My Master’s Thesis was on the topic of Entrepreneurial Mothers; in which I suggested that our entire economy would have to shift and change to accommodate the rising percentage of single-parent households, primarily headed by females. (Or in Grad School terms; I proposed a paradigmatic shift ala, Thomas Kuhn). It wasn’t a big stretch. Divorce rates were skyrocketing as were children being born to unwed mothers. I was one of those unwed mothers and the thesis seemed like a great excuse—(ala, explanation to my own mother) – why I had to forge a path littered with weird jobs and bohemian money-making strategies versus securing a corporate job littered with security. I read Tarot Cards on the Promenade of Santa Monica, put out stage fires for the rock band Poison, sold Obama Condoms on the streets of New York City; and so much more.
I typed that dissertation, Entrepreneurial Mother’s, on an IBM Selectric Typewriter; yes, typed on a typewriter. That was Graduate School in 1990; the internet was not yet commonplace and the world of the ‘app’ was yet to be born. Fast forward twenty years and the internet rules the world and ‘apps’ rule our lives. I love technology and am addicted to apps, but, try to limit them to a manageable degree; or they will end up managing me.
A great discovery for me, a Gen X’er who decidedly doesn’t drive, is the car-sharing app; and my favorite, by far, is GetAround. This is not to say it is the best of its kind, it is to say, that based on my experience, it is my favorite. It is convenient, easy to use and super cheap. I have made a little video, to show you how it works, which to the millennial age of tech-dom, may seem brutally obvious and which is why this post is not for you.
First thing I will say upfront is; I am not getting paid to promote GetAround. I am just sharing my experience. That being said, if you are a 50+-year-old Gen X’er, I hope you will find this information useful. GetAround started in 2007 in Portland, Oregon and today services most major US cities.
You download the GetAround application, referred to as an app, to your phone. I use the Play Store on Google to download my apps, because I use an Android Phone. I use an Android phone because I love the Droid voice. To me, artificial intelligence, (AI), sounds like The Borg. For those who don’t know, the Borg was a fictional alien group that appears as recurring antagonists in the Star Trek franchise; all they ever said was “we are the Borg, you will be assimilated,” and “resistance is futile”. Which is a weird reason to love my Droid, but, I do; every time I power it up, I think of The Borg; and if you are unfamiliar with The Borg, please stop reading now, and go meet them on Star Trek on YouTube. Back to GetAround.
You log into your PlayStore, search for GetAround and download (install) the GetAround App. Once you have the app installed, you can log in with either an email or Facebook. You scan or snap a picture of your valid driver’s license, send it to them via the app. It is then verified and within a day or two, you get an email and you are ready to roll. It’s really that simple. No paperwork. No application fee. No hassle. Your car search parameters can be set to include, cost, length of time you need the car, how far the car is from your house, whether it has dedicated/non-dedicated parking space, type of car-(Smart Car to Van and everything in between). Once you find the car you want, you will rent and book it. Cars start at about $5.00 an hour, with discounts for longer rentals and the booking fee is $1.50, as of this post.
In San Francisco, the cars are equipped with toll passes, which you will pay on your credit card bill, come with 24/7 roadside assistance and insurance.
Things I love about Get Around:
The customer service, (via phone). If you have any troubles—(and I have; once, I didn’t know how to start the electric car, another time, I couldn’t open the Smart Car); as ridiculous as that might sound, it wasn’t too long ago, that a sign of a luxury car was electric windows.
The cost: There are other car-sharing services, but, they are more expensive. For me, I want a great deal, when renting a car for a few hours or a day; so, the cost is a consideration.
The ease of use: This is such an easy app to use, that if I can do it, anyone can do it. If not, their customer service team is awesome and will help you out.
Things to Know When Using a GetAround Car:
Just like with any rental car, take pictures of any damage; and with GetAround, take pictures of the gas tank before and after. Getting dinged for gas sucks. Once I rented a GetAround, and there were several parking tickets on the window. I took pictures and reported them right away, which was a good thing because the owner of the car reported me for improperly parking the car. I was able to show that the tickets weren’t on me.
Because I rent cars that are street parked—(do not have dedicated parking)—I take pictures of any parking signs where I park the car. Parking in San Francisco sometimes requires a flow chart. Of course, that can be a moot point, if you rent a car with dedicated parking, picking it up and returning it to a specific lot. A picture is worth a thousand words, so, if in doubt, take them.
Read the small print about the car. Each car is different. I rent Smart Cars a lot, and they don’t come with anything; not a radio, not a charger, not even bumpers. Many owners have added upgrades—like a radio—and those will be listed in the small print about the individual car. The cars are equipped with Fast Track Passes, which means, you don’t stop for tolls; your credit card will be charged. I know this because I had gotten in the cash line and paid a bridge toll; only to have it charged to my card. GetAround refunded the money and advised me that the car was equipped with such a pass. Do you have a favorite ‘app’ or hack about getting around in your city? I would love to know about it. Thank you for being here!