copyright April 12, 2017
by Paul Morantz, author of Escape: My Lifelong War Against Cults; From Miracle to Madness
The other day an assistant told me there is a new .com called Grandparents.com. They provide a link to Uber and/or Lift for people who do not have smart phones. They make a connection, collect the bill and their fee and then pay the company providing the ride.
I thought it sounds like great idea. Many grandparents after all do not find the phone’s very “smart.” And they lose them; this is a lot easier. However, fact is anyone with a smart phone can call and arrange a ride for anyone but this would allow person not to bother anyone or go through the process of paying the relative/friend back for making the call. Surely it was worth what I thought would be $1.50 to $3.50 extra charge. The company would be obviously handling a lot of calls nationwide.
So I called the number and asked a person what the charge was. He said there is a handling fee, mileage fee, time fee and all varied by ZIP Code. I was sort of a shocked and when I told him I was a reporter he said I better speak to someone who knows more. I was then passed up the chain but when I told the alleged manager that I was a reporter he hung up.
I never let that stop me. So I called again. This time I was told that the handling fee, mileage and ZIP Code all involved the driving companies’ charges and not Grandparents.com.
So I asked clearly that he explain what the fees are for Grandparents.com making the call. He did not indicate one way or the other whether or not grandparents.com got a discount when it pays Uber and/or Lift. But he clearly said that the “grandparents” will be charged in extra $.19 per minute.
I then asked him why they would charge based on time. It prejudices one grandma who only has to go a few blocks to the doctors office v. a grandmother that has to go an hour away. Even worse, I said, this is Los Angeles, home base for traffic jams. What if they have to travel east after 3 p.m.? A car accident on the 405 freeway and grandma might not afford dinner that night.
I gave him my phone number and my email address and said I would appreciate a response from Grandparents.com as to how this charge was wise and fair v. a flat rate for everyone for what amounts to be the same amount of work in arranging a pickup. Not too surprisingly, no one responded.
There was no call back even after my telling him that on the information he gave me I would write that RapeGrandma might be a better title for their website.
My advice: make the call for your grandparents.