Undoubtedly, Ola is cheaper! One cant but feel the sanguine happiness with app based cabs after experiencing haggling with rapacious Auto-rickshaws and Yellow-Black taxis. But, Ola’s peak hour fare multipliers leaves us wondering if our karma is catching up? Are we condemned to suffer? Or will a sense of fairness from operators, even if market enforced, will eventually come to the rescue?
I used to pay Rs. 500 for rides back from airport to residence using FastTrack – a taxi-fleet operator – cursing often the fleece. Ola offered rides back home from Airport at about Rs. 200! I switched. So did several others. But recently when I landed at Chennai airport at midnight and ordered a Ola cab, the app asked me to confirm a 1.5x fare multiplier. The reason was ostensibly to motivate more taxis to operate at that hour so that at least I am not stranded. I promptly closed the app and retried. Same message. I closed and took FastTrack at Rs. 500/- instead!
Now, you may think I am quite irrational having paid Rs. 200/- more to FastTrack, when 1.5x times would have been still about Rs. 300? But at that minute I felt being unfairly treated…being taken advantage of…even feeling blackmailed. I am sure several others have felt somewhat similar. Worse – that feeling of having been blackmailed – lingers even today. Such unfair price practices occur in several other areas too: airline tickets, “tatkal fares” of Indian Railways, hotel reservations, etc.
Fairness is a component that needs to built into every business model as a fundamental strategy. Otherwise, consumers will treat business with contempt and at the first available opportunity switch. Consumers may, at times, switch even at his/her expense.
How does one integrate fairness in such business models? One may consider usual pricing for regular consumers. In fact, I think this will be one of the best techniques to increase loyalty base.
Let me know if there are other techniques?