Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fractured But No Fairy Tales

Though I haven't watched much television for nearly 30 years, like so many other American children born in the 1950s ( my birth December, 1953) I was glued to the flickering tube for more hours than were beneficial but luckily I was blessed with some great and original programming like the Twilight Zone and the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and perhaps my whimsical favorite, The Rocky & Bullwinkle animated cartoon show.  Which university did I graduate from?  Why no other than "WhatsamattaU" which was the perfect preparation for that more than fictional occupation called cab driving.

Last night some deranged passenger could not stop himself from repeatedly saying how "hot" he found me while making reference to the size of a particular anatomical part. Where was Dudley Do Right when I needed him? 

And yes, where did I do my post-graduate work?  Cataleptic State conveniently located adjacent to the beautiful but depressed Phenethylamine River.   Don't drink that water!  Straight-jacket, anyone?  Our team name was the "Shockers" and our chant "ECT, ECT, Set us free!" rallied our patients, I mean, players against all comers.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, not cattle prods nor Hadol-laden syringes kept us from ultimate victory.  Another favorite cheer leader song was "Freud! Freud! All your theories are devoid!"  We found that more the obtuse we were the more confusion ruled amongst our opponents.  Us Cataleptic State students knew all about disorientation across our inter-personal nation.

Fractured certainly is Seattle's current transportation business model.  While we in the taxi industry remain shackled and limited by outmoded regulatory rules, our competition run wild, setting any rates they wish minus any real scrutiny. Tourists are particularly alarmed by the flat-rate for-hire drivers whose theoretical zip-code to zip-code generated rates allows for outlandish fares.  Who the hell came up with that anyway?  Again, no fairy tales here, only unblemished, bureaucratic, botched reality. 

Clear to me that it is time for a serious law suit against the City of Seattle and King County and the TNCs (Uber, Lyft, Sidecar)  that questions their business practices, in other words a suit based upon unfair business practices.  Over the next few months I will be attempting to again rally the taxi troops.  One wonders what CAN get the taxi industry's attention?  Hopefully starvation and the rumbling of their children's hungry stomachs will do the trick.

Taxi For-Hire In The Mail

My new for-hire license arrived while I was in San Francisco, displaying one grim looking cabbie.  It's no wonder passengers find me scary.  I can barely look at my own photograph!  One big change is the "Licensed to Operate: Taxi & For-Hire Only."   Yes, to drive Uber in Seattle you must have one.  Makes sense since nearly all the TNC drivers are taxi drivers, not the house wife out there part-time working for a new kitchen.  My last taxi for-hire?  I can only hope.  Suddenly religious, pray for me!

Nobody Wants To Be Uber

Featured in last Wednesday's (02/25/2015)  San Francisco Chronicle Business Report section was an article by reporter Kristen V. Brown (kbrown@sfchronicle.com) under the heading "A little advice to help Uber polish its rep."  Beneath that was a drawing by Chronicle artist T Fong of three stacked books, the top book entitled "Brand Image for Dummies---How to stop looking like a company that hates everything but money!"  Yes of course very funny, and Fong's second book in the pile was called "Public Relations 101."  Brown's article begins with the following two sentences:

"Uber seems to enjoy ruffling feathers.  In France, a company promotion practically equated female drivers with prostitutes, offering to pair riders with paid "hot chick" Uber drivers."  The article goes on to feature advice from six PR pros.  Adam Selwyn, from Olson Public Relations, offers the following wisdom:

"Uber has to rely on their thousands of drivers to represent their brand to the public, most of whom don't care about their company or their passengers---therein lies their challenge.  Do customers care?  As long as they are not being assaulted, overcharged and might get an ice cream or a kitten once in a while, methinks not!  But they aren't built to survive many more hits."

In its own box is "Nobody wants to be Uber"

"It may seem like every new company is pitching itself as the "Uber for X," but it turns out not many companies actually want to be known as the Uber of its industry.

In a survey of 500 small businesses by online accounting software company Xero, only 1.6 percent of respondents said they aspired to be like Uber, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's was the clear favorite, beating out not just Uber but also tech giants Apple, Google and Microsoft."

For the full article, go to SF Chronicle.com.  Thanks, Ms Brown!

That is an amazing statistic, 98.4 of the companies not wanting to be seen like Uber.  Wow!

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