Why call when you can text?
One cab company is embracing this idea by allowing customers to text their request for a ride.
Discount Cab launched the new texting service in Phoenix on August 28 and in Tucson on Thursday, according to Mark Marjancik, the manager of Discount Cab in Tucson.
Discount Cab marketing coordinator Karol Clark said that among around 6,000 requests for cabs last weekend in Tucson and Phoenix, 43 were sent via text. Clark called this ""a pretty good start.""
To request a cab, customers text the pickup address including apartment numbers, city and state, or zip codes, to 777222 or 777CAB. Discount Cab's rates do not change because of this new service, but standard text messaging rates do apply, Marjancik said.
Discount Cab uses a separate company, GoFastCab, to provide the texting service to its customers. Besides Phoenix and Tucson, GoFastCab operates through various cab companies in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Jose, Chicago, Nashville, and Charlotte, according to the company's website.
If a customer enters an address incorrectly, they will receive a text asking for more specific information. Once the servers at GoFastCab verify the address, the company will send the information to Discount Cab to dispatch the request. The customer will also receive a text with a confirmation number, according to Marjancik.
""The quickest part is you don't have to wait for a human being on the phone,"" he said.
Customers can also texts the words ‘status' to determine the position of their request, ‘cancel' to end their request, or ‘help' for assistance.
The option to contact Discount Cab by phone is still available.
""It's just another form of communication,"" Marjancik said.
The Tucson nightlife scene seemed receptive to the new technology.
Carlos Valenzuela, a bouncer at North on 4th, 536 N 4th Ave., said he thought the texting service would be useful if it worked and if people knew about it.
""It would all depend on how fast they got here,"" he said.
Valenzuela said it usually takes cabs about 20 to 30 minutes for a cab to arrive after calling.
Lauren Kelly and Erin Kelly had never heard of Discount Cab's texting service, but said they thought it was a good idea as they walked in front of O'Malley's on 4th Avenue.
Although the two said they rarely need to take cabs home, they said they would consider using the texting service.
""The cab would be more likely to come than if you can't even speak,"" Lauren Kelly said. ""If you're in a bar, it's really loud. You have to leave [to call a cab], and sometimes there's a long line to get back in.""
She added that texting would prevent people from having to use minutes on their cell phones.
The managers of Discount Cab heard of GoFastCab's texting service at a business convention.
""We jumped on it real quick so no one else would get it out from under us,"" Marjancik said. ""We spend a lot of money to make things faster and easier and cheaper.""
Because the service is so new, it will be difficult to determine which customers will be most likely to use it, Marjancik said.
""I think the regulars are going to use it a lot,"" he said. ""People who like to go out and have a good time but know better than to drive.""