I was organising a function for a student society in a college near my own. It was scheduled to end at 11pm on a Saturday night, and since in those days all bars had to close at 11pm by law, 11pm Saturday was a very busy time for cabs. Therefore two days in advance I booked a cab to pick self and boyfriend up at 11pm at the gate of [Name of College].
So, shortly before 11pm Boyfriend and self go and wait on the road at the gate to [College]. No taxi, but OK, we understand, scheduling's a bitch. However, by midnight, we are getting pretty fed up waiting. (Bear in mind this was 15 years ago, when flat-broke students did not have mobile phones, so we couldn't easily check.)
So at midnight I leave boyfriend to wait for taxi, and walk half a mile to the nearest public phone, where I put my precious pennies in the slot and phone the cab company in question.
Me: Hi, this is [MyName], I had a car booked for 11pm at [college] and it hasnt come yet?
Operator: *adopts the most offensive tone* Well, it's Saturday night. In case you hadn't noticed lots of people want cabs on Saturday. What do you expect???
Me: Well, yes, I understand, but I booked the cab on Thursday?
Operator:*ruder still* What does that have to do with it. Waits for cabs on Saturday night are always over an hour. You're not special, you know, you have to wait in line like everyone else.
Me: Oh, sorry, I thought if I booked it...
Operator: It doesn't work like that. When 11pm comes, we add you to the queue, behind the other people who are politely waiting their turn Now, do you want the cab when when your turn comes or not?
Me: Yes, sure. Can you give me a rough estimate when that will be?
Operator: Wait is currently half an hour.
This is suck the first! I admit I've never worked in this industry, but I would have thought it reasonable if someone books in advance that when the time booked comes a cab ought to be dispatched as soon as one becomes available, no?
Now before you ask, we can't just give up and walk, as we have a large TV and a VHS recorder with us. Not only are TVs damn heavy, last time we walked about with these things late at night we nearly got arrested! So we really do need a cab!
So on to suck the second. Half an hour passes. A cab with the name of [CrapCompany] approaches. I smile, make eye contact, give a little wave and step forward to make it clear I'm the person he's looking for.
Driver ignores me and turns down the drive to [College] reception. Even though we asked to be picked up at the gate. (This is because we are not members of the College in question and College rules say non-members are not supposed to be on the premises after 11pm unless accompanied by a College member.)
10 minutes pass. Cab comes racing back up the drive, empty. While it's still about 300 yards away (not at the last minute so it's dangerous), I step about a foot into the road, waving my arms like I'm after a rescue helicopter to get his attention. He swerves round me (so he clearly did see me) and disappears.
Hike the half mile to the public phone booth. Ask about this. The operator tells me the cab arrived and 'we weren't there, he waited for 10 minutes'. I point out the bit about trying to get his attention twice, once subtely, the other bloody obvious!
The operator contacts the cab and then tells me, still with utterly rude attitude that 'The driver had no way of knowing you were the people who he'd come to pick up, so he ignored you.'
Right. No way of knowing we were the people who'd called. Except that we were standing in the place we'd asked for and trying to get his attention.
Not surprisingly, we called another cab company...
And when we complained to the owner/manager the next day, the story had changed. Now the driver had seen us and been about to pick us up but had 'refused' to pick us up because we were 'excessively drunk'. Neither of us had, needless to say, drunk any alcohol (or taken any other drug) that day...