There are a number of interesting stories, from the reservoir of mythology and folklore, which talk about how even a boon can become a bane if not utilised properly. A number of regulars on Bengaluru’s roads will agree with this tenet.
When cab aggregators like Ola and Uber first hit the scene, they were hailed as God’s gift to hassled commuters. The ease of booking and the anytime-anywhere service was a convenient option with fixed pricing being the icing on the cake. Then came the twist. Cabs started coming late, drivers became rude, trips started being cancelled and users started paying for those cancellations.
“When they were introduced initially, ‘Ola’ and ‘Uber’ were quite useful,” says Kavitha Vadiraj, a music teacher. “But of late, everyone has been having quite a few unpleasant experiences with these cabs.”
Talking about a personal episode, she adds, “I booked a cab recently but when I called up the driver, he said he won’t come as the pick up point was too far for him. And this is common now. Many a time, drivers have cancelled saying that the distance was too much. Sometimes, they cancel after hearing the destination or say that it doesn’t fall on their route. It is inexcusable. After all, we are paying them the fare.”
Damodar Varma agrees. “I have been frequently using the cab services. There were a few times when I just got fed up because the drivers used to cancel my trip saying that the location is too far or there is too much traffic near that place,” he says. He adds, “Once this cab driver could not find me even though I was standing on the main road. He said he couldn’t find me because he didn’t know how to use the GPS. And then he asked me cancel the ride. Once I did, I received a notification saying that I will be charged Rs 50 for cancelling the ride. I sent an email to the company but I never got the money back.”
Being charged for cancelled rides, even when the fault lies with the driver, is a common grouse that passengers have. There have also been reports of cancellation charges being levied even when the driver himself cancels the trip. Drivers sometimes refuse to take trips where the passenger was paying by e-wallets. And there is the disappearing act drivers sometimes pull off — a magical vanishing that will turn the great Houdini green with envy.
Sudhir Kadiyala says, “I had booked a cab from Gopalan Mall and my request was accepted. I waited for 10 minutes but the cab did not move from the location. I called the driver but he disconnected the call. When I tried calling him a few minutes later, his phone was unreachable and the taxi icon had disappeared from the screen. I cancelled and waited for another 15 minutes for the next cab to reach my place. My father, who is a senior citizen, had to wait along with me.”
Krithika Raghavan, who travels frequently from Whitefield to Yelahanka, talks about the multiple cancellations she has to make to find one driver who will agree to ferry her. “Drivers say they won’t get passengers for return journeys and ask me to cancel. They won’t cancel themselves. I have lost quite a bit of money as cancellation charges, not to mention the time and efforts that was wasted.”