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Babs Oh: Chronicles of an Uber Rider in Lagos

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No, this is not an ad for Uber…and yes, I must appreciate them for their innovation and contribution in making commute just a little easier in Lagos. And to the real MVPs, the drivers, without whom there will be no Uber.

That said, I have come across quite a few interesting characters from my days of riding. Needless to say, these attitudes are not displayed by Nigerian Uber drivers alone, as I have had the opportunity to ride in a couple outside of the country; but you can trust us – Naija for life…we usually like to take things up a notch.

Like me, you may have come across the following types of Uber drivers:

Mr ‘Over- Polite’
I never knew anyone could be polite to a fault until I met some Uber drivers. You cannot complete a single thought process when riding with them.
So, you know how you estimate that you have a bit of time before that meeting/ event and then you look at your watch and you realize, ok I need to book my ride right away if I don’t want to be late. Your app shows your ride is 6 minutes away, leaving you with about 4 minutes to get dressed. You do so frantically and you are just trying to put your amateur make up skills to use when your phone rings. Your cab has arrived. You rush down, jump into the ride….phew, good afternoon. And then you realize you may not have your much needed few minutes of solitude. Interruptions every 30 seconds: good afternoon madam, hope you day is going well? 10 seconds….’is the temperature ok for you?…20 seconds…..should I switch off the radio?….Is the volume ok, or do you want me to reduce it?….30 seconds….do you have a preferred radio station? Which route will you prefer? The questions just keep rolling in.
Ok, so maybe they are just genuinely trying to make sure you enjoy the ride but when I say ‘It’s ok’ to your first three questions, then you should know to give me a break.

Mr Negotiator
Not too dissimilar from Mr Over-Polite. The icing on his cake is his final request just as you are approaching your destination. “Please ma, if you can give me five stars…please, otherwise I will lose my job.”
Meanwhile, you both know his ride experience deserves not more than a 3-star rating.

Mr. Grandpa
When a grandpa gets assigned to you and he is still in training on how to use a smart phone. You call him to give him descriptions on how to get to you, and like your parents do, he tells you he has heard you and hangs up before you get through the descriptions. Fifteen minutes later, you call him and then he tells you he is just getting to your pick up location. You rush down, and wait and wait and then call back. He is on the otherside of town. Ok, I exaggerate, but he has driven past your pick up location and is now stuck in traffic trying to get back to you.

So you call him every other minute, asking , ‘where are you?’. He finally gets to you, and you realize, he must be grandpa, and your mama taught you to respect your elders, so even though you have spent close to 20 minutes waiting under the 35 degrees Lagos heat, you dare not shout. All I could mumble was, ‘Baba, e lo wa yan to ma ko yin bo se n lo phone o…e ko ma ma gba three star’ (transalation: Baba, go and look for someone that will teach you how to use the phone or you will be getting three starts all the time). Ah, ejoo (please)….he said smiling. Of course I couldn’t find it in me to rate him as a three stars

Mr ‘Do you know who I be?’
Customer Service is one of the value propositions which can be easily identified when you make use of the Uber service. However, there are always exceptions to the rule and on some occasions, you are assigned the driver with the chip on his shoulder, the one that did not get the ‘customer service is one of our core core values’ memo.

So you try to book a cab on a hot Sunday afternoon and you get that message you don’t want to see because as usual, you are running late. You try again…surge rates..X2…hmmmm, you are late so whatever. You get assigned a cab and you immediately call him to give him descriptions. A few minutes later, your phone barely beeps, it’s the driver. He couldn’t be flashing right. After a few seconds, no call back and so you call him, again. ‘What is that your address again?’, he asks somewhat rudely. ‘Errm, so why didn’t you call to ask, what if I didn’t call you?’. I don’t have credit, infact, call another driver…and then phone goes off. You have got to be kidding, I dial back…’Did you just hang up the phone? ’What did you say?’….I don’t like the way you are talking, call another driver.

Ok, ok, let me be balanced and drop one or two gaffes I’ve made while riding and I am sure I am not alone:

When you mistakenly select the wrong pick up location Oba Sule Street and your innocent uber guy is right where you indicated; you, the not-so-innocent rider, are at the other end frustrated. You are wondering why ut is so difficult to locate you standing opposite Oyster Bank on Oba Suara Street. After many call exchanges, I finally in frustration say…’but I don’t know how hard it is…I am opposite Oyster Bank, the one near Oba Suara Street’. ‘Madam, but that is not the pick-up location you selected, you selected Oba Sule’. Me: ‘Ehn…oya be coming’…
What can I say, not every time good customers… sometimes difficult customers. I guess giving him a 5-star was part compensation for my bad behavior.

I also recall when I requested an Uber at night and I saw the car, only it wasn’t my Uber. I went over and tried to get into the back seat. The door was shut, and I still tried to pry it open. That’s when I realized the guy looking at me like, are you ok, do I know you? And only then did I realize, oh-oh, wrong car and quickly moved ahead.

As a final note, drivers and riders alike, do switch on your instincts to the highest level and stay vigilant before you embark on that ride and during the journey.

Stay safe.

Photo Credit: Mimagephotography | Dreamstime.com

Babs is a career woman living in Lagos. In the little time not sucked up by work, family is priority and everything else gets squeezed in. From time to time she makes notes on her thoughts, observations and that other ‘voice of wisdom’ that sounds in her head.

27 Comments

  1. The YHP network

    May 11, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    That time an Uber rider stopped me half-way into the journey and told me to get down from his car because the traffic was too much.

    I tire for them sometimes….

    • Lucky

      May 11, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      , Although the driver might have missed his very important people skills, it’s very possible though annoying that Uber had ended the trip and had told him to drop rider in a safe place

  2. A-nony

    May 11, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    I just got down from an Uber and the driver was a negotiator! I was already going rate him 4 stars when he goes ‘Aunty e Jo, e rate mi ni 5 star o’. I said “no, you were dragging road with people too much”. He went ‘Ha, e Jo, e saanu mi. E ma binu, e fun mi ni 5 star’

    For the over-polite ones, that’s how customer service should be. It’s because we are not used to it, thats why it feels strange and almost suspicious.

  3. Dee

    May 11, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    And the time an underaged looking driver picked me up and was trying to do some fast and furious driving

  4. Anonymous

    May 11, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    i have given him the address,he is taking a bit too long,i call:oga where are you?
    Uber Driver: there is f**king too much traffic here mehn..
    Ehn: dont worry oga,im not going out again

    • ec

      May 11, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      jesus.
      Its good you didn’t enter that car.

  5. www.thelmathinks.com

    May 11, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    I wonder if nigeria is a cursed country. Things would work seemlessly in other countries, but once it gets to nigeria #fail. I’m leaving Uber for my normal air conditioned cabs. The drivers are getting very rude and impatient. The app is beginning to have brain touch; pairing you with a cab driver and then pairing the driver with someone else and leaving you hanging. Last night I was in surulere, my uber map showed surulere. I typed in surulere as my pick up point, Uber went and paired me with a driver in Isolo! I begged him to please cancel the trip so that I wouldn’t be charged for something that wasn’t my fault. He refused and immediately switched off his phone. I left the app, not cancelling so that I wouldn’t be charged, and took a yellow cab. Uber still charged me 1k. I’m tired of their f*ckery honestly.

    • Lacey

      May 11, 2017 at 3:40 pm

      @ same here!!! I will rather my red cabs and yellow cabs with ac. I don’t have the energy for unnecessary banter!!! Some of them intentionally cancel to make get charged that 1k. The Nigerian market is very different!!! You use Uber in the US, it’s the amount you that was estimated or lower, but in Nigeria there 800-1500 extra!!! Who Uber epp?

    • itsjusme

      May 11, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      you email customer services to explain what happened they will refund u by crediting your uber account.

    • Prima Donna

      May 12, 2017 at 12:24 am

      You can always complain that you have been charged wrongly through the app and Uber would immediately do you a refund with Uber credits which is yours to use anytime. I don’t joke with my money ooo. Even when a driver took a longer route, I used the app to complain and they immediately refunded the difference in price based on their calculations of what the trip should have costed me.

  6. Lacey

    May 11, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    This write up is so speaking my mind about Uber right now.

  7. Cocolette

    May 11, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    BN I know you want to use my comment to cook Nsala soup, when it is done just serve it you hear ????

  8. Cocolette

    May 11, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Is this the same Uber driver from SDK or a rip-off? BN I dunno if I should say y’all are becoming quite lazy and desperate? When last did you bring innovative content to the table? These days we don’t know if we’re still reading Bella Naija or something else, you people are confused as to the kind of blog/site you want to be, whether you want to be like other blogs and rip off content/style from them or you still want to be ‘posh and bougee’ BN. You want to post gossip but you delete comments when it concerns your high and mighty friends or worse still you post the gist when it is 2 months old. There’s hardly an article posted without grammatical/typographical error.
    Why not bring back the old writers that used to make us look forward to visiting the site? or you search for new people that can actually write, not people that use writing as an avenue to bash anything bash-able and try to turn all things abnormal into normal.
    This is not to say Babs-oh’s article isn’t good, I just had to write this to BN.

  9. I Just Waka Come

    May 11, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    It’s a bit of 2 extremes for me. Either the Uber driver is extremely obsequious or horribly rude /aggressive. I don’t know if the Uber drivers in Nigeria are frustrated with their jobs. Initially, I felt somewhat safe in their cars, now I just hug the door handle and just pray for a quiet, safe journey. Can’t remember the last time an Uber driver even asked me the usual ‘Is the AC okay Ma? What is your preferred radio station Ma’ Best option for me is just having a reliable cab guy who can take me around when necessary.

    @www.thelmathinks.com lolll @brain touch. I think it’s a general tech malfunction at times. Taxify paired me with someone who never turned up. Yet I kept getting updates, 10 minutes away, 12 minutes away, 11 minutes away, 10 minutes away exactly in that sequence. After waiting for almost 45 minutes, I borrowed some sense and requested an Uber.

  10. I Just Waka Come

    May 11, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Oh and the funniest part was, a few hours later I opened the app and got the rate the driver page that usually comes up after a successful trip. I’m a bit confused. How? Rate who? A driver who never turned up?

  11. simsi

    May 11, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I recently ordered a ride. I waited for about 10 mins, the driver didn’t call. I eventually called him and said “i’m sorry, i ordered an uber, can i know where you are?”. The driver was like “So?”. Then i told him he was being rude, he simply told me to get lost. He cut the call and cancelled the ride. I was so ANGRY!. I just went down the road and took a yellow cab.
    I’ve also had good experiences tho, they’re not all bad. But of recent, so many people have been complaining about the poor service. Uber needs to do something. They should also allow zero rating, Because really, some drivers don’t even deserve my one rating.

    • I Just Waka Come

      May 11, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      Horribly rude, I tell you. Won’t be surprised if I hear of Uber drivers beating up passengers.

  12. simsi

    May 11, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    I actually read somewhere that a taxify driver beat up his passenger. The passenger was a woman. I can’t even remember the reason again.

    • nene

      May 11, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      well done Uber PR, trying to spoil business for your competition? try again!

  13. kenny Jossy

    May 11, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Nigerians anything they copy from the West, they try to destroy it. May God help you guys, I seriously wonder how people survive with so many madness going on, simple stuff they make it so complicated gosh!!! pls

  14. Frank

    May 11, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    It’s so interesting to have someone write an article about Uber in Nigeria. Ever since I heard about Uber being in Nigeria I’ve been fascinated with how it works in Nigeria. In the US we have a few ride sharing companies but the top 2 are Lyft and Uber. I actually drive for both as my side hustle. And from my experience Lyft is so much better than Uber. Uber is full of shit. From their app is crappy, it takes forever to update, sometimes it loses connection, sometimes it sends you to a different location while the passenger is some place else, Uber doesn’t screen its drivers unlike Lyft that actually does background checks on its drivers. And above all Lyft pays better than Uber. So having said how awful Uber is in the US I can just imagine how horrible it’s gonna be in Nigeria.

  15. Yuyu

    May 11, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    An uber driver angel helped me out when my car broke down on third mainland bridge at night. When I called, he had already driven past me but was able to reverse to the spot I was. He advised me to stay put and he was able to get a car to tow my vehicle off the bridge. There are still good ones out there.

  16. Jess

    May 12, 2017 at 2:13 am

    I wrote a book or two about driving for Uber. I’m pretty nice!
    amazon.com/Uber-Chronicles-Field-Notes-Front-ebook/dp/B01IAGXBCO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468293296&sr=8-1&keywords=uber+chronicles

    • Babs Oh

      May 12, 2017 at 10:48 am

      I will definitely like to read this….and yes indeed I have come across a couple of nice & professional uber drivers

  17. Babs Oh

    May 12, 2017 at 8:12 am

    I will give an A+ to their backend customer service. They are always responsive to complaints and are quick to refund when wrongly charged and also compensate for cancellations where justified. They have done well…as with every company, there are bound to be teething problems which hopefully they will overcome soon

  18. Atoke

    Atoke

    May 12, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    So, I needed a ride to Yaba from Admiralty Way, I sha called the driver. Oga, I’m in front of The Place. He picked me up, and by the time we got to the toll plaza on Ozumba, my guy was on his phone asking someone how to get to Ybaba. He was speaking Igbo but I could pick up some key words. When he finished his call, I said, Oga, I know how to get to where I am going. I will direct you. Also, abeg don’t use your phone while driving.
    Madam no vex.

    Okay, I did not vex. Sha. Let us be going. Next thing, we passed Dolphin and pewwww this guy went in the direction of Carter Bridge. I blinked and we were at Costain. Ah, Ogbeni, why didn’t you pass 3rd Mainland bridge. I am going to Adekunle now… how far? This guy was stuttering.

    Madam, I think sey this na the road. I said, but I told you I would direct you, why didn’t you take 3rd mainland na? Anyway, I tried to maitain my composure. All is not lost. It will only take longer, I will sha get to my destination last last, abi?

    I noticed this man kept fiddling with his phone. I said, Oga, please leave this phone and face you driving. By this time, I had started to get agitated. He looked unhinged. Oga, is something the matter? I will direct you from here. I know where I am going. Leave your phone.

    Yes ma.
    Ashey, I never see anything. Ladies and gentlemen, by the time we got to that traffic light by the train tracks at Yaba, right there on the tracks, this driver started swapping the batteries of his phone. I was shocked. Perplexed. Confused. Ah, wait for it… a train was coming. The sounds started blaring. Cars were speedily backing away from the tracks to make way for the oncoming train… my guy, who had not been paying attention because he was switching batteries suddenly realized that the people banging on the window were trying to get him to get off the tracks. By this time me don set hand for door ready to jump out.

    He managed to get off the tracks, backing up and few feet. Jesu! My life.

    I was ready to give this man 1-star. Reckless endangerment. I hadn’t seen nothing yet. But what could go wrong? I was almost at my destination. 5 more minutes and I’d be at my friend’s house.

    Hian!

    Na so we arrive destination o. Oya, end the ride and tell me how much it cost. Thankfully, I had been advised to use the pay by cash option, so this was my default mode in Lagos.

    Madam, my phone don die. I no fit end the ride. Haa! As how??

    *continues to fiddle with battery and phone*

    Befuddled and confused. What manner of Uber driver from hell?
    10 minutes. 15 minutes. At this point my friend came downstairs. We stood under the sun waiting for this man to end the ride.

    At this point, I said abeg I don’t know what else to do. I am going inside.

    Driver then says, Madam abeg help me with 5 stars even if you don’t pay. Haa… you’re still talking about 5 stars?

    I was upstairs, when 40 minutes after I had gone in, the security guard came to tell me the driver was still there. He asked them to.come and tell me to give him anything I had. Haa! As how?

    I went down to ask how much the ride cost. He said he didn’t know but I should please rate 5 stars. Again?

    I don’t know how long the man was there for, but later that evening I got an email saying my ride was 5k plus something.

    Wawu! So I had been riding from Lekki to Yaba from 9.30 am till 8pm.

    Worst Uber experience everrrrr.

  19. Tessa Doghor

    May 15, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    I have a phobia for taxis
    No ubers for me.
    I would rather join someone to get to my destination.

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