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Fair Unveils New Way For Uber Drivers To Access Cars

First-Of-Its-Kind Car Checkout Station Lets Uber Drivers Start Earning In Style

BY Alex CramerAugust 29, 2019

GLENDALE, Calif.— If you take an escalator down from the marble lobby of The Americana at Brand’s shopping area to the first floor of the parking garage, you’ll discover a scene right out of one of the outdoor mall’s high-end boutiques.

There are plush carpets, relaxing couches and even a smiling hostess who will hand you a bottle of chilled water as she checks you in for your appointment.

The world’s fanciest valet? Actually, it’s the new Glendale Fair Station—a sleek, graphics-splashed reception space designed to elevate and simplify how prospective rideshare drivers get an Uber-approved car so they can start earning.

“We’re trying to give everyone the white-glove experience,” Fair Account Manager Aimi Gundersen said between helping customers on a recent morning. “We want them to leave happy and ready to work.”

On this Saturday morning, Gundersen is one of a half-dozen Fair employees helping a scheduled slate of arriving customers get into Fair rideshare cars. Through the program, customers make a reservation in the Fair app and show up to the Fair Station at the Americana at their appointed time. After paying a $195 refundable deposit and their first $195 weekly payment in the app, qualified Uber drivers can then pick the car they want from among available models in a parking area nearby, completing a quick digital checkout, and driving away with it.

“It’s a really quick process, which I think shocks a lot of people,” Gundersen said. “The woman I just helped was amazed at how fast it is. You can be in and out in less than five minutes.”

Americana 2 The new Fair Station in Glendale, Calif., lets qualified Uber drivers make an appointment, pick a car and drive it by the week.

Josh Comeaux, a full-time driver with Uber, said he was relieved at how easy it was to get set up in the app and make his appointment.

“It only took a few minutes to get registered in the app. Then a few days later I had my appointment to come get a car,” Comeaux said.

Once he arrived at the station, Comeaux said he was immediately greeted by a Fair ambassador, who personally helped him through the entire process.

“Once I picked the one I wanted, the checkout process was fast and the car automatically connected to my app before I got out of the parking lot,” Comeaux said.

Once they have their car, customers continue making their $195 weekly payment for as long as they want to drive, which includes insurance, unlimited miles, routine maintenance, roadside assistance and a limited warranty. And if the customer completes 90 rides in a given week, Uber will pay them $150 in incentives—although the amount of the incentive varies by city and is subject to change. For the latest information, check Uber’s incentives page.

“It's all inclusive. You really can’t beat this program,” said Station manager Kassie Wapinarski.

After they secure an appointment, cars at Fair’s Americana station are available to customers on a first come/first serve basis, with a fresh fleet of vehicles arriving at the lot every morning.

Gundersen said one of the most compelling things about the program is its flexibility, which allows customers to turn their vehicle in whenever they want.

“With this program, people have the opportunity to dip their toes into the Uber experience,” Gundersen said. “If they want to just give it a try for a short period of time and see if it’s something they’re really interested in, they can choose to do it for a week. But if they really love the experience, they can do it for as long as they like.”

Americana 4 The entrance to the new Fair Station at The Americana at Brand.

Fair Director of Corporate Strategy Matt Cragin said the program is designed to address the reality that many people who want to drive for Uber can’t affordably access a rideshare-ready car. Often, that’s either due to imperfect or even non-existent credit, because their current car doesn’t meet Uber’s qualifications, or because they don’t want to add the mileage and wear-and-tear to their personal vehicle.

“One of the central ideas of this program is to give everyone the same opportunity to drive with Uber, regardless of their credit or financial history,” Cragin said. “If you qualify as an Uber driver and have a method of payment you can link to the app, you can get a rideshare ready car—just like someone who wants a ride through the Uber app.”

While Fair has other Stations throughout Los Angeles and California, Cragin said the Americana Fair Station is being pursued as a template for other Fair Stations—with the smiling ambassadors, digital checkout screens, and available drinks and snacks sending the clear message that the driver comes first.

“Everything with Fair is designed to make getting a vehicle simpler and more affordable, and this station is an extension of that,” Cragin said.

Gundersen said the station is doing more than giving people access to a car; in many cases, it’s letting them rebuild their lives.

“For anyone who can’t get a car the traditional way, this is a great way to jumpstart their opportunities and get back on their feet,” Gundersen said.

Nice whip. No loan.

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