“When I walked into the office,” wrote Jeremy. “I was hit with the smell of new carpet and construction. ‘No big deal,’ I said to myself. But, as I went in further, I was shocked. A bay of computers sat on folding tables, white boards with tons of frantic scribbles (were) leaning against the wall, and the guy who was to train us for the event [seemed like] someone who could barely get your order right at McD’s.”
A startup cutting corners and pushing up against construction deadlines while bringing on people who are barely qualified as stopgaps isn’t news, but Jeremy insisted that there was more to it.
“It wasn’t long before I was asking tough questions that they ‘couldn’t answer’,” he explains. Adding that it was important that he “not be afraid to tell the customer ‘I don’t know’, and direct them to the website. Remember, they don’t even have an app yet.”
Those “tough” questions included basic, logistical hurdles that formed the core of Blue Indy’s business process. Questions like, “If no cars are being used other than yours where do you park when you’re done?” (all of the spaces are used 100% of the time, unless a car is in transit) “How do you keep the cars clean?” and “What happens [if a customer’s] battery goes dead?”
Hall said his excitement further began to evaporate when his trainer told him to expect people to yell at you on the phone, the importance of keeping your anger in check and to avoid interacting with members of the public who don't support Blue Indy. Things turned worse when Hall got to test drive one of the cars. “Initially, I was stoked,” he says. “But I was severely disappointed. The seats were super soft but uncomfortable," Hall continued. "The seating position itself was very flat, like a sports car, but the A pillar made it very hard to see and the rearview mirror was worthless. Add in the that a safety feature (a sound warning device) was inoperable … and it took a good bit of work to get the navigation system and other important items such as the AC to fire up."
As it turned out, Hall's full-time job offer never materialized. He got a phone call later that night after his training telling him Blue Indy got an offer from a nonprofit organization to provide "volunteer" staff to the fledgling company. Gee, I wonder which of the nonprofit companies sharing office spaces with for-profit companies like Blue Indy and Vision Fleet in the Chase Tower is providing "volunteer" workers for the company? Hall also has a warning about the insurance coverage you receive when driving the cars. Blue Indy only carries minimal personal liability property damage coverage to protect against the claims of others in which you are involved in an accident while driving one of their cars. Without your own separate auto insurance policy, you're likely to be disappointed when you find out what's not covered in the event of an accident.
You should check out the 36-page membership contract before using the service, which provides all sorts of reasons why you could be subject to additional charges or a loss of the service. It limits coverage to $50,000 per accident for bodily injury ($25,000 per person) and $10,000 for property damage and similar coverage for accidents involving uninsured/underinsured motorists. The membership terms make the member responsible for any damage to or theft of the car while in your control. The member is responsible for the payment of deductibles not covered by insurance. Failure to pay the deductibles results in the revocation of your membership. There's also an arbitration clause covering claims unless you opt out within 30 days or unless your claim can be adjudicated in a small claims court.
Interestingly, the membership contract says the service is subject to the 17% auto rental excise tax, although it expressly states it believes the car sharing service is different from other rental vehicle businesses and "even though We believe they should not apply to car sharing operations." Membership fees are subject to the state's 7% sales tax. Watch for attempts to be made during next year's legislation session to exempt electric car sharing services from the auto rental excise tax. Blue Indy's contract with the City states it is not subject to taxes and fees otherwise imposed on businesses of its sort, and that the City is required to reimburse the company to the extent it is required to pay those taxes or fees.