Taken for a ride…

Image used for representational purposes only

What I am writing about is something everyone can, and will, empathize with.

All of us have experienced this, at some point of time, in our lives.

It’s close to midnight and I had almost wrapped up the day’s work. I decided to book a cab and got the message that it will take 10 minutes.

Even before I had finished reading that message I got another, saying the cab was not available any more.

Two minutes later I get another message saying, ‘We’re so happy to have you as our customer that we have upgraded you in the same booking. Your new car will be there in six minutes.’

The driver then called, I told him where exactly to come and soon took my seat. (For the uninitiated the tracking device in the app-based taxi services in India is erratic, if not dysfunctional)

Soon after we had taken the first turn, the driver’s app snapped. He immediately stopped the car and very politely told me he won’t be able to continue, and that if he restarts the app he will get a fresh booking.

Nonetheless I told him to go ahead, and soon after he restarted he told me book again immediately, lest I got unlucky.

I click on the app and it indicated ‘one minute’. Elated, I book immediately only to find a response: your cab is 17 minutes away. This when I am already seated inside one.

Soon I get a call from the operator saying I had booked three cabs in the space of 15 minutes.

“How many do you need?,” he asked. I explained that the fault was in their app.

“I’m being taken for a ride,” I protested. The phone snapped at the other end.

I asked the cabbie to pull aside, waited for the new one to arrive and then proceeded.

It wasn’t the first time I had faced this kind of a problem.

A few months backed I had booked a cab, close to midnight, only for the cabbie to call me, requesting for a cancellation of the booking.

“I am goings towards Navi Mumbai (New Bombay),” he excused himself. I was left stranded in a western suburb.

More recently, it was an even weird problem. My booking was a successful one, but the driver didn’t respond.

After repeated attempts to contact him failed, I was forced to look at other options. Half-an-hour later I get a message saying, “Thanks for travelling with …Cabs. Invoice of Rs …for your ride is on its way to…”

I had been sent the invoice of a ride that never happened.

The instances I have mentioned above are ones that immediately come to the mind. There have been other issues as well.

The point I am making is that these app-based taxi services in India have a long way to go. At the moment it is erratic, rather inconvenient, to say the least.

Copying an idea is easy — almost everything in India is copied… err inspired (read derived) anyways. What is difficult is to ensure its successful implementation.

That’s an area where the app-based taxi services in India are lagging…significantly at the moment.

The operators need to seriously look at areas where they are lacking at the moment. Trust me, there are quite a few.

The rating system for one. Why ask a customer the reason for his dissatisfaction if you are not going to even attempt finding a solution?

Is getting a five-star rating from the passenger the only thing that matters? Can a passenger’s viewpoint be considered on a more serious note?

Secondly, the tracking mechanism too needs a serious look in. The tracker goes kaput more of than not. Rarely do you find the driver coming to the exact spot, or at the exact time for that matter.

There have been many instances when passengers have boarded the vehicle and the tracker still shows, “it is seven minutes to destination.”

Sometimes you get the message, “We have arrived early, in case you are ready.” Mind you, the vehicle is nowhere to be seen.

Finally, the drivers need to be cross-checked. There’s no point in tying up with cabbies who are there only for a few quick bucks and refuse to drop customers more often than not.

Refusal from the drivers aren't an exception. They have become the norm these days. This has to stop.

There’s considerable work that needs to be done before the app-based taxi service can assure passengers a smooth ride in this country. Something that they promise, and something those who hire them deserve.

Till things improve though, it will be the customers who will be taken for a ride.

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