Since making its debut in Pakistan in March 2016, Uber has completely changed the landscape of public transport service. This ride hailing service made the lives easier for so many users by saving them costs and providing an elite travelling experience.
However, with the launch of Careem – another taxi service – competition has increased significantly and people are somewhat divided as to which service to choose. In this article, we will compare both these services keeping Pakistan in mind to determine which one of these is a better fit. Let’s get started!
Uber can be termed as the pioneers of cab transport in Pakistan. This USA-based company has invested heavily in the country to revolutionise the public transport sector and making travel easy. They are available in only 5 cities of Pakistan (Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Multan, Peshawar & Faisalabad)
Some of the best benefits of using Uber are:
Interactive Mobile App
Uber offers a terrific mobile app that is very easy to use. All the information is available on the screen. The app shows all the nearby drivers in real-time. You don’t have to go through any sort of hassle while booking your ride – all you need to do is enter the destination, choose a ride and you are good to go. Their apps are available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone platforms.
All the drivers registered with Uber are trained to a certain degree and most of them are car owners. They deal with the customers in as much an ethical manner as possible, and treat them with care. Moreover, some are even aware of all the alternative routes and take you to your desired location.
Although Careem is good with prices but Uber is a better option. At this point in time the simple AC car with Uber costs PKR 11/KM – forget starting, waiting, per-minute, surge, toll etc., the moving is PKR 11/KM… whereas the counterpart offers PKR 16.5/KM. But if you look at the bike option, Careem wins.
Multiple Vehicle Options
From rickshaw to luxury cars, Uber offers everything. All the vehicles registered with Uber have to pass a quality check so that the customers always get a comfortable experience. However you can’t exactly choose to travel via a luxury sedan per say because ‘Go’ type sends you anything between Swift to Corolla.
Other than cars, you have the option to book a bike and a rikshaw.
Uber is not perfect – here are a few cons that glaringly overshadow the 3 great features of this service:
No Wallet System
One thing where Uber really lags behind is that it does not offer a wallet system. You cannot top up your account and use it instead of paying cash…. nor can you attach a card. Its cash, or nothing.
Broken Card System
Uber proclaims to offer credit/debit card payment option but you can’t exactly connect a card to their account. Due to this reason, the users have to pay more if the driver doesn’t have change. Plus there is the irritation that app allows you to add card, but you can’t use it.
No Physical Office
Uber does not have an office in the country or a toll free line to dial. In case of any issue, you have to email them and they will take a lot of time to get back to you. This gives drivers a free license to do whatever they want to do. There is Twitter, and we suggest you use that if you need a slightly prompt response.
Deceptive Auto Rickshaw Drivers
If you have taken a rickshaw ride from Uber, you might know that some rickshaw drivers purposefully take the long routes to charge more. Even if you direct them to take a certain route, they will only do what they feel can earn them more.
Per Minute Charges
The above point brings forth another problem… per minute charge. You have to pay for per minute ride charge. The more time you spend in the Uber ride, the more you must pay. So imagine what happens when the driver drives slowly, takes a longer route, or you simply get stuck because of a road block.
No Prepay Option
While we haven’t spoken anything much of Careem as of now, but you’ll note that with Careem there are options for prepay. Uber should consider this especially when they are spread so far and wide into the world. If they offer a solution for riders to buy certain rides or KMs in advance, it would go a long way. But till then, rain or shine, hail or tsunami, surcharge or normal rate, riders have to cough out cash from some place if they want to ride with Uber.
One of the biggest rivals of Uber is Careem. Since starting its operations in the country in late 2015, Careem has secured a noteworthy market share with their physical presence in 15 cities (Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Hyderabad, Quetta, Multan, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Sargodah, Abbottabad, Bahawalpur, Sukkur and Mardan). Without further ado, let’s get down to the pros and cons:
Some pros of Careem are:
Flawless Mobile App & Web Portal
One of the great features of Careem is their mobile app. They have done a lot of work to improve the functionality of the app. It’s available for iOS, Android and has a nifty web portal as well. Basically users can book a ride via the above platforms.
One of the noteworthy benefits of Careem is their wallet system. The users can easily top up their wallet account and on the completion of a ride, the amount is charged from their wallet. This eradicates the chances of drivers charging more amount. Moreover, all the debit and credit cards are accepted at Careem.
Working Payment Options
Unlike Uber, Careem’s payment options work; all of them. Debit & Credit cards, prepaid packages and, of course there is cash and wallet features to help you out.
For those who like to keep a tab on their expenses, Careem offer packages in two forms; KMs and Rides. You can purchase 100, 200 and 400 KMs which expire in 30 days. The other cool option is to buy Rides. Again, you can purchase 3, 6 or 10 rides and they expire in 14 days. Terms apply to both these prepay solutions.
The biggest catch is minimum deduction and car types allowed. So be careful when buying, as always, its best to know what you’re getting into rather than crib about what you’re later into.
Multiple Vehicle Options
With Careem, you can easily find a vehicle that meets your budget. From Auto Rickshaw to a luxurious car, you can get anything. But to list down, in some cities Careem has Bike, Go Mini, Go, Go+ and Business. On top of these, they offer Ambulance, Pickup, Delivery, intercity and First Class.
Please note, the names can change and charges may as well, so always read up on the details of fare for each before deciding to book a ride.
As compared to Uber and other taxi services, Careem is the most reliable – thanks to the extensive background check of the drivers. The number of reported incidents is very less and they take all measures to ensure that the customers get a secure travelling experience. Yes we are aware that incidents have taken place but in comparison with Uber, Careem just doesn’t induct their drivers/captains based on their CNIC and driving license, their is an interview, house call, neighbourhood check, physical copies of residence and then … a tiny training session.
Careem also offers intercity transportation service. Users can easily travel to other cities comfortably without having to wait in long queues at railway stations or bus stands. This service is available for 7 cities currently: Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, and Peshawar. More cities will also be covered very soon.
Some of the drawbacks of Careem are:
Poor Complaint System
The complaint system of Careem is very frustrating. Although the complaints are answered, you will have to wait for a long time to get in touch with a customer service representative. If you are lucky enough, and call from the registered number against which you have complaint against for a ride, you will be attended by a representative within 10 minutes. However, they are very active on Twitter and take the required action.
Cons of Both
Let’s talk about the Cons of both these services:
New Ride Alerts
Uber is notorious for sending new ride alerts to drivers who have not as yet finished their current rides. Very irritating and downright frustrating for the person who is in the ride and the person who thinks the Uber car is coming for him/her.
Careem has followed suit. 0.5 kms before the drop point, Careem captains get alerted for new rides which instantly puts the drop off a complete botched-up experience. Without fail, the captain loses his focus and gets busy accepting new ride and misses the turns and directions…. If you want to avoid this situation with Careem, don’t add drop location.
Map Following In-capabilities
Be it Careem or Uber, 50% of the time, drivers don’t follow map location. If they are, they don’t use common sense. So – you are either stuck with issuing directions and rolling eyes because the driver is blindly following the Google Maps.
Poor Vehicle Condition
Again, with Uber and Careem both, you will notice that 30% of the time the AC will not function, the other 30% will have the AC but it function poorly and the 10% drivers will argue why they will not turn the AC on for you.
Whichever vehicle you choose to travel in, there is a good 60% chance that it will not be clean. I have travelled in a Business car of Careem which had a broken AC and I have also travelling a tiny car with a great AC… Moreover I have sat in a car with cobwebs and I have taken many rides where the driver didn’t have identity documents to get clearance in armed forces section.
It boils down to your own luck.
After taking into account all the pros and cons of both these cab transport services in Pakistan, we conclude that Careem is hands down the better of the two. Although each of these services have their own benefits and drawbacks, but in Pakistan reliability and ease of use is far more important than global recognition.
However, these are both very useful ride hailing services that are providing a respectable travelling medium to the customers at very affordable rates.
On a side note, whichever ride hailing service you opt for, please keep in mind this is Pakistan and connection to 3G and 4G is still patchy, so keep both their apps on your phone – many people do. Always carry cash and in spare time learn how to navigate through the city streets because Careem or Uber, it will your good sense that will get you to your destination.