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Posts from June 29, 2014 - July 5, 2014

France: More Reasons for Uber and SnapCar

There's another reason for Uber in France and the French government needs to pay attention. It's customer service with taxi drivers. Just like in San Francisco where Uber was born there's a pattern of behavior that exists with taxi drivers that causes great frustration with the regular traveler. It's called being declined a ride because your destination isn't far.

Today, after dropping off my rental car at the Montpellier train station I did what I have done for years, walked to the taxi rank, hailed a cab and asked to be taken to the same hotel as in the past. This time the driver said "you can walk, it's only ten minutes." While that may be true the option to walk or not should be mine, not the driver's and his outright refusal to take the fare never would happen in London. This type of behavior is not far different from the SF taxi drivers who chose to pass hotels for pickups because the hotels have house cars or favorite car services they use for their guests' airport runs.

Uber, France's SNAPCAR and the UK's Hailo solve these issues. First the drivers are eager for the business and second, there's no worry about who they are picking up as they already know. Lastly though is the safe and secure feeling I get when I take Uber or one of the other services. I know I have recourse vs. trying to deal with a taxi commission which works solely in its own selfish interest.

Uber On..

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Why The Uber Economy Works

Last week I used Uber X and Uber all over the Bay Area. Using Uber X my costs for a nice car, usually a Toyota Prius or something a bit larger was under $15.00 and often closer to $12.00 for rides to lunch, dinner or to get from a meeting on Treasure Island to my hotel. Other rides with Uber black cars were in the $15-25 dollar range while only my hotel supplied town car to the airport was $65.00.

I didn't wait. I didn't have any talkative drivers, the cars were spotless, the drivers pleasant and helpful with bags and packages, but most of all they got to where I needed to be on time and correctly.

Now I'll compare that to my experience here in Marseille. I used an online booking service to have a taxi and driver waiting at the airport for our flight from London Heathrow. The flight was delayed by an hour and when we arrived it was obvious the driver was a bit perturbed. The fare with service charge booked in advance was 61 Euros or $82 converted. Not bad for a Mercedes and a 25 minute ride to the Vieux Port area of town. Interestingly the meter was at 27 Euros at the start of the ride and ended at 87 euros. Booking in advance saved some money but in the Uber economy the ride starts when you get picked up, not when the driver gets the call to pick you up. Here in France you pay from that moment which is usually like adding 7-10 dollars to any ride if you call for a cab vs. hailing one down or picking one up at the taxi rank.

But it gets more clear when you realize that here in France some taxi drivers are great locally, while others leave you guessing. Our ride to dinner was one of those where it became obvious the driver had no idea where a new restaurant was located even when provided the exact street address, as he went the wrong way once, then dropped us two blocks from the location which Google Maps clearly showed. Sadly, the driver neither used GPS or Google Maps, and admitted he usually did only airport and cruise ship runs from most hotels. The fare started at 7 euros and ended up being 15 but the driver felt he made mistakes and only charged us 10. Last night coming back from dinner the fare was 13 euros and at the start the flag was at 6.20.

That starting fare is really what UBER is attacking, delivering better value to the customer and services to the driver. To realize how much Uber means to the travel public all one has to do is use it a few days in a row alternating between Uber X/XL or Uber Black and then be in a city where there's no Uber. You quickly understand how much better the Uber experience is, as you know upfront when the car service will arrive, and more importantly, what you'll be getting.

Location:Cours Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves,Marseille,France

Back In The World I Love

I have to admit. I have been suffering writers block for months. While I have been composing my thoughts, musing on Facebook and Tweeting away on Twitter, my inability to post, write long form was a bother...It hurt. It was painful and what's more there's no way around it. Like a baseball player in a slump no matter how much I swung, there was just a hitch in my swing that wasn't there before. Like a goaltender who can't stop a beachball, I was whiffing at the keyboard. It was like my soul wasn't there. Sure I could do all the business writing I wanted to, but that's only a part of me....but waking up this morning at 907 AM in Marseille, walking outside to the stunning balcony and taking in the morning, having coffee and espresso delivered along with some sinful croissants that are not on my diet (ok I'm in the south of France so I have to have just one) has reinvigorated my energy level.

Perhaps it's the wine. Or perhaps it's life again being in balance. All I know is I feel like I'm starting "a new" again...I've got The Who playing in the background via Spotify listening to "Love Reign Over Me" from Quadrophinia and "I feel great." Oh, and yes, Anu may be the reason, in those words of Pat Croce.