Sometimes, when you’re at work, all you want to do is write a longwinded complaint letter that you know will get you nowhere. Because somebody, somewhere is going to have to read the fucker.
Dear Customer Relations
I am writing to bring to your attention a recent experience I had when using Addison Lee and the support that followed.
On Saturday the 14th of November I used Addison Lee to transport musical equipment on a return journey between Deptford/Greenwich and Lee High Road. The distance is 1.72 miles and on average 4 minutes in each direction using RAC’s route planner. Both drivers were incredibly helpful on this day, providing a friendly service which exceeded our expectations and we tipped them accordingly. The price quoted for this journey was £11.00 each way.
On Monday 16th of November at around 6.40pm I requested a people-carrier for one passenger citing the transportation of 8 pieces of equipment, around half of Saturday’s load. This journey between South Greenwich and Deptford was 0.5 miles and on average takes 1 minute according to the same route planner. The taxi was ordered for “as soon as possible” and we promptly moved our entire load to the driveway where the driver was due to meet us. Two people from our group waited at the destination to help unload. The price quoted was your minimum tariff of £11.
Upon arrival at the departure point at 6.52pm the driver reversed into the driveway, jumped out of the vehicle, looked at our equipment and stated that there would be a five pounds additional fee as prices quoted for taxis are for transporting people only.
Myself and another group member who had waited to help load the vehicle looked at each other and after a brief calculation both concluded that the sum total for this one minute journey would be £16. Naturally we both had reservations and informed the driver that we had not previously been charged such a fee by any Addison Lee driver. At this point the driver skilfully rebranded the charge as a ‘loading-fee’ referencing additional loading time, however he failed to tell us that there was a time frame at which this fee was chargeable.
Considering that two days earlier a load twice this size had not incurred a loading-fee we questioned the charge. We said to the driver that £5 was far too much of an excess to pay on a load that we have never been charged for previously. We subsequently found ourselves surprisingly in agreement with the driver that the best course of action would be to phone your customer service team.
When I initially reached your service desk the agent passed what I believe she judged to be a delicate matter onto her supervisor, Patricia, who to my mind did not appear to recognise that this matter required any degree of diplomacy. Patricia’s first involvement in the matter was to point out that every driver has the right to charge a loading fee if overall loading and unloading time exceeds five minutes.
At this point I finally saw reason in this bizarre misunderstanding. The time taken to move these eight items 1 metre would in no way exceed two minutes. Given that there would be three people unloading at the other end this would not have exceeded one minute either. In essence the driver was, in our opinion, being intentionally vague about the charge in the first place and hiding behind a fee that he was not entitled to claim. Given that we requested the cab for “as soon as possible” it may have appeared that we had little option but to pay an entirely unreasonable fee. This, however, was not the case. Patricia told us that she would speak to the driver and then call us back.
After a brief consultation with the driver she called us back and once more had the opportunity to exercise diplomacy with us. Unfortunately she suggested that we were being unfair to the “poor driver” who was apparently sitting there waiting for and entitled to payment. She suggested that the driver had been forced to wait for us before loading began. Given that we were sitting outside awaiting his arrival and watched him pull up to the kerb this was, once more, inaccurate. What was more bizarre was that failing this suggestion Patricia once again cited an imaginary loading time of five minutes. Repeated attempts to stress that this was not the case were clearly futile, as the response we continually received appeared to imply that we were being considered liars.
The impression that we got at this point in discussions was that any excuse was being sought to charge a fee, despite none of the conditions for such a fee being present, and that we as customers were automatically wrong for simply not wanting to be exploited. May I stress that at this point three different non-existent conditions had been suggested.
Eventually Patricia stated that the best solution was for us to come to a compromise with the driver. Given that we had already tried and failed with this course of action, and subsequently contacted her as a mediator, we suggested that this was apparently not an option in the driver’s view. The conversation ended with Patricia stating that should we wish to cancel the booking we would have to pay a cancellation fee. We said to the driver that we would not pay a loading fee unless it was made more reasonable but no compromise was offered by the driver. We refused to cancel the booking and at around 7.30pm the driver elected to leave of his own accord.
The result of this jovial encounter was that we used a local competitor the following day at around the same time who charged us £7 for the journey. Incidentally we paid the driver a reasonable £10.
Following this unsavoury experience I attempted to book one of your drivers on Friday the 4th of December and was told that my telephone number was black listed for bookings due to a failure to pay a cancellation fee. Given that I did not cancel your driver at any point I would be grateful if this fee was removed from my account.
I understand and applaud that employees are justifiably entitled to support from their employers. I also understand the minimum charge imposed by Addison Lee and the necessity for such a charge. However, when somebody is paying £11 for around five minutes of professional services I feel that it is also within that person’s rights to not be charged a further 45% in phoney fees.
As you will see from my account history I am a regular Addison Lee customer. My account is also one of four used regularly to transport more equipment than we had on this day. We had never previously been charged this fee by any of your drivers. We are all approachable and reasonable people and have never failed to thank drivers both in sentiment and financially when they have made us feel valued. There are other competitors of yours who charge a lower rate however we have always used Addison Lee specifically because of your reputation for reliability and customer service.
However in this occasion we were treated with hostility and the assumption of behaving unfairly, regardless of what the situation at hand may actually have been.
The job number I am referring to is ###### and my telephone number is 555-MUG.
Since I find myself in the position of having to write this letter, I would also like to suggest that you mention to your drivers that racism and xenophobia are not particularly acceptable when engaging your passengers in conversation. I wouldn’t say that this has been a regular occurrence, but it has definitely been the case more than a handful of times when using your service and is obviously completely unacceptable.
I trust that you will consider this matter and look forward to hearing from you.
Many thanks and kind regards
P.S. Please ensure that any wizards you allow to drive your cars are aware of the value of muggle money.