2016 the year of the sounds of Silence?

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2016 started with some sad news for all of those who like music. David Bowie has passed away but not without leaving one last record / CD for us. David Bowie entered my personal life in 1986 when I actually bought my first LP (yes those big round things that had music on them, could get scratched). I remember that I bought it at Tower Records in New York on my first trip to the US.Whilst in press after his death the main theme seemed to be Ziggy Stardust, to me he will be always Mayor Tom. RIP David Bowie

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On November 7th the very sad news of the death of Leonard Cohen has arrived. Again I was probably ignorant because I did not consciously hear of him prior to the 1990’s. I was sitting with some friends and we were talking about rough, smoky voices. Inevitably  Leonard Cohen was mentioned. Saying that I did not know him did not necessarily increase my popularity but the good news was that it could be fixed. I bought immediately my first Leonard Cohen CD. It captured me from the very beginning. “First we taken Manhattan” was the first song which went under my skin.

I am not always consciously listening to music but with Leonard Cohen I have learned to really listen to the lyrics as well. The capture me every single time. He had a voice that just made me want to listen. Who by Fire became my absolute favorite song and I cannot resist but to share this fantastic version

Leonard Cohen was what has been denominated a Gentleman, appreciative and humble. He had a special love for the country which I have chosen as to be my home, Spain. Once again I have to say that I regret for not having paid always the right attention to things. His speech when he received the “Principe de Asturias Award for Literature” is worth listening too. It is full of gratefulness and beauty. It is to me a real shame that the Nobel Foundation has chosen Bob Dylan instead of him.

He did not leave without giving us his last present. You want it darker makes it clear that he as well knew that his end was close.

Whilst we continue to be able to listen to the gift they gave us with their lyrics and music, both will be missed, at least by me!

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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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