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.
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.
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?