Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 February 2020

Review: A bumpy first day for new food delivery app UberEats

Dubai has joined 32 other cities as part of their wider roll-out of the service that aims to rival other established meal delivery services in the UAE including, Deliveroo and Talabat. 
UberEats had some problems on its first day in operations. Courtesy of UberEats
UberEats had some problems on its first day in operations. Courtesy of UberEats

Popular app Uber just launched UberEats, its food delivery service, which is already available in 16 cities, including New York and London. Along with Amsterdam and Johannesburg, Dubai has joined 32 cities as part of the company’s wider roll-out of the service, which aims to rival established meal delivery services in the UAE, including, Deliveroo and Talabat.

We give the new app a try once it became operational today, September 29, at 11am

11.05am

I downloaded the UberEats app the night before from the Android store. Users who have an existing Uber account can sign in with the same details. For new users, signing up involves filling out basic details, contact number, location and credit card information. I’ve just sweat it out for an hour at the gym and I’m ready to order a full meal. The app loads quickly and lists restaurants that open at this hour. Uber has teamed up with more than 200 restaurants in Dubai in this inaugural phase. The app allows you to browse through food outlets based on cuisine, as well. Users can order through the app from 11am until 11pm from Sunday to Thursday and until 5am on the weekend. 

11.07am

It takes me a few minutes to go through the various options, which include restaurants like Saladicious, Burger Fuel, Eric Kayser, Circle Cafe, Taqado, Shakespeare and Co, Falafel Farm and KCal. I opt for Saladicious and the app calculates an estimated time of delivery, which helps when you are pressed for time and need your post workout meal pronto. The restaurant page lists its most popular dishes, followed by the full menu. There is also a quick drop menu to help narrow down the search based on preferences. I click on the Caesar Salad with an add on of chicken and a note to leave out the Parmesan cheese and croutons (dietary restrictions). With two more clicks the app adds my meal to the cart and I check out with a credit card payment. Users get Dh50 off on the first order with the code “DubaiEATS”. 

11.10am

An order page pops up that allows me to see the status of my order. It take a few seconds for my order to be accepted by the restaurant. The app displays an estimated delivery time. I’m expecting the deliveryman to be at my doorstep in Umm Suqeim Rd. East at around 11.49am. That’s my cue to begin the clock glancing game. The true test of a good delivery service boils down to time. Taking into consideration the erratic traffic situation in Dubai, I add a buffer of 10 minutes to the total time. 

11.42am

The app notifies me that my food is ready and the courier is on the way. I’m informed that my package will be delivery by 11.44am. Though the preparation time took a while, I’m impressed at the commitment to getting my food to me on time or even before. 

11.57am

The estimated time has gone up to 12.03pm. I’m tracking the whereabouts of the driver on the map and I can see the little Uber icon slowly make its way from Al Safa to my location. The delivery time has moved up to 12.06pm

12.01pm

I get a notification that my entire order, which seemed to be on its way, has been cancelled. I call the outlet and am told that the driver couldn’t get in touch when he had trouble finding the location (he was trying to call a number registered in the US) and they cancelled the entire order. 

12.28pm

The mix-up means I have to reorder. I will now receive my meal at around 1.03pm according to the app. At 12.43, my phone buzzes with a notification that my order is on its way and will arrive in 10 minutes. 

1.03pm

The driver calls me and informs me that the map directed him to Dubai International Financial Centre. That’s about 15 minutes away from my location. I have to send him my location on WhatsApp. 

1.48pm

I’ve finally got my salad, done according to my specification. I’m finally going to dig in.

The verdict

The app has an uncomplicated interface that makes ordering quick and easy. Being able to track the delivery from the time the order is received to when it is dispatched is a helpful feature.

But the entire transaction was rather stressful because I had to order my meal twice. The app uses GPS to pin the location, so the deliveryman shouldn’t have had troubling finding me. Also, orders shouldn’t be accepted if the contact details are incorrect.

A customer service representative of UberEats contacted me to explain that the app, unlike Uber driving service, requires the user to type in an exact location. But this wasn’t possible because those instructions aren’t clear while ordering and the app did not provide the option to put down comprehensive location information.

They did try to solve the matter for me after receiving the location again. Also, this defeats the purpose of using technology to speed up deliveries. The estimated wait time for a simple salad, even without the complications, was quite long.

Then again, this was UberEats’s first day of service and for such a reputable company, I am sure such kinks will be ironed immediately.

UberEats can be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Delivery is free for a limited time. For details, visit ubereats.com.

aahmed@thenational.ae

Updated: September 29, 2016 04:00 AM

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