When Uber Carshare launched in November last year, I was among the first to try it — not just in Australia, but in the world. In a first, the new Uber feature had debuted in Australia before anywhere else, which made sense given it was a take-over of an Australian company, Car Next Door.
Along with a group of other journalists, I’d rented a car from Perth and driven down to Margaret River for a two-night stay before dropping the car back in its street park spot and taking a regular Uber to the Perth airport.
But while I was able to get a general understanding of how it all worked — and, not to mention, I’d used Car Next Door myself a couple times before — I didn’t feel I had a full understanding of its ins and outs. So, I asked Uber whether I could try the feature again on my own to get the full experience.
This is how I found myself one Sunday sitting back in a convertible Audi, wind whipping through my hair. My friend was driving, and we were zipping along a coastal drive on the Northern Beaches, dropping into cafés and beaches along the way.
But I’ll start from the very beginning. Firstly, like Uber Eats, Uber Carshare is a separate app to Uber. I downloaded it and went through the process of signing up. I had to enter my details, upload a photo of myself and the front and back of my license. While I was already signed up with Car Next Door, it had been with a separate email to the one I’d used for Uber.
Then, in the app, I was able to choose the car I wanted to rent. I put in the date of the Sunday that I wanted to rent a car, entered my suburb and then looked through the selection and chose an Audi A3 2015 that had already been used for 70 trips. There were two different options for insurance, so I chose the most protection.
How Uber Carshare works is that you pay a base fee for the rental (in my car’s case, $39 per hour or $129 per day) and then pay a per kilometre fee, which includes petrol (in this case, 53c per km). You’re also charged a booking fee (in this case, $6.99), basic cover ($16.90) and, if you want, extra premium cover ($16.50).
If you have to fill up the petrol while you’re on your trip, you pay out of pocket and are reimbursed. I did have to fill up on my trip as the tank reached empty, and so paid $97.26 out of pocket for that. A couple days after I’d returned the car, I uploaded the receipt through the app for reimbursement. I’m still unsure whether the amount will be refunded into a bank account of my choosing or as Uber credit (preferably the former).
That aside, the 11-hour trip in the Audi convertible, which saw me driving from North Bondi to Palm Beach and all around the area, cost me $280.41 (though, fortunately, Uber comped it as I was using the service to write this story).
So, is Uber Carshare better than a regular ol’ car rental? I’d say it depends. The day trip cost is definitely steep, but I did also save time and money by not having to get a regular Uber or take public transport to Darlinghurst, where most of the car pickups in Sydney are. Instead, I simply walked 15 minutes from home to pick up the car keys from a lockbox hanging in a tree in a front yard. The code had been texted to me beforehand.
I also didn’t have to pay for a second driver, which you do sometimes have to do with car rentals. My friend was already a Car Next Door member, so that had sufficed in ensuring he was covered by the insurance in case of an accident in the car.
Personally, I also love using Uber. I find the customer service excellent — they always get back to me right away, which gave me peace of mind throughout the day. I knew if anything happened, I’d easily be able to get through to someone to help. I’d also called the car owner when I couldn’t find the lockbox initially, and he’d answered right away. Plus, I also like the fact I was able to write a review about the experience (I didn’t, but the option was there) and have it appear on the car’s profile.
I’d say if you’re heading somewhere on a multi-day trip, it’s probably a more affordable option to do a regular car rental. But if you’re wanting a car for a day trip or to run an errand, like going to Bunnings, IKEA or do a big shop, it’s worth trying Uber Carshare.
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