Almost two years ago our family embarked on a “One Month No Car Experiment” that has extended nearly two years. Since our daughter switched schools to one that is not within easy walking distance, we’ve once again been considering buying or leasing a car. But carpooling with our friends and the existence of the East Bay car-sharing service Gig has allowed us to postpone that decision, perhaps indefinitely.
On average I use Gig about once a day (though sometimes not at all, and sometimes up to three times in a day). This comes to about $60/month on average (with a great deal of fluctuation–monthly costs have ranged from $11 to $121). Since Kia and I have been using Gig instead of Lyft or other car-sharing services, our total transportation costs have dropped from an average of $300/mo. to an average of $260/mo.
We really like Gig, and I wrote a glowing post about the service a couple months ago. Lately, however, I feel like the service has hit a few missteps, and how they deal with these problems will probably determine whether we end up buying or leasing a car, or continue with alternative transportation options.
Without further ado, here are the issues Gig needs to fix, and soon:
- Buggy app. Right around the time Gig introduced Bluetooth functionality (a useful feature that allowed you use Gig even if you were in a cellular dead zone), the app started having problems refreshing car locations. This resulted in the very frustrating experience of reserving a car that appeared to be a block or two from your house, only to have the car suddenly jump to a new location miles away. The only fix (at least on Android) seemed to be restarting your phone. I reported this bug several times and customer service said they were aware of it and working on it. But the same thing happened again just after downloading the most recent update. The last couple days it hasn’t happened, so maybe they’ve fixed it, but I’ll be less enthusiastic about recommending the service until the fix is confirmed.
- Reduced density. Gig has been expanding their “home zone”–the regions of Oakland and Berkeley where you can park a car and end your booking. This is great, except the expanded territory didn’t appear to be accompanied by any expansion of the fleet. I’ve noticed I’ve had to walk farther, on average, to the nearest Gig. I don’t mind walking, but when I’m in hurry (dropping my kid off at school in the mornings), the difference between a five minute walk and a ten minute walk can be make-or-break.
- Smoking. The fleet is starting to age a little, but Gig’s maintenance, overall, is good. Generally the cars are clean and run well. The biggest operational issue I’ve encountered is a radio/GPS display that was caught in perpetual reboot mode. The only issue I’ve had is that sometimes the cars smell like cigarette smoke. I’m probably more sensitive than most, but it definitely detracts from the pleasantness of the ride. Gig’s current smoking deterrent system is to ask users to report the smell of smoke (which I’ve done a couple times), but I’d prefer if they just installed smoke detectors in the cars and booted the offenders.
Of these three, the buggy app is the biggest potential deal breaker, followed by reduced density.
I really hope Gig continues to improve their service. They seem to be working on it, sending out frequent surveys, and customer service has always been responsive. I wouldn’t be complaining about Gig if I don’t love and use the program!
If you’re in the East Bay and you want to check out Gig yourself, you can get a $15 credit with this link.