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Why Uber Eats in a small town simply doesn’t work

Kevin, I need a day off to work this out.

Uber eats meme
Image: KnowTechie

I live in a small city in Virginia. There are about 40,000 of us here. The old mills and factories litter the downtown area where I live. There have been huge revitalization efforts and it finally feels like a city plagued by its main breadwinner shutting down, Dan River Mills,  is at a turning point. Sadly, we still have a lot of catching up to do. For one, Uber – and more specifically Uber Eats – is still not ready for little ole Danville, Virginia.

For some perspective, Uber only came to the city a few years back and it’s never been very reliable. Sometimes you can get a ride, sometimes you can’t. Uber Eats is an even more recent addition. For someone that is extremely lazy (me), Uber Eats has been a blessing – until this week. Let me spin you a tale of hunger, loss, and a $25 cancellation charge Uber refuses to reimburse.

Yesterday, on Wednesday, I decided to spend my lunch break enjoying the scenic river walk near my apartment. I do this quite often as it helps clear the head and considering I spend upwards of 12 hours a day on a computer, it’s nice to just disconnect for a bit. The problem is that I spent my whole lunch break on the trail. When I returned, I needed sustenance and I had no food in the house. Like, none. 

Enter Uber EatsI’ll treat myself, I thought, but the experience was anything but a treat.

I placed my order with Uber Eats around 1:00 PM and was told my food should arrive by 1:50

Nice. At 1:50, the app still showed that the restaurant was preparing the food. Odd, but I’ve had it display weird before so I didn’t think much of it. At 2 PM, the status bar hadn’t moved, my stomach and I started to get concerned. At 2:10 PM, you guessed, still no changes. Annoyance started to set in.

2:20 rolls around and I decided that it was time to get involved. This is when my faith in the service – and humanity as a whole – started to dwindle. I mean, this is the whole point of the app. Let me order my food in hidden shame, then let the magic of the internet summon my food to my front door. A quick call to the restaurant should resolve this, right? Right? 


“Hey guys, I placed an order through Uber and it’s like way past the estimated time and just wondering when I should expect the order?” They knew who I was instantly, not a good sign. “Is this Josiah? Yeah, your food has been ready for like an hour – there are just no Uber drivers.” Oh, cool. Cool cool cool cool. The next piece of the conversation shook me to my core and made me question not only everything I knew about life but reality itself.

“Yeah, you’ll need to come to pick the order up yourself.”

My world shattered, I felt like Dr. Strange in that one Avengers movie where he had to calculate 14 million outcomes. My head spasmed, I stuttered a bunch before finally squeaking out “But that’s why I used Uber Eats.”

The person on the other side of the phone repeated their previous statement as if restating it would somehow make it better. “Yeah, you’ll need to come pick up the order yourself.” I hung up. I refused to entertain the conversation further.

Now, this is where I probably messed up, but this had never happened to me before, so I quite frankly I wasn’t sure what to do. At this point, being told my food had been ready for almost an hour, I had no interest in it anymore. I canceled the order through the app. I was charged $25 for canceling. Uber’s got my back on this, I thought.

*Narrator voice* Uber did not have his back

After going back and forth in emails, from someone obviously using canned responses and snippets and not actually looking into the issue, I have admitted defeat. As Kyle said on Twitter, “UberEats, you don’t.” Uber’s terrible customer service did absolutely nothing to help or even acknowledge the issue.

I honestly just don’t think customer support can fathom a world where the issue with my order was due to no drivers. I kept being told you can’t cancel after 5 minutes of placing your order. I totally understand that, but again, you’re expecting me to pay for cold, late food or….. to pick up my own order.

As a final act of defiance, I sent them a recorded video of me removing their apps from my phone. Will they care? No. Did it make me feel a bit better? Absolutely. I’ll just use Lyft when I travel for work.

Ok, so the point here is that small cities and Uber Eats just don’t mix. There may have been drivers in the area, but maybe they all declined to order, I don’t know. But when a convenience service isn’t convenient, then what are we even doing?

Maybe Uber should add a warning or something when you go to place your order “There are a limited number of drivers in your area. Delays may occur.” Literally anything to say “hey bucko, you’re taking a gamble using our service right now, just know that.”

What are your horror stories with using gig economy apps like Uber and Uber Eats? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Former KnowTechie editor.

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