Taxis: Take Note

Columnist and fellow playwright Fa Abdul at FMT hit the nail right on the head with her critique of why Malaysians, in particular, has eschewed taxis for Uber and Grab Car. I have become so fed-up with taxi drivers in Malaysia that when I discovered Uber and tried it for the first time, I thought the sky opened up and a heavenly light followed my little Uber car all the way home on wings of angels and harps chords.

Taxi companies and politicians around the world have hit Uber and like ride-sharing companies hard accusing them of being unsafe, under insured, a commercial venture that should be regulated the same as the taxi industry, and so there have been protests, laws, prohibitions, and all kinds of other nonsense. But what hasn’t happened is all of the critics actually try to determine which type of passenger car ferrying provides the service and price point that the customer actually wants? Because it’s painfully obvious. The taxi drivers I have used in Malaysia are an embarrassment compared to the Uber drivers. Fa outlines all of this very well.

I can’t tell you how many times I said to a taxi driver “Look at your door. It says ‘metered taxi only. No haggling'” as the driver haggles with me. He brushes it off as it is nothing. Or how many times did I used to walk from taxi to taxi “Will you take me there?” “No.” “How about you?”  “No.”

The so-called progressives  in society have become regressive when they work to limit ride-sharing companies. And let’s make it clear, it’s politics not safety concerns which is driving these criticisms. In the United States, big cities are overwhelmingly Democratic, and the Democratic political machinery has worked in lockstep with taxi unions to squash the competition because they get loyal support from them. But it still hasn’t worked because folks who want to get from point A to point B in a clean, inexpensive, and timely manner don’t care about politics. They car about service.

I had some family members visiting us in Malaysia a couple weeks ago. I encouraged them to download Uber and give it a try when they wanted to get out and about on their own one day. Yes, another convert. Affordable convenience rather than dealing with hucksters.

So I agree with Fa 100%. Taxi drivers aren’t going to win back customers through regulations and complaining about how unfair everything is. They will  win back customers by using their meters and providing a pleasant ride from one place to the next.

I’m a free marketer. Compete for my business. Uber has. The taxi industry hasn’t.

Please head on over to FMT to read Fa’s timely COLUMN.

My First Ride with Uber. Another fan created.

I took my first Uber right last night. Here’s the best quote from the Uber driver:

“Taxi drivers are Uber’s best advertisement.”

Without a doubt that is true. Why? Because I’ve had so many forgettable or down-right poor taxi rides that when one switches to Uber, the contrast is startling.

As the driver pulled up to a intersection, we stopped beside a taxi-cab which had the following sign painted on the outside of the passenger door: “This is a metered taxi. Haggling is prohibited.”  What’s so hilariously funny about this is that the taxi driver’s have never noticed this large obvious sign (or could it be they disregard it willingly? No!). I don’t believe I’ve ever had a taxi ride in Malaysia by meter. Every time I pop in the cab and say “meter” the guy says “no meter” and has some great excuse. Then the haggling begins and by the time I get to my destination, I’m grumpy as anything, feeling like I was beat into submission to pay exorbitant rates.  (Yesterday, I flew to KL for 50RM. The  taxi ride to my hotel was 45rm.)

So last night, after the show, I pulled up my Uber app and ordered a car.

It arrived in around 8 minutes. Four minutes before arrival, I got a call, “Mark, I’m on my way.” Personable. I watched the car on the Uber app as it approached. The Uber app had already sent me a photo of the driver and the license plate of the car. I knew exactly what to expect and when. As I got into the car, the driver was friendly, courteous, and got me to my destination in an efficient manner.

There’s no cash exchange. All paid via credit card on the app. Wonderful!

The driver’s WANT to be there. They chose the hours they want to drive. They are motivated to make extra money, so it’s greatly in their interest to provide excellent service.

Ratings. Both drivers and customers can rate each other. If a driver’s rating falls to low, he or she might lose the privilege of driving for Uber.

Uber is a revolutionary service that provides the most safe, efficient, and convenient service for customers. It provides additional money for whomever wants to use their car to provide rides.

I’m completely sold. However, big government is not about to let Uber out of its site. Even certain Democratic US Presidential candidates who call themselves progressives are up in arms about Uber and how the government needs to look into regulating it to make sure the customer has a good experience. Please! This is one progressive idea that doesn’t need the government to mess it up! The politics about this has NOTHING to do with protecting customers and everything to do about protecting constituencies of voters. Anyone who doesn’t support unique and innovative start-ups like Uber, AirBnb, etc… are by definition decidedly the opposite of progressive. These companies are harnessing technology to provide unparalleled service and choice, and I for one am on the bandwagon.

Way to go, Uber!