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Uber adds vouchers for events and food orders at sports stadiums

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Ride-sharing app Uber unveiled a slew of new deals this week, from charter buses to skip-the-line food ordering at sporting events, aimed at attracting more business to more places. Meanwhile, some racers just hope their cars turn up without a hitch.

Take Jonah Bliss, marketing consultant in Los Angeles. He said he called an Uber last week to take him to the airport. Before booking, the waiting time was 10 minutes. Once he clicked “confirm” he reached 25 minutes. The change seemed dishonest, he said.

“I work in marketing and I’m used to putting your best foot forward, but it’s hard to know when it crosses the line from optimism to infidelity,” he said.

Katie Pilot, who lives in the Los Angeles area and works in export logistics, prefers to take one of the ready-made yellow cabs when she leaves big events than wander down a side street in nearby to find his Uber. She still takes Ubers to the airport, but the costs are rising, she said. Because drivers cancel frequently, she has to pay the $16 fee to book her rides the night before. His seven-mile trip to Los Angeles International Airport last month cost $55.

“I really only use carpooling to get to or around the airport when I travel,” she said. “Fares have become too expensive to add as an expense for a day or evening.”

While some customers say they pay more, Uber itself is trying to spend less. The impending economic downturn is pushing the ride-sharing giant to cut costs, according to an email from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to employees, even as its revenue rebounds from a pandemic-era decline. After a series of challenges, including driver shortages and soaring gas prices, it’s unclear where Uber’s latest product announcements stand — and whether certain items, like self-driving delivery robots food on the sidewalks, will one day come to fruition.

With gas prices soaring, Uber is adding a customer surcharge to help offset fuel costs for drivers

Most of the new features announced by Uber seem to be aimed at relatively small customer groups, such as event planners, sports fans who really hate waiting in line, and people who can use voice assistants without losing their minds. .

“Some of them almost feel like a distraction,” Bliss said. “It’s like, ‘The thing you used Uber for didn’t work, but now you can eat hot dogs at Dodger Stadium more easily.’ ”

An Uber spokesperson said the company currently has more drivers in the United States than at any time during the pandemic, and prices and reliability are improving. The number of drivers has not declined in response to rising fuel prices, he said, and wait times in Los Angeles, where Bliss and Pilot live, have fallen 10% since that time. Last year.

Needy and overconfident voice assistants are wearing out their owners’ last nerves

Here’s what the company promised customers during Monday’s virtual reveal.

  • Vouchers for events: People planning meetings such as weddings or conferences can give their guests voucher codes for rides or meals. (Organizers can set a maximum price, which helps with budgeting and avoiding shenanigans.)
  • Voice command : Uber Eats will integrate with Google Assistant, so you can say something like “Hey Google, order me some panang curry from Jitlada Thai Cuisine.” It’s available this summer in English worldwide with more languages ​​to come, the company said.
  • Trip planning: If you link your Uber and Gmail accounts, Uber will provide recommendations for ride bookings right next to your flight, hotel or restaurant reservations, it says.
  • Charter buses: Starting this summer, you can rent those big party buses that people use for bachelor parties and balls, as well as vans and coaches. Open the Uber app and tap on “charter” to see when it’s available where you live.
  • Sport events: If you want food at the stadium but don’t want to wait in line, you can use Uber Eats or Postmates (which Uber owns) to order food from concessions. When it’s ready, you receive an alert and can pick up your items right away. It is available at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA, Yankee Stadium in New York, Capital One Arena in Washington, DC, Minute Maid Park in Houston, PayPal Park in San Jose, and Roazhon Park in France with “more to come.”
  • Electric Uber Comfort: Uber’s premium “comfort” option now has a special designation if you prefer an electric vehicle such as a Tesla or Polestar. It’s available in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego in the US, according to the company, with more locations to come.
  • Autonomous delivery: If you prefer to have your meal delivered by a robotic rolling shopping cart with eyeballs instead of a human, today is your lucky day. Uber is testing these gadgets from maker Serve Robotics in Los Angeles, it says, as well as self-driving delivery with a fleet of all-electric vehicles from automotive company Motional. Keep in mind, though: standalone everything is easier said than done. Uber and Lyft have already talked about a big play on self-driving vehicles and have yet to deliver.