A funny thing is going on in San Francisco right now. After Uber hired Goldman to raise $1 billion in a convertible debt sale, Uber launched a $5 UberPool campaign for a limited time on rides anywhere in San Francisco. UberPool is Uber’s carpooling service where they charge an even lower rate than their UberX offering. $5 to go anywhere in SF is truly a game-changing move that makes me not want to ever drive again in The City. The traffic has turned horrendous with unemployment below 4%.
It takes me about 30 minutes on average to drive downtown from Golden Gate Heights in rush hour traffic plus parking. There’s of course the cost of gas, potential tickets, and the risk of accidents I’ve got to deal with as well. I’d totally pay $10 roundtrip for the 3X a week I go downtown and leave Rhino, my sexy beast, at home.
But guess what? I haven’t called a single UberPool because I’ve currently got 10 free rides, each worth $20 – $30, sitting in my account! I’m not going to burn one ride that now only costs $5 with one of my $20-$30 credits, no sir! I’m going to hoard my free rides for when I go to the airport – a $30-$35 fee from my house. You see, if a ride only costs $15 and I use one of my $30 credits, I lose the other $15. And even if the app is smart enough to let me use the $5 promo on UberPool, instead of automatically applying one of my $20-$30 credits, I’m still not willing to risk it.
Like any good frugal person would do, I told my friends to book an UberPool instead, and take me along for a ride. Genius!
How did I get all my free ride credits? That’s easy. Each person who tries out Uber using my referral code gets a $20 free ride and so do I. All you gotta do to replicate my Uber credit galore is spend 25 hours a week writing for five years in a row and you’re good to go!
Too bad the promotional value is only $20 a ride now, down from $30 in 2014. But they’ve now smartly shifted the promotion strategy to subsidizing drivers with their $5 UberPool to get consumers to try their carpooling service. If you haven’t tried Uber, it absolutely makes transportation cheaper and easier.
COMPETITION HEATS UP WITH LYFT!
For one day, everybody was talking about the amazing $5 UberPool promotion until the very next day Lyft came out with an even more amazing offer. Lyft’s version of UberPool is called Lyft Line Rides, and also for a “limited time only,” Lyft Line is offering an amazing promotional offer of only $2.25 a ride!
The marketing move is brilliant because not only is $2.25 half the price of UberPool’s $5 promotion, $2.25 also equals the current bus and MUNI fair. Nobody in their right mind would take a dang crowded bus when they could just take a Lyft to and from home.
So did I use Lyft Line? NO! Because I’ve got one more Lyft credit worth $10 when I signed up for some random promotion over the holidays. I’m not going to spend my valuable $10 Lyft credit on some cheap $2.25 Lyft Line promotion! Come on now.
MAYBE I HAVE A HOARDING PROBLEM AND SO DO YOU?
Given I consult in the marketing departing of several financial tech companies, I absolutely love the marketing ideas that giants in Silicon Valley come up with. The recent promotions by Uber and Lyft have reminded me that perhaps I have a hoarding problem. In order to figure out whether I actually do have a problem, I’ve written out five signals.
Let’s review some of the issues around hoarders. Each point has a subjective 1-5 rating, with 1 being “this does not relate to me stupid” to 5 being “holy crap that is me!”
1) You collect things you don’t use. This is the essence of hoarding, whether it be cat food from Costco that goes bad, to airline miles that expire. Hoarders tend to also be packrats with apartments or houses full of junk. “Buy more save more” is a common mentality.
2) You can’t get yourself to part with the things you collect. Even though you know there’s a six month expiration to use the credit, you wait until the very last minute to use the credit. Given you often wait last minute, you sometimes lose the credit completely. Despite the loss, there is some satisfaction knowing that you owned the credit for as long as possible. Hoarders have a difficult time giving their things away to other people.
3) You feel anxiety when you start running low. Even though you can simply take a bus or a taxi home, you might start feeling anxiety if your 10 Uber credits dwindle down to only two or three. More is more for hoarders.
4) You gain a greater sense of worth the more you have. Maybe hoarders went through some tough economic times before, but hoarders tend to feel better about themselves the more stuff they can accumulate. There’s a greater sense of security that everything will be OK.
5) You don’t let anybody know what you have. Due to the insecurity of running low, a hoarder doesn’t allow people to witness what they’ve collected. There’s a fear that other people might ask or take. Why do you need 1,000 Beanie Babies? Can’t you part with just one? A hoarder doesn’t want to be put in a situation where they are forced to act.
If you have a total point score of between 12-16, you are a borderline hoarder. A score of 17 or higher means you are hogging the world’s resources and need to start letting go! Maybe some therapy is in order too.
DO YOU HAVE A HOARDING PROBLEM?
I’d like to think that I’m highly rational with my Uber credits and don’t have a hoarding problem. Given I fly at least three times a year, that’s six trips in which I plan on utilizing my Uber credits for maximum value. But perhaps hoarders also like to justify they are economically rational as well? Some people I know buy crap loads of stuff from big box stores and have forgotten what they’ve bought years later!
But now I’m wondering about all those retro Nike kicks I’ve hoarded that are tucked away in boxes somewhere in the upper shelves of a closet. I hoard them because I couldn’t afford a single pair as a child. It was always the rich kids who had the latest Jordans. I can’t get myself to wear some of them because once I do, I’ll scuff up the soles and lose the new shoe smell that I love so much!
The battle between Uber and Lyft has truly been amazing to watch. Venture capital and private equity money is flowing into the city like MAD and consumers are benefitting from both lower prices and more jobs. I’ve never had more career fun than right now sitting in the thick of things!
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