I guess this is a rather strange topic to choose for my first blog post after my long blogosphere hiatus, but I feel very strongly about this. First, some background. Uber, for those who have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, is a technology company that is challenging cabs around the world.
The company created a mobile application that allows users to get rides by using their smartphones to determine their current location and the destination they wish to reach. The application then checks if any cars that have registered with the Uber service are in the vicinity, and, if so, directs them to you.
You register your credit card when you download the application so the fare is automatically deducted from your card without you ever having to discuss fare with the driver. For those who have had, and still have, to navigate the intricacies of determining the fare of a ride with Cairo cabbies, this is a great blessing.
In addition, the cars are state of the art, air-conditioned, and the drivers are not the reckless race car driver wannabes that normal Cairo cabbies are. What’s not to like about this?
Well, according to Cairo cabbies, a lot. In a repeat of what has happened all over the world, Cairo cabbies are petitioning the government to ban Uber. Their rationale being that Uber is cutting into their business. Of course, my gut response to this is “if you provide a service that competes with Uber in terms of quality, you won’t lose business”. And note that Uber is slightly more expensive than normal cabs when standard fare applies and upto 3 times more expensive when higher fares apply (this happens when demand for Uber cars is larger than supply).
So the cabbies comeback that they are protesting because they cannot complete in terms of price isn’t valid. Their fares are already slightly to significantly less than the fares of Uber rides. I think the real reason they are complaining, is that people they used to swindle by tampering with their taximeter are now wising up and choosing Uber.
People who have become fed up with the arrogant way with which cab drivers refuse to go to certain destinations for whatever reason (even though it’s against the law for them to do this), are now choosing Uber.
People who are sick and tired of hearing how the mother/father/child of the cabbie is sick and therefore he deserves a much higher fare are switching to Uber. People who are tired of the fights that are now the standard way to end a cab ride, are choosing the streamlined payment and conflict resolution offered by Uber.
I for one, whenever I don’t take my car on a trip, always choose Uber instead of taking normal cabs. I have one message for cabbies, instead of trying to stop someone else from offering a better service, try to offer a better service yourselves and see if that doesn’t increase the number of your customers. The dog in a manger thing is not doing much good for your image.