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For better or for worse, Uber has utterly transformed the way we get around.
But it’s more than just a taxi (sorry, ridesharing) company. In recent years, they’ve diversified, and now offer a broad range of services and products. Their core service is already disrupting the taxi industry. Then there are some, you probably won’t expect.
Order Some Food
As the name suggests, UberEats is a food delivery service. While the ridesharing component of Uber has reached near ubiquity (Uber now covers 75% of the United States), the same can’t be said for UberEats, which is only really found in a handful of major American cities, plus Paris and Toronto.
UberEats is entering a market that’s pretty much dominated by Seamless in the United States, and Just Eat everywhere else. But they’ve managed to differentiate themselves by offering a smaller menu from upscale and boutique eateries, a mobile app almost everyone is familiar with, and a pricing model that’s transparent and simple. You just pay for your food and a flat delivery fee. No tipping necessary.
While UberEats are known for being blisteringly fast, this efficiency does come with a cost; meals are one-size-fits-all, and cannot be customized. Hate mushrooms, or have a gluten allergy? Tough.
If UberEats isn’t in your city, don’t fret! There are plenty of other online food delivery services to choose from.
Hire a Chopper
Until recently, I thought UberLux was Uber’s most opulent offering, where the car picking you up isn’t a Toyota Prius, but rather a luxury sedan, and the cheapest ride starts at $30. Boy, was I wrong.
On special occasions Uber will actually allow you to charter a helicopter through the mobile app. It’s called UberChopper.
— Uber UAE (@Uber_UAE) November 26, 2015
Take the recent Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, for example. For a flat fee 2,250 UAE Dirhams (that’s about $610 USD), you can order a six-seater helicopter to whisk you in-style from Dubai to the race course in the nearby emirate of Abu Dhabi. That’s a distance of roughly 130 kilometers.
— Jono Haysom (@JonoH) November 26, 2015
Despite the high price tag, UberChopper has proven itself to be fairly popular. The service has been successfully operated at the Circuit of the Americas race in Austin, at the Country Music Awards in Nashville, and at the Cannes film festival in France.
Uber’s sufficiently confident in the demand for it, they even offer an annual UberChopper service from Manhattan to The Hamptons around Independence Day.
Despite the Internet’s noted affection for felines (Wired calls it the “Cat-Industrial Complex”) millions of cats sit in rehoming shelters, just waiting to be adopted.
Trying to put a dent in those figures, Uber this year added a “KITTENS!” option to its app on National Cat Day (yes, it’s a thing).
Anyone who requested it would get 15 minutes to play with an adoptable kitten, supervised with a qualified animal shelter volunteer. Uber even threw in a swag-bag, which included an Ace of Cakes cupcake, and some Uber-branded tat.
— Sarah Grant (@surfiesarah) November 27, 2015
The whole cost? Thirty dollars, with all the proceeds going to local animal shelters.
“I can’t think of many things more stressful than a random person who doesn’t speak your language bundling you into a car, driving you somewhere you don’t know and handing you over to strangers you’ve never seen before, can you?
… Live baby animals are not products. They should not be available on demand like a bloody taxi.”
Cool Off with Ice Cream
Uber annually offers a promotion where you can order ice cream through the Uber app. This happens worldwide (2014 saw ice cream being offered in 144 cities over 38 countries), during the hottest times of the year.
Like the Uber rides themselves, you pay through the app, and there’s no need to tip. Quite often, the ice cream promotion is operated in conjunction with other companies. In 2015, for example, ice cream was free to anyone paying with a Capital One credit card in the United States. In the UK, everyone got free ice cream. The frozen treats were provided by Walls – one of the biggest manufacturers of ice cream in the United Kingdom.
Play Some Bop It!
Remember Bop It? Of course you do. It’s an iconic children’s toy. Let me refresh your memory.
So, what’s this got to do with Uber? Well, as it turns out, Uber is experimenting with introducing hand-held games in order to “enhance the rider experience”. Uber Partners are supposed to place them in the back of their cars. If their customers want to play with them, they can.
One Uber Driver in Charlotte, South Carolina got shipped a free Bop It, who then posted a photo of the toy, and the accompanying letter on Reddit.
Anyone who’s ever played Bop It can attest to how utterly annoying they are. Just imagine a low-bitrate voice shouting “TWIST IT! PULL IT!” over and over again at an ever increasing speed. It’s probably not a good idea to have them in a car either, due to the risk they might distract the driver.
Uber Partners who are part of the trial do have the option to not carry the toy, however. In the letter, it states:
“We don’t anticipate riders abusing or misusing the game, but should you feel uncomfortable with having the Bop It in your car for whatever reason, feel free to remove it from your vehicle. We just ask that if you do decide to remove it that you let us know”
If the mere-mention of the Bop It makes you nostalgic, check out these other geeky toys from yesteryear.
In June 2014, Uber celebrated San Francisco’s Pride weekend by offering weddings on demand. If you wanted to get married to the man or woman you love, all you had to do is open the Uber app and request “UberWEDDING“.
If your request was accepted, Uber would then send a driver heading to your location, complete with a photographer, a videographer, a notary, and a violinist. They even provided flowers, candles, champagne, and cake. Sixty minutes after the driver arrived, you’d be married. Uber says that six different coupes took advantage of their promotion. You can see the adorable (if not slightly twee) footage below.
It didn’t stop there. They even threw in a honeymoon vacation, in partnership with HotelTonight (which we’ve written about before) and Alaska Airlines.
If you weren’t one of the lucky eight, but you still need to plan a wedding, check out these 12 essential nuptial planning websites.
Any Other Unusual Uses for Uber?
Or, you have just given up your car and lessened your carbon footprint. As its popularity surges across continents and it navigates through legal requirments or union protests, many more alternative uses could be in the offing. Watch out for any unique uses of Uber in your city and take advantage of them. Share your best Uber stories.
Have you found any other unusual uses for Uber? Tell me about them in the comments below!