21 Jul 2013

Big names. Tall claims. Small vision

I recently needed a cab to take me to the airport at 5 am. Nothing new in that. Except that earlier I had a driver who lived close by. The new one does not. And it made sense to me, with the spate of new cab services now vociferously advertising their efficient services to call in for one.
I had done this before when #Merucabs were first launched. But living just a short distance away from the airport their cabs were always “unavailable at the required time”.

Like all consumers, I was impressed by the “Airport Cab” claim.

Not only that, I was armed this time with 7 other contact numbers. 
Sadly, the big names in taxi services in Mumbai are united in their small myopic vision.
#Merucabs refused. #Tabcabs refused. #Olacabs refused. One of them said their cabs were all booked between 3 am and 6 am. 3 am to 6 am on a Saturday morning? Sure. I believe you! 
Next I called one of the humbler services the #CoolCab. And a concerned friend called #BookMyCab. Both of them, to my surprise agreed – at a minimal flat charge. Though higher than what a normal cab would cost me I was very willing to pay what I’d call this a convenience charge. And so there it was. A humble local service versus the flash and din of a highly advertised empty brand name was the winner.
Wonder why?
Because a vehicle is a cab when it is on hire. Else it’s a car! When will fleet owners open their eyes to that? 
When I tweeted my frustration to #Merucabs I got hi-falutin replies stating ‘economic viability’! Whoa! Some business school graduate was flaunting his executive MBA through Tweetdeck. When I suggested something about customer focus all I got was more jargon! ‘Services based on an  algorithm’. Right said. 
Me? At 5 am in the morning my aim as a consumer is getting a safe and punctual drop to the airport. Surely an algorithm can be asked to throw up instances of cabs that have dropped their fare to the airport at 4:30 am to make their way to a short distance pick-up at 5?!!!
Is that genius? Or simply customer focus? 
I can tell #Merucabs this confidently. For refusing the short distance fare to me in Mumbai would I prefer to use your services for long distances in the all other cities I visit? No way! 
And yet, once again, the customer is at the losing end of the game as fleet taxis continue to drive away loyal business.
P.S. I availed of the #BookMyCab service. Perfect on all parameters. They’ve won my loyalty for keeps!
 And I can tell #Merucabs this confidently. For refusing the short distance fare to me in Mumbai would I prefer to use your services for long distances in the all other cities I visit? No way! 


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