Uber has been better than any taxi service I have ever dealt with. It is the best way to hire transportation in any city where Ubers are approved. That being said, just because you are the best option doesn't mean you have the best customer service. The strength of a business is often its greatest weakness. In this case, the strength is its ever expandable workforce.
I had an early flight departing LAX early that morning, I had to leave my place in LA at 4:30 to make it. People often complain about traffic in LA, that morning there was none. My place is on a major street in LA, Wilshire and the building is large and easy to find. There were no other cars in sight when I noticed that a car fitting the description of my Uber drove past me, I waved my hands much like you'd expect someone who was being rescued from a sinking ship. My hands raised above my head waving, he drove right past because he was looking at his phone. Ok no big deal. I decided to call him. He did not answer. A few moments later he drove by again, once again missing me and my flailing arms.
I do not expect perfection as I am not perfect, but at some point you hope to see some improvement. I call again, no answer. It's now 4:45 and I am getting pretty nervous, even upset. Finally he drives past a third time across the street. Mind you there are no cars in the street with the exception of this wandering uber. He stops at a building that faces the building where I am standing. I end up dragging my bags across the desolate yet wide mighty Wilshire. Finally I am face to face with a man who is in his early fifties, white and balding. I ask him why he didn't answer his phone and his explanation was that he didn't get a call. my guess is that his phone was on silent.
It was was 5:05 am. I jumped into the back of the car after clearly expressing my displeasure in my usual way, sarcasm. I think my exact words were, "Must be a hard job, maybe you should try washing cars instead of driving them" While non reactive, It was an aggressive comment, and in retrospect I probably shouldn't have said anything. I am an aggressive guy. not physically, but I am very direct and I do not let things bother me, I just say what is on my mind.
He quickly responded by yelling at me and calling me a “Mother fu**er". This was getting interesting. Not the apology or service I expected at this point. My comment was tough but not vulgar. I had not expected that response. After someone starts with obscenities, it will often evolve to physical threats. I have had people threaten me in the past, I have lived in some very rough situations in some rough parts of the world, I have been spit on, beat up, stabbed and even had rocks thrown at me. But this was the first time someone representing a business had ever threatened me. I didn't feel threatened or unsafe. I am 6'2'' and 200+ lbs. It would take more than one out of control Uber driver to make me feel threatened. I was able to remain calm and asserted to him that this nonsense was over and that he would get in the car and drive me to LAX as there was no time to wait for another person to come. I did all this from the back seat of his car while he stood outside of it panting and yelling. He told me no 3 times before he gave in. My calm yet assertive attitude tends to upset people then calm them down to the point where they surrender to reason. So he got in the car and took me to the airport.
Had I not remained calm through the whole exchange, the results would have been different. He earned a one star review and there was no follow up from Uber.
I am one of the easiest people to deal with as long as attitudes are right, I have ordered food and gotten the wrong thing and had no problem as long as they were apologetic and ready to fix it. In every case, I eat what I am served. I am not high maintenance and I am easy to deal with, I never expect discounts or anything above and beyond. I am happy, that is till someone gives me an attitude at which point I turn into the calmest upset customer you have ever seen. You see, I am the customer expert. I know what employees should and should not do.
Take aways for Uber; Hey, nobody's perfect but with billions of dollars in revenue they should use this new high tech thing called a telephone and call the customer that leaves a 1 star review later in the day, or the next day after all parties have had time to step back and reflect. I know it costs money, but sometimes ya gotta spend money to make money. It's important to remember that you must wait at least 1 hour after but no longer than 12 hours after to make the call. It is important to let drama sit, if you call them at that exact moment, you will get less objectivity and more drama, as a call at that time would heighten emotions, which would end up dragging a call out and creating more call time which also creates a greater expense to Uber. Conversely if you let it sit longer than 12 hours, your company will come off as slow.
Furthermore, Any employee who uses profanity or makes physical threats should be terminated, period. No matter what your customer says to you, you are the service provider. All Ubers should be equipped with a dash cam to avoid people who would abuse this system and wrongfully accuse good drivers, which most drivers are. Uber is awesome, but like all companies big and small there is always room for a little improvement, especially when it comes to customer care. This review is about a broken system, not a broken business.
Take aways for customers; While I antagonized him a bit, I am an expert at this and don't recommend most people following my example. It felt good, but ultimately made it harder for me to get what I wanted. Remember the three three steps to dealing with unhelpful employees.
- Don't be reactive, be proactive. in other words, don't let someone else's bad behavior determine yours.
- LTM, or Let them know. It is important to tell the person whose job it is to help you what you do and don't like. Tell them what you expect as a customer of their business.
- Take it up the chain. If you are not getting what you want, the one thing an out of line employee fears most is someone up the chain of command. Eventually you will get to someone who cares. Small mom and pop shops have something they fear more than a boss, online reviews. Google and Yelp. If you allow a bad customer experience to exist you are part of the problem. Stand up for what's right and take it to the next level, always clearly restating steps one and two.
*PLEASE DO NOT ABUSE THIS SYSTEM. Karma is a nasty neighbor and as I mentioned for a business, you should wait at least one hour before you contact someone, you should also wait to leave a review. I usually do it the next day so I am not fueling a review based on pure emotions. If you want to get resolution, be factual, if you want to make a point write whatever you want. You will be discounted by all that read it because it will lack objectivity. Calmness rules the battle.
Finally, if you are in LA, and you see Marvin's face appear on your screen, you may want to hitchhike, it will be less risky.