Taxi lines and other arbitrary policies

09Jul10

When you walk up to a taxi line at a hotel or airport, the typical protocol is to get into the first taxi in the line. But what if you don’t like that taxi company, or want a different type of cab? In most cases, the taxi drivers and venue operator would say you’re out of luck. They’ve made an agreement that customers have to board the first taxi there, and you don’t get a say in the matter.

Of course, the customer is free to challenge this policy. After all, I doubt there’s any law that says how taxi lines need to work, and customers certainly haven’t signed any document agreeing to the boarding protocol. What interests me more, though, is the impact that these arbitrary policies have on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

When there are few alternatives, people usually complain a little bit, and then just accept the policies as stated. But if a business keeps imposing arbitrary rules on its customers, it’s usually only a matter of time before a new vendor comes along with a fresh approach. In the case of taxis, this might simply mean that a taxi company starts parking across the street where there’s no official taxi line, and using bright signage in their cab windows to attract customers who are tired of the status quo.

Regardless of the type of business, it’s important to recognize that customers have a choice — even if that freedom to choose isn’t apparent today. If they’re in a big rush to get somewhere right away, travelers might not be able to sidestep your taxi line protocol and locate a better taxi option down the street. But the next time they’re faced with a similar situation, they’ll know better than to make the same mistake again.



2 Responses to “Taxi lines and other arbitrary policies”

  1. I love it, and you are so right. That is the freedom of choice America was based on?!? Not the forced arbitrary rules officials decided they wanted to make us have to be forced into like CHATTEL!! I for ONE am sick of it! I would most definitely break ranks and go across the street to a different cab right away!!! Power to the PEOPLE!!!

    evelyngarone.com

  2. Thanks for your comment — it’s nice to hear that at least one other person thinks organized taxi lines are ridiculous. After writing this post and taking a rather terrible ride in a cab, I realized another ironic aspect to the situation. While taxi companies expect you to follow their arbitrary rules, the drivers themselves often violate the policies that apply to them. For instance, I believe all Chicago cabs are required to take credit cards and to accept any length of ride. However, many cabs will go against these policies by claiming the credit card terminal is broken (so you have to pay with cash) or refusing to take any passenger who is going for a short trip down the street (since what they really want is a big-money passenger who’s heading to the airport). It’s a nasty double-standard, indeed.


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