Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘In Traffic’

I have an issue with Uber but they refuse to listen.

December 07, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic, Technology 6 Comments →


I use Uber a lot. It’s convenient, safe, and reduces the stress of getting around the city. I’ve written about how glad I am that Uber exists. I don’t even mind paying the surge rate (up to 5X during the Xmas season last year) as long as I am informed of it beforehand. Hey, traffic is a pain in the ass, what are you going to do.

Recently Uber updated its app. Now it doesn’t show you the surge rate. Instead you get an “Upfront Fare” that tells you how much your ride will cost. It may seem like a good idea—except that that is not what you end up paying.

This morning I took Uber to the Rockwell area. The “Upfront Fare” was Php55. The actual fare when I got to my destination was Php100.

This afternoon I took Uber back to my house, roughly the same distance as my morning trip. The “Upfront Fare” was Php170. The actual fare I was charged when I got home: Php248.

I understand that the effects of road traffic cannot be predicted exactly, but knowing the surge rate would give me a more accurate idea of how much I would have to pay. The “Upfront Fare” is completely unreliable, being nearly 50 percent off the final fare. I would prefer not to get a shock when the driver gives me the total (I use the cash option, so I am more aware of what I pay than if I charged it to a card).

As I am trying to be cheerful, I thought I would take it up with Uber instead of getting angry. In the past, I could report issues to Uber by replying to the receipt they email after each ride. Turns out you can’t do that anymore. I got an automatic reply that said the address does not accept incoming email. I was advised to go to “Help” in the Uber app or go to on the web.

So I did that. But the Help menu on both app and website has limited options, none of which cover “Your Upfront Fare is not very upfront, and I would prefer to see the surge rate so I don’t get a shock.” I tried reporting my issue under “I lost an item” and “I had an issue with a receipt or payment option” to no avail.


I asked my terrifyingly efficient sister how I could contact Uber, and she suggested their Facebook page. As I am not on the social media, I asked her to relay my message for me. Here is their reply:

Hello, just go to your History in Uber app, choose the trip that got issue and submit a note, we’ll follow up.

In short, Uber does not care to listen. And if Uber will not listen, I do not have to use Uber.

Uber, I want a reply. Readers, could you do me a favor and pass this on to them?

In the meantime I will use Grab. I have found Grab to be slightly more expensive, but at least they tell you what the final fare is as soon as you book.

* * *
Update on 13 December: The surge rate is back! When you request a ride, the surge rate appears.

See? Was that so difficult? Uber-ing again.

* * *

Update on 15 December: Since that time the surge rate window has not appeared again,

Spotted at a street corner: What is wrong with this graffiti?

March 28, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic 2 Comments →


Okay, we just learned a new word, but that’s not it. It should be “nang”!

The Nang-Ng Grammar Police

Uber is the new lechong manok

August 09, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic, Technology No Comments →

Edsa photo from InterAksyon.

You know how, in the Philippines, when a small enterprise becomes successful, everyone rushes to get into that line of business? It happened with lechong manok, shawarma, pearl drinks, milk tea. All the neighbors dreamed of being hot pan de sal magnates when I was a kid. Now I think it is happening with Uber.

Uber is the ride-sharing app that puts car owners together with people in need of transport. Essentially it’s a taxi service minus the franchise and the aggravation of haggling with taxi drivers. (Taxi apps actually legitimize the “kontrata” system—passengers offer the drivers tips even before they’ve entered the taxi. It’s a bidding war, and the result is to reward asshole behavior.)

Read our column at InterAksyon.

In traffic: Pay toilet rates

April 16, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic 2 Comments →


Seen in traffic on EDSA, Guadalupe, Makati: Pay toilet rates “wee-wee 3 pesos, poo-poo 5 pesos”. Is the user required to announce whether he intends to do number one or number two, or does someone do a spot check afterwards?

Adventures in Taxi-Riding: The Over-Sharer

March 09, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic No Comments →

One advantage of riding taxis is that I get stories I can repeat in my column. Like the one about the driver who was reading a warrant of arrest for murder, which I hope he had not personally committed. I have had some memorable conversations with cabbies; practically the only thing we have not discussed is the Hardy-Ramanujan taxi number (1729), and when that comes up I know it is a sign that I should start a taxi company.

In recent years I’ve had only two arguments with drivers. The first driver checked the route with me every 30 seconds, and when I said, “I don’t know, you’re the driver,” flew into a rage and cried, “Kailangan mo bang mag-Inglis?” The other was a cranky old person who said we could not go straight on Legaspi Street towards Greenbelt, and when I pointed out that we could, launched into a stream of invective about women being possessed by the devil. Which made me furious, but I was not as proficient at cussing in Tagalog as he was, so I just tossed the exact fare on the front seat and said, “Mamamatay ka.” I had meant to say “Mamatay ka”—drop dead—but in my rage repeated a syllable, so it came out as “You will die.” Which is a statement of fact: everybody dies, if not now then eventually, but the crabby cabbie interpreted it as a threat and started screaming out the window as I walked off, thus increasing his chances of having an aneurysm and proving me psychic.

Read our column at

From the archive: Makati Murder Mystery (2009)

So I’m in a taxi on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon, crawling through
the traffic on McKinley Road, and we stop at a red light. The driver
opens the glove compartment and takes out a sheaf of papers. I don’t
mean to look but I can read the print clearly over his shoulder. I
wish I hadn’t looked because it’s a document issued by a Regional
Trial Court. A warrant of arrest.

For Murder.

Things seen in traffic

February 19, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic No Comments →

micro wrestling

Midgets. Always a great source of entertainment because everyone in the Philippines is 6’4″.