Lainie Anderson: Uber in Adelaide an X-tremely good taxi service

In response to today’s Advertiser Insight article below, I have sent the letter at the bottom of this page. I encourage you to reply to Lainie & the Advertiser using the links in the address bar of the letter. Regards Kym.

 

Lainie Anderson, Sunday Mail (SA)

January 21, 2017 9:00pm

Subscriber only

I CAUGHT a cab the other day. The car was immaculate, basically brand new.

The driver was friendly and fascinating – he’d once represented the Eritrean soccer team and sought asylum with his teammates after a World Cup qualifier in Uganda.

We barely had time to fasten our seatbelts before he offered us all free bottles of water and mint lollies.

You can probably guess this wasn’t a traditional taxi.

It was UberX – the perfectly-timed accompaniment to Adelaide’s growing reputation as one of the world’s must-visit cities.

We were introduced to UberX three years ago in Los Angeles and couldn’t believe how convenient, quick and cheap it was.

The drivers all raved about the opportunity, too – how they’d been able to beat unemployment or underemployment with a job that allowed them to work when they wanted and pocket the majority of each fare.

To be honest, I initially doubted we’d see the same benefits here in Adelaide, mainly because of our lack of population density and our traditional reluctance to embrace anything new.

A man holding a smartphone showing the Uber app.

Despite the taxi industry’s continuing keenness to spread doubts about the quality of UberX, it does work here and it works really well.

If you’ve never tried it, here’s a quick explanation.

You download the Uber app on your phone and create a profile which includes your online banking details.

When you need a cab, you enter your destination and the app instantly tells you how much the UberX fare will cost and how long before a driver will arrive. In inner-metro areas, it’s usually within minutes.

You click on your preferred driver (they’re rated by customers after every fare, so you know what standard to expect) and then you watch the car heading your way on the map until it pulls up beside you on the kerb.

When you reach your destination, no money changes hands but, within minutes, you receive an email with a receipt of the fare that’s been debited from your nominated bank account.

It’s that easy.

And as I said, it’s cheap. A cab fare from the Adelaide Hills to the airport has been slashed from $70 to less than $45.

Late-night fares from the city to outer-metro areas such as Bridgewater have been almost halved to around $30, making a big night out in the city much more enticing.

Multiply that by people signing up to Uber across Adelaide (not to mention all the interstate and international tourists who can now use the same Uber app in 555 cities worldwide) and that must have flow-on benefits for Adelaide’s night-time economy too.

Now, while singing the praises of UberX, I have no desire to see the demise of the traditional taxi industry.

I agree that all UberX drivers should be properly accredited or face fines and sympathise with taxi companies trying to compete when they’re still paying down exorbitant licence plate fees and overheads.

Just as I sympathise with traditional hotels competing with Airbnb, newspapers competing with free online media outlets, retailers competing with online stores and city restaurants competing with small bars and food vans.

How do the best businesses survive in this rapidly changing world?

By focusing on their strengths, value-adding to remain price competitive, enhancing the customer experience and fiercely promoting their long-established brands.

Therein lies part of the problem for the taxi industry in South Australia: over the years, the brand has been eroded by ever-rising fees that haven’t been matched by ever-improving customer service.

Of course, there are some great taxi drivers out there in cabs that are a pleasure to be in but the sad truth is that there are many others bringing the industry brand down.

I read this week that taxi companies have suffered a 15 per cent hit to passenger numbers since Uber arrived on the scene last year – and I’m surprised it’s not more.

Maybe it’s time they focused less on Uber and more on giving their customers an exceptional experience worth writing about.

From: Kym2

Date: 22/01/2017 7:00:05 PM

To: lainie.anderson@news.com.au

Cc: Advertiser

Subject: Insight 22/01/17

Hello Lainie,

I have just read your Insight article in the 22nd of January 2017 Advertiser and although it appears you have written a balance article to the il-informed, I need to make a correction to it.

Uber or UberX are NOT legal in Adelaide.

If you do not believe me, ask the DPTEI or Minister Stephen Mullighan and his Chief of Staff, Mr. John Bistrovic by phoning  8402 1992.

You are promoting an illegal company and service, and whilst you do that you put the public at risk beside destroy the livelihoods of many small businesses.

Uber are cheaper because they are illegal, both the booking service and the vehicles.  They also are not adhering to the safety regulations to keep the public safe as required by the State Government and are subsidising fares and fines to the tune of 2 Billion dollars in 2016 world wide.

How can any legitimate industry compete with this.

I respect your opinion but you should not be promoting an illegal service. What’s your next promotion, buying fish from illegal fisherman of maybe prescription drugs from the back of a car, use an unlicensed electrician or plumber?

Regards Kym Woolford.

(vhw@bigpond.com)

 

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