Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Waiting Time

Is there a correct amount of time to wait for your called-for cab before finding another way of getting there?

I asked this of a bunch of folks at lunch the other day. My poor friend Susan (she of the worst luck of cabs) had called for a cab. Thirty minutes later, it hadn't come yet, so she walked a few blocks to a larger street and finally hailed a cab. (According to her doorman, the called-for cab showed up about 30 minutes after she left.) I mentioned the 30 minutes, and got some interesting results.

A person from a poor area of NE Washington laughed at 30 minutes - that would have been a record. If he needs a cab, he calls 2 hours ahead of time and sometimes gets one. A woman who lives in Georgetown said that if it isn't there in 15 minutes, she calls another company. Most agreed that 20-30 minutes was as long as you should wait. Nobody agreed on whether it was good form to call the company back and tell them to forget the cab.


At 4:21 PM, Blogger Joel said...

It's unbelievably bad form to call a second cab company, or find alternate transportation, without calling the first company to cancel: most of the time, the driver pays for his(or her) own gas, and is certainly not paid an hourly wage; by not calling off the cab, he wastes precious gasoline and time, neither of which he can recoup from the company. It's almost never his fault that the queue became backed up, and in fact you're contributing to the problem by making him come and wait for you. This practice can (and should) get you blacklisted from a company, and in some cities, it will get you blacklisted from several companies simultaneously.

I'd say 15-20 mins is fair, but you should also be watching after 5 mins! The best advice I can give, is to ask the dispatcher for an ETA when you place the order.... and call back if the ETA is exceeded by 5 minutes. If a competitor can beat the ETA by more than 10 minutes, immediately cancel the first cab.

As a driver, it's more often the case that I beat the dispatcher's ETA, but I don't know what was quoted - so I may have only taken 5 mins, when the customer won't even look for 15-20, and this costs me time that I could be using to complete the order, and move on to the next one.

At 10:07 PM, Blogger Philip said...

If you call a cab and it has not arrived within twenty minutes, call back the Company and let them know that you are still there and still want the ride. In the majority of cases, if the Company has not located a cab for you within twenty minutes of your call, they assume that you have left. This comes from bitter experience.

If the cab has not come after thirty minutes, I can not say that I blame you if you go out onto the street and hail one.

In all cases, if you call a second company, cancel the first cab.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger DC Cab Rider said...

Sounds like communication is a key here. I passed along the call the company back advice. Also sounds like dispatchers & drivers need to be on the same page. If dispatcher says cab will be there in a few minutes or shortly - does the driver know that is what was told?

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Philip said...

As a rule, the driver does not know what the dispatcher or operator tells the customer. When the customer calls, the operator will give a standard response time. The reality is that no cab company knows the answer to 'How soon?'. Yes, it is a legitimate question, but since all companies work on a voluntary bid system for dispatching, you just do not know for sure.

Every once in a while, the dispatcher will tell the driver what he told the customer.

There are other factors that can slow the arrival of a cab. Many drivers engage in a practice called 'longhooding'. This involves giving a false location to the dispatcher so that you can put yourself closer to where you think that the call might be. A driver tells a dispatcher that he is two blocks from a call, say at Howard University, when in reality, the driver is just coming across the Fourteenth St. Bridge. The dispatcher goes on what the driver says, so he tells the customer accordingly.

Expanded use of GPS devices will put a serious damper on longhooding. Then, it will become a matter of waiting until there is an available cab in your neighbourhood.

At 10:13 PM, Blogger Lugosi said...

If you're not there for whatever reason when the cab arrives, it's the driver that's hurt financially. The cab company couldn't care less since they charge drivers a flat fee of one sort or another. The company makes the same amount of money no matter what.

At 2:49 PM, Anonymous Susan said...

Since I'm the one who this is all about, I'm going to talk too. I was called by the company and told the cab would be there soon. I waited for 20 minutes before calling in to ask about the cab. I was told that it was "on the way." I was going to be late for my plane and I ended up dragging my luggage three blocks to Connecticut Ave. where I flagged down a cab. I made the flight. If I had waited for the cab that was coming soon I would have missed my flight.

It is the company that is messing around. And drivers I guess get caught in the middle too. People call cabs because they have to be somewhere on time and if the cab can't do that then the company or the driver should say so, instead of just showing up an hour later. That's what happened, the driver came ONE HOUR after I was told he was coming soon. That's bad for business.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Philip said...

You and DC Cab rider mentioned a couple of things that piqued my curiosity. DC Cab Rider mentions a doorman in you building. You mentioned that it is three blocks from Connecticut Avenue. I am trying to figure out which building. The ones that come to mind that might fit are:

1. The Delano or Cleveland House
2. 2501 Porter (a long three blocks and all up hill)
3. One of the Van Ness Apartments (a short three blocks, if even that).

Another question: Did you call the cab or did your doorman or desk clerk? Did you talk to the people or did your doorman or desk clerk and did he 'relay' the information to you?

Why do I ask this? At the Van Ness buildings, 2501 Porter and at the Cleveland House, the doormen and desk clerks have lists of drivers who pay them for the airport calls, as they are the most profitable, especially those going to Dulles or Friendship airports. National Airport trips vary in their profitability, but from Woodley Park, it is an easy twenty bananas down Rock Creek Park. The exception to this is, of course, PM rush and these days, the morning and afternoon non-rush times, due to the road destruction on Rock Creek Park around P Street. Once the flashy arrows come out, it will again be profitable during non-rush periods. But this is beside the point. The desk clerks and doormen at the buildings sell these airport trips to their little payola club buddies. Sometimes, these guys are late and the desk clerk or doorman will try to blame Diamond or Yellow. The residents and Management believe him.

Another bad thing about the payola clubs is that the residents get ripped off on the airport trips, because whatever that driver paid the doorman or desk clerk for the trip, he charges back to you. Illegal, yes, but it happens. This also happens at hotels. We have protested to the Managements numerous times, but they have told us that they do not care that the residentsa/guests are getting ripped off.

Now, had you been going to the train station or the Greyhound (unprofitable trips) you would have waited.


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