Controversial, provocate, loathed by many, a P.R. disaster on occasion.

But it just plain works. Exceptionally well.

Step forward Uber.


Whilst we had heard mention of it before, we first properly heard about Uber when London’s black cab’s brought the city to a halt by going on strike to protest about it. We were never entirely clear what they were striking about but it appeared to be something to do with Uber confirming the fare in advance, but maybe not. More of that HERE

So like thousands of others that day we downloaded the app to see what all the fuss was about…and the experience of ordering a cab in London changed forever.

The purchase process pre Uber

Either stand at the kerb waving at black cabs, which despite having their light on, invariably drive past oblivious to someone wanting to pay them money.

Or use our account cab service. One of London’s leading providers. This involves ringing them, then answering so many questions it feels like an exam. Then waiting while they speak to their controller to see if they have a cab available. They invariably don’t if you ring less than two hours in advance. And when the invoice arrives it is easy to think you bought the cab by mistake.

The Uber purchase process

Tap the app to open it. Tap the pick up location. Tap to confirm the request.

That’s it.

The app states how long you will need to wait for the cab to arrive. (Never been more than 5 minutes.) It tells you the drivers name, and provides a picture of them . It also tells you the model of the car and it’s licence plate number. A text is sent notifying you of when the driver has arrived. Get out when you arrive at your destination. A receipt is emailed to you a few minutes later. It shows the duration of the journey, route taken, mileage and cost.

It just works perfectly, every time. Well, almost perfectly, almost every time. Once, but only once, a cab was cancelled. You can’t book in advance either. And some complain about their surge pricing – putting the price up at peak demand. But lots of businesses do that, and it just means that on a Saturday night it might be cheaper to get a black cab.

But it is so superior to hailing a black cab or using our cab account there is no comparison.

the Uber purchase process

The Uber Customer Journey (Forgive the pun!)

And then there is the matter of cost

Occasional surge pricing aside, Uber suggest they’re about 20% cheaper than a black cab. We’ve found they’re much cheaper than that: over 30%, and less than 1/4 of the cost of our account cabs (an account we would have closed by now if we didn’t need couriers from time to time).

The title image at the top of the page is from the homepage of their excellent website:

But is our Brand of the Year, really a brand at all?

We’re not sure it is a true brand yet and the management’s adversarial approach to almost everyone has led to more media coverage of problems and disputes than the efficiency and costs savings of the service. Maybe at the moment  it is a very good service rather than a very good brand?

But we aren’t going to trouble ourselves with such distinctions.

We can’t recall the arrival of a new business in an existing sector that has changed the game so significantly, so quickly. And so for that alone it’s our Brand of the Year 2014.

What’s yours?