First Uber Ride in Kiev
Uber came to Kiev only recently. Ubers are only slightly more expensive than taxis. After seeing online that there are IKEA stores in Kiev, my wife and I decided to take an Uber out to one of them. During our wild goose chase, we had a chance to talk to Igor (not real name) about his reasons for deciding to drive with Uber.
Bryan: Hi Igor. How are you doing?
Igor: I am doing well. Thanks.
Bryan: Have you been driving a long time?
Igor: Only three weeks.
Bryan: Do you like driving with Uber so far?
Igor: Yes, it is very good. If I drive a taxi, I have to be working all the time. With Uber, if I need some personal time then it is no problem.
Bryan: Is there anything else you don’t like about it?
Igor: The problem is that the roads in Kiev are not good and there are even worse outside of Kiev. If they were improved it would help everyone.
Bryan: I know Uber is new here. How many of your passengers are Ukrainian and ex-patriates?
Igor: Eighty percent of my passengers are Ukrainian and the rest are from elsewhere.
Bryan: You speak English very well. Where did you learn?
Igor: I was a military trainer and I worked with militaries throughout Central Africa for fifteen years. My military service is complete and I am looking on to the next thing. Now I am a grandfather.
Bryan: Congratulations! That’s great that you can set your own hours.
Igor: So you are going to….what is this place?
Bryan: It should be IKEA – a really big store that has everything you need for your house in one place.
Igor: Sounds good. Let’s listen to some music – I like retro (turns on radio)
(ten minutes later we pull up to a very small shop that says “IKEA” on the front)
Bryan: Ok, this can’t be it. We searched online and saw there were three IKEA stores. Normally they are huge.
Igor: Let me look and see if there is one somewhere else (pulls out iphone). OK, there is an IKEA about five kilometers away. Do you want to try that one?
Bryan: Let’s try it.
(fifteen minutes later we pull up near a shopping area with a small shop that says “IKEA” out front)
Igor: Is this it?
Bryan: Well it’s a store called IKEA but it definitely isn’t what we had in mind.
Ingrid: Here is what I found on the IKEA website: “As in Belarus, Ukraine has no firm IKEA stores, although it attempted to enter the Ukrainian market. Nevertheless, you can buy furniture and home furnishings from companies that stock IKEA products. We remind you that these stores are nothing to do with IKEA”
Bryan: Well, shit.
Ingrid: (Quietly) …and now I am reading that the reason IKEA didn’t come into Ukraine was because they refused to pay kick-backs.
Bryan: Igor, I hope that someday there will be a large IKEA store here but for now looks like we are heading back into the city.