As mentioned, I recently started booking Uber rides myself after having great customer service while riding in their cars with other friends on previous occasions. I may never go back to traditional cabs as long as there’s an alternative. I have been spoiled. No offense intended here, but, for the heads of taxicab commissions and other related regulating bodies threatening legal tangles with Uber and other car services- listen up. The people have spoken and they want change. Poorly maintained and smelly cars are not going to be tolerated any more. Let’s have a little history lesson with my taxi experiences.
Before Uber started exploding on the scene, I long had used a pretty good app, Taximagic, which in app or web form allows one to book a cab for a certain pick up time. But, these are regular cabs that have plenty of restrictions – availability for one (I have booked a cab only to have it canceled on me because the dispatcher couldn’t locate a cab), multiple passenger prices, etc. You can either elect to pay ahead of time by providing your credit card, or pay in the car. That definitely spurred the movement towards more drivers accepting credit cards, making the taxi experience easier when it came time to leave the car. But, there’s always the occasional glitch or grouchy driver who CLAIMS the credit card machine isn’t working – sorry buddy, I don’t believe you. Or, the inevitable from the driver “You don’t have cash?” “No, I don’t” (wink, wink). Hey, I get it, credit card fees are high, but most likely I will give you a higher tip when the default option is already 15% and I am too tired to figure out the custom tip option.
Uber simply makes the ancient practice of hailing and paying for a cab, and customer service, better. Simply open the app on your phone, pinpoint your location, and select a car you want. Within a few minutes, you should receive a phone call from the driver to help narrow down your exact location. Climb in, and you will likely be greeted with a friendly driver (they are rated and will be removed from the service if they don’t maintain a good record). And, as with last Friday night, a very pleasant woman, Monique, had VOSS water in the car for us. VOSS!! I never buy that because it is pretty pricey, but oh so tasty,or maybe I am just convincing myself because it costs a lot. Anyway, she explained that the Deerpark water she had before in the car was never very popular. How do you like that? Not only was she offering a great service to her customers, but listening and responding to them as well. Contrast that with many unfortunate experiences with taxi drivers who act like you are bothering them. In the end, the best part is that since the payment is already set up, you just exit the car as if your mom had just dropped you off at soccer practice. No fussing with tips, cash, credit, or change.
While Uber continues to work out its differences with the authorities, I am going to enjoy their great customer service. In the mean time, I’d encourage taxi drivers to step up their game a bit, otherwise regular taxis are going to start to look like payphone booths – throwbacks.