I’ve been following all of the Twitter talk about the recent moves by Philly Car Share. As a very loyal and frequent user of the service, am I upset by the manner in which they handled their recent fee increase notification? Hell yes, I am! But the vitrolic criticism being levied against a service that not long ago was everyone’s darling is, in my opinion, a clear indicator of the fickleness of our society today.
Yes, they eliminated their basic free plan in favor of a $15 per month charge and they did it with only a week’s notice to their members. Yes, they screwed up royally in the PR, common sense and “let’s all play nice” departments. Yes, there are limitless questions about the way the company has been managed which led them to a point where they are quite obviously in a precarious financial position. However, what too many people appear to be failing to remember is that for all of their “let’s all be one big happy family” early intentions, what they are providing is a service which is inherently dependent on other businesses. They have insurance, fleet rental, gas, vehicle maintenance, vehicle repair, inspection and overall operating costs to balance with their altruistic intents.
Given their original demeanor and the behavior they led us to expect, would it have been better for them to be more transparent. Yes, of course it would have been. Are they going to lose members because of how they handled the situation. Absolutely, probably several. But to quote my friend @tangofoxtrot “But $15 a month – how many beers is that? To have access to a car with almost no notice, pretty close to most places….I think people are confusing business relationships with personal ones.” I agree completely.
If everyone would stop and think for just a moment what a car costs monthly – car payments, insurance, maintenance, repairs, gas and inspections. What would that cost be monthly for you? I know for me, it was hundreds of dollars. Far in excess of what I will spend with Philly Car Share, even the $15 per month charge and even if I use a car several times a month. Ok, before everyone gets in an uproar about “I can’t afford the $15 per month”. That is true for some people and in that case, maybe there are better options for those people, but in general, is that $15 a month for the convenience going to really hurt most of us? Other than hurt feelings because we think that PCS “didn’t play fair”, probably not.
Does Philly Car Share need to know how we feel about it’s actions? Yes, they do. Are there more constructive ways to do it. Yes probably. The rash of membership cancellations are probably going to be a pretty clear message. As for me, I’m sticking with them. So I have a couple less drinks each month to now fit the $15 charge in my budget, so be it. PCS has never let me down with availability or customer service so I am willing to hang in there and hope they work out their issues. And Philly Car Share, if you are listening and interested in a little friendly advice or help, let me know. I believe in you and want to see you succeed.