Monday, May 12, 2008

How Long to Get a Cab?

So how long do you wait for a cab you've called before you call it quits? I guess if you're in great shape and not far from a main road it wouldn't be long. But if you've got two bad knees, it's raining like mad and your only umbrella is broken? How long then? This morning for one reader, it was 1 hour before she called to check on her cab - to be told that "we're working on it." So she waited, she said that a cab was her only option when her husband had the car out of town. Another forty minutes later, she called again. This time, nobody answered the phone after 20-some rings. So she called a different company, which produced a cab in about 15 minutes.

Thoughts from the crew?


At 7:04 PM, Blogger Philip said...

Here is the voice of experience. I currently sit behind a microphone. I have sat behind a microphone for twenty-seven years in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

If you call a dispatch service and have not received either a cab or a call to tell you that a cab is on the way, call back the service and let them know that you still want the ride. Experience has shown that if we do not have a ride for you within twenty minutes, you find other means to get where you want to go. This pans out approximately eighty per cent of the time. If you receive a call back from the service that a cab is on the way and it has not arrived within fifteen minutes of that call, something has gone wrong, call back the service.

A few Dos:

1. Know the address where you are, where you are going and your telephone number (It would truly amaze you how many do not know one or more of the above)

2. Be ready to go when you call. Do not attempt to play with the possibilities. Murphy drives a cab. If you jump into the shower, the cab will arrive before you hang up the telephone. If you are late, it will be raining, there will be a major convention in town, the Redskins will be playing and it will take an hour to find you a cab.

3. Be sure that you have something smaller than a fifty dollar bill before you call.

4.Pay a dismissal to a cab driver if you decide not to use him when he arrives.

A few DO NOTs

1. Try to conduct a conversation with someone else and an order taker.

2. Try to have a long discussion with the order taker. She must take your information and move quickly to the next customer.

3. Confuse shortness with rudeness. See #2.

4. Expect the order taker to know too much. She does not drive, she does not dispatch, she only takes the information that you give her. Often the dispatcher is busy and may not be able to answer too many questions.

5. Call two companies. If you want to try another service, cancel with the first service.

6. Lie about your destination.

7. Call a dispatch as a back-up, then go to the street immmediately and try to hail a cab.

I dispatch and drive and have a long memory, so I know who the abusive customers are. Mind you, I will not deny a customer a cab, just to punish him. I can think of no sound business reason to punish a customer. If I have a cab for you, I will send it. If you are an abusive customer, I do not put too great a priority on your call. I will send my available cabs to customers who treat my drivers properly. The abusives get the leavings.

An illustration:

A dispatcher ran me a long way for a customer who stated that he was going to Dulles Airport. I arrived, waited, the customer came out and only went downtown. The customer admitted that he lied to get a cab. He recognised me as a dispatcher and asked me if I were going to refuse to send him a cab. I replied that I could see no sound business reason to punish a customer. I did, however, remind him that Washington has conventions, meetings, rain and the Redskins.

This was a frequent caller. He continued to call, and I sent him cabs; it seemed that I always had a cab for him. One evening, it was busy because of a major convention. The drivers were working the conventions and not the radio. He had a call in for Dulles airport. I sent cabs to other customers. He called back several times in a frantic state. Finally, something I do not often do, I came to the telephone and discovered that he was going to miss his aeroplane. It took me a while, but I did find him a cab. He still missed his aeroplane. He knew why. He asked me what he could do to avoid such a thing in the future. I told him that I could not break the law by making certain statements. He got the idea and took care of the matter in an appropriate fashion

Dispatch services operate on a Voluntary Bid System. The dispatcher announces the sections of the City where he has calls, the drivers respond, if they are interested. Drivers are not required to say anything to the dispatcher if they do not want any calls. If the driver does ask for a call, he must cover what the dispatcher gives him. Even Yellow Cab, which dispatches by computer, has similar: the driver can select a 'No Calls' option and run the streets. On services that use voice dispatch, the driver just does not say anything to the dispatcher.

The customers who get priority when I am behind the microphone are:

1. The VERY regular customers, those who use my service twice a day, or more.

2. Regular customers, who ride once every day.

3. Certain account holders.

4. Airports, Union Station and the Greyhound.

5. Other account holders.

6. Almost anyone else

7. Abusive customers who do not wait or call more than one company.

About the only people whom I will deny a cab are those who will not pay or chronically short the driver on his fare.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Philip said...

There was a typographical error in parpagraph two. It should read: '....if you have not received a cab or a call back within twenty minutes........'

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