My niece came to visit this weekend. She’s a beautiful, kind hearted person who loves to travel. She had been road tripping her way all over the east coast to visit friends and family, and had made her way to Pennsylvania to visit us. It was great seeing her.
Her next stop after us was heading to Philadelphia to visit an old college friend.
She bought a MegaBus ticket to make the trip from our home to Philli. I was pretty apprehensive, because she got on the bus at 8pm, and it’s a 5 hour bus ride so she wouldn’t arrive until 1am. She told me not to worry, her old roommate would be there waiting for her at the station.
Long story short, she called me at 1:30am and calmly told me in a whisper that her friend hadn’t shown up (we later learned that his car had broken down in a cell service dead zone) and that she didn’t know anyone else in Philadelphia.
Her phone was nearly dead, so she couldn’t even risk Googling taxi’s because it may not have enough juice to call them afterward. I could tell she was choking back tears, which was terrifying because she’s a really tough kid.
After about 45 seconds of sheer panic, I remembered my coworker mentioning how much she loved using Uber the last time she was in NYC. I had never used Uber in my life, but I realized that Philli had to have a solid Uber representation since the city is huge.
That was the point that my niece mentioned that there were 2 men sitting in their car in the otherwise empty parking area across the street watching her. She was in a wide open space, there wasn’t anywhere to go. Given that hers was the last bus of the night, the situation was looking bad. I told my niece to stay on the line as long as she could before her phone died.
I fired up the Uber app, and shakily entered her location and her desired end point, while I continued talking to her. 20 seconds later a nearly 5 star rated driver popped up as available, the trip was accepted and the Uber driver was on his way. There was an estimated arrival time of 3 minutes.
I kept my niece talking and about a minute and 30 seconds into our conversation the pitch in her voice raised a bit as she told me that the 2 men were getting out of their vehicle and had begun slowly walking toward her. I told her to run, and just as she turned to take off, Alfred the Uber driver whipped up to the curb between her and the men.
She jumped in the car and they took off. He had arrived exactly 2 minutes and 30 seconds after I’d made the request. 2 MINUTES AND 30 SECONDS!! Just as she told me she was safely in the car and they were driving away her phone died.
I was able to track her entire route through the city, to her friend’s apartment in the suburbs (which was dangerously, but thankfully unlocked).
She called me from his house phone the second she got in the door. At that point, not going to lie, I burst into tears, and so did she.
Uber saved my nieces life tonight. I have never been more thankful for great mobile app UX in my entire life. Had their UI been more clumsy or their onboarding less intuitive, the situation may have ended differently since mere seconds counted. Great UX can save lives.
Thank you Uber for making your service exist and your app fabulous. And thank you Alfred the hero driver for being prompt, trustworthy and reliable.
I’ll be grateful to Uber and Alfred for the rest of my life.