I have a question for the people behind the automated smartphone-based booking and dispatch company Grab Taxi: How exactly does one get a cab?
For the past several weeks I have been trying to book a cab through Grab Taxi’s online app, not just because I wanted to be brought somewhere, but because, as somebody who writes about consumer issues, I wanted to be able to tell readers about the service.
Even colleagues in the office, who also go around Metro Manila in cabs, are eager to hear what I think of the service.
Unfortunately, all my attempts so far to book a cab online have failed.
The first time I tried it, I got a message saying my point of origin, the Inquirer offices on Chino Roces Avenue, Makati, could not be found. I tried again a few days later from my apartment in Malate, and the operators could not find my address as well.
I e-mailed Grab Taxi’s feedback section to ask if there was something I was doing wrong.
I have since received all kinds of messages from the company, but I have yet to get a reply to my original e-mail.
Finally, I was able to register to the service and excitedly tried booking a cab—again from the Inquirer office. I saw so many tiny cars on my mobile phone’s screen, but after half an hour, that was all I kept getting. So, I just asked one of our security guards to get me a taxi straight from the street, which he was able to do in about five minutes.
About two weeks ago, I tried it again and got a response, this time, although not the one I wanted. I was told that the operators tried, but could not find an empty cab to pick me up.
Last week, I went online again to try getting a cab. After a short wait, I was told that there was one that was just a little over two minutes away and I should call the driver directly. At last!
I instantly dialed the first number that appeared on my mobile and talked to the driver. But he told me he was actually some distance away and could not pick me up because traffic was bad.
Another phone number popped out with a photograph, which I assumed was the driver’s, and I was again instructed to call him up. I did, but was told that traffic was bad going to Diliman, Quezon City, my destination, so he could not bring me there.
Why did I have to go through all that trouble? Since I get the same answer from drivers of empty taxis I see on the road anyway, I decided I might as well take a chance that one of them would have the patience to drive to the University of the Philippines, no matter the traffic situation.
After another wait, I was fortunate to get a cab with a very polite driver who did not sigh and mumble and complain from Malate to Diliman.
So, just what convenience does the online Grab Taxi service offer people if you still get the same type of drivers who only want to go where they want to go? And, if you cannot get a cab when you need it, why bother? Does the company have minimum requirements on how member drivers should behave?
I understand that the arrangement is really between the driver and Grab Taxi, not between cab companies and the online booking service. For the service, passengers have to pay an additional P70.
I pay an additional P50 when I call cab companies to send a taxi over to pick me up. I pay more if I book in advance (Grab Taxi apparently does not accept advance booking). The ones I contact are courteous enough to call me back immediately if no unit is available.
These taxi companies are Basic, Xavierville, R&E and 24/7, and I have been quite pleased with their service. The drivers they send usually show up way ahead of the appointed time.
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts, 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail [email protected]