Saturday, August 13, 2011

Do Radio taxis turn down short distances?

Mumbai Mirror newspaper did a good story recently about how radio taxis in Mumbai turn down short-distance passengers and usually mostly entertain long distance ones. I had a similar experience myself last week. On 5 August, I had to travel out of Mumbai and I had to catch a 7 am train from CST station. My house is about 4-5 kms away. On 4 August, about 9 am (only a little less than 24 hrs away) I called Meru cabs. They put me on hold for about 2 minutes, came back and refused the cab saying "there are no cabs available for that time slot in your area".

So I hung up and decided to call them again, this time pretending that I have to go to the airport (very long distance). They again put me on hold, came back and told me that the cab is available. I asked then "are you sure that the cab is available?" They said (not in exactly the same words) "Yes sir the cab is available, we wouldn't tell you otherwise if it's not available". So once they confirmed my order, I said that I wish to change my order and now aim to go to CST. Stunned for couple of seconds, they said they will now put me hold again and check the availability. My protests fell on deaf ears as they came back to me after a few minutes and said that the cab is not available. When I asked them why the cab was available for airport and not for CST, they gave me a flimsy excuse which was something like there was another pickup order waiting for the same cab in the morning at / near the airport so that cab needed to be there. I protested that the customer gets to decide the destination, not the cab. But it did not yield any result, and finally I hung up after registering my protest.

Then, I called up Mega Cabs. Again, I first asked for CST. I was quickly refused in a similar manner. Then, I called up again for the (fake) airport pickup and they agreed. The moment they said the cab is available to go to the airport, I told them I changed my mind and now wished to go to CST station. They put me on hold, came back after a few minutes and said the cab is not available. Then, as if it is a big consolation, the call centre employee told me to call back on 5 August about 90 minutes before our departure to check the availability of the cab. I do not understand, if I have to go to the airport, they accepted my bookings. But for CST, I have to call up at the last minute?

When radio taxis were launched in Mumbai a few years ago, they came as a breather from our usual black and yellow cabs. Radio taxis offered a promising future; clean and modern cars, well-mannered drivers, air-conditioned cabs, electronic meters that do not cheat and the freedom to go anywhere we want. Unfortunately, as the Mumbai Mirror story showcases and our own experiences, radio taxis have deteriorated and they too now refuse short distances. Atleast as per our experiences. The Mumbai Road Transport Office (RTO) should take cognizance of this deteriorating service and pull up these taxis. Mega cabs regularly send me SMSs advertising the so-called high quality of their service and the so-called convenience they offer to people who "party late at night and need a safe cab to reach home". Alas, it's a mirage.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. It has lots of good points about radio taxi services. It shows that how important is it.
    Great job!
    Radio Taxi Services in Kanpur | Radio Taxi in Lucknow


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