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The Official Baldrige Blog

Don't Lose Your Lunch in a Chicago Taxicab

cartoon illustration of distressed rider with head out window of taxi

I was in Chicago this week. As in many cities, I had the opportunity to take a few taxi rides. Also, as in many cities, there was a placard with useful information posted for you to read to help understand the fare structure. As usual, it included information such as the rate per mile, charges for additional passengers, and the add-on fee for trips to the airport.

It also had a fee I had never seen listed before. The fee for cleaning up vomit in a Chicago taxicab is $50. That made me really curious about why that fee is called out. Is vomiting a common occurrence in Chicago cabs? Do the drivers drive recklessly to encourage that action? (Mine did not.)

So I did a little research and found that this was at the request of drivers, who could not previously force a fee on "hurling" passengers. Furthermore, the same ordinance allowing this fee has been enacted in Austin, TX, and Savannah, GA.

Naturally, my next thought was, How does this placard entry relate to the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence in the area of customer focus? The only relevant questions I could find were these:

  • How do you enable customers to seek information and support? How do you enable them to give feedback on your customer support? What are you key means of customer support, including your key communication mechanisms? How do you determine your customers' key support requirements?


About the author

Harry Hertz “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon”

I am Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon, and Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program. I joined the Program in 1992 after a decade in management in the analytical chemistry and chemical sciences laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the home of the Baldrige Program. I started my career at NIST (NBS) as a bench analytical chemist.

My favorite aspects of the Baldrige Program are: (1) the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers from all sectors of the U.S. economy who serve as volunteers in the Baldrige Program, who participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and who represent Award applicants at the forefront of the continuous journey to performance excellence, and (2) the intellectual challenge of synthesizing ideas from leading thinkers and from personal research into Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence and other blogs that tackle challenges at the “leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice,” and contribute to the continuous revision of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.

Outside of work I spend my time with family (including three beautiful granddaughters), exercising, baking bread, traveling, educating tomorrow’s leaders, and participating on various boards and board committees.

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The data as to when and why customers vomited in cabs probably should explain the creation of the ordinance. My guess is that due to the crack downs on DWI's that more late night partiers are using cabs and therefore the increased vomiting cases. So for me this one is an adaptation by the service provider relative to the area of Measurement, Analysis, and Improvement of Organizational Performance. This is a good example of the service provider reacting to the change in the customer market segment. We might be on to something here when thinking about the balance between Customer Focus and Measurement, Analysis, and Improvement of Organizational Performance as it relates to guns in America. a Chicagoanite so sad....not the image we're trying to portray to the world. It's a great city, with great food, and fairly good taxi drivers...and only a few hurls per year. ;)
I live in Austin much of the year and spend the remainder not too far from Chicago. I don't have the data, but I agree with Bryan's guess. I'd hypothesize a strong correlation between the charge and the local consumption of alcohol and suspect there may be a few other cities where a similar approach does or will exist. This approach could be seen as customer focused, in that I'd prefer to ride in a taxi that doesn't smell and where my fare is not inflated by the cost of cleaning up the taxi.
When I was in the US Navy, aboard ship, and you got seasick and could not find a suitable place to deposit it, you simply removed your white hat and used that. That would then give you time to find a suitable place to relieve yourself of it. However, if an officer came within your purview, you were required to replace your hat, and salute. Fred Eargle, RM2, USS Valley Forge CV-45.

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