A Winnipeg woman was left confused after two vehicles-for-hire showed up to give her a ride on Saturday evening near Stafford Street and Corydon Avenue, but the company says it was no accident.
Heather Sadowy used the new TappCar service for the first time over the weekend. She ordered a car through the app around 5:30 p.m. and was told a white Honda SUV would pick her up. When a white Honda sedan showed up instead, she assumed it was just a simple mistake.
"[The driver] kind of popped his head out and said 'oh are you Heather?' and I said 'oh yeah ok, I guess that is the car I'm waiting for,'" said Sadowy.
Sadowy got into the car and while the driver began searching for her destination information — which is entered into the app when the ride is ordered — her phone rang.
"It was the driver to come pick me up, so I look out the window and there's the white Honda SUV I'm waiting for," said Sadowy.
Confused, Sadowy told the driver she would take the SUV instead because that's the one that was confirmed to her. The driver in the sedan insisted he had her ride info and showed her his app with her name and pickup information, but the wrong destination.
"I don't know where he got that information from, I don't know if he drives for TappCar or not, but I got out," said Sadowy.
Sadowy said she also noticed after that the Honda sedan didn't have a decal on it, but the Honda SUV did. She wondered whether it was a glitch in the app or something more.
"I guess my biggest concern was just that it was a person that didn't actually drive for them and had hacked into their software," she said.
It's not a bug, it's a feature
TappCar co-founder Jonathon Wescott says they looked into Sadowy's concern and says the incident was not a case of hacking or a driver trying to steal someone else's fare, but more likely a case of patchy cell phone service.
"The original first vehicle that was dispatched lost cell phone connection, and our system is trained to provide excellent customer service in the event of cold weather and things of that nature," said Wescott.
"As a result [TappCar] dispatched a second vehicle once the first one had come offline."
Wescott also says all drivers are encouraged to display proper decals and it's possible the driver of the Honda sedan didn't do that. The company is also pushing for bigger decals, but all signage is regulated through the city.
TappCar reached out to Sadowy on Monday, and she says she is happy with their response and would try using the service again.
Wescott says his company has already provided thousands of rides and only received a handful of complaints.
He said this incident serves as a reminder to new users to get to know the app and pay attention to the information that is given to them.