So You Want To Take A Taxi

Here in Toronto there are several taxi companies. They range from having as little as only a few cars in one area to nearly two thousand throughout the city. Some companies operate on the street level only relying only on people waving them down and others have an advanced computer system set up to process calls from all over and send a car out over the radio. I know you’re sitting there wondering where this is all going so let me say this post is in proper phone etiquette when ordering a car to make your life easier as well as a few hints for saving yourself time and frustration in the car.

1. Know where you are. No, really please do. You’re probably in a hurry if you’re ordering a cab so make sure you can give the correct information so there are no confusions between the company and yourself. It only frustrates you and delays you when a car goes to the wrong pick up address. Telling them you’re at a bar downtown gets you nowhere.

2. Be helpful. We know you’re in a hurry but if we’re asking you a question its because we need the answer. I promise we’re not wasting your time or doing it to annoy you. Its actually important to us, so take a calming breath and just answer the questions we NEED to ask.

3. Be patient. There are only several thousand taxi cars in Toronto and a couple million people. It will be busy sometimes. Also, calling for a taxi might seem like the smartest idea you’ve had all day but you’re not the only person who feels that way in bad weather conditions.

4. Taxis have car numbers. That number on the side of the door you see? There’s a reason that driver has it. Its for identification purposes. That number is only used by that car no matter which company they driver for. Its how if you lose a purse, phone or anything really in the car we can try to trace it for you. The larger the company the more drivers work for them. For example Beck taxi has at any given time between 1600 and 2100 cars. Most of those cars have at least 2 drivers. Mathematically that means there’s a minimum of 3200 drivers working for Beck. No, they do not know who you’re talking about when you say Bob was your drivers name. Just check the car number on the door; its easier and more reliable.

4. House parties and bars or clubs. Since its the holiday season I’m going to say drinking and driving is a terrible idea and taxi companies are always the safer alternative. That being said it is the holiday and they will be busy. Plan ahead. If you know you’ll need a car at a prearranged time you can usually book it in advance. They will show up. If you’re on your way home from a very busy area of the city like the entertainment district remember thst lots of other people will be too and just because you’re nice a d won’t steal another’s cab a stranger might attempt to get yours. Names! Your parents gave you one for a reason, use it. It might seem funny or clever to say ‘Batman’ but if you’ve been drinking how likely are you to remember that phony name you gave them.

5. Call takers and drivers are people too. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it; blowing up and freaking out on the csr in store or on the phone when something is wrong. The person on the receiving end expects a certain amount of flack but name calling and cursing don’t help you or make them want to help you anymore than the bare minimum. People are not psychic no matter what some say. CSR’s don’t know what you’re thinking or what you mean as you chatter on about the ‘grey window skyscraper with the statue out front’. I know when you’re upset that you can’t always help tone of voice and word choice but try to be a little more aware; we’re not out to get you or purposefully ruin your day.

6. Mini vans are not moving trucks. Seriously. They’re not. Sure a mini van can hold quite a bit more than a car but there’s a reason the moving industry is as big as it is. They move people lives for them and that includes all the large pieces of furniture we value or need. A taxi moves people and a few extra pieces for a temporary time. We can’t move your living or bedroom for you. Ikea and all those other large furniture stores have delivery services for that purpose. We’ll help you in any way we can but we can’t do this.

7. Pets are ok. I don’t personally believe in pets as an accessory but I do believe in taking care of your animal and sometimes in order to get to the vets office you need to use a taxi. All we ask is that you let us know when you have a non homosapian companion tagging along. Not for monetary purposes but for allergy purposes. Its cruel and inconsiderate to expect someone with allergies to suffer unnecessarily when we can offer a someone who won’t sneeze nonstop or go into anaphylactic shock whole driving a car.

Lets say you’ve now gotten a taxi and something is wrong, I can help with that too.

1. Dirty/Smelly car. Of course get out if its too much but feel free to open a window if you’re willing to muscle through. We also encourage you to let us know. People sitting at the office headquarters can’t tell there’s a problem until we’ve been told and then we’ll do whatever we can to remedy the situation as soon as possible. Just call us with that number on the door and we’ll fix it.

2. Rude/Insulting driver. I would like to believe this doesn’t happen but in reality it can and does. Let us know! A company that relies on its customer service never likes hearing about a bad situation but we can deal with it and improve on it when we know improvement is needed.

Working for a taxi company means I’ve dealt with all of these situations and more. Some make me shake my head, some leave me peeved (whether at the driver, myself or the situation; I’ve done it all) and some make me laugh out loud. I’ll give a few examples.

I had been at the company for about a year and a driver called me freaking out. Why you ask? So did I. It turns out he had picked up a customer from tha airport and they had had a cat carrier with them. I know what you’re probably thinking and you’d be wrong. They did not forget the carrier. They forgot their 1.5 foot long baby alligator. Yes, alligator. It had somehow managed to get out of the carrier and was lying on the floor in the back of the poor mans car. We had no name or contact information for the customer and they’d been dropped off at a public place. All I could do was give him the animal control number and hope it turned out ok.

Remember that just because I work for a taxi company doesn’t mean I don’t have a need for them. Friends and I had gone out one night and did the responsible thing taking a taxi home since we were quite inebriated. We were chattering on and enjoying a lively conversation with thw driver when he reaches back and offers us some gum and candy. We’re drunk and everything our parents taught us about stangers and candy didn’t even register. We all popped a bit in our mouths and a few moments later he handed us a folded piece of paper.

Have you ever heard about the urban legend where someone finds out they’ve been given an STD or other illness on a piece of paper from a near stranger. I have and the second when I grabbed the paper was hugely sobering. Happily, all that was on the paper was a newspaper article about the driver and how he’d been on the Rosie O’Donnell show because he always gives away free gum and candy.

Of course I have negative experiences but its the holidays and I don’t feel like heaping negativity out into the universe at the moment so you’re getting some of my more interesting examples. I hop you enjoyed them and that my points are helpful to you if you choose to use a cab this holiday season or any time.



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