Cabbies Using Charm School To Compete With Uber

As most of us know,  Uber has had a major impact on the car service industry making things a bit more difficult for traditional taxi cab drivers. With a few taps of one’s smart phone, your car can be summoned and you don’t have to exchange any money since all of that stuff is done through the Uber app.

So what’s a regular taxi driver to do? How can they be more appealing to those that have seen the light and become Uber loyalists? (While we rarely take cabs, I wasn’t impressed the one time we took Uber.)

Charm school!  Well that’s at least what some cabbies are trying in Seattle.

The first 4 hour training session took place this past Tuesday just outside of Seattle. The Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association and Teamsters Local 117 arranged the class by asking for a curriculum from the Hospitality Management Program at South Seattle College.

According to ABC News, here is the curriculum:

  1.  Introduction
  2. Excellent customer service: What it is and how to provide it.
  3. How to handle complaints and difficult customers
  4. Personal story: How to present our brand and/or service in a way that is most accessible for customers
  5. Developing new business with Institutional Clients
  6. Closing exercises and review

The course costs $60 and around 170 drivers paid out of pocket to learn new strategies to help make the riding experience better for customers.

The idea seems to be popular as the course will be running again tomorrow and a third date should be coming too.

I was thinking about this idea and I could see where it can help. However, in the end the thing I care most about is being on time and getting a good price. I see how some can like or even love Uber for the convenience factor (calling a car through the app, no $$$ exchanged), but I found it to be quite pricey…

What do you think about cabbies going to charm school? Will a friendly taxi experience make you want to use them more?

Check out the ABC News story about Taxi Charm School here.

For those of you that haven’t signed up for Uber yet: You can sign up through my link here. You’ll get a $10 Uber credit good towards your first ride and I’ll get $10 credit after you complete it!

4 thoughts on “Cabbies Using Charm School To Compete With Uber

  1. As someone who has lived in Seattle for 6+ years, I can tell you I will never use a taxi again since switching to Uber. The taxi drivers will take off the minute you tell them you want to go north of Lake Union. They say they’ll take credit cards and then the reader mysteriously breaks. My wife was held hostage once because she had no cash and the driver refused to let her use a credit card. (Seriously. She had to call me to bring her money. Fortunately I was on my way home already.)

    Charm isn’t needed. I actually prefer the driver not try to strike up a conversation in the car since I’m busy with something else. I just need a driver who will take me where I want to go and accept payment.

    1. Interesting stuff. I’ve yet to make it to Seattle so I know very little about the city and its taxi situation. (I have been wanting to go for quite some time!) Years back we used to have similar problems late at night getting a cab to take us to Brooklyn. They too would speed off or say not in service the second they heard the B word.

      When credit cards first started being accepted in cabs in NYC the machines always seemed to be broken. The story about your wife is pretty crazy. I could only imagine what was going through her head.

      The big question I have for you related to Uber- how does the price compare to regular taxis?

  2. UberX is significantly cheaper here in San Francisco. For instance, a ride from my home to SFO is typically $60+ in a regular taxi (including tip), but around $40 with uberX. In fact, with the current summer discount they are running, I recently had a $29 ride to SFO. In case you’re no good with numbers, that’s better than half price.

    More importantly they’re convenient and you don’t have to go looking for a taxi to pick you up when you want one. It’s also interesting to note that since uber has come into the market the number of broken credit card readers in taxis seems to have dropped precipitously. Regardless of which service you prefer competition is clearly making everyone try to raise the quality of their product, which is great for riders.

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