Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Taxi Driver Perspective: Not Every Incident Needs to be Reported

'Sir Nelspruit' informs the following on 04/09/2012:

I must admit I have been amused to read your blog and some of the posts.

As a cabby, I realise that yes there are certain incidents that must be lodged and corrective action needs to be taken.

In fact I myself complained against a driver (whose vehicle number incidentally was mentioned in 1 of the complaints made here subsequently). That driver received a 2 week ban and fine from LTA for my complaint.

Yes, genuine complaints should go to LTA as you suggest.

However why my amusement? I think you take things a bit too far and have become over-zealous in your pursuit. Doing so will eventually trivialise the efforts you seek to root out the really bad drivers - those who cheat, overcharge and abuse passengers.

Why I say this? Because you advise every single complainant to refer the matter to LTA. There are certain things like mentioned above that needs drastic enforcement action, but other actions should be done in the appropriate forum (or agency).

You shouldn't be advising complainants who have accidents, near accidents to write to LTA. That is the purview of Traffic Police. Similarly some rude drivers will not be investigated by LTA, that goes to the respective company. In fact LTA has laid the groundwork in dealing with complaints. I'm sure you can retrieve this from their website and post it here.

The issues I mentioned earlier for sure they will investigate but other things are to be done by the respective companies or agencies. But if you advise the public to swamp LTA with every single issue, they will begin to treat some of these with a certain degree of indifference, especially if they realise (I'm sure they should have by now) that these cases were referred by you. These officers are also humans remember and as a former law enforcement officer myself, it's rather to common to suggest - 'Oh here's another complaint send in by that 'complaint queen - teo lee fung'.

I may well be wrong and you can easily say, that it's wrong for them to adopt such an attitude, but as I said, they are humans too, and it's human nature to begin to trivialise things that keep coming for every single thing from 1 source.

And don't forget, LTA is duty bound to hear and investigate both sides. Just because somebody posts something here, doesn't mean it's the whole truth. The driver has a right to defend himself or present a completely different take on what is reported.

I am not taking their side here, but just stating the facts. Some of the complaints here, are rants and you know it. You shouldn't be advising them to write to LTA as such. Disputes over who said what - these are trivial, no matter how the victim sees it. These must be taken up with the company or perhaps a better avenue to shame the driver is to Stomp it or write to the press. I'm sure doing this serves the purpose of the complaint.

Just because a driver goes the wrong way or a slightly longer route does not mean the driver is ill-intentioned to cheat. I have genuinely done this myself sometimes, but I remedy it by offering a fair discount. Anyway I also take cabs and I'm sure you do as well, and it's really very easy to spot if a driver is purposely taking you on a ride. These complaints you can correctly advise to write to LTA as it comes under their purview.

Overcharging, using vulgar language, abusing passenger - these too should go to LTA. But being rude, curt, refusing to help with luggage or some incidents here where driver had a dispute over a $50 note or ran after the pax and shouted - please lah, this one not LTA job.

And you shouldn't brandish all drivers under the same brush. There are good drivers, normal drivers, stiff drivers, slow drivers, 'really blur' drivers as well the bad ones, even those bordering on the criminal side of things. The latter are the ones you should 'sharpen your knives for' or in this case, your pen on.

Of course it's easy as you suggest to dismiss what I say, 'if you can't stand the fire get out of the kitchen' or this is the service industry, it goes with the territory. However the taxi industry here, for drivers that is, is a bit unique. Yes, there is a service to be provided but it's also a self-employment business largely with some guidelines. The primary duty of the driver is to send a passenger from point A to B in the shortest manner, or in a manner requested by the customer.

Let's face it, I can be the best ever driver you meet, super polite, helpful, honest etc, but in the end, big deal. It's not like it's gonna make much difference as long as I take from Point A to B, moreover it's not like you are gonna be taking my cab all the time.
You don't care about the driver as long as he fulfils the primary requirement why you decided to take a cab, to get to your destination. Of course this doesn't mean I can drive crazily or abuse you.

So what I say is this, no need to bother about drivers who appear unfriendly, never smile, are curt. There are always a few like that. But they mustn't cheat and abuse. Some older drivers or middle aged men are like that. These all no need to bother, no need to tip or talk much. Maybe can feedback to the company, that's it. LTA is not gonna suspend them, the company is not gonna fire them (they need to rent their vehicles out remember), nobody is gonna do anything about them, as long as they did the job they were paid to do - send you in the shortest possible way without abusing you.

I am not gonna write about my complaints about passengers because as you say, we are in service industry, we know what comes with the territory. And who can I complain to? Or what purpose does it serve me, as long as the passenger didn't assault me or refuse to pay my fare?

I will be glad to write further if you want and maybe I can offer an insight to some things and maybe even advise. I am not perfect and yes have my faults too, just as I explained to a customer last week, about the route I took. I don't cheat but sometimes I do ask customers for destination before hand, because some days I am tired, and really don't have the energy to go full blast. But I have to drive nonetheless, to earn the minimum for my family and to pay the rental. But I don't do this frequently, although I know it's wrong by law, but that is a risk I feel I have to take sometimes. Just like crossing the road, not everybody is gonna use the crossing, or driving at 60kmh on normal roads, no driver is gonna travel 60kmh on every single road all the time. Sometimes we go 70 or 80, when it's clear to do so. But we do so, knowing that it's risk that if we get caught, we get a fine.

Anyway I wish you well in your endeavours.
Thank you for your considered response at length. We will let the readers make up their minds on whether they should take our advice to report all instances to LTA or heed your recommendation that they ought to practise discretion. Please feel free to submit more of your thoughts - the readers can only benefit from such information.

1 comment:

  1. Ok thanks, I will try and advise most of the cases reported here. What is the proper action from a legal perspective and what is the perception of a cabby. So I can give 2 viewpoints. Obviously this is only advise, there is no obligation to follow and people may wish to take what action they feel comfortable with.
    I will answer the most recent complaints if I can and those in future.