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Two whinges in two days? There must be something in the water! However…

I’m not sure how I haven’t blogged about cabs in Sydney before because today certainly isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed. Perhaps having lived in London for five years before moving here, I was spoiled? Did you know every black cab driver there has to learn 320 routes around the capital and pass an exam called the Knowledge? It takes between two and four years!

Last night, I booked cab with Silver Service (“Sydney’s first and largest luxury taxi fleet”) for 7.30am this morning. I hate to say it but I fully anticipated it not being on time. It’s not because things like that always happen to me but because I’ve been let down by them–and other cab companies–on numerous occasions. When it hadn’t arrived at 7.50am, I called and was told my taxi had been allocated and would be with me in approximately 13 minutes. It’s great that they can be quite so accurate about their intended lateness and that there’s a very high tech voice-activated telephone booking system, but all I really want is for them to turn up on time.

Last week I got a cab (not Silver Service) from the office to a meeting in Kings Cross. There was no seatbelt in the back and when we got to the road I needed to be in (or so I thought), the driver told me he couldn’t help me with the number so I’d have to get out where he chose to drop me and find it myself. When I got out (after paying, of course) I found out I wasn’t even in the right street but around the corner from it. There’s no discount for being dropped vaguely where you want to be either.

Then there are the cab drivers who have GPS systems but don’t seem to know how to use them. And if one more asks me “Do you know how to get there?” I may just scream. Isn’t it the very least you can expect for a driver to have a half decent knowledge of the CBD or the ability to politely use a GPS or even an old school street map to get there?

I have given up complaining too. The last time I complained to Silver Service about being dropped a 20-minute walk from the address I’d asked for in the middle of nowhere in Alexandria, I was told they couldn’t possibly track down the driver responsible, even though I told them where I’d been picked up and at what time and where I’d been (wrongly) dropped off and at what time. And don’t even get me started on the meeting I was late for in Artarmon the other week after the very pleasant but frankly useless driver drove round and round Naremburn for 40 minutes. At least he eventually turned the meter off.

There simply isn’t enough competition in Sydney which is, in my opinion, why complaints aren’t taken seriously. If you don’t like the service, what alternative do you have?

Actually, there is one if you live in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs: a new small business called Locol. Ideal for short trips, it’s priced by distance, so if you get caught in traffic you don’t pay more. It covers the East, the airport and the CBD. It’s a long way from being as big as Sydney’s other cab companies but you can pre-book a driver you’ll get to know and trust and they promise to be reliable, friendly and safe.

I know I’m not the first to complain about Sydney taxis and I won’t be the last but the fact that something’s always been bad and you expect it to be bad isn’t a reason to get away with it.

What do you think?

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Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop

Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.

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