Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Taxi-onomy: Is Anyone Beyond the Licensing Board Watching the Company Store?

The public face of Nashville's United Cab Co. and a public relations nightmare in this morning's Tennessean:

United Cab office manager Cherrie Machado said [Cab Triver Ibrahim] Ahmed had worked at that company only "two or three days" before Sunday's incident [allegedly attempting to run over customers] and that company officials did not know of his prior offenses [high speed chase with police and driving under a suspended license]. It was not immediately clear what company he worked for previously.

"Evidently we need to work on our policy," she said. "We've not had a situation like this before. We want to keep our drivers safe and our passengers safe — that's our policy.

"We may just need to do some further screening on our own instead of depending on the licensing board."
Ms. Machado is stating the obvious on the score of needing to do some further screening and more work on their policy in general. What I want to know is this: how can she be sure that her company has never had a situation of hiring drivers with police records if they don't do any screening or checking beyond the application? If United Cab does not screen for potentially unsafe drivers, how can they claim that customer safety is their policy? I detect bad faith.

Also, take note of her finessed passing of the buck to the licensing board, as if companies require regulation to do the right thing. But hold on; don't market enthusiasts preach that companies will naturally do the things to protect their customers without the external motivation provided by regulations? Nashville cab companies will obviously do the bare minimum required of them, at least until a customer is almost killed. Then they have to think about all of those legal liability costs eating into their profit margins.

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