We wrote about Uber when they first came to Wellington so I’m not here to regurgitate the many cons (though this ‘game’ about the life of an Uber driver is worth a play, similar to Action Station’s Pick A Path). The obvious truth is that for passengers, Uber is super convenient. Now there’s New Zealand-based competition in the form of Zoomy that offers the same convenience without the associated extremely problematic Uber name.

“Locally owned. Lower rates. Better service.

Zoomy is currently available in Auckland & Wellington. We built Zoomy on the belief that when drivers are treated better, they provide a better service.”

But how do they stack up?

I’ve been taking Zoomy regularly for a couple of months now, and my verdict is: it stacks up pretty well. Here’s some loose thoughts as a review.

  • Zoomy used to say that their point of difference for passengers was that they don’t go into surge. This is no longer true – when I went to get a ride to the opera from home, the Zoomy app told me I was looking at $14-$17. Meanwhile there was no surge on Uber, and the ride cost me $9.
  • Conversely, since Zoomy has shown up, Uber seems to be more likely to go into surge mode. Drivers can drive for both companies, so it seems Uber is trying to defend its turf by charging  2.3 or even 3x.
  • Drivers for Zoomy need to have a passenger license. In order to make the most money though (according to an Uber driver who was approached by Zoomy but declined), they also need to be registered for GST, which you might not be if you were just after some extra income.
  • Uber’s network has had a couple of years to learn about best pickup points, so I’ve struggled with a couple of Zoomy pickups at the supermarket – no I can’t just come out of the carpark and cross the street with a shopping cart full of bottles and catfood. More users will mean Zoomy learns better, because Uber wasn’t great at this at the start. But for now I have had some drivers cancel on me after I’ve waited ages because they took the wrong turn.
  • According to one of my Zoomy drivers, they’re topped up to $10 for all minimum fares (which are $5.95, same as Uber’s except Uber also charges a 55 cent booking fee). I don’t understand how that can possibly be a sustainable business model. According to this 2015 article half of Zoomy is owned by the richlister Spencer Family. I’m no business journalist so I have no idea where the money is coming from, or going to. When I ask drivers, they say they like that the money is going to an NZ company. They don’t say that they’re making more than with Uber.
  • Many of your favourite Uber drivers are probably driving for Zoomy now as well – unfortunately your least favourites may be too, like the dude who’s like a vaping fedora come to life who manages to reek of cigarette smoke too. Cars are generally the same as on Uber – mostly Prisues and those Honda hybrids with really low back seat roofs that ruin your hair. I don’t think the disco Uber is on Zoomy which is a bit sad.
  • Zoomy starts charging you when your car gets near you, so beware if your driver passes you by and goes around the block and then picks you up, because it will bring an extra charge. If you contact the team, you’ll get this returned to you.
  • Speaking of the support team, they’ve upped their game in the past month or so. I had a boundaries issue with one of the drivers and they were nice about it and put in an exclusion so I won’t get that driver again. Don’t bother trying to contact them on Twitter though because they haven’t updated since 2015.
  • I didn’t write this review in order to get free stuff, BUT here’s my promo code if you want to start using Zoomy – I think you get $10 free and so do I –  X3R7UUD. You might also get a free code when you download the app, and keep an eye out for a 50% discount rate often advertised on Facebook.