I’ve been in 4 cab accidents after 20 years of biz travel. Not bad, actually. Three were in Chicago. At least the NYC cabbie cared that I hit the plexiglass with my face, which thankfully was not more than bruised.
I also have been abandoned on the freeway by a Chicago cabbie who spoke virtually no English. If not for cell phones (new at the time) my former boss KB and I would have been stuck. In July at 95 degrees. We, not the cabbie, saved ourselves by calling the number on the side of the cab, which the driver did not even know!
But never, until July 13, 2011, have I boarded a cab at a midtown Chicago hotel, (after the Shopper Insights in Action conference, no less), only to have the cabbie ditch us in less than five minutes!! This story is even funnier when you put it in context of the situation.
The SIA conference is over, and attendees are hustling to the luggage check out, and bustling even faster to the hotel cab line, which is long already and about to get crazy.
I ask the folks in line behind me “Who is going to Midway?” and thus share a cab with Brian Bennettes from HEB grocery. As we’re getting acquainted, we are part of a rapid double attempt to dump us into another cab. It’s like a scene in a comedy. Talk about shopper rejection. We are acutely aware of the situation, and in fact, had to articulate the “real deal” to the second cabbie, who graciously took us on to Midway. Our cabbie could not communicate in English, and I am being kind. Brian and I are by now talking about a case study of WHAT NOT TO DO to produce shopper delight. And we are laughing!
Of all things, it was the CLOCK that did us in. It reminds me of the night I was dumped by Northwest in Hartford, CT at because the crew time clock ran out at midnight
Our cabbie’s shift was over and he needed to clock out at ORD. Not MDW. And he was late. So we, the shoppers, were like smelly fish in his house. We were dumped like trash. Here’s the catch. Half or more people in the taxi line were headed to O’Hare. We would have given that cab to an ORD bound friend in no time flat.
We have to ask – Why was there NO OPEN COMMUNICATION between the hotel doorman and the cabbie? When I was in the hospitality industry, the relationship between the providers was about the shopper. And the providers were more of a network to help not only shoppers, but each other. And Brian, a grocery insights pro, was stymied by the dysfunction as well.
It’s sad that we, as cab riders, have to break the language barrier for the hacks (I say that with respect) and moreover, to feel the “profound un-love” about a most basic form of transportation in big cities.
Why can’t hotel doorman and cabbies talk, or for gosh sakes, get an APP for that? Every cabbie has a smart phone, all they do is talk on the phone with their friend, while passengers pull up routes on GPS and tell the cabbie where to go. Come on, Windy City digital gurus…. I’d use the “Open Table” model for cabs any day. I’d even check the driver references to avoid not only accidents, but the ultimate of insults, getting dumped.
For every shopper turn-off there is an opportunity to figure out the issue and fix it.