Mindful of the impending tube strike, we had booked a car to take my elderly mother-in-law to the London Clinic for an important operation this morning. The car booked for an 8am sharp set-off and so was requested to be there ten minutes earlier. At 08:54 I telephoned to enquire as to the car’s whereabouts and was informed that they had yet to even allocate a driver!! At 08:00 I was put through to someone so that I could make a complaint. The woman I spoke to was unapologetic, unsympathetic and totally unable to give me any indication whatsoever as to when we could expect an allocation of a driver, other than to inform me that there was a tube strike and it might be up to an hour or more. Great!
The whole point of making a "BOOKING" for a car well in advance – two days in our case - of a known event (like this tube strike) is to ensure that we had the job booked and a car reserved for this critical journey. We bothered to check with them yesterday to confirm and be reassured that, notwithstanding the tube strike, we would definitely have a car there on time. My wife spoke to their customer services personnel and said that if there was any possible doubt, that we would make alternative arrangements. No, we were categorically assured that the car would be with us by our specified time (8am) and that they would ring us 10 minutes beforehand to confirm the driver’s details. These assurances were wholly fictitious.
In the event, I rang at 08:54 to find out that a car had not in fact even been assigned to this booking and that they had been busy taking on and fulfilling other customers' subsequent bookings - despite our booking having been made well before these others.
This behaviour is a total disgrace, dishonest, disreputable, and, in these specific circumstances that were so fully disclosed to them, utterly shameful and callous. They KNEW the importance and nature of this journey and they gave us every reassurance that the booking had been fully accepted and that the car would be there on time. They lied. They hadn't allocated a driver at all, at any point, in advance of our scheduled set-off time.
Worse, they took our booking based on a total deception and gave us no warning whatsoever that they would not in fact allocate a driver to the job, thereby denying us any reasonable notice or ability to make alternative arrangements so as to get an elderly lady - who was apprehensive and under enough stress as it was - to hospital in time for her operation. In the end - having cancelled the job - I received a text at 08:38 to say the driver had arrived and gave me his mobile telephone number and vehicle Reg No. I called him to say that - although it clearly wasn't his fault - we had made other arrangements and that I had cancelled the job and my account earlier. He was polite, said he fully understood and was sorry for our hassle. At 09:20, I received a telephone call to say that my driver was waiting outside for me. This was a barefaced lie. I informed the chap that I had personal spoken to the driver 40 minutes earlier and that he knew the job had been cancelled.
On their website, they boast that account customers are afforded “guaranteed cars even during the busiest periods” and “priority status at all times”. These are wholly false statements – pure and simple – and should be removed from their website forthwith as they are trading upon false pretences. They should also, at the very least, impose ethical systems and controls such that they warn people when booking in advance that they will not in fact allocate a driver to the booking at that time and that, indeed, they do not guarantee to do so necessarily at any time in advance of the required time of pick up – however much time in advance of such the booking is made.
These business practices are shameful, unethical and downright dishonest and should be brought to the attention of a trusting public through as much media coverage as possible. They are not worthy of anyone's trust and should not be trusted at all where an advance "BOOKING" is required. This is a matter of public interest and since, as they confirmed to me this morning, that they are neither regulated nor accountable, I feel obligated to try and see that the “reality” of their business practices gain maximum public awareness. In circumstances, like ours, where someone has to get to a hospital for an operation, it is essential that the public are not misled in this way. It is unethical and dangerous.