Will Olacabs compensate for my time?

There are good times and there are bad times, and then there are ugly times with cab companies. One of the reasons I depend on chauffeur driven services is because it helps me be more productive since I can just continue to work while they get me to my destination. In Delhi, all the more I need to depend on one because there are no taxis that I can flag down the road and make a move. Last week, one such day, I was reminded how things can go horribly wrong and the service providers would just leave you to the mercy of the Gods, maybe.

I had a meeting to make it to, and I only had my mobile phone to work with, so I fired up the OlaCabs app, and booked up a taxi for an hour later to arrive. They confirmed, and 5 minutes later,  I promptly received a text message informing me about the cab allotted which was on its way to me. Except, that car was never going to turn up because it was 1.5 hours or so away from me and coming from a different end of town altogether. Realising their algorithm or dispatcher’s mistake, they intervened to switch this to another car which was closer home, only 5 kilometres away. Ola never wanted to inform me about it, and the driver was lazy as well.

With a full 30 minutes on hand to make the drive, he calls me to inform me that he won’t make it for another hour since that is what Ola told him to do. I told him to make it at the earliest since he was not very far away. Ten minutes later, I looked up the app, and I noticed his tracker did not move from his earlier position. After making a call to the driver, who reminded me he won’t come till much later, in a very rude tone, I called up OlaCabs. They had no clue of what was happening, and I had to talk tough on the phone.

The unfortunate part was that in spite of telling them that I needed the cab urgently since my plans depended on it, there was no action. And there was no prior information. They apparently tried to call me 3 minutes before the scheduled time of arrival of the car, to inform me that the cab will be 30 or so minutes late. And they had this information for more than 20 minutes apparently.

Unfortunately, there was no alternative to this, and hence I had to wait up for them holding up my meeting and repeatedly apologizing on the phone to the person I was supposed to catch up with.

Someone kept calling me every now and then, claiming to take personal responsibility to get me a cab within the next 15 minutes. But those 15 minutes did not materialise till 45 minutes afterwards. The driver had no training of how to use the app to track my location, and went till at least a mile in the other direction before being informed he was going in the wrong direction. On arrival, when he was countered with this fact, he claimed he knew the ways better than anyone else in Delhi. Hah!

The tragic end of the story worked like this. The car that eventually turned up was dented in many places, had a cracked windshield, and battered enough to have water seeping inside the car during the rains. Not to forget that there was the smell of someone having smoked a cigarette or few inside the car. So much for having Quality Assurance audits because this is the nth time I have had to face a cab from Ola which is ill maintained, and charges a premium to regular cab services for the service they provide.

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Aargh! Imagine turning up at one of the best addresses in Delhi (the Taj Mahal hotel) in one of those cars. Ola maintained their official story, that the earlier car broke down, which clearly sounded like a lie to me. And because they had me delayed for so long, they offered to take INR 60 off my fare, and then INR 100, eventually making this ride free (for the inconvenience they caused me!) Not before having taken away all my OlaMoney (prepaid credit) from the account.

I however value my time much more than how they do it, because I have better things to do than to track down cars which once booked are supposed to work out on their own. On the other hand, I’ve had them do this one too many times and hiding behind all the wrong reasons for not being able to deliver service as per their promise. So, to compensate me for my time, I threw them a challenge on Twitter, which they haven’t responded to me yet about.

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OlaCabs promised to come back by Monday to me after a thorough investigation and even promised a written apology, and as I write this its Tuesday and there is no revert from them. So, I really wonder if they are going down under the weight of their own success and a model inspired by Uber, or they think that customers who pay a premium over regular public transport deserve their apathy rather than empathy.

Anyone of you stranded by OlaCabs apart from me, yet?

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About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

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Comments

  1. @NO Fly Zone – Muahahhaha. Made my day !
    @ AJ – Your post should actually go viral so that they will be forced to take drastic measures. Totally horrible. They shouldn’t even defend themselves.

  2. Similar situation – 1 hour late in Bangalore with no updates and continuous followup from my end. Finally ditched the cab and drove my father to the airport myself. Had used Ola once before & had a good experience – this was the 2nd time, never used it again ! Switched back to TaxiforSure. Service quality is determined by how they respond to/handle customer experience in the 2% cases, where things go wrong, not the 98% cases where things work normally.

  3. Yeah… Have had a same experience with ola in the past. Have been using tabcab and meru since then. At least when they guarantee u a cab they make sure you are allotted one closest to u. And tab cabs has been maintaining a good quality in mumbai I must say.

  4. A few idle thoughts for you to consider…
    1. You’ve got a lot of First World problems to solve in a Third World city.
    2. In a city like Dehli, you iPhone app instantly marks you as a First World Fool, one from whom they can probably extract far more than the usual fare.
    3. You may consider that cab services in a city like Dehli, may be extremely busy, no matter what hour of the day. Just because you used an iPhone app to arrange your trip do NOT put you at the head of the line, no matter how important you believe that your meeting may be.
    4. Cab drivers, the world over operate on their own schedule – and you should already know that. I have no idea what one driver was doing while immobile for 30 minutes, not do you. He will move when he wishes and not before.
    5. A few dents and dings in your cab, or it may smell of recent tobacco? Oh, you poor thing! Where again are you from? Trust me, honey, the rest of the world does NOT necessarily honor the cute, tight little standards that you may be used to, even if you reside in the blender of New York. Dehli is darn sure not New York, sweetie and if you have ever traveled before, you really should know that by now.
    6. No matter what city you happen to be in, if you need ground transportation, ASK someone about the local customs and practices and then HONOR them. Your hotel is a great place to begin asking, but there are other choices as well.
    7. As in #6, follow the local customs. Demanding that they – in their own city, conform to your expectations, those of NYC or wherever you are from, is noting short of idiotic and just begs them to abuse you and your cash.
    8. Was this blog post made as a joke? I cannot imagine anyone with a travel-related blog making such a silly post. If you are a NYC girl, perhaps your idea of travel is Long Island or with a real stretch, Atlantic City. You have just got to be yanking my chain! If your post is genuine, then there are two problems. First, you’ve added substantial fuel to the fires that address both Ugly Americans and Stupid Broads, and yes, some folks should not be allowed out of the country. I pray that whatever your business interest may be, that you never have reason to visit – oh let’s say Saudi Arabia. Unless you repair your outlook and thinking, rather quickly, you will crash and burn, sweetie. Have you ever taken a college-level class in Cultural Anthropology? I guess you were too busy for that sort of thing. It might be a very good idea. With your apparent knowledge deficit, a dozen such classes may be necessary. You poor thing!

    • @No Fly Zone, For all you know, it is called Delhi and not Dehli. As for where I am from, well from what you call a Third World city, “honey”! Now stop the trolling. If you’d have read the blog properly You’d have known I am not an NYC Girl but an Indian Guy.

  5. which is why I avoid ‘aggregator’ services like Ola or taxiforsure… they can always ditch you (and have) and frankly have no ‘control’ as they don’t own the cabs like say a Meru does.

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