Uber vs. Harmony cars

London Transfers January 2013

For many people worldwide Uber is the current buzz word in private hire.

I thought I would compare the service you get from Uber to the service you get with Harmony Cars.

1.  Quality Of service

Now let me start by pointing out that Uber is currently valued at $52 Billion Dollars and Harmony cars is valued considerably less, however this may surprise you, although Harmony are a much smaller company they own more of their own vehicles than Uber. This wouldn’t be hard to do as Uber don’t own any cars at all. The benefit that gives Harmony is that it knows exactly the quality of vehicle they send as they know there fleet thoroughly. Uber on the other hand have over 40,000 vehicles and drivers on their books and so they do not have a clue on a personal level as to the cars they send or the type of driver they are selecting to come and pick you up.

So they are at the mercy of their drivers as to the quality and standard of their vehicles. They currently have over 40,000 drivers and cars locked onto their computer system all representing Uber and they make them available to you the customer to use when you click their app. Harmony on the other hand have approximately 80 executive cars and drivers for your convenience. As Harmony have  a much smaller fleet of cars and drivers to choose from they can offer a service based on quality not quantity and the cars they send can be vetted more thoroughly, guaranteeing exactly the high standard of service you will receive. This is virtually impossible for Uber to make the same guarantee as they have so many drivers and vehicles to choose from, they cannot know exactly who and what standard the vehicle are that they send.

So to sum up the standard of service from both companies:

Uber is luck of the draw with regard driver and car, meaning service could be a gamble, it may be very good or could be a disaster, the possibility of bad drivers not knowing how to drive or where to go in London and their cars may not always be clean and not always totally reliable. You could be fortunate and have a no problem journey but either way there is no phone number made available to speak to anyone either to compliment or complain.

Harmony Cars are always reliable for service (not really surprising since they have less than 100 vehicles at their disposal all top of the range)suited and booted drivers, A chance to experience there world famous  “English Chauffeur service”, quality vehicles (Usually Mercedes or BMW), always clean cars with experienced vetted perfect English speaking drivers who seem to know London well, and finally if you have a problem, a 24 hour contact phone number to speak to a person who can help you with any queries.

I would score Uber a 6 and Harmony 9. So I think Harmony cars win on this one.

2. A look at price.  

Uber have 3 different prices but provide 3 different services there cheapest is the more basic vehicle such as Toyota Prius, this seems to be the service that many people are choosing. Now on closer examination it appears that if you simply want a cheap ride then take a look at local private hire companies they are usually cheaper than Uber and you have the choice to pay cash or card, Uber have a minimum fare of £8 local companies often start from £3.50, and Uber don’t except cash so that option is not open to you. Instead you have to give your card details to Uber and pray they don’t over charge you and if they do there is no phone number to complain on and try and get your money back. Plus I am not certain just how safe your card information is on their system.

Harmony cars on the other hand are a luxury Chauffeur company, so there is no comparison between there prices and Uber, as they offer travel in high class executive vehicles, but note if reliability, quality, comfort, is your priority and you don’t mind paying a little extra for this guaranteed high service then the extra money is worth it, especially for those important trips. As mentioned Uber do offer a competitive service to Harmony cars executive Chauffeur service, however like all there services they have no real control who they send, with over 5000 executive drivers to select from at random. Harmony guarantee they know all their drivers so match driver to client personally.

Price wise Harmony cars prices start from £55, this will take you from Central London to Heathrow. Uber offer a similar price but with no guarantee of who they will send as selection is randomly provided by their computer. Once again Harmony offer clients the option to pay cash in €,$,£ or card and will confirm in writing the cost of every trip in advance and honour it. Uber sometimes add costs to your trip without telling you and the only way to argue your case is by email.  Any problems with Harmony just pick up the phone and speak to them.

My view and my conclusion

Uber are cheaper, but only on basic service, like for like service (executive) Harmony are cheaper and give a better service.

If cheap is your preference then Uber wins but can be bettered by local cab companies but if quality of service is important then Harmony cars prices offer good value for what you get.               So I score Uber 7 for their service and Harmony  9 on their service.

Again Harmony win even though they are more expensive they give a top service at a reasonable price.  Whereas Uber although are cheaper than Harmony if you want Ubers basic style of service cheaper can be had by local companies.

3. Airport, Rail, Cruise transfers.

Uber don’t really like to travel to far from London, so their pricing for say a London transfer to Southampton could be quite expensive. As for transfers from London to Heathrow or Heathrow to London, they are not set up to offer a Meet and Greet service they are really just a cheap cab service. Harmony Cars business is mostly Meet and Greet so offer services to all the main airports both from London or going to London and long distance is also no problem, as they are a luxury chauffeur service this is the type of journey Harmony specialize in.

Summing up

Uber can take you to an airport and probably quite cheaply but if you want a full meet and Greet service where the driver knows his way around the airport, sttion or port then Harmony will give you the better service, once again it may cost a little extra but when flying or going on a cruise I like to know I am going to arrive in the right place at the right time, I think I would feel more confident going with Harmony then Ube. If its just on price Uber is probably going to be cheaper but I would rather pay the extra and get there without worries. 

I would mark Uber 7 and Harmony Cars 10.  Again Harmony wins for me.

4. Ease of booking with both companies.

Uber is an app service company, you have to open an account first, giving them your card details, and to book a car you simply go to the app and request one, so quite easy, if car is delayed or breaks down the only way to find out what has happened is to contact Uber by email, there is no phone number. A price is quoted when booked but not guaranteed, so if client makes any deviance from original itinerary then price changes, the driver has no control of what client is charged and Uber instruct driver not to ask or take gratuity from client, so the driver has little incentive to please. One good thing is you do not have to pay till you receive your next card bill, and only then will you see exactly what you paid. Any arguing regarding overcharge all has to be done by email. Prices also do increase during peak times, strikes and any time high demand is made on their service.

Harmony Cars can be booked in advance by phone or email. Harmony offer a 24 hour booking service and will always answer each enquiry personally giving each client an individual bespoke quote, there prices for all their vehicles are shown on their web site and after any booking has been made it is always followed with one of their transfer vouchers confirming all the details.

Payment can be done in advance by card and a receipt is sent straight away. Clients usually if paying by cash do not pay till they have arrived at their destination. Gratuity is at clients discretion

A 24 hour help line phone number is available and shown on the transfer voucher. Tariffs are not changed due to heavy demand unlike Uber so that is a good sign that they are taking care of their clients.

My view and conclusion

Uber are slick but very impersonalised you do all the booking by computer or phone  there is no number to speak to anyone. They take advantage of customers by hyping prices when demand is high. If you like dealing with a machine and don’t want a more personal service then Uber is for you but if anything goes wrong I wish you luck trying to argue with a computer as the man on the tv show “Little Britain ” used to say “the computer says no”.

Harmony Cars.  A very different experience. A real person deals directly with you either by phone or email, and if you are worried about paying for the call they will phone you back. From the minute you contact Harmony you can feel they care about your business, you get a response very quickly, they will be honest as to when your car will arrive and can also help you book theatre and sports tickets if you require them. There are no hidden costs such as a premium rate for un social hours. All in all a hassle free experience the only thing is that they do require a minimum of 24 hours’ notice to book.

Summing up.

Both companies are very different. If you don’t mind dealing with just a machine then Uber are fine, just pray nothing goes wrong as speaking directly to an Uber representative is almost impossible.

Harmony cars on the other hand are more personal, more approachable company giving the feeling of really caring about its clients and offering them help at every stage of the booking making you feel secure that you have booked with a company that will take care of you at every stage of your trip. They also have a 24 hour telephone service where you can always speak to an English clear speaking person at the other end.

So I would give Uber 7 for their service assuming you like to talk to a computer and Harmony cars 10. Their customer service is excellent and make you feel totally at ease and reassured that your car will be there when you requested it

Final conclusion on both companies

So all in all Uber scored a total of  27.  Harmony cars scored a total of 38. Out of a maximum  40 points.

Uber offer a service that is not always as cheap as you might think, if you don’t mind dealing with computers and emails then fine you will see from most of the comments made in the press that a lot of their drivers originate from overseas and don’t always know where they are going and don’t speak fluent English. However if you just want a basic cheap service Uber are not to bad, but if you are just looking for cheap then use a local cab firm they are usually lower priced than Uber.

Re Harmony cars.  This company seems a class act with quality service, drivers and vehicles.

They are not the cheapest but for what they do they charge fairly.

Personally I like to travel trouble free and don’t mind paying that little more for the reliability of service but if you just want the cheapest I wouldn’t use either as there is always a company cheaper somewhere. As they say ” You pay your money you take your chance”. Over all I would pick Harmony cars over Uber especially for trips where I must be there on time and in good spirit.

Harmony cars can be contacted on 07976374498.  Or email info@harmony-airport-transfers.com


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