Welcome to UBER in Madrid

Madrid can finally say, since March 30th, that it is an #Uber City. It has been a long battle for Uber to get legalized and at least IMHO the solution which has been found is a very good one.

Of course the Taxi drivers are all at war and say it will destroy jobs. I would be interested to see real numbers since people who drive for Uber, at least in Madrid, are professional drivers for which they are working.

I am big fan of Uber ever since I have first tried it out in London. Traveling a lot Uber delivers a kind of advantages which are at least to me very important. Most importantly I have in 98% of the cases very friendly drivers with very comfortable cars. Let me make a small comparison:

Here are my reasons pro UBER:

  • I can choose the type of Car which picks me up and I know who my driver will be. Even better I put into the App the destination and we can both see which route should take. Avoiding “friendly detours” foreigners can experience with the consequent uplift on the charge
  • I pay automatically with Credit Card without any surcharge / Uplift (in the UK for example 10% uplift to pay with VISA) neither do I have to discuss why I want to pay with credit card or if I have cash instead
  • I get the receipt via email with all details which I can simply add to my expenses
  • Arriving at the destination I have no wait time to pay, receipt. Just get out of the car and say “Thank you”
  • They are using the data of all the trips in order to calculate constantly the best route which will be default lead to better & faster trips and lower prices.
  • In most of the cases I have used Uber I get little extras like “is the music of your liking”, “is the temperature ok”, “would you like some water”
  • In the very few cases where I had a problem (actually in total 2 in 2 years) I could reach out to Uber and the problem was resolved in 30 minutes

Here are my reasons why I think that Taxi needs a reform:

  • Taxi prices have gone up basically constantly over the last years always linked to the fuel price as the argument. Fuel prices have dropped from 1.4€ the liter Diesel to 1€ or even less the liter Diesel. Why do we customers not feel that?
  • Pay with Credit Card can lead to important Uplifts, 10% in the UK for VISA!!!, or you can have a long discussion why you do not pay cash (Spain mainly)
  • Taxi have to have a certain standard and I always wonder especially in Madrid why I have to pay the same to a guy who decides to buy a Dacia Lodgy (list price around 11.000€, there shall be important discounts for Taxi) than for a guy who decides to buy a more environmental friendly car like a Prius or even a Mercedes which gives me more comfort ?
  • I have been twice to Paris with a Taxi strike. Whilst I do not really care since I always use either UBER or Moto-Taxi in Paris it is interesting to see how they can simply block an entire city defending their rights. What about the passenger rights ?

It has been years now that I have not taken a Taxi in Madrid but in general I think that competition is good for everybody. This makes the market better. I am sure that even Taxi drivers remember when Telefonica was a monopoly. The service was terrible, and the price was sky high. Now with competition everybody makes an extra effort to contend the customers and retain them.

I understand that Taxi have a license which is traded at very important amounts which is basically their retirement when the time comes. There might be a real thread for them or there is a real opportunity to finally listen to us customers and adopt the way they offer their service.

Last but not least opening up the market has always been good. Look at the economies with less restrictions like the UK the unemployment is very low. Spain with very high restrictions and complex legislation is at 20%….


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Everything Counts in Small Amounts

In todays world one of the things I heard a lot is you have to look a the bigger picture and the all-time-great “Think Big”. There is not need to argue that point however it seems to be forgotten ever so often that all things big are composed of a lot of small pieces.

How often do I hear from friends and colleagues “what can I do, I am just…” well it all has to start somewhere and with somebody. This is the typical snowball effect, first it has to snow, then the snow has to get compacted and than it has to start rolling. But it all starts with a small and insignificant snowflake. The thought of being insignificant, not being heard is probably one of the best reasons (could also say excuse) to not do anything. Also I have to admit it tends to be more comfortable to just float along and not make any noise.
It just does not go with my nature to simply shut up, say yes and move on. I have an opinion and even better I try to make a difference when I can.

I have spent my recent holidays in Myanmar. It was a great experience. I have to say I have never come across friendlier people in my life and it was just very gratifying to see so many people smiling. This is not because I was a walking dollar (which did not really feel) but it was genuine in the people to smile and take life as good as the possibly can. There was not a single place I have visited in which people did not invite for a tea and a little snack.

Moments like when I gave 1000 Kyatt (which would be like 0.70€) to an old man who was very friendly asking for some help. He put a huge smile on his face and came back with three bananas as a sign of gratitude !

Another moment was visiting a public school in a village. I was impressed by the discipline the kids had and how they really paid attention to their teachers. But maybe even more impressive was to me how the kids (they were probably below 12 years) after their morning prayer sat down and simply started to look at their books, they wanted to learn !!!! A small gift like a ball point pen was received like a real treasure by each of them. Think about the kids we have in our environment. Can they really learn if they do not have the latest iPAD ?


Maybe one of the most impressive moments for me was visiting a Orphanage at the Inle Lake. We have been received by one of the girls who lived in the Orphanage. She was 15 and spoke an almost perfect english. She showed with pride the place which was impeccable. It was very clean and had an atmosphere which was not filled with sadness or grieve. In contrary she seemed to be very happy to have a good place where she was safe and could prepare herself for the next step in her life which is going to the University. Her goal and ambition is to become a tourist guide. When asking what could be done to help the orphanage or the girls directly they responded that they would need to have some additional clothing. When back in Yangon it was a visit to the market with Sheila, the guide and it took just a bit more than 50€ to dress more than 8 girls who are going to go to University and 4 of the little ones. 50€… just think about how much we spend on a pair of jeans or a dinner … It is sometimes very easy to produce a smile on the face of the people. Does this little gift of 50€ make a difference in a population of 50 Milion ? Alone probably not but if you put this into the light of the millions of tourist who visit Myanmar every year for sure it would make a difference. Having received today the foto of the girls who have received their new garments was a wonderful gift.



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