Steven Fox has lived in San Francisco for seven years and always brought out a small plastic Christmas tree at this time of year. But with a newborn in the house, he thought it was time for a real one.
So on Thursday, he clicked on the Uber app on his smartphone, $135 dollars was deducted from his credit card, and 10 minutes later, a truck pulled up carrying a noble fir.
“It was magic,” said Fox. “There was a truck that pulled up with a woman in a Santa hat with a black box with a white bow on it that was addressed to me. It said, ‘To Steven, from Uber SF.’ The guy opened the back of the truck, pulled out the tree from the tree stand, and wished us happy holidays.”
In 10 cities across the U.S. — including Los Angeles — Uber partnered with The Home Depot, which hired independent drivers, to deliver Christmas trees to customers who used the company's ride-sharing app.
Home Depot sells more Christmas trees than any other retailer, and has long made deliveries, but in days not minutes.
“By merging Uber’s technology with The Home Depot’s lush Christmas trees we’re creating for our customers the ultimate cheer and convenience,” said Home Depot spokeswoman Kathryn Emery.
In Atlanta, Edgar Simard got his Fraser Fir in 20 minutes.
“This is the first time I’ve ever gotten a real tree because I’ve never had a way to transport it back to my condo,” said Simard. "I didn't want to mess up the roof of my car."
For one day at least, Uber made getting a Christmas tree easier – and faster – than ordering a pizza.
What would Clark Griswold from the movie, Christmas Vacation, think? He made his family trek through the snow in search of the perfect tree.
“You see kids this what our forefathers did?” he told his kids, as they trudged through the cold. “They walked out into the woods, found that special tree and cut it down with their bare hands.”
Neither Uber nor The Home Depot would say how many trees were delivered, only that the event was “very successful.”
Many customers reported that the app so inundated with requests, they had to log-on multiple times.
"I had to keep refreshing and refreshing," said Fox. "After 45 minutes, it finally went through," said Fox.
A one-time marketing event
Don’t expect Uber to necessarily deliver trees again.
L.A. community manager Cat Sampson says it was mostly a marketing stunt, or as the company calls it, a “surprise-and-delight campaign."
“We’ve done stuff like on-demand ice cream on National Ice Cream Day,” said Sampson. “We’ve also done on-demand barbershop quartets on Valentine’s Day. This was another thing we thought would delight our users.”
On a week when Amazon grabbed lots of buzz about its distant plans for drone deliveries, Uber was also able to get people talking about Christmas trees delivered in minutes.
Uber cars are now available in 22 countries and barely a day passes without expansion. It announced Friday it was now operated in New Delhi. Thursday it added Abu Dhabi.
The company eschews traditional advertising in favor of buzz-generating events such as Christmas trees on-demand and high-profile partnerships.
In September, it entered into an agreement with the NFL Players Association to offer rides to NFL players.
Uber also recently partnered with Banana Republic and Equinox Fitness.