usually upper-middle class by Mexican standards. Like in the U.S., many have other jobs and big dreams. They are hard workers, putting in long hours in their combination of jobs. Not at all like the taxistas who choose a job where they can mostly sit around. And where they are allowed to be rude. And they don’t have to even try at English.

At times, you’ll still want to take a cab. Gas is expensive in Mexico, (about $3.65 a gallon), and Uber drivers usually have tiny cars. Taxis have bigger trunks, which can make them better for grocery shopping and airport runs. But the van taxi drivers won’t pick up people at grocery stores because they don’t want to do business with their own countrymen: They don’t tip well and they can’t be fooled into paying more than the ride is worth. Uber is evolving fast, some of these tips may not be needed for long, but always needed is an appreciation for hard working folks, courtesy, and a generous spirit.