Tonight I picked up a young lady in York Road Waterloo who asked to be taken to Wapping High Street via a cash machine, once she was in the cab I asked the lady if the only reason she needed to find a cash machine was to pay for the Taxi to which her reply was “yes”. As I am the type of driver who hates stopping at a cash machine I told her that there was no need as she was more than welcome to pay the fare using her credit or debit card for which there would be no additional charge, the lady then said “oh, are you on Hailo?” which I obviously am.
She then went on to explain that the company that she works for had made a corporate decision to switch from Addison Lee in favour of using Hailo, this was something that obviously pleased me as a London Taxi driver, I then asked her why her company had come to this decision. She then went on to tell me that 6 key members of staff had been using Hailo for the last three months to try it out and compare it to Addison Lee and that they had a number of reasons for the change. These reasons were that Hailo had been consistently faster, the drivers were more friendly, the drivers spoke clear English, the drivers knew where they were going, and that in most cases using Hailo was working out cheaper than using Addison Lee.
She then elaborated and went on to tell me a few horror stories of the experiences of using Addison Lee, she said that she had been to a meeting in America and then gone straight to the airport after the meeting to board a flight, she had Addison Lee booked to collect her from Heathrow to go to her home address in Wapping, she said that she was so tired that as soon as she got into the car at Heathrow that she fell asleep, after about an hour she awoke to find herself in an unfamiliar area and eventually discovered that she was in Oxford! The driver had taken her to completely the wrong place,, she told the driver that he was supposed to have taken her to Wapping in London E1 and said that she had trouble trying to make him understand as he spoke very little English, when eventually they arrived in Wapping the driver then had the audacity to demand more money for the extra journey, she went on to state that her experience was not an isolated case and that one of her colleagues had ended up in Southampton instead of London and that four similar incidents had occurred whilst using Addison Lee.
She also said that there were a number of Addison Lee drivers her her company would not use and that their receptionist had to state this when booking a car with Add Lee, she said that many of their staff had bad experiences using Add Lee and that they were eventually glad to get away from them and find an alternative.
If these stories that this lady relayed to me are true, and I have no reason to doubt her then her company cannot be the only ones who are having these types of experiences when using companies such as Add Lee so it begs the question as to why these companies continue to use them when they are clearly getting a substandard service?
She ended the journey by thanking me and stating that as far as she was concerned that the launch of Hailo had been a breath of fresh air for her and her company.
Well last night was a little bit of a funny night for most evening/night men, this was due top the impending Tariff change that came into effect from midnight on Friday 1st April 2011. Now one of the meter companies always start their tariff change from midnight whereas some of the others do not start to alter meters until after 8:00am on the Saturday morning. Digitax are the company who start their tariff change from Midnight on the Friday and they make use of Millwall football Clubs car park to facilitate the change.
As I was preparing to get in the taxi and make my way into London I sent out Tweet on Twitter saying that I was just about to make my way in, I received a reply to my tweet from a colleague that I should not expect too much, well this surprised me a little as it was effectively the weekend after payday and was usually quite busy and then I remembered about the tariff change and sent a tweet back saying “once all the day men have gone off to have their meters done it should get a bit busier”.
Well on getting into London you could notice a definite increase in the number of taxis around compared to other Friday nights, but as the night progressed the number of taxis around became fewer as they all went off to get their tariff change done.
In the end the night turned out to be quite a good one for me, no fireworks but it was ticking over quite nicely thank you very much.
Well what a night it has been, you don’t have an argument with a with a customer for ages and then two come along in one night!
The first incident occurred when I stopped for two young ladies in Piccadilly, they asked to be taken to China Whites which is located in Winsley Street just off Oxford Street. Now at the time of picking them up I was facing East along Piccadilly so I proceeded along Piccadilly and turned left into Air Street. So far one of the young ladies in the back had been on the telephone to her boyfriend who sounded a bit of a woss as she stated to her friend that he was crying his eyes out and that she needed to go and sort things out for him!
Whilst sitting at the traffic lights in Air Street waiting to turn left into Regent Street a few young lads came over and asked me to take them to Eltham, while I was explaining that there were two young ladies sitting in the back one of the ladies piped up “were in a hurry can you stop talking to them and get moving”. I explained to them that the traffic lights were showing red and asked whether they were suggesting that I should jump the red lights? With that they both quietened down and the lights turned green and we carried on with the journey.
Whilst I was approaching Oxford Circus I asked the ladies whether they would like me to drop them off there as they had stated that they were in a hurry, one of them said that would be fine but the other moaned that I was dropping them too far from their destination and that I should take them closer, I explained that I would have to go further up Oxford Street, turn right into Mortimer Street, right into Gt Portland Street and then left into Oxford Street, one of the girls then piped in that I should have chosen a better route, a better route! I asked her in that case if she could suggest the better route that I should have taken, obviously she could not so I asked her to if she could even suggest an alternative route to the one I had chosen, well of course she could not but she did make the statement that I was the cab driver and I should know a better route!
Well I got the 2 girls to their destination and offered them some advice that they should basically not argue about things that they basically know nothing about, the 2 girls were around the age of 20 years old each and I told them that I had been driving a taxi in London for as long as they had been on this mortal planet, and definitely for longer than they had been in this Country!
The next problem lady I picked up in City Road, she appeared to be very well dressed and although it was obvious that she had been drinking I did not think that she would be sick in the cab so had no problem taking her. She asked to be taken to Crystal Palace which I had no problem with, I asked her where in Crystal Palace specifically did she want to which she replied “Crystal Palace Parade”.
Whilst travelling to Crystal Palace the inevitable happened and the lady fell asleep so I stopped when we arrived at the Parade and woke her from her sleep and asked her exactly where it was that she wanted, she told me to carry on going straight, I proceeded to the end of the Parade and once again asked the question and she again told me to carry on going straight so I drove across the junction and into Church Road, once in Church Road I again asked her where she wanted and she then stated that I was going the wrong way and that she wanted Crystal Palace Parade so I turned around and proceeded back to the Parade. Once on the Parade I again asked her where she wanted only to be told once again to carry on going straight! I again drover the entire length of Crystal Palace Parade and by now my patience was running a little thin.
I again stopped and asked the lady where exactly it was that she wanted and she again told me to carry on going straight! I said to the lady that I needed to know exactly where she wanted so that I could get her home without any further confusion and she again told me to carry on going straight, I said that unless she could tell me exactly where she wanted then I would be left with no option but to take her to the local Police station to see if they could get any sense out of her, well as soon as I mentioned the Police this lady who had at first seemed to be very level headed when I picked her up turned into the foulest mouth abusive woman that I have ever encountered in 20 years of driving a cab, she then again told me to carry on going straight.
After the tirade of abuse that I had just received I decided to once again humour the woman and drove straight again across the two mini roundabouts and onto Westwood Hill, she then told me to stop which I duly did, once i had stopped she then shouted “not here, a bit further up on the right”, I pulled away again and then stopped further down the hill on the right. The woman then decided to get out of the taxi after firstly falling off the back seat and then stumbling towards the door, once out of the cab she could not stand up straight and kept stumbling all over the place while searching through her bag. She then kept saying sorry! I asked her why she was saying sorry as I thought that she may have realised her error by abusing me earlier but I got no reply to my question instead she again said “sorry”.
I asked the woman just to pay me what she owed so that I could be on my way, the fare was now £44.60 for what should have been around £33.00 had she told me her definitive destination when she first got in to the taxi, she again said “ sorry”, I said “don’t tell me you haven’t got any money” to which she replied “well where am I supposed to find money from?” I said have a look in your purse, I was by now really losing my patience and said to the woman that if she could not pay me I would have to call the Police to sort her out, again once I mentioned the Police she entered into another tirade of abusive language the type of which is only usually heard in a working mans club!
She finally found £50.00 in her bag and handed it to me, I gave her the change and suggested to her that if she could not handle her alcohol then maybe she should refrain from drinking as much in the future!
It makes me wonder whether when this lady awoke the following morning whether she could actually remember any of the events from the previous night and if she could remember then whether she was embarrassed by her foul and abusive language towards me as I would imagine that this woman would normally be quite a pleasant and level headed type of person and that it was the alcohol that had turned her into a foul, abusive, ugly person.
Well last night was one of the worst nights I have ever had driving a Taxi in London, all I could see was rows of orange lights blazing their way along every street where I tried to ply my trade. I am not sure whether it was generally a bad night all round as some drivers I spoke to said that they were having an OKish night but mine was just terrible.
It sort of reminded me that luck has a lot to do with the way you earn in this job and if your luck isn’t with you then nothing you can do will change your night around. I tried all of the usual tricks and haunts but to no avail! I eventually gave up, went and had the cab washed (which was well overdue) and then called it a bad day.
Oh well lets just hope tonight brings more prosperous pickings!