The vicious circle of rider, taxi driver and venue cancellations
The drivers cancel. The runners cancel. Venues cancel. It has become a vicious circle of rejection for many on the taxi app circuits.
Loyalty among these three sections of app users is rapidly diminishing as user expectations have been turned upside down, with demand now significantly outstripping the supply of available taxis.
Architect and TV presenter George Clarke, a big supporter and user of black cabs, said: “I’ve always supported black cabs, but I’m tired of a driver accepting a job and then canceling when he Sees another job on the street. If I cancel (which I don’t), I have to pay a fine. Driver cancels? I get nothing. Honor the job or lose loyalty.
Clarke urged Free Now to extend cancellation fees to drivers. He added: “I suggest you introduce cancellation fees for your customers if a driver cancels the job…it only seems fair and equal when we have to pay if we cancel…and that will put an end to black taxi drivers cancellation on very loyal customers.”
Here we’ll look at why drivers, racers and sites cancel each other out and what can be done to improve fidelity and ultimately reliability across the board.
Before the pandemic, the driver enjoyed years of service where there was an empty taxi or private hire vehicle literally a minute or two away from the desired pick-up point. Drivers in an oversaturated market would fight to be the fastest for that job by pinging their device, not knowing when the next fare would arrive. The knight held all the aces.
These pilot expectations remain, but in truth, the market has changed. Fewer drivers and higher demand on the street means less application coverage and longer wait times. However, the patience for the longer wait in today’s fast-paced world is low to non-existent.
Users who are lucky enough to have found a taxi willing to travel for free for 5 to 6 minutes are increasingly jumping into other taxis passing in front of them. They might think “well, that bought me a few minutes”, which it does, or they might not be sure that the taxi will arrive, but this experience leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of the taxi driver who left pass job offers on the way to picking. -at the top. This essentially costs the driver time and fuel, which is money.
Having suffered the cancellation en route, the taxi driver is reluctant to accept longer break-ins to the pick-up point. Those who accept remain wary that the job could be canceled at any time and see a hand going up to try and hail their cab. The temptation to ensure the work is too strong for the taxi driver who now cancels the rider’s work. Now it’s their turn to be frustrated. The driver, however, is delighted as he saved 15-20% on application costs and reduced downtime with roadside hail.
It’s easy to see why loyalty is lost between the two parties, but there is also a third party in this scenario.
Hotel door staff acting on behalf of the passenger use the apps to request taxis. However, if another taxi drops off at the hotel while the ordered taxi is en route, passengers are then ushered into the empty taxi on their forecourt. Great, you might think, because the driver has a taxi, the taxi driver has an immediate fare, and the gate staff have a tip from the driver for having trouble finding a taxi.
But what about the original taxi driver who always rushes into the hotel expecting to pick up a passenger? They do not receive any cancellation fees. Why would they bother each other again when a request came in, and what would happen the next time the cab driver was stopped while fulfilling the reservation? They land secure jobs on the street side.
Loyalty and trust are now gone, which means some hotels now book multiple taxis for a single passenger. The gate staff then let the rider take the first one that arrives. The other pilots get nothing and the circle of mistrust begins again. Taxi drivers then recognize hotels that use this practice and simply ignore all future requests, leaving both venue and passenger frustrated.
What is the solution ?
Drivers have the upper hand at the moment as they are less reliant on taxi service apps, while demand for commission-free street work remains high. Depending on the recession, this reliance is likely to persist for some time until the number of drivers increases significantly.
If app operators transferred commission payments to the driver, instead of the driver, it would put the value of work on par with street work.
App companies could also choose to display the number of canceled jobs in the last 100 applications. A passenger who is historically patient will have more driver confidence to not cancel en route. This could also be reciprocal where the driver can also see the driver’s cancellation rate.
Something must give soon. Trust and patience are essential in the post-pandemic taxi world.