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Uber in Medellin: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

uber in medellin

If the price is the only reason for it’s goodness, you can skip everything I wrote and move on to the next article. If you want to feel frustrated or do something about Uber in Medellin, Colombia… Continue reading. If you want to know what it feels like using Uber than let’s get started.

Uber has made its way to Medellin, Colombia.

It’s cheaper than the yellow cab in most cases if not all now. Yellow taxi’s might be just a few thousand pesos (2,000-4,000) more than Uber. If you are going long distance, it’s definitely the best alternative compared to yellow taxi’s in Medellin. The comparison is going to be based on UberX and not Uber Black or English.

There are few good things about Uber and let’s just start with those, shall we?

  • Most Uber drivers are friendly, we are in Medellin!
  • Any music preference? I think it´s required by Uber, still a good way to provide a service. Uber drivers will ask you what type of music you want to hear during your trip.
  • If you take the regular UberX, it’s a 50/50 chance you will encounter an English speaking driver. This is one of the reasons why I haven’t selected Uber English since most of the drivers speak English and I want to practice my Spanish. I guess we can call this a good thing when you find out that they can speak English you find that comfort zone of communicating with the driver.
  • Some cars are tad bit comfortable compared to some taxi.
  • When it rains, taxi drivers are nowhere to be found. Luckily, Uber drivers are available.

Will the Bad Outweigh the Good or Will it Get Ugly?

The Yellow taxi’s knows their streets, in most cases, you can tell them a specific building in a neighborhood and they know exactly how to get there and find the fastest route. If you’re on a week stay in Medellin, you might have made plans and don’t take into consideration of being lost, or at least not have the driver get lost. With UberX, most of the drivers will use Waze or other GPS technology to guide them to your destination. It sounds simple, but most of these drivers do not know their streets as well as the taxi driver. Shaving few minutes of traffic, or when GPS from Uber did not locate your correct location, it can be a bit difficult and time-consuming.

In my 50+ uber rides, I’ve encountered quite a few experience where it just ruins the day.

One driver insisted not using his GPS or his smartphone and asked me where I wanted to go. Here’s the thing: I only know how to order food and can say right, straight, left in Spanish. I had to use Google translate to tell him why is he not using his phone to take me to my destination, I didn’t understand what he said, but clearly he did not want to use his phone for whatever reason. I told him to take me to Las Palmas Carulla, and for someone who lives in Medellin, not knowing where Las Palmas is like not knowing where Parque Lleras is located. He kept asking me if he should make a right or left each intersection. It’s probably the worst Uber experience I’ve ever had. I notified Uber to take of this matter, and I hope they have fixed this issue.

There should be no reason why an Uber driver is not using Uber on his or her phone to take you to your destination. If they insist not using their data, please notify Uber immediately.

Uber Driver Hoarding for Rides

There is an abundance of Uber drivers and one thing that frustrates me is when a driver is completing a ride and accepts my request. If you are used to yellow taxi and getting a ride really quick, it’s not an experience you want to encounter. Call me an American who doesn’t like waiting, but the feeling that these Uber drivers are trying to hoard their rides to make money is not my or your problem. I might sound rude here, but there is no reason why I or you should wait for a driver to finish their previous route. If you encounter this experience, I would recommend canceling the ride and finding someone else. If you are not in a rush, or your at a party and do not mind waiting then so be it. I am hoping that most people will cancel the request to change this behavior of Uber driver accepting requests while driving someone else.

Okay, maybe I should step back a bit.

Uber’s time indicator is a bit off since it does not add in traffic, or drivers who stay at their home waiting to accept a request. Or do something prior and you have to wait for them to finish whatever they are doing. Or they are just simply lost and can’t find where you are, even with GPS. Yes, I thought about many reasons why 5 minutes is not 5 minutes. It’s a bit strange when we live in an era where technology is efficient enough, but whatever the reasons might be, 5 minutes is 10 or 15 minutes. I would typically wait 5 minutes to see if the car is moving or not before I cancel the ride and find someone else.

You might receive a call from your driver and if you don’t speak Spanish, you might just want to order Uber English. If you have an international phone number, I would recommend redirecting your calls to Google Number or make sure you set this prior to requesting a ride.

These calls are just them asking if you ordered Uber and ask you where you are. Sometimes, the GPS locates you a block away from where you are, but more often than not, Uber driver is on another street asking you to come to them, not asking where you are so they can come to you. You might start feeling frustrated when reading this article and if you are, I’ve accomplished my goal.

It Just Got Ugly

One friend paid an Uber driver to help load his newly purchased furniture he bought for his apartment. The driver received a call and told him that he has an emergency and took off, not finishing the trip.

One ride, I had to sit and listen to someone complaining about traffic during the whole trip. “Are we there yet”?

There is a Light Some Where, Sometimes… More or Less

There are great Uber drivers you will encounter, but just like any other situations in life, the majority ruins the experience. I met a driver who was from Chicago who decided to live in Medellin instead and we had a blast. Older gentlemen who sound and looked very sophisticated was listening to death metal and it was hilarious. A student was excited that she was going to graduate from her university and was ubering her way while she looked for a job. You can talk with these drivers and it’s an experience in itself.

I hope that many of our readers encounter a great experience with Uber, it’s convenient and if you are using PayPal, even better. I’ve used Easy Taxi app and did not want to use a credit card since I was not sure if they will charge me an international fee along with my ride.

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