I have to be honest, there aren’t many things I would generally say that Britain does better than Australia – but providing a decent taxi (or cab) service is definitely one of them.
Having just returned from a second trip to the UK this year I know what I’m talking about.
Every time we called a cab it arrived promptly.
And if we booked a car for a certain time – say 6pm – sure enough it would arrive at 6pm.
Now in Australia we have a bizarre system that you order a cab and the usual response is:
“Are you ready now?”
“Er yes, that’s why I’m calling now.”
“Ok it’ll be with you in 10-15 minutes.”
But it rarely is. Usually I would say that means about 30 minutes.
Here’s a recent example of what happened to me:
I wanted to catch a train at 3.50pm. I called a cab at 2.45pm. The station is about a 15 minute drive away – so allowing for a 30 minute wait for the cab I’d still built in extra time.
“Are you ready now? It’ll be with you in about 10 minutes.”
Well 20 minutes passed and suddenly I realised my built-in time was rapidly disappearing. I called again.
The order hadn’t even been picked up or despatched.
“We’ll put a priority on it – it should be there in 10-15.”
I explained I had a train to catch.
Another 15 minutes passed. I now had half an hour left for the car to get me to the station on time.
I called again. It still hadn’t been despatched.
A cab finally arrived at my house at 3.40pm. There was no way I would catch the train. So I had to wait 40 minutes for the next one – and call the people I was due to meet, to advise I would be late.
Now you might think ‘why didn’t you BOOK a car for say, 3pm. So it’s locked in for a set time?’
Well that’s pointless because all they do is put your order into their system 10 minutes before your said order time.
It just goes into exactly the same pool as if I’d called and said: “Yes, I’m ready now.”
OK that’s not strictly true, I can book a car for a said time – if I want to pay an additional $11 or $12, on top of the regular fare. It’s called Silver Service or Business Class.
Why can’t you just provide a regular service where I can book a car for a time and it turns up on time?
So next time you’re complaining about service in the UK, at least you can marvel at your taxi service!