Dolores writes her experience – review – of her decision to use Uber in San Jose this past week, to her take to her destination.
Being on Paseo Colon and having downloaded the app, registered her information and having watched the Uber tutorial, she was ready.
It should have been easy, a walk in the park, so to speak. But, like many things in Costa Rica, “everything easy, is made difficult”.
The Uber is system uses the smartphone’s GPS to locate the user location. Opening the app allows the company to know where you are and inform of cars currently available at the time.
Using the GPS information, the Uber app is able to tell the driver the exact location of the user and their destination. Through the app the user selects the type of cart (normal, larger for more than person or luxury), calculates an estimated fare and gives the arrival time of the car at user’s current location. At the destination, the user’s credit card (on file) is charged. No money is exchanged.
All this is done online, no need to talk to anyone. Not even the driver, if you are so inclined.
But Dolores’ experience wasn’t the way the Uber tutorial explained to her.
Her experience: the car never showed up and had to deal with a telephone operator who did not speak English. Dolores admits her Spanish “is not so great”.
On the first try the app told Dolores there were no cars currently available near her. On a second try, the app said a car would arrive at her current location in 4 minutes. But the app did not allow her to enter her destination. That wasn’t in the tutorial.
Four minutes later she received a call from a Uber representative. Dolores says she had difficulty explaining her current location given that San Jose, as most of Costa Rica, does not use a street number system.
“The Uber person said some other stuff in Spanish, which I didn’t understand. Finally, I think they said the car would be there in 5 minutes,” writes the Dolores on her Costa Rican Bargain Hunter blog.
“I waited 10 minutes. Clouds were rolling in and the afternoon rain storm looked like it would start shortly. I started walking to find a regular taxi before the rain began.
“Uber did call again. I informed her (the rep) I was looking for a normal taxi and I would be using Uber. Removed the app from my phone (…),” writes Dolores.
The conclusion is that Uber could not fill this simple order.
Worse, at least in this case, Uber does not seem to have taking into account that many users of their service do not speak Spanish. You can argue that if a foreigner is living in Costa Rica they should be speaking the language. But, what of those living here only on a temporary basis, like working on a contract or just visiting, like a tourist?
Costa Rica receives thousands of tourists daily, the majority from North America, people who are familiar with Uber back at home, good chance have used the service, but not speak the local language.
And what about the number of other foreigners and visitors, like my ‘paisanos’?
“If I had thought I was going to have to communicate with a Uber representative in Spanish, I would not have tried to use it,” says Dolores on her blog.
Frustrating Dolores’ Uber experience is when she attempted to a Uber representative in English, to see if maybe the app is supposed to work differently in Costa Rica or they were just having a bad day (technical difficulties), her experience was no better: the Uber website forces the creation of account for that.
In her article, Dolores say she is going to give Uber another chance, in about 6 months. “Maybe it will work more in line with the tutorial in 2016,” writes Dolores.
If Uber is still in business in Costa Rica.