Tales of Taxi Travails

When the Radio Cabs came into our city, I must have been the happiest person. You know that I don’t drive!! With the arrival of Radio Cabs, I thought, KG could breath a sigh of relief as there’d be no more disturbing him from his work to pick and drop me all over the city. And of course, no haggling with the auto-wallahs who believe that going without the meter rate and charging exorbitant fare is their birth right.

The first cab service that I used was Metro Cabs. It used to charge an additional Rs 100 per ride. According to them our residential area is not within the city limits, which is not right as the city has grown far beyond that. Anyway, I didn’t mind the additional charge and was happy with the prompt service and cool comfort of the AC cab.

Then came, Meru Cabs, Ola Cabs, Taxi for Sure and now recently Uber, which I am yet to try out. They say, if there are more companies in the foray, it is great for the customer. Really?!

I travel for work quite a bit and use these cab services at all times of the day and night. Over a period of time, I tried the services of Meru, Ola and Taxi for Sure and I must say that I have had some really bad, sad and mad experiences with them.

Taxi cab sign

There have been so many instances when after receiving the cab/driver details 20 minutes prior to the scheduled time, the driver has said that he is off duty or is too far off from my location or simply refuses to pick up the call. Imagine the panicky situation when the driver does not take your call and you are frantically navigating the call to their office through the cheerful IVRS lady (Argggh!!) and the time they take to arrange for another cab and the time it takes for the new cabbie to reach you and all this when you have a early morning flight to catch and the husband is out of town!!

Recently, I had to catch a train at 4.40 pm. Since, I prefer to reach pretty early especially at Rlwy Stations/Airports to avoid any untoward incident like jams, one ways etc. So I booked a Meru Cab for 3 pm. At 2.30 pm, I got the message with cab details. I called up the driver, he asked for the directions, I explained it all to him and he said that he would take an hour to reach. I was shell shocked. An hour?! Yes, he was at the other end of the city. He advised me to book another cab. Very thoughtful of him! I called up the Customer Care and they shared the second driver’s details. It’s 2.50 pm by then. I called the second driver and he told me that he was sitting in the cab of the first driver and he wouldn’t be able to reach me as well. It was a true WTH moment! As I was painstakingly explaining my panic situation at the Customer Care, I kept getting calls from the first two drivers, asking me to cancel their bookings. In the mean time, the third driver gave me a heart attack when he informed me of his location. He was also at another end of the city. I was nearly losing it when the fourth driver detail that was shared with me was also a good 45 minutes away from me. It was 3.30 pm and I just couldn’t believe that I was still at home and was ping ponging between the Customer Care and the cab drivers.

I called up Metro Cabs and fortunately they had a cab near my location but it got stuck at a traffic jam just 3 kms away from my home. I heaved a sigh of relief when I boarded the train at 4.40 pm.  And was I glad that I had booked the cab for 3 pm and not 4 pm that day! In the mean time, the follow up calls from their HO about the cancellation, asking the same questions again and again continued,  as if it was my fault that I had booked and cancelled the booking four times!

Last month, the Taxi for Sure that I took narrowly missed a biker at the intersection during the early hours of the morning! And then one from Ola Cabs was just not able to understand the directions to our location, even the GPS in his car was unable to guide him and after struggling with him for 10 minutes over the phone, he informed that he was new to city.

Here’s another thing. You call up the Customer Care and request for a cab at let’s say 11 am. 8/10 times, the response I get is, “Sorry, all our cabs are booked for this slot. Would you like to book a cab for 10.30 am or 12 noon?!” I am yet to get insights on their style of operations when each of these cab companies have 200-800 strong fleet of cars at Jaipur city.

Another service that I use when outstation is Savaari. This is one service that oscillates between the two extremes. There’s no in-between for them. Either they have a flawless service or they do not turn up at all. This has happened with me twice this month!

Travel via taxis has evolved quite a lot in these past few years. GPS tracking, 24×7 Customer Call Centres, booking via phones, web and apps, bill receipts via email/SMS are great technological advancements. While one end of the chain is run by professionals, the other end has its roots in the the sector which is still unorganized. There is a need for the cab companies to address the problems at grass root level viz understanding of the local city locations by the Call Centre team as well as the drivers, non-availability of cabs at the time you need them, delays in reaching the location, rash driving to name a few.

Travel via Radio Cabs has made the commute easier for me within the city, there’s no doubt about that, but can it be without panic attacks and heart burns. I have more bad experiences to share than happy and satisfactory rides with the Cab Services. Here’s hoping that these are just some initial start-up problems and we will have smoothly operating cab services soon. Fingers crossed!

How have been your experiences with Radio Cabs?

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22 thoughts on “Tales of Taxi Travails

  1. Just reading this nearly gave me a heart attack! Here in South Africa in the major cities Uber is well used (I haven’t used them but know many who do including my two sons to get to various airports). And I believe, relatively inexpensive. But the other taxi services get mad at Uber because they say they’re putting them out of business …

    • Uber has recently started functioning in India. Barring for a few and one was a serious aberration, Uber is considered to be somewhat better than the rest of the services in India.

  2. I lived in Chennai for 6 months. There is a cab compay called Fast Track. I would say they are pretty good. On time. In fact, they come 15 minutes early and wait. If the driver does not show up on time, he is fined Rs.500. If you ask for an Indica car and it is not availalbe, they upgrade the car for free.

  3. I haven’t used cabs much, but I use autos when I travel to other cities. My experience has also been mixed, but it’s easy to avail (just go stand in the road) and some of them charge by the meter. Of course, others charge higher, but it’s still lesser than what taxis charge. I use a combination of buses (during the non-peak hours), share autos and autos and it works pretty well for me.

    Once, when I was traveling in an auto, the guy was totally drunk and I was not sure if he would even reach the destination without making an accident! But otherwise, auto experience has been fine with me.

    Destination Infinity

  4. Cabs have always given me sleepless night. I had booked Meru cabs a lot of time, but always a day before. Since I often had to catch early morning flights, I would book them the previous afternoon. Else I would be panicking the whole the time. Once a cab driver was sleeping while driving and I had to keep chit chatting just to keep him awake.

  5. Uber is perfect. Even before booking you will know where the taxi actually is. They have excellent GPS service. Must try! We have used a couple of cabs as well. But nothing compares to Uber.

    Now this reads like an ad!!!

  6. I have rarely used cabs but whenever I used them the service has been fantastic. Cabs always arrived 15 mins before time and the drivers were good too. May be I have been very lucky.

  7. Thankfully here in UK never had a problem.. BUt i had gone to bangalore and I had a bad expereience almost everyday when i booked the cab, either as you said not available on the time i wanted .. OR the distance i wanted was not big enough..

    I was glad that the day i needed to go to the airport , I found the cab on time 🙂


  8. Interesting to note, even Jaipur autos do go by meters. I thought only Chennai autos are notorious for it.

    In Chennai- Fast Track Cabs ruled for a while, now we are spoiled for choice with Ola, Friends Track, Welcome Taxi, Meru…the list goes on…For infamous autos who charge by their will, these cabs have come as a relief for the commuters.

  9. I have no experience with radio cabs. I have limited experience with cabs of any kind. I’m one of those California drivers who are so used to doing it myself, I’m intimidated by letting someone else drive me anywhere. 😉

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