If you’ve ever been to Cambodia, you’d be hard pressed to go to any part of the country and not see a tuk tuk. Even in the provinces, you’ll see them hauling large families to and from the cities. When you get to the cities, you can’t walk a single block without 15 drivers saying, “Tuk tuk, miss?” You’d think after I walked by one guy, the next guy wouldn’t ask.
As a consumer, this is great because it’s easy to start a bidding war to get the lowest price. If one guy says $6 for a ride to the market and you only want to pay $4, another driver will be quick to take your price.
This is a terrible system. If a driver over-charges you, chances are they’ll miss out on repeat business. If they undercharge, they’re losing money. Keep in mind, they’ve borrowed a lot of money from the bank to purchase the tuk tuk, have to cope with rising fuel costs, and are likely the sole income for their families.
Let Us Create has 2 go-to drivers. We call them, they pick us up, and they say, “Pay whatever you want.” This usually means we throw money at them on a daily basis. When my family was in town, we dropped $10-$20 a day on one simply because we thought he was a cool guy.
Of course, the “Pay What You Want” plan could never be a city-wide initiative. There’s a lot of cheap backpackers who, during low season, would take advantage. Therefore, I propose a tuk tuk union based on the Nash Equilibrium. I will describe the union in bullet points for ease of reading.
- Union drivers have two laminated pricing sheets inside the tuk tuk. One for high season, one for low season.
- There is a dispatching service that businesses can call for a trustworthy driver.
- The service will go down a list every time a call comes in, creating a rotation. If one driver is busy, they can just go to the next name.
- For branding purposes, the tuk tuks will be painted bright yellow like New York taxicabs and the drivers will wear a comfortable, linen uniform.
- Businesses will advertise on the back at a higher price point than non-union tuk tuks.
- 8% of their fees will go to administration (dispatch salaries, telephones, paint, etc.)
- As gas prices and tourist dollars increase, so will the agreed upon rates.
Every expat in this city has their “tuk tuk guy.” If we have friends in town, we make sure they get the right guy so they’re not subject to shake downs if they’re stranded on Otres Beach (far, far away from the city center). All I’m asking for is to turn “our guys” into a legitimate business that benefits everyone.