Sean Duval takes on Uber.
From the July, 2017 issue
"It was more preemptive, because we didn't really see our customers fleeing to Uber," says Golden Limousine CEO Sean Duval. His new MODE car service is a hybrid between a taxi and ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.
"People were asking for that on-
demand 'I need a car right now, and I'm not willing to stand on the street and hail a cab'" service, says Duval. He says that Uber asked his company many times to become a part of Uber Black, its "high-end" component using licensed limos. Instead, two years ago Duval bought five black Ford Transit Connects (the big "MODE car" decals make them hard to miss) that answer to pick-up requests in the Ann Arbor area, both immediate and scheduled, through the MODE car app and website (mymodecar.com).
Duval says his company's stricter standards set MODE apart from the competition. "We just see [Uber] as a really unsafe situation," he says. Unlike the ride shares, he points out, his drivers all have chauffeur's licenses, and their vehicles are company owned and inspected. Most of his drivers go through fingerprint checks, and all are subject to more stringent background checks than Uber or Lyft--in fact, he says, he's seen drivers who failed his checks driving for Uber.
"The background check isn't easy, and a lot of people that have had run-ins with the law ... can't always drive for us," Duval says. But when he's asking parents "to trust your kids in the backseat with just my driver and your child, I have to be certain that this person has nothing in their history." His drivers also undergo extensive training.
All this makes MODE rides more expensive than the "ride hailing" apps. Duval says that finding qualified drivers also is limiting the number of MODE vehicles on the road. But he is holding out hope: "If it only costs you $35 to go to the airport," he argues, "something is missing."
[Originally published in July, 2017.]
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