Using Uber in Argentina
Uber is an app for smartphone users. You download the app, add a payment method, and call a car to pick you up whenever you might need it. The drivers of Uber use their personal cars and are free to drive whenever they have time. This allows Uber to work 24/7, on holidays, at 3 in the morning on Tuesdays, whenever. The advantage of Uber over regular Taxi services is that it’s more cost efficient, and can be safer because you are tracking your driving route during the ride, rather than trusting the driver not to rip you off, or take you somewhere you shouldn’t be going.
Uber was started in 2011 in San Francisco, California. The idea was created Garrett Camp after he spent $800 USD on a private driver with some friends on New Year’s Eve. He wanted a way to lower the cost of car services, and thus, the idea of Uber was born. Uber took off like wildfire and by 2013 was in 35 different cities. In 2014, they went green and became a ridesharing app by creating UberPool, where you ride with other people going the same direction as you. Overall, it’s a great idea, lower cost, lower carbon footprint, and lower traffic congestion. Now, the app expands as far as UberChopper, where for certain holidays in select areas you can order a private helicopter service.
Many, if not all, of the cities have some sort of controversy over Uber and its legality. The idea of Uber was to lower cost, and that exactly what the creators did, but how so? In order to make products cheaper, there needs to be budget cuts. The largest budget cut was on regulations. Taxi drivers have to pay a fee go through a training, take tests, get licensed as a Taxi driver. It takes a lot of time and money. Once you have that, you are hired by a company that has many people working for it. Traditionally you would call a cab company dispatch, order a car to be sent to where you are and the dispatcher then radios the cab to go pick you up. What you pay for when you order the cab is not only the driver, but the people working at dispatch, people handling the money, accounting, car maintenance, etc. Uber cut all those costs. You are your own dispatcher. You order the car, who is an outsourced contractor, and the app connects you to a driver. There is no extra people to pay: accountants, dispatcher, car upkeep etc. You pay the driver, and whatever cut of the payment goes to the company. The only thing the drivers need to pass is their background check.
This brings into question the legality of the matter. The drivers are outsourced, and pass no test of knowledge of the area, or anything of the sorts. In the States, In Buenos Aires, Uber, and other similar apps, are illegal. As said before, uber doesn’t have the same insurance or license fees as taxis. Only a day after Uber got up and running in Buenos Aires, there was a court order to stop services, stating that it was illegal. So what happened? The company paid a fine of $AR 70,000, roughly $US 4,115. Though shortly after that Uber posted on its twitter that it will continue operations as normal in Buenos Aires.
Why use Uber in Buenos Aires?
In reality, compared to American cab prices, Uber is an amazing solution. It’s far more efficient, and cheaper, than traditional cabs in the states. Though Ubers in Buenos Aires aren’t that much cheaper than a cab. For long distances, they can add up to be more economical, but for maybe a ride back from dinner, you won’t see so much of a price difference.
That being said, I think Uber tend to be safer than cabs, so I use Uber instead of cabs when possible (unless my phone dies, or whatnot). While cabs are relatively safe here, it’s not uncommon for taxi drivers to scam people out of money by either returning change in counterfeit bills, not using a meter, over charging for rides, or taking longer routes than necessary to milk the ride for more money. When using Uber, all of that is easily avoided. I pay by credit card, so there is no bill exchange, and my route is tracked on the Uber app so I know they’re not just driving me around to just get more money.
How to pay for Uber in Argentina
In Argentina, and select other countries, you can pay for Uber in cash. When you sign up there is an option for credit or debit card, PayPal, other select payment services, or cash. A lot of Argentinian business are cash only. This option is an advantage to Argentine Uber because many people operate completely in cash. This allows people to avoid paying taxes within Argentina since many businesses, like Uber, are under-the-table. Furthermore, after the court deemed Uber illegal in Buenos Aires, local Argentinian credit cards were blocked from making payments to the company. So they either need to use a foreign card, prepaid card, payment service, or cash. Obviously, the easiest option would be to use cash for locals.
I’m all for Uber in Buenos Aires. Sometimes the drivers will have you sit upfront to avoid conflict with the taxi drivers, though really that is just a precaution and actual conflict is rare. It’s safer, faster, and easier. Realistically, it’s a bit more useful for foreigners than locals. But while you’re here, if it’s what you’re used to, I say stick to what you know!