Saturday, June 6, 2009

Taken for a ride in Bangalore

I’ve always felt that people exaggerate when talking about how unscrupulous auto-rickshaw drivers are. But perhaps I am looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.

We had taken a rickshaw to RT Nagar Police Station. Our relatives in RT Nagar said that it should cost no more than 25 Rupees. And that the distance would be around 4 kms.

This particular rickshaw had a digital meter, which showed not just the fare but also the distance traveled.

After we set off, we had already traveled 7 kms and RT Nagar was nowhere in sight. So we pulled out our map. Instead of traveling essentially due west, the driver (after figuring out that we didn’t have a clue but the streets of Bangalore) had turned southwest, and presumably was planning to turn northwest to reach our destination.

I knew he was taking us for a ride when we crossed the railway tracks once, and then crossed it again real soon.

“Where are you taking us? We should have reached a long time ago.” I said.
“Sir, there are a lot of one-way roads,” he said. We were going through small roads and if there were one-way streets, we didn't see them.
“It should only have been 4 or 5 kilometers. I am not going to pay you what the meter says.” It was not so much the amount but the fact that he was trying to outright cheat us.

After a very long ride, we reached RT Nagar police station. When he stopped to let us off, his digital meter showed 11.1 kms.
“Let’s go to the police station and settle this. I am not going to pay you what the meter says,” I said.
“Pay me whatever you wish to, sir,” he said.

I offered him half of what the meter showed, and to my surprise he accepted without a murmur of protest.

When we take autos now, we try and fix the fare beforehand, rather than relying on the meter.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry Ram I got no sympathy for your plight on this one.

    Considering that you derived signfiicant benefit from your airlines ability to differentially price people for the same service, I feel that the world is a better off place for somebody else doing that to you. This is the poor mans revenue management system implemented without a fancy server.

    While price gouging is a bad thing, having been an airline employee, you shouldnt complain!! As some one who has benefitted from a capitalist system, where power determines price, you again shouldnt complain.

    In my view the most ethical thing that you in particular can do is to
    ( a ) tell the auto driver to take you on the longest path to your destination
    ( b ) realize and explain to him that this problem is NP complete
    ( c ) and then pay him twice what ever he asks, plus a constant amount (just in case he asks for zero)