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When I was younger, my parents would resist ordering in food unless it was a very special occasion. Nowadays, it seems that everyone in Cape Town does it at least once a week. And you know what, that’s okay. The main problem with ordering in though, are the ordering systems themselves.
UberEATS wants to simplify both the ordering and delivering process from places that don’t have these structures in place.
That means you can now grab grub from your favourite Cape Town pub, or late-night haunt without visiting them personally.
But while it’s great to see companies like Uber experiment with food delivery, is it actually worth installing the app? And more importantly, does the service actually work?
To find out, my colleague Graham and I used codes given by Uber to have a little competition. We’d both order a similar food item at Obs Cafe (relatively near to Memeburn HQ) at the exact same time, to see which Uber driver could get to us first.
While gamifying the experience, we’d also give the service as a whole a consider.
So, what do you need to get started?
For one, you’ll need an Uber or UberEATS account, the app itself, and a vague idea of what you want to eat.
You’ll need to set your delivery address (you can add a number of these at a later stage), and add a credit card to the app too.
Once your location is known, the app spits out restaurant options that are open and nearby.
At this point, I’d like to mention that UberEATS doesn’t yet operate in Cape Town’s south, north or Flats, and that’s a damn shame. Thankfully, we’re based in Woodstock, which did at least mean we could give the service a go.
The app itself is simple enough to navigate, and borrows heavily from its parent app’s aesthetic and design. Flat, neural colours with simple, inanimate buttons are posted in easy to access areas of the app, which means that it should suit most devices and thumbs. A row of icons are also placed at the bottom of the app too, demarcated as Home, Search, Orders and Profile.
UberEATS has been available in Johannesburg since late 2016, but only recently launched in Cape Town
Search allows users to scan for restaurants based on cuisine or dish with filters like price or delivery time, while Orders allows you to rate drivers, food and reorder dishes that you like.
The Home page also displays “Go-To” options, as well as eateries will less than a half-an-hour delivery time.
Ordering is also pretty simple.
Once your credit card info is added, you can navigate to the restaurant you’ve chosen, choose your food item by scrolling to the desired item and tapping, add sides or any additional extras you should desire, and tap Add to Cart. You’ll need to tap Checkout too once your address is selected, and the orders’ price is displayed.
Once you’ve ordered your grub, a delivery screen will pop up.
I’m on my way!
This is when you’ll finally remember it’s an Uber service. The same live driver tracking system is being used for EATS, so you can see where your food is in real time. UberEATS also has a mini-breakdown of the ordering/delivering process, minding users whether the food is being prepared, or on its way.
I’d like to quickly point out that although Graham’s driver was behind mine for much of the journey, he somehow got to us first. My driver arrived about two minutes later. Although they were fetching and delivering food from the same restaurant, each experience will be different for each person, even if controlled variables (like dishes and restaurants) are considered.
Once you receive your order though, your driver completes the exchange (confirming that the order is indeed delivered) and voila. Lunch is served.
The app doesn’t really notify you that the handover has been complete, which isn’t ideal if you’ve asked someone else to collect your food. The app however does allow you to rate both your driver and food.
For the life of me, I can’t quite see where this information is collated on the app, or if it is actually used.
And that brings us neatly onto UberEATS’ current problems.
While it’s is a great way to get food from places that don’t do delivery, it isn’t without its issues.
Restaurant descriptions and ratings aren’t as verbose as one would hope, often resulting in a hit and miss scenario. Sure, the dishes’ ingredients are listed, but perhaps Uber should employ the services of food review service Zomato? Or implement a crowdsourced food reviewing platform of its own design?
For now, Uber is concentrating on order and delivery, nothing more. You will have to use another app or service to check user reviews of an establishment or dish.
You’ll also need to use the app a bit before navigation becomes a seamless affair. It’s not as difficult to learn as Snapchat, but it does require some knowledge of the Uber ecosystem.
Overall though, our food arrived a little over 40 minutes after ordering, and considering Woodstock’s dire traffic issues, that’s a stellar achievement for both EATS and our drivers.
Ultimately, UberEATS is a great new addition to Cape Town’s food scene, but it isn’t as good as it can be. At least there’s room to grow though.