1. Notary Public: At Your Service.
According to the Commonwealth of Virginia, Your Personal Assistant is now a commissioned Notary Public. I am reporting for duty with my self-inking stamp. I know -- to think you knew me when.
2. Your Uber Is On The Way.
Even if you haven't used Uber yet, you've probably heard of the app that connects drivers with customers based on a mapping and pricing algorithm, often delivering rides that are cheaper than metered taxis. Your Personal Assistant knows many who use the service regularly. Some have even raved, swearing they will never go back to regular taxi service again.
Feeling oh-so-2012 still using regular cab service, I decided to give Uber a try and I've since used them four times locally in the metro DC area and twice in Charleston, South Carolina. As a non-Millenial, I did find the app confusing (so confusing that I accidentally ordered a car before I was ready), but as always -- I am here for YOU:
1. When you open the app, you choose your pick up location and one of the three service level options: uberX, Black Car, and Taxi.
The low-cost service made up of drivers using their own cars and drivers licenses. (Uber spokesperson Lane Kasselman, call this service "peer-to-peer...these are new entrepreneurs sort of creating their own business and using their own vehicle to provide rides".
Under uberx the options are uberx (seats up to 4 people), uberXL (seats up to 6 people), FAMILY uberX (seats up to 4 people, including one car seat--and a $10 surcharge)
This was Uber's original service and it's more expensive, consisting of certified chauffeurs who have been licensed by the city and the options are:
Black Car (sets up to 4 people), SUV (seats up to 6 people), Family Black Car (seats up to 4 people including one car seat -- and a $10 surcharge)
2. Once you make your selection, you'll see the corresponding car on the map along with a pick up time. You'll likely notice the pick up time as being almost immediate. Tap the black bar that says SET PICKUP LOCATION and you'll go to the CONFIRMATION page, where you'll see your pick up location in a white bar. Down below, you'll see a box where you can tap FARE ESTIMATE.
3. Tap FARE ESTIMATE and you'll be prompted to Enter Destination and the approximate price will appear. Tap the X (upper right hand corner) to return and if you are set, tap the black Request box. Two pricing points to note: a) There is a flat rate fee to the airport, so depending on the time of day and airport location, it could be less expensive to take a regular taxi. b) Rates increase nearly double during "high demand times", such as holidays or severe inclement weather to "surge price" levels. (The BBB just gave Uber and F for this policy, so hopefully change is coming.)
4. Once you select REQUEST, you will get an immediate response and your ride will likely be minutes away. At the bottom of your phone screen, you will also see a photo of the car, its license plate number, and the driver name. (If you are super bored, you can actually watch a map car make it's way to you.) When the driver arrives, you will receive a text notification.
Special Note of Experience: If you discover you've made a mistake in your request, you have 5 minutes to cancel by tapping the Cancel button in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Otherwise a $10 penalty will be charged to your credit card on file. (However, if your driver is late by more than 5 minutes, you can cancel without penalty.)
5. Upon arrival at your destination, you just get out of the car -- without having to deal with payment or tip. Tip is included in the fare amount, which gets charged to your credit card. Your receipt will be emailed to you, and you'll be given an opportunity to rate your driver.
Needless to say, Uber isn't very popular among the local cab companies. The cabbies have lost business and until last summer, Uber didn't have to abide by the same business and state regulations, but now an agreement has been made requiring the companies to comply with certain safety conditions.
I don't know that I've drunk the Uber Kool-Aid; it is somewhat disconcerting to be picked up by a stranger in an unmarked car, but it's a brilliant concept and incredibly convenient. Every driver I have had has been very pleasant, with clean and new-ish cars, and they all made their way to my destination efficiently with their GPS. First-timers get a $30 discount on the first ride -- making it worth the proverbial spin. Click here to go to their site.
3. Miraculous Mobile Deposit
My SunTrust bank is conveniently located inside my grocery store and another branch, complete with a drive-thru, is a few blocks away. Yet I still absolutely loathe the banking errand. You'd think I would have jumped at the chance to download the free mobile banking app when Suntrust came out with it in 2013.
No, your Personal Assistant thought the idea was too risky. With all that hacking going on?! No sirree. Three years later and even your Personal Assistant's 70+ year old father was doing it. The bank teller was losing patience with me, or so it seemed, when he asked me why I wasn't using the service. He told me:
a) the deposit funds are available on the next business day, provided the deposit is made before 9:00 pm,
b) it is safe and secure, 100% covered with 0% liability -- and even free,
c) my monthly deposit maximum is $3,000, and
d) to save the checks until I could verify that they'd made it into my account.
You can do it, he said.
It'll be okay.
You just need to download the app to your phone.
Log on with your online user name and password.
Sign the back of the check.
Tap the Make a Deposit box.
Follow the instructions, capturing a photo of both sides of the check.
You've. Got. This.
And BAM, I did! Why didn't I do this sooner?!
If I am not the last one in the DC metro area to take advantage of this technological miracle, check out your bank's mobile deposit program below:
4.I Subscribed To Two Consumer Review Services So You Don't Have To.
The following Metro DC contractors were rated number one in their respective specialities. You're welcome.
Pest & Termite Control
Water Damage & Mold Remediation
* same vote for both consumer review services
** only one service rates locksmiths
5. Attention: Good Girls/Boys Gifts
A good way to minimize that holiday stress is to start working on your list now. Your Personal Assistant checked in with some good girls and boys to find out what they are putting on their Santa list this year.
5-year-old niece: National Geographic Kids Magazine subscription
8-year-old neighbor: Jumpin Sumo Remote Control Drone toy
10-year-old neighbor: iPhone
16-year-old teenager: Forza Horizon 2 Xbox game
18-year-old girl: Madewell "Kensington Satchel, monogrammed please
19-year-old college frat boy: a Vineyard Vine bow-tie
19-year-old Hokie: Tailgate Toss Game
25-year-old in need: gift card to a local tire store
26-year-old coat addict: fabulous faux fur Topshop parka, 'Martha'
29-year-old needing an upgrade from a backpack: a Coach briefcase
31 year old rising chef: a Calphalon cookware set
38 year old marathoner: a Garmin Forerunner satellite watch
45 year old history buff: "The Return of George Washington"
46-year-old business traveler: an iPad
47-year-old Birkenstock lover: shearling lined 'Arizona' Birks
51-year-old with a new car: auto detailing gift card
60-something who doesn't need more "things": an "experience gift"
70-something about to go on a cruise: a Kindle Paperwhite
70-something going on the cruise too: an iPad mini
80-something that needs to stop serving me instant coffee: a Keurig