No angels

Those living in London, may well have noticed the App war currently taking place between Black Cab and Mini Cab drivers over the rights and fairness over Apps that undercut the Black Cabs by offering a quicker, cheaper, more responsive service. The Black Cab drivers are up in arms as these Apps, such as Uber or MiniCabster, allegedly offer unregulated drivers the opportunity to undercut the Black Cabs, and apparently compromises passenger safety and security. 

Now, when the battle all kicked off with a strike and a blockage of Central London in June, I had little sympathy for the Cabbies. I’ve lived in London for 9 years and I will avoid taking a Black Cab if I can, principally because I find them to be ridiculously overpriced (Black Cab from Camden to home: £40. Swiss Cottage Taxi from Camden to home: £17). 

But, today my opinion changed. I had a family emergency this morning which required me to ferry someone from home to the medical centre on St Ann’s Road. I logged into the App, and booked a car to collect at 9.30 however at 9.30 I received a call from the driver, who despite having a GPS app on his phone, was lost about 5 minutes away, and was heading in the wrong direction! And then, to make matters worse, once he collected us, I had to direct him to the medical centre, using basic knowledge of living in London for 9 years. 

So, here’s the thing. Black Cab drivers have to pass a test called The Knowledge, which basically requires them to know how to get anywhere within the M25. Can’t pass The Knowledge, you can’t drive a Black Cab. Whilst it would have cost me a lot more to get from home to the medical centre, I know that a) the cabbie would have turned up at the right place, and b) he’d have got us to our destination, stress free, and I could have spent the time reassuring my family member that we were going to get to our destination as quickly as possible. 

Ultimately, here’s my advice to the Black Cab drivers. You may not be the cheapest but you have the quality of service and The Knowledge that cannot be beat. Shout it from the rooftops!






Customer service…

Hands up if you live a busy life? Of course you do. We all do! Our time is precious. Whether it’s personal or professional; sometimes we feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Now, hands up if you’ve ever bought anything online and arrived home to find a card informing you that your order is sitting in the local post office collection depot. Or worse… an industrial estate in Acton. Depending on the size of your item you then either go and collect it, or arrange for it to be redelivered at a time convenient to you. But more often than not, you’ll find you have to pay a premium to have it delivered at some time outside of working hours. Quite simply, convenience costs.

So, unless you are prepared to pay  to have your item delivered on a Saturday morning, you have to take time off work – i.e. eating into your precious holiday time. But that could be minimised if the company that are delivering your package, use a tech savvy carrier that enables to you either specify the time of delivery to within an hour or track the delivery of your package. 

So, yesterday, I was due to have four radiators delivered by Fedex. I made sure I was home for the whole day as I wasn’t prepared to either have the radiators left outside the flat, or taken away for redelivery. After completing my order, I was offered a delivery date of Monday, and informed that I’d be able to log into the customer tracking system to track the progress of my order from dispatch to delivery. ‘Perfect!’ I thought. I can log into my account on the day, find out the progress of the delivery and be able to structure my day accordingly. However, when I logged into my account, around, I was informed that the radiators had left the depot, however I could expect delivery at some point before 5.30pm. Handy! I googled the address of the depot and discovered that it was around 5 miles from home. So, I picked up the phone and asked the helpful receptionist if they could give me any more information regarding my delivery. Unfortunately they could not. I’d just have to sit and wait until the delivery arrived.

In the end, I wasn’t waiting for the whole day as the delivery turned up shortly after noon. But that’s not the point. As a customer I felt utterly powerless and trapped.

In a digital age, this is appalling customer service.

In a way, I could understand were we talking about a small delivery firm. But we’re talking about Fedex – a firm with an astronomical marketing budget. Who track planes, trains and vans, to ensure that they know where their deliveries are. So, why can’t they give that information to customers? Now, I appreciate that there may be security issues of say, being able to see the exact location of the Fedex delivery van, however, as a customer I’d be satisfied if the tracker could tell me how far away the van was, and how many deliveries had to be made before the van reached me. Maybe not ideal to know that there are 25 deliveries before you and you won’t see your order for a few hours, but at least you’d know, rather than spending the day kicking your heels. If you buy your shopping online, you don’t sit around for the day, waiting for it to arrive. No,  you can specify hour time slots, and if there’s any delay, the driver will call you. Is it beyond Fedex to offer a service like this? 

Ultimately, the online tracker, or the app offered by Fedex may look great but they fail to solve the one problem that every customer wants to know… when will my package arrive?