A couple of weeks back I posted about the Uber Mumbai debacles that have been happening all over the place. It did not look like I was the lone fellow who was affected by the downward spiral of one of my favourite technology companies. There were others too.
Anyhow, the GM of Uber Mumbai called me up one fine day to discuss the issues I faced. My first question was how did they get my phone number, and why did they extract it from the database without my permission. No answers there. We decided that we should catch up sometime face to face to be able to take this discussion forward. Since Uber had stood me up one time before, asking me to grab a beer with them and then forgetting about it, I thought the best thing to do would be to buy the boys some coffee early morning. And that is what I did.
Here are some responses that I have tried to put out in short, from the 1.5 hour long free consulting session on their pain points they got from me, most of which are described here, and some of their responses.
The conversation opened with the fact that Uber Mumbai is the fastest growing city in Asia for Uber and will be self-sustaining very soon. My response to them was that I see Uber as a franchisee based business where they are lending their name and expertise to a lot of individual fleet owners and partners, and they need to keep the flock up to their standards otherwise this won’t help them in the long run. I also told them that there would be the repeat customers like me who would provide them with their regular revenue stream in the city and feedback should be taken as a sport. Here is some of the other side of the story from them:
- On late arrivals of cars: Uber representatives claim that they have seen 14 minutes ETAs in the city, which are closer to averages of 10 minutes which they want to achieve. My response to that was that as a customer, I do not experience the 10 minutes wait times, but more like 25 minute waits. They said they are trying to add more capacity. Anyhow, on late arrival of the cars, they accept that their systems are not as smart in projecting ETA and they hope to fix it further to make it more credible. For the moment, do not expect change. If your car is late, you of course don’t have to pay the cancellation fee, but my take away is that Uber won’t make good for your lost time due to their failures.
- On ill-trained chauffeurs: As per Uber Mumbai, they are helping chauffeurs with a thorough learning experience with their app before putting them on the road, monitoring each experience less than 5 stars and trying to get to the bottom of it. They say this is a step change for people who were earlier used to being on rental duties where they did not have to drive much but got a nice pay package at the end of the day. It did not help that in the next few days I got cars who had no clue of how to operate the app again. With some drivers I’ve pointed out to them, they indicated they’ve kept monitoring them and hope to see them get better.
- On Customer Service: Their response was to admit that they haven’t communicated well wit the customers. Unfortunately, this has not changed. My recent emails to them have again not been answered, or vaguely answered, and that is the only way of getting across to them. In addition, they’ve unfollowed me on Twitter so that they don’t have to give me an explanation when I tweet them an issue via DM.
- On the Uber Standard: Safety, Courteous, Clean & Reliable rides were promised. By that standard, I have spend about INR 2000 in May 2014 alone with rides that did not meet the promise. Uber says they make every effort to implement the Uber standard but has not set a standard for themselves by continuing to ignore customer issues in these departments.
- On variety of Cars: Uber claims they never promised luxury cars to everyone. I had to remind them that their opening announcement about Uber Mumbai talks not about Corollas and Innovas but about BMW 7s, and most of the retweets the put out on Twitter were about the Audis and the BMWs, so that is how the public would perceive them.
A lot of other discussions took place, but unfortunately, I am not seeing results here. Someone advised me yesterday about voting with my wallet and abstaining from them. Of course, that would be the last resort, but I would imagine I would first want to have this system up for good rather than just sitting out on the fence. After all, I am used to the black/yellow cabs in the city like so many other people. What do you think?
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