PRETTY V PRACTICAL
Given a choice of product with money permitting, most of
us I'm sure would prefer it to be aesthetically pleasing, comfortable
and of high quality. One example being when purchasing a new cab,
particularly a new TX1. Currently, there are still differing opinions
amongst drivers as to the preference of a TX1 against that of the
Fairway - or for that matter, the Metrocab. However, like them or not,
it is a fact that the manufacturers have gone to great lengths to appeal
to those drivers who like style, by making the interior of certain
models of the TX1 as attractive and as comfortable as possible, perhaps
almost on par with the private car.
For my own personal opinion as a passenger, I think they
are excellent and as someone selling and marketing our services, sitting
in the rear of an immaculately clean, polished TX1 with its soft velour
seats and smart carpet, my initial thoughts were how great it would be
to have a whole fleet of them.
Unfortunately my respect of other peoples property is not
indicative of everyone else. And because of this varying respect shown
by others and because of the number of letters and phone calls I get
each week from our members complaining (justifiably) of damage being
done to their cabs, particularly to both inside and out of the TX1, my
attitude regarding top of the range interiors has reluctantly changed.
It seems to me if a cab is to be used simply as a work
horse with the object of taking maximum earnings with the minimum amount
of disruption, the passenger interior needs to reflect that fact ie
polystyrene seats and rubber mats etc.
Dial-a-Cab have for many years compensated a driver who has
had the interior of his cab soiled by an account client with a £20
cleaning charge which if possible, we pass on to the client. The problem
we are experiencing now since the introduction of the TX,1 is a greater
vulnerability to damage, higher cleaning costs, higher repair and
replacement costs and above all demands for 'loss of earnings costs' for
time waiting for the cleaning to dry out.
DAMAGE RECOMPENSE - NOT AN EASY TASK
Whenever I receive details of damage to a subscribers cab caused by an
account client, I've always where possible contacted the client
personally and by letter, together with follow up calls to exert as much
pressure as I can on behalf of the driver to seek full compensation. It
isn't an easy task because whilst a passenger (who may be an employee)
may admit liability at the time of the incident, more often than not
they deny it later when they get back to their office. If it is a senior
director, they too often deny any such incident took place or ask for
proof, a witness or insists that the driver takes it up with their
insurers. Nearly all ask what would happen if it was a cash ride off the
street, particularly when the damage is only noticed after the passenger
has long gone. An example of the latter is when damage has been done to
velour seats such as tears, cigarette burns, marks left by food etc and
wetness of all descriptions including urine. During the past month, I
have had an exceptionally high number of claims ranging from £16 for a
cracked door handle cover, to £460 for damage caused by the passenger
opening the door and the driver hitting a stationary object. The claim
for £460 and two immediately prior, one of which was of a similar
amount caused by a passenger being
violently sick, resulting in the driver having to buy a new valour
seat and carpet etc. I was successful in getting a full refund.
In many other cases, I have not been so successful. It's disappointing
and I really sympathise with the driver, but I can only do my best and
frankly, being abusive to me won't alter the situation. Drivers must
realise that I am not a damage claims lawyer and in reality, it's not
really the Society's responsibility.
Which brings me back to practicality versus prettiness...
Up until the introduction of the TX1, the majority of cabs
had leather or plastic seating and rubber mats which, in the event of
soiling, could be easily cleaned with a bucket of disinfected water or a
hose. The £20 compensation was as much for loss of earnings as for the
cost of cleaning.
The situation now is that we are seeing claims for £20
plus for cleaning and a days money for loss of earnings, apparently
waiting for it to dry. I have discussed this with members of the Board
and whilst in the past the Society was prepared to cover the £20
cleaning costs should the client refuse, the society cannot cover
additional cleaning costs and subsequent loss of earnings for damaged
items which the driver has chosen in preference to that which is
considered as 'standard'. The hard facts are that as far as a cab is
concerned, not only is there a high price to pay for quality initially,
but also for maintaining it.
On the question of damage to doors, could I please ask all
of you to be exceptionally careful when setting down passengers,
particularly young children who are eager to open the doors quickly, and
be sure you are not stopping close to a post or parking meter etc.
Following my article about abusive drivers in the October
issue of Call Sign and the Editor expanding on the subject in the
November Editorial, I have discussed the matter with quite a number of
our subscribers, many of whom feel something should be done by our
Society to assist members to overcome this problem.
Perhaps that could be in making available 'Stress
Management' sessions run by qualified professionals who would show our
drivers how to overcome stress and to teach the various methods of
handling difficult clients. Exactly how many of you would attend such
courses, I don't know because unfortunately there is a common perception
amongst many English males as well as a certain arrogance, in believing
help is not needed or that if it is, it is a sign of weakness to ask.
Hence the reason the majority of companies in this country, particularly
those in the service industry, insist that ALL their staff, irrespective
of status or ability, attend seminars and learn techniques on how to
handle the general public. Many of you may know of the very successful
company which John Cleese established called Visual Arts which he later
sold for a fortune. They were based in Oxford St and made humorous
video's about handling difficult people or situations in all walks of
life which they then sold or hired out to companies for training
purposes. I've seen quite a few and they are not just hilarious, but
also very clever and practical and they also really work.
However they are also very expensive, which just goes to prove that those who buy them consider them to be worthwhile if they
wish to improve their staff's ability. I personally believe that the
vast majority of you could benefit from stress management training
courses. I've been on them and I think they are extremely beneficial. I
also believe that many of you would benefit from stress therapies such
as yoga, hypnosis, reflexology, massage or acupuncture etc, the last two
of which I have taken regularly several times a month for many years and
in some instances, the visits were in preference to taking conventional
medicines and I know for a fact that it works.
Stress these days is a national disease, it affects
everyone and is the cause of many serious illnesses. If you seriously
believe that something should be done by the Society, even if it was
only in the form of literature, and it was available to you, would you
be interested? I would like to hear from you, my extension is 223 or
DIAL-A-CAB WEB SITE.
To those of you that are interested, I have now completed the
first draft design of the DaC Web site at: http://www.dialacab.co.uk
There is still a small amount of tweaking-up to do ie colour balance,
additional links and more pages in the various languages etc but as it
was more or less completed, we decided to make it accessible. As with
any design I'm sure it won't please everybody, particularly those that
like animations - which I purposely avoided using. We are a serious
business and I wanted our site to reflect that fact. Those of you that
have access to the Internet will notice on our first page Press Releases
and DaC News. Should any of you have worthy news items that you feel
would be appropriate to be recorded under this heading, please let me
know. Equally the 'feedback' section is available for your views,
criticisms, suggestions or ideas for future changes etc.
Finally in answer to those who might question why http://www.radiotaxis.com
transfers you to the Dial-a-Cab site, the reason is simple. When I
originally registered our domain name, I also looked for other names
generically associated with our trade that we could legally market both
in the UK and World-wide. Then I noticed that radiotaxis.com was
available and so we claimed it. Dial-a-cab.com and uk with hyphen (-) is
also registered by ODRTS although as yet are not linked to our site.
SAFETY IN THE CAB.
One of our senior clients experienced a serious incident this month
which I believe should be brought to your attention.
The incident occurred when one of our drivers was in traffic on
Hampstead Heath with a lady passenger. The driver whilst stationary,
noticed a man being chased by two other men. The man being chased
suddenly got into our drivers cab. On being ordered out by the driver,
the man refused and it is alleged he said he would harm the lady
passenger. The driver drove 150 meters or so further up the road whereby
the man jumped out. Needless to say the lady was extremely frightened
and distressed, but also angry that no precautionary action had been
made by the driver to prevent the man entering the cab ie engaging the
automatic door locking system. In hindsight, we could all do things
differently. However we would be fools if we didn't learn from other
peoples misfortunes. People use licensed taxis because they assume them
to be safe and secure, so please be on your guard, both for your own
protection and that of your passengers. LOCK YOUR DOORS.