Melbourne taxi service Silver Top has introduced a phone number recognition system that has left customers powerless to chase drivers that leave them stood-up.
The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system uses Computer Telephony Integration to bring up customer information including name and address when they call for a cab, making the call centre more efficient.
But the same feature has been used to block customers from calling to chase the whereabouts of no-show taxis.
Customers are greeted with an automated voice, rather than an operator, that informs callers their taxi dispatch has been moved ahead in the queue, but does not detail where the cab is.
Joani, a Melbourne taxi driver of 10 years said drivers will occassionally claim they had left when the customer did not appear, when in reality, they have picked up a fare on the way to collect the client.
He said he occassionally offloads his customer pick-ups – normally serviced by his own small taxi fleet – to Silver Top Taxis, and said doing so "is a nightmare”.
“I tell my customers that I can’t guarantee they will be collected if I have to use Silver Top,” Joani said.
"They might see another fare or just get anyone who is around. At least I can call my drivers and check if they have collected my customers."
Callers to a Melbourne talk-back news radio station said the system block was irritating and had prevented them from cancelling bookings, or making new ones using the same phone.
Some callers said the block can be bypassed if another phone number is used to call in.
Silver Top managing director, Kevin Gange, said in a statement on the upgrades that it improves passenger safety and driver accountability.
Silver Top Taxis has been contacted for comment.