Uber Sri Lanka does NOT have a phone number. To contact them, please email email@example.com
Uber ශ්රී ලංකා සඳහා දුරකථන අංකයක් නොමැත. ඔවුන් සම්බන්ධ කර ගැනීමට නම් firstname.lastname@example.org වෙත ඊමේල් කරන්න.
Uber is finally in Sri Lanka. The cab-hailing app is already world famous, and now it works in Colombo. We tried it out and it works pretty well, though it is a bit expensive.
The Uber app is the same app you would use anywhere else in the world. You can also use their mobile web page, but why. Once you have the app you can sign in via Facebook or email. Their setup process then takes a bit longer than usual because you have to input payment details to use the app at all.
This means that you must have a credit or VISA/Master enabled debit card to use the app. There is no cash option available here. This is convenient for using the app, but leaves out a fair amount of people. You have to enter your payment information before you start, after which it seems to be stored.
Then you have to confirm your phone number with a PIN that gets SMS’ed to you. This process actually messed up for me and I found the sign-up process annoying, but once it’s over using the app is pretty easy.
Using The App
As you can see above, they have cars available in Colombo. From where I ordered it felt like the cars were far away, but mine arrived in 12 minutes (ordered at 10:33, it arrived around 10:45). But I’m getting ahead of myself. To order you need to setup the pickup location, which it should generally pick up from GPS. The GPS is pretty good, otherwise you move the pin around by hand. This part basically just works.
Once you order you get the driver details and location and you can see them coming in your direction. My driver called once for a bit of directions, but he basically knew where he was. You can also input your destination.
I got picked up in a fairly ordinary Prius. This is basically like most other car cab services. It wasn’t especially clean or fancy, it was just a car. The driver was quite nice and spoke excellent English, and knew where to go after telling him just once.
The fun part of the experience is that, at the end, you just get out. The ride is just charged to your card. The annoying part is that you don’t know what you’re paying until you get the receipt (or at least I didn’t).
Lo an behold, I didn’t pay for my cab at all. In this early period you can enter the code UBERINCMB for a Rs. 500 discount. Which in my case was more than the fare. Now let’s break down the fare.
It’s a base fare of Rs. 100 plus Rs. 50 per kilometer. The controversial thing they’re doing is charging you Rs. 2 per minute no matter what. My ride took 15 minutes so that was about Rs. 30 just there. This was a trip across town, but if you spend an hour getting home after work, you’ll be spending Rs. 120 just on time.
Overall, my total fare was Rs. 347 for Uber. Coming back, I took a trishaw which cost Rs. 160. So I paid almost Rs. 200 more for the experience.
The app experience was good but the vehicle was basically just a normal cab. Other cab companies have a lot of Priuses and this was just another one. It wasn’t dirty or smelly, but it wasn’t especially clean either. The driver was very nice and spoke good English. What really sets the experience apart is that it’s cashless, which is pretty cool, but you also don’t know what you’re paying, which is disconcerting.
Personally, I still prefer trishaws for trips where I’m alone (try PickMe for a great app experience). Uber seems like it would be good for going out with a group. For one person it’s a bit expensive, though it is nice being able to take phone calls in relative comfort.
Uber is globally successful and it seems unlikely that it will somehow fail in Colombo. For the target market (people with credit cards who want cars) it provides a pretty solid experience, though people who are more price conscious would be advised to stick to trishaws and local ride-hailing apps like PickMe.
We’ve been getting a lot of queries from drivers on how to sign up for Uber. It seems like a pretty straightforward process: you send an email to email@example.com and they send you this response:
It looks like you wish to sign up as driver. Happy to help.
Uber is a technology platform that connects drivers with riders through a smartphone app. Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 300 cities today, Uber’s rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.