During recent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy in the U.S. or the summer flooding in Toronto, we saw how startups connecting passengers with taxi’s reacted. Uber was the most recent application to receive a storm of backlash for their surge pricing during the difficult times. An increase in the standard amount charged to dispatch a vehicle occurs when there is high demand, thus to motivate drivers to get out on the roads pricing increases. However, when the greatest storm in Toronto’s history came about the startups price gauging brings about a natural reaction: “Don’t be an asshole”.
Taxi service platforms are a helpful community service, and as such they should be provided with that in mind to continue to win or receive the public PR outcry of dismay, similar to what Uber received. We asked new Australian taxi service Ingogo how they would react in a similar situation, founder Hamish Petrie told us the following:
“A lot has been written about the storms in New York & Toronto and the response from apps. Ultimately companies should use their position in these events to help the local community. In Australia when we have natural disasters everyone chips in and it brings communities together, companies should be part of this process doing what they can to help out.”
Having previously raised $2.7million dollars the startup has now added an additional $1 million dollars toward improving the taxi travel experience. While we’ve seen Uber and Hail grab incredible market share in North America, Ingogo will utilize their new investment to help launch across new markets in Australia and internationally. Like many of the similar apps on the market Ingogo challenges traditional taxi booking services by allowing customers to directly book a taxi with their smartphone. The application also provides passengers with an alternative payment method through Ingogo’s safe in-taxi payment terminals or via virtual mobile accounts.
Currently operating in Sydney and is in a limited pilot stage in Melbourne, the application conveniently helps travellers find nearby taxi’s. But for us the real question is when difficulties arise amongst the environment can the “Australian way” persuade drivers to get on the road and help travellers? Also, we hope the startup doesn’t follow suit with Uber during disasters or better yet presents a strong PR response, such as giving back to charity or the local community revenue raised during difficult times. When a startup provides a service to make life easier within the community the best response at all times should be how will we continue to make our customer’s life easier never more difficult. Startups can learn a lot from the Uber incidents, and applying an “Australian community way of being” is an incredible way to run a business.