Taxi troubles

There’s a bit of a stramash going on in Australia within the taxi industry. Basically the big taxi cab conglomeration is not happy with organisations such as ‘Uber’ and ‘goCatch’ (though the press has only really been focusing on Uber). They claim they take away earnings from ‘real’ cab drivers and are not safe. They present them as unlicensed mavericks. I haven’t used Uber but I’m a big fan of goCatch. Its quick, reliable and you can track how far away the driver is as well as making contact with him via his mobile phone. You can also set up a card payment system which makes the whole enterprise seemless and fast.

Essentially though its about customer service and customers are reacting to the poor quality of service provided by the taxi industry and taking their business elsewhere. I don’t know how many times I’ve waited for cabs I’ve ordered that haven’t turned up. One time I waited for over an hour. Another time I missed my flight because the cab didn’t turn up: I rang and asked where was it. The operator ordered another one. Same thing. No cab. Finally on the third attempt the operator just hung up on me. Poor service.

I always leave plenty of time when ordering a cab to go out to dinner – I like to get to places early and have a drink at the bar – but too many times the cab is so slow to arrive that we not only miss the bar drink but are late for our booking. Enquiries to the cab company are usually met with inidifference and a lack of information about how much longer the cab will be, or if indeed it is on its way. And there have been innumerable times when the cab driver didn’t bother to let me know he was outside, despite having my phone number and at times, despite pouring rain.  He just drove off!!!! How is that customer service?

So when I hard about goCatch I gave it a go (no pun intended); not only could I track where the cab was but the driver rang to say he’d be there in x minutes (and its generallly about 5!!) The drivers arrive and call to say they’re outside; they’re always polite and professional and they are in proper taxi cabs. So what’s the problem? Seems to me that the real issue is that the taxi industry is out of touch and indifferent to the needs of the people who are using them – their client base. What I don’t understand is why, in a competitive market they don’t look at the reasons customers are turning away from them. Instead of complaining they should get their act together and provide a better service. Perhaps then they’ll get their customers back. In an ever-changing, competitive market if you don’t provide what you’re supposed to and you lose your customers then really, you have nothing to complain about. Unions find it hard to let go of their stangle hold but they never seem to get it: if its not working, you have to change your way of operating. And be reliable. Interestingly, in a recent interview in the  Qantas Magazine, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, a senior exec at the Commonwealth Bank praised Uber.  She is also a fan of the Uber app and recommends using Uber “so you can always retrieve that phone you left in the cab”.*

As more and more people use taxis when going out – safer than driving when you intend to drink – its inevitable that they want a reliable and efficient service. So while I’m happy to flag down a cab on the return journey, I won’t bother with the big cab company. I’ll use goCatch every time.

*Qantas, February 2015, p111

Tania Layden