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DonRocks

Travel Nightmare: Red Top Cab and Uber BOTH Failed Me

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You learn from my suffering.

I got to sleep at 2:15 AM, and had an alarm set for 4 AM.

I could have EASILY cleaned my car and driven to the airport.

Instead I looked for Uber (there were none), then called Arlington Red Top Cab at 4:25.

This haughty bitch got on the phone and told me I was on the list. She asked me if I wanted one right now, I said 10 minutes would be better.

I called back at 4:45 and this smug asshole got on the line, LIED TO ME by saying I'd CALLED THREE TIMES, and they canceled my original 4:25 booking and re-booked it at 4:35. And they were still trying to find a cab for me. He said the lady at 4:25 was "consulting" me. CONSULTING ME? I told her I wanted a cab.

I waited out in the cold for 40 minutes, then at 5:20, started trying to clean the ice off my car with my hands. It was too much to do in five minutes. I resigned myself to missing my 6:45 flight. I had no options left.

I LIVE 4 MILES FROM THE AIRPORT.

The bastards sent me a text message at 5:37 and canceled my 4:35 booking.

I feel like I did everything I should have done. I have a call into the airport to tell them I'm missing the flight and am on a 30-minute callback list. For whatever good that will do me.

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No idea if this will help you at this point or not... but airlines (who I assume you called rather than the airport) typically have a 'flat-tire rule' that isn't published that as long as you show up within 4 hours they'll get you on a flight at no charge, if there's a seat. Hell, I showed up 11 hours late (for a 5:15am flight that I booked instead of the 5:15pm flight, odd that they had flights with the same minute/hour but with different am/pm) and managed to get on the flight (though I likely fly more than you do so they were trying to make me happy).

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No idea if this will help you at this point or not... but airlines (who I assume you called rather than the airport) typically have a 'flat-tire rule' that isn't published that as long as you show up within 4 hours they'll get you on a flight at no charge, if there's a seat. Hell, I showed up 11 hours late (for a 5:15am flight that I booked instead of the 5:15pm flight, odd that they had flights with the same minute/hour but with different am/pm) and managed to get on the flight (though I likely fly more than you do so they were trying to make me happy).

This has a happy ending, and *unbelievably*, it was American Airlines who gave me the best customer service I've ever had in my life.

I fell back asleep this morning, missing the return calls from AA, and woke up about four hours later. I called them back, and reached an agent from Dallas named Mahana - a kind lady who turned out to be from India, she told me - and she talked to her supervisor, and they believed me. I didn't even have to provide any documentation (I have the confirmations and cancellations from Red Cab). Even though I was listed as a no-show, and my entire itinerary was canceled, they rebooked me on the same flight for tomorrow, and changed my return flight. She spent *thirty minutes* on the phone with me, and didn't even charge me any cancelation or change fees.

The previous two experiences I had with AA were both nightmares, but this makes up for both of them. I can't believe it. Angels really *do* walk this earth.

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Glad there was a good result here!  Out of curiosity, Don, when you looked for Uber and there were none available, were you just looking at one category of Uber (i.e., UberX)?  Or were there no Ubers of any kind?

I have been noticing lately a trend with UberX, where the drivers don't seem to come out until/unless there is some kind of surge in place.  The past two airport trips I've taken, I've had to use Uber Black (the original and more expensive) because there were either no UberX cars available or because the surge was so much that the Black fare actually would be cheaper.  My departure/arrival times were not particularly early or late or otherwise unusual.

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Glad there was a good result here!  Out of curiosity, Don, when you looked for Uber and there were none available, were you just looking at one category of Uber (i.e., UberX)?  Or were there no Ubers of any kind?

I have been noticing lately a trend with UberX, where the drivers don't seem to come out until/unless there is some kind of surge in place.  The past two airport trips I've taken, I've had to use Uber Black (the original and more expensive) because there were either no UberX cars available or because the surge was so much that the Black fare actually would be cheaper.  My departure/arrival times were not particularly early or late or otherwise unusual.

I looked at all categories, including SUV. I spent about ten minutes doing this, and on two occasions, there were drivers listed as five minutes away, but when I tried to hail them, I was too late, and they were gone (this was at 5 AM in icy conditions, after I had been outside in the cold, waiting for the cab for about thirty minutes).

Something is starting to smell funny with Uber. However, they didn't do anything *wrong*.

Red Top Cab, on the other hand, is guilty, culpable, and entirely responsible for this situation. If they had simply said that there were no cabs available, I would have taken my own car - I had plenty of time (at first).  If I was a litigious person, I have enough evidence for a court case here (but I'm not, so I'm just going to forget about it). Maybe someone will stumble across this post and *NOT* give Red Top Cab their business. The prick I talked to during the second phone call was *lecturing* me, and making me feel like a nuisance! All because I called back twenty minutes after I called the first time, asking where the cab was! He was talking down to me like a stern parent to a child. The first lady was nonchalant and uncaring; this man was downright hostile, and I wonder if he purposely screwed me.

I wrote Red Top Cab the single nastiest email I've ever written in my life this morning, and now I just wrote them a second one. And I signed my real name just so they don't think I'm some anonymous coward.

I just now remembered: After I had fallen asleep, a cab (Cab 40, according to my text message) *did* show up outside at 6:06 AM, and the driver called me (1 hour and 46 minutes after I first called!) I told him it was too late and that I missed my flight. He said, "I'm sorry," I mumbled something in my sleep and rolled back over (I just remembered all of this when I looked at my phone). Props to him for at least apologizing - it was not his fault, and I feel badly that he missed the fare. It was the two dispatchers' fault; not the driver - I only hope Red Top Cab management sees this and finds out who they were. And if the driver ever sees this message and wants to come back, I'll be glad to give him some money for his trouble.

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We've recently been discussing how Uber's star is fading fast, and last night was yet another example of that. I had *three* Uber drivers accept my request, and then I was forced to cancel for one reason or another each time - the second time, I got a message saying, "We found a driver closer to you!" Then, I got a car from the driver, who said he'd made a mistake, and that he was all the way in DC (I was at National airport), and could I please cancel the trip and start again. It took me thirty minutes of trying to get an Uber ride before I furiously gave up when my cell phone died, then waited in line for a taxi for another fifteen minutes after that - it took me *forty-five minutes* just to exit National Airport once I was outside, and this was *after midnight*.

Just as I grew weary of Groupon and abandoned it altogether, I'm quickly getting tired of Uber. The fares I was quoted last night ranged from $15-17, and I ended up paying $18 before leaving my benevolent taxi driver a $5 tip, so the savings is there, but is it worth it?

---

To top it all off, I just this second looked, and was charged $5 to cancel my first trip. The reason is because the driver drove *by* me, and started circling around again, and my estimated pickup changed from 1 minute to 8 minutes. They're about to receive a poison pen letter from me.

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30 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Too top it all off, I just this second looked, and was charged $5 to cancel my first trip.

You can probably get this refunded. Recently I flew from Charleston to BWI and requested an Uber. The app thought I was still in Charleston, which I didn't realize until my driver called me and I saw that he was there and I was of course in Baltimore. I had no choice but to cancel the ride, and Uber charged me $5. I don't think they used to do that. Anyway, I tweeted to them and they refunded the $5 with no hassle. To be honest, I'm not sure if the issue was with the Uber app or with the my phone (my location services were definitely on, but I have issues with GPS accuracy at times), but I didn't even go there with them and they didn't bring it up.

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1 hour ago, dracisk said:

You can probably get this refunded. Recently I flew from Charleston to BWI and requested an Uber. The app thought I was still in Charleston, which I didn't realize until my driver called me and I saw that he was there and I was of course in Baltimore. I had no choice but to cancel the ride, and Uber charged me $5. I don't think they used to do that. Anyway, I tweeted to them and they refunded the $5 with no hassle. To be honest, I'm not sure if the issue was with the Uber app or with the my phone (my location services were definitely on, but I have issues with GPS accuracy at times), but I didn't even go there with them and they didn't bring it up.

You know what my cab driver told me last night? It explains a *lot* of things that we've been discussing on the other thread.

He told me that when Uber began, it consisted largely of disgruntled cabbies who had worked for many years; now, drivers consist of any old person with a GPS on their phone, and the introduction of rank-amateur drivers is (in his opinion) why Uber is going down the tubes. 

"I've worked for 25 years," he told me, "and there were no cell phones or GPS systems when we worked - we had to know where we were going, or we didn't get tipped." I believe that he may well be right.

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3 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

the introduction of rank-amateur drivers

I've definitely noticed this. I had the most terrifying Uber ride of my life the other night. It wasn't all that terrifying, but still. The driver was not skilled.

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34 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

You know what my cab driver told me last night? It explains a *lot* of things that we've been discussing on the other thread.

He told me that when Uber began, it consisted largely of disgruntled cabbies who had worked for many years; now, drivers consist of any old person with a GPS on their phone, and the introduction of rank-amateur drivers is (in his opinion) why Uber is going down the tubes. 

"I've worked for 25 years," he told me, "and there were no cell phones or GPS systems when we worked - we had to know where we were going, or we didn't get tipped." I believe that he may well be right.

"Back in the day" it behooved bars and bartenders to know good taxi drivers and it was even more valuable for the taxi driver(s) to get to know the bars and bartenders.  There would often be people too drunk to drive.  Take their keys (if you must).  Get them a cab.  Get them home.  Frankly some of those people would be irate.  They had to be handled firmly but gently.  All the way through.  From the bars' perspectives you wanted good experienced drivers.  

I used taxis a lot in NYC.  I barely use taxis or Uber now.  Undoubtedly I want people who know where they are going and how to get there.  Getting around in traffic is a PITA.  Anyone who knows how to get around is a gift.  New people cannot know that. 

I don't use Waze.  I've heard good and bad things about it.  One of the surprising things...if a tremendous number of people start using it in a certain area and time....they reroute and create their own traffic jams.  Amazing but true.

BTW:  Have to add something.  I know graduates of the bar school have become uber drivers.  I'd trust them more to pour a good drink than to provide a good DIRECT ride.  Invariably folks from MD don't know their way around Va and vice versa (and District residents won't know their way around either suburb.

Interesting comparison above between Uber and Groupon (and Living Social).  Could very well have a similar "life span".  and a further BTW.  Living Social recently sold out to Groupon for a very marginal price.....and nobody gave a hoot.    I wonder about the life span of Uber and Lyft.

 

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I was the guinea pig of a new uber driver in Boston a couple months ago.  It really was terrible.  We were not all that far from our hotel, she drove out of the way for a long period of time, despite us trying to tell her, almost hit two cars, swerved over 3 lanes to take an exit and went through an ezpass only entrance for a toll road without an EZPass.  I got refunded for the part of my route that took too long, and it was way way too long.  BUT I wasn't refunded for the whole thing despite it being a terrible experience and taking time away from my night.  We got back to our hotel physically stressed out from the whole thing.  She was also using the new Uber directions app- not google maps or Waze and wow it was bad.  I find Waze can route you onto very, very small roads and weird routes, but it generally works well, it helped me out of a huge traffic jam on I-97 the other day, but I grew up driving small back roads and would rather drive more miles and keep moving than be stopped.  (I should have stopped at this interesting restaurant that had a packed parking lot along one of those back roads, but I didn't know my husband was eating dinner without me.)

I live next to a cab stop in Arlington and prefer cabs most of the time. Although if you use ONLY Uber black car, they are mostly very experienced, their rates are just a bit higher.

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21 hours ago, DonRocks said:

You know what my cab driver told me last night? It explains a *lot* of things that we've been discussing on the other thread.

He told me that when Uber began, it consisted largely of disgruntled cabbies who had worked for many years; now, drivers consist of any old person with a GPS on their phone, and the introduction of rank-amateur drivers is (in his opinion) why Uber is going down the tubes. 

"I've worked for 25 years," he told me, "and there were no cell phones or GPS systems when we worked - we had to know where we were going, or we didn't get tipped." I believe that he may well be right.

I moved to DC at the cusp of the Uber revolution, 2010. Right after they got rid of zones, and 1.5 year before Uber. Living in Capitol Hill, I could never get a cab. One night, we were stuck and waiting to try to get up to H St, and ended up asking a Domino's pizza delivery van to take us. He did it for like $40. When I was in the city in NW, if I told them where I lived, they wouldn't take me home. When I would say "You have to take me, it's the rules" they would say "Call the cops". I would eventually find a taxi and lie a bit about how far SE I was. They would have stickers on the windows saying they took credit cards. When I get in the car, they would tell me the machine is broken and make me go to an ATM. I decided not to tell them until the end of the ride, and then they would say the machine was broken, and I'd say "I have no money and no debit card". Somehow, the machine would magically be fixed. When I first visit DC in the zone-era, I was in NW, no smart phone so didn't know distances, and got in a cab. Asked to go to a place that was literally 1/2 mile but crossed a zone line. "$13" "Um, you drove me for 1 minute" "Yes, but we crossed zones". Turns out his credit card machine didn't work either. I had friends that would meet me in the city that lived in Bethesda. We would wait a very long time before someone would take her home. Trying to meet someone for a date in Arlington meant definitely taking the Metro, even though it was only 6 miles away and an easy fare for the taxi driver. Let's also not forget that year we were bombarded by the taxi drivers about the election and what an a-hole Mayor A.F. was (if he was or wasn't, I didn't need the taxi drivers to hand out pamphlets about him). I will say more than half the drivers needed directions to my place (that was a DC thing, NYC taxi drivers knew where they were going).

And, I wonder if any of you are an African American male? If there are few that want to speak up about trying to catch a taxi in DC or NYC at night in the 2000s, I'm sure it would be helpful. I bet those folks might be quite big Uber fans. Though, there is data that Uber and Lyft have some issues with that, as well. In NYC, certain areas were pretty much taxi free zones (certain parts of the Bronx and Brooklyn is where I had gotten stuck) for years. You had either private black cars or jitneys that were not exactly regulated or safe. I think the people in outer boroughs, and in other suburbs, and exurbs are probably pretty happy about the existence of Ubers (helps my elderly parents out a lot, not too many taxis in Rochester Hills, MI). 

Let's dispel the fiction that taxis were amazing in the good old days, and let's also not forget that because of Uber, they now take always credit cards, they now have mobile apps to summon them, and they now will actually cross the river. But, try being a person of color over by Potomac Station Metro trying to catch one. Not much has changed for that... 

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28 minutes ago, Simul Parikh said:

Let's dispel the fiction that taxis were amazing in the good old days, and let's also not forget that because of Uber, they now take always credit cards, they now have mobile apps to summon them, and they now will actually cross the river. But, try being a person of color over by Potomac Station Metro trying to catch one. Not much has changed for that... 

Yes, Uber did a LOT to improve taxi services! (They are the Napster of taxi services in a way.)  And there are places and times where Uber is essential and/or vastly cheaper.  And if you want a better service pay a little more for the black car, seriously.  Uber will still potentially discriminate against people based on their destination or name.  I liked the system previously when you didn't have to enter your end address and pay with apple pay to call the cab.  http://fortune.com/2016/10/31/uber-lyft-discriminate-blacks-women/

And I am lucky to live very close to two taxi stands (and in Virginia), so it is quicker to take a cab and cheaper than a fare sometimes and especially if there is a multiplier fare I will use a taxi.  Coming home from being out we use Uber a lot more because taxis aren't necessarily readily available.  My husband vastly prefers Uber black and uses it all the time.  I will say though a taxi driver isn't necessarily more likely to live here longer or know the roads any better, especially DC cabbies, some do. Not compared to Uber black car though, those guys are professionals. 

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I have to say, despite the (minor) issues I've had, I really appreciate Uber, especially now that I no longer live downtown. I (a white female) never had an issue hailing a cab in DC or anywhere else, but it's just not possible to hail a cab where I live now. It's so nice to be able to press a button on my phone and have an Uber appear in front of my house 5 minutes later. I live about a mile from the Beltway between downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda, so there's never an Uber too far away (at least in my experience so far). Also, Uber is about half the price of a cab from my house to BWI ($40 versus $80). My opinion might change if I'm left strung out to dry before a flight, but so far so good (overall).

47 minutes ago, ktmoomau said:

Not compared to Uber black car though, those guys are professionals.

That's interesting about Uber Black. I've only used Uber X and Uber Pool (a great and cheap option if you're not in a hurry). I was under the impression that Uber Black drivers had nicer cars, but I never thought about the quality of the driving.

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Do you report the bad drivers?  I had a terrifying ride to the airport once in broad daylight piloted by a woman who changed lane without checking which almost caused a crash.  Shaken by the incident, she slowed to 40 mph on the Dulles express lane.

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I have a question for folks here: I had what was arguably the single-most disappointing hotel experience of my life last night. Our Professionals and Businesses Forum is "positive comments only," etc., but I'm wondering if we should allow people to lay into places that really screwed them over. I don't want to devolve into a website of negativity, but certain people and places need to be called out. What do you all think?

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Isn't that what yelp, Angies List etc tend to cater to (broadly)?  I really do not care for negative stuff (here) only because I think we all deal with enough of it in everyday living.  One of the nice(r) aspects of this site is people tend to be honest and despite a bad or marginal experience, address in a more positive way.  Not always, but certainly a majority of the time - makes for better overall environment or experience.

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I have found that If I'm going to D.C., UBER Black is the only one I can depend on to actually get me there on time and back in a decent vehicle. I've had too many experiences with regular UBER that results in a beat to hell car showing up with a driver who has no idea how to get anywhere. 

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1 hour ago, Ferris Bueller said:

Isn't that what yelp, Angies List etc tend to cater to (broadly)?  I really do not care for negative stuff (here) only because I think we all deal with enough of it in everyday living.  One of the nice(r) aspects of this site is people tend to be honest and despite a bad or marginal experience, address in a more positive way.  Not always, but certainly a majority of the time - makes for better overall environment or experience.

That's been my posture since day one (which is probably why we're small, esoteric, and unpopular) :); I'm wondering if we should have one thread for rants - in particular, bad travel experiences, but not in Washington, DC - maybe bury it in The Intrepid Traveler Forum: I have several travel nightmares that I almost *need* to pound out on the keyboard, for my own mental hygiene.

In general, I think there's enough ugliness on the internet, and I view this community as a respite from all the mean, hostile anonymity. That said: I built it; why aren't they coming? (That's a rhetorical question - I pretty much know the answer.)

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4 hours ago, DonRocks said:

That's been my posture since day one (which is probably why we're small, esoteric, and unpopular) :); I'm wondering if we should have one thread for rants - in particular, bad travel experiences, but not in Washington, DC - maybe bury it in The Intrepid Traveler Forum: I have several travel nightmares that I almost *need* to pound out on the keyboard, for my own mental hygiene.

In general, I think there's enough ugliness on the internet, and I view this community as a respite from all the mean, hostile anonymity. That said: I built it; why aren't they coming? (That's a rhetorical question - I pretty much know the answer.)

I think a place to rant would be fine, and particularly so if it's a place where you can help others from having a bad experience. 

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On 3/31/2018 at 11:08 AM, DonRocks said:

I have a question for folks here: I had what was arguably the single-most disappointing hotel experience of my life last night. Our Professionals and Businesses Forum is "positive comments only," etc., but I'm wondering if we should allow people to lay into places that really screwed them over. I don't want to devolve into a website of negativity, but certain people and places need to be called out. What do you all think?

I think you have to allow for balance- for instance- I just had a terrible experience at my dog groomer that I previously liked.  So bad I might switch groomers.  I want to be able to post something like that.

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On 4/2/2018 at 10:01 PM, ktmoomau said:

I think you have to allow for balance- for instance- I just had a terrible experience at my dog groomer that I previously liked.  So bad I might switch groomers.  I want to be able to post something like that.

What would you think about a "first-post positive, but then everything is allowed" policy? The only thing I'd ask is that we still maintain 1) 100 words for post #1, 50 words for posts 2-x; 2) signed with real first and last name, and 3) a general, overall positive tone, with negative reviews backed up by substance?

(These, of course, must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but I'm hardly a dictator (except with titles and tags))

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On 2/16/2016 at 5:42 AM, DonRocks said:

You learn from my suffering.

I got to sleep at 2:15 AM, and had an alarm set for 4 AM.

I could have EASILY cleaned my car and driven to the airport.

Instead I looked for Uber (there were none), then called Arlington Red Top Cab at 4:25.

This haughty bitch got on the phone and told me I was on the list. She asked me if I wanted one right now, I said 10 minutes would be better.

I called back at 4:45 and this smug asshole got on the line, LIED TO ME by saying I'd CALLED THREE TIMES, and they canceled my original 4:25 booking and re-booked it at 4:35. And they were still trying to find a cab for me. He said the lady at 4:25 was "consulting" me. CONSULTING ME? I told her I wanted a cab.

I waited out in the cold for 40 minutes, then at 5:20, started trying to clean the ice off my car with my hands. It was too much to do in five minutes. I resigned myself to missing my 6:45 flight. I had no options left.

I LIVE 4 MILES FROM THE AIRPORT.

The bastards sent me a text message at 5:37 and canceled my 4:35 booking.

I feel like I did everything I should have done. I have a call into the airport to tell them I'm missing the flight and am on a 30-minute callback list. For whatever good that will do me.

That is why I stopped calling Red Top years ago.  Even if you call Red Top the night before and schedule a cab for the following morning it appears they do nothing with that information until the following morning when close to the time scheduled they send out a call for a cab to respond and wait to see if any car picks up the call.  More often than not, they no-showed.  I gave up and just started driving to the airport and absorbing the parking fees... that is, until Uber and Lyft came along.

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2 hours ago, DonRocks said:

What would you think about a "first-post positive, but then everything is allowed" policy? The only thing I'd ask is that we still maintain 1) 100 words for post #1, 50 words for posts 2-x; 2) signed with real first and last name, and 3) a general, overall positive tone, with negative reviews backed up by substance?

(These, of course, must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but I'm hardly a dictator (except with titles and tags))

I like this!

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