July 20th, 2017
I used to be tired of bargaining with auto drivers. While bargain was one pain, auto drivers treating you badly was another – some drunk, some cursing at you for bargaining, some with faulty metres who scream at you for pointing out. While I did find a decent auto driver once in a while, it was very rare. When cab services were launched their services, it was a dream come true. Specially for people like me who cannot drive themselves. A cab would pick you up at your door step in less than 5 mins any time of the day, courteous drivers and most importantly fixed and affordable pricing – what else do you need?
As my habit goes, I try having conversations with people around me. So I did with a few cab drivers. Back then in 2015 they all seemed very happy. They were earning about 15k per week and they got good support from the service providers. They had to finish about 10 riders per day to get additional incentives. I used to think, This is so great! Happy Drivers and Happy Customers!
My last 3-4 trips on these cabs have been unpleasant. Once it was an unprofessional driver, once an arrogant one and once a driver who rejected to pick me up from the location but won’t cancel the trip himself. The quality of cabs has gone down too and the fares have gone up. Though I told myself that these bad experiences are not regular, I have been hearing similar stories from people around.A recent conversation with a cab driver left me with many thought provoking questions.
My thought provoking conversation with a cab driver:
Me: Last time I enquired you were supposed to do 14 trips a day to get an incentivised pay. Is it the same now??
Driver Uncle: No madam. Now, we have to do 50 rides in total for Mon, Tue, Wed, Thursday and 45 rides in total for Fri, Sat and Sunday.
Me: That is almost 15 rides a day. I remember when the ride limit was 11 rides a day. How many hours do you have to drive each day to complete your trips in so much traffic?
Driver: It was only 10 rides per day in the beginning. Then it became 11, 12, 14 and then this. We were earning well initially. They showed us hope that we can live a good life being cab drivers. There was also a selection process for the drivers and cars. Now we get blamed and stereotyped for the bad drivers and bad cars. People with money just bought 10-15 second hand cars and hired drivers who are 17-18 years old who don’t know to drive or treat customer properly.
Now I am having to drive 13-14 hrs a day to finish my rides. Sometimes I start at 6 in the morning and still cannot complete my rides at even 11 in the night. They don’t let us finish our rides. If 45 is the target they make it stop at 42 or 43. Last Sunday, I completed 42 trips already and they gave me an airport trip. I waited for 3 hrs at the airport for the next trip. This happened to me a number of times. First they increase the number of trips. Now that our families got used to a style of life and we showed them hope, we work hard to maintain it. But even after lot of hard work they don’t let us complete our trips.
And both of us went silent until the end of the trip.Through out the rest of the journey, I was thinking – Every start-up or company we have heard of in the last few years aims to change the world, transform an industry and add value to a lot of lives. But are we truly doing it?
In cases like these where none of the stake holders, customers or employees, are happy – what is the value being created? Will our businesses always be selfish interests of a few, to make a lot of money, irrespective of what is happening to everyone else who is associated with the business.
When will we truly build businesses which solve real problems while empowering everyone touched by them to live better lives?? Where customers truly value what is being offered and have a happy experience, where employees are proud of what they do and feel taken good care of and where profits are not eaten up by 2 or 3 people but are shared with all the stakeholders.