This afternoon a new Taxi booking app hit the App stores and promises a “rewarding move for both passengers and drivers” – always one to live in hope I rushed to download it and hailed my first cab just 30 minutes ago.
13CABS is a CabCharge company which books jobs for more than 6,000 Taxis across Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.
In the last 12 to 24 months the pressure has been on existing taxi operators to compete with Uber and there’s been one key difference – the Booking Apps. Existing taxi booking apps have been a poor attempt at customer interaction so the news of a new app was one I greeted with anticipation.
From a customer perspective, the new app does not allow drivers to “cherry pick” jobs as they can’t see the destination until the passenger is in the car.
13CABS Chief Operating Officer, Stuart Overell said “This improvement is in direct response to feedback we’ve had from both passengers and drivers. With this update now in place passengers can be confident they’ll be picked up as fast as possible this festive season.”
“The new app will change the way passengers interact with our drivers, simplifying the entire booking process thanks to a more intuitive app experience. A time-saving improvement, passengers can now order a taxi with literally two taps of the app.”
So – I put it to the test. I arrived at the radio station for my show tonight, and went out to the corner and dived straight into the app to book.
I didn’t enter a destination – because to the likely disgust of the driver, I just wanted to go round the block to test it out.
I requested the cab, and was greeted by an interesting screen.
I had submitted my request, and what was this game? SNAKE! Awesome.
I played, then unfortunately couldn’t get out of the game. My only option seemed to be to cancel the booking.
So I played more.
Then waited. Finally a text came through confirming a cab booking. A little while later the App reflected the same thing.
4 Minutes, he was around at Star City. But he didn’t move. For seemingly ages, several minutes. Then the car on the map started doing strange things, rolling around in circles on the map, not following roads. This went on, for a long time.
Then, with the map reflecting him still way over near Star City, but clearly now en route – he appeared in front of me.
The app never did catch up.
Interestingly, the driver didn’t have the app, he was just using the standard radio booking screen for cabbies.
We went for a little drive, enjoyed some ColdPlay and John Lennon – Ted’s got a decent voice on him actually.
When he pulled up, I told him I was paying in the app. He asked if I had cash or a card. Nope.
He pressed a lot of buttons, and with the CabCharge machine chose App and after a minute or so of all this, confirmed it was paid.
I walked back to work.
I’m not saying the app is a failure, but I wouldn’t use it again.
Sorry 13CABS, but if this app was Uber, it was the first go and it would never have made it to the public.
I caught an Uber earlier today. Two taps to book, no long wait for the job to be accepted, and an accurate map of the drivers location and when the ride is over, I just hop out.
If I need to explain to the driver how the payment mechanism works, that’s strange.
If I can’t rely on the map I can’t use the map as a guide to when I should be standing on the curb.
Snake is a great addition, very smart move. But the map needs a lot of work, and the drivers need to know that payment is simple.
In reality, the cab industry has much bigger problems than just a booking app – as evident by this line from their announcement today: “As part of the launch 13CABS has also partnered with Ambi Pur to eliminate odours and keep cars smelling fresh, an often overlooked but important finishing touch for passenger’s comfort.”
All that said, be clear, it’s a leap forward for the industry, and it will get you a cab. I just think the process is smoother for the passenger using Uber.