Problems with MyTaxi

It's been just over 6 months now since MyTaxi took over from Hailo in Dublin.

At the time of the change-over there were a barrage of customer complaints, but has the company overcome these teething troubles since then?

Not in my experience!

I used the MyTaxi app on two consecutive days over the last week, and had trouble both times.

On both occasions, when I opened up the app, the screen informed me there was a taxi available a couple of minutes away. But each time when I went to try and book a taxi, all the nearby cabs seemed to evaporate into thin air.

So either I was incredibly unlucky, and someone else managed to book the taxi moments before me, or else the app was lying to me about the availability of cabs. Either way, it was embarrassing to me, because I was telling my family that there was a cab 2 minutes away, and then 30 minutes later, no driver had yet accepted the job.

To counter the problem of taxi availability on the 2nd day, I decided to use the pre-book feature. But that didn't work either. I wanted a taxi at 7.30pm, but the app said that I could either have one at 6.15pm, or I would have to wait until 8.45pm, because all the pre-book slots were taken.

I never had these difficulties when using Hailo. I always used to be able to get a taxi whenever I needed one, within about 10 minutes. But on my recent experience, it takes about 30-40 minutes to get a taxi with MyTaxi.

I'm seriously considering ditching the app altogether, and going back to ordering taxis by phone.

The #MeToo Hashtag

Those of you on social media over the last week can't have failed to spot women (and some men) posting the #MeToo hashtag, and sometimes sharing their stories.

It's in response to the recent Harvey Weinstein sex abuse allegations, where victims of similar abuse have bravely declared that it has happened to them as well.

My Facebook feed has been awash with friends posting #MeToo, and every time I see it I find it heartbreaking.

Of course, it's not right that any woman has to deal with any predatory sexual advances, coercion, or abuse. But it seems especially poignant when you learn that it's happened to people that you know and care about.

I'm impressed by their bravery in coming forward, while at the same time being horrified that it's so widespread – especially when you think that for each person goes public there are probably dozens more that have had the same experiences, but prefer (for whatever reason) to keep it private.

Free Revolut cards in Ireland

I just got an email from Revolut to say that they're offering the next 10,000 to sign up in Ireland a free prepaid Mastercard. 

It's apparently to celebrate Revolut opening an office in Ireland. And instead of the usual €6 fee to order the first card on the account, they are going to wave this fee.

Revolut is great for anyone who travels, or who orders anything from abroad. The mobile app-based prepaid credit card offers much better exchange rates than a traditional banks, credit cards, or foreign currency exchanges.

My wife and I used the card extensively on a holiday to the USA a few months back, and must have saved about a hundred euros in currency transfer fees. I also use the card to buy things in pounds sterling from Amazon.

How much can I save?

At the time of writing, buying something from Amazon costing £50 will cost you:

  • €58.07 if you choose to pay in Euros rather than Pounds at the Amazon checkout
  • €57.38 if you pay with a Bank of Ireland card
  • €55.81 is you pay with a Revolut card

I don't know about you, but I'd rather keep that couple of euros difference! 

Homemade Soup

How often do you look at a restaurant or café menu and see the term "Homemade Soup"?

Or what about "homemade bread", or "homemade desserts"?

Well, I don't know about you, but the thought that always comes into my head when I see something described as "homemade" is: Who's home has it been made in?

And if the food isn't actually being made in someone's home, then is the term "homemade" attaching some kind of deceitful providence to the food? 

Providence is often highly protected when it comes to food. You can't claim your sparkling wine is Champagne if it doesn't come from the Champagne region of France. And Stilton cheese can only be produced within 3 counties in England (bet you didn't know that!).

So why is it OK to say something is homemade, when in fact it's been made in a commercial kitchen?

Personally, I don't really want the food I'm eating to have been produced in someone's home – that is, unless I know the person. Otherwise I don't know if the house is sanitary, or if there are snotty kids and pets around to contaminate the food.

Singing with the Tallis Scholars

I'm very excited about the opportunity to perform with the Tallis Scholars later this week.

I'm one of 30 singers recruited from around Dublin to join the choir in the performance of the 40-part piece Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis.

I've only sung Spem in Alium once in the past, as part of a scratch performance put together for my 40th birthday. Because, what else would you do for a 40th birthday, but get together all of your singer friends and sing a 40-part anthem? It wasn't the most technically accurate performance in the world (I, for one, was making tons of mistakes), but it was a heck of a lot of fun – and if you fancy watching the video, stay for the amazing rendition of Happy Birthday at the end!

The prospect of singing such a piece with the Tallis Scholars, in contrast, is a pretty intimidating. They are one of the best professional choirs out there, and tour all over the world to sell out audiences. And I've volunteered to sing – one to a part – so there's no hiding at the back!

I'm sure it'll go very well. The rehearsal last week was sounding really good, and I came out of that really excited.

The concert takes place on Thursday, 5th October 2017 at 8.00pm in the National Concert Hall, Dublin. There are some tickets left – although not many – from the NCH website: https://www.nch.ie/Online/The-Tallis-Scholars-05Oct17