by Lasika Kannan, Chennai, India
Everyone knows it by now: in this competitive world, Internet is key. Samson for instance, a 38 year old, technology savvy auto-rickshaw driver from Chennai, knows it so well that since the past four years he has been offering his services as an auto-driver on his personal website.
Samson can be found outside the Taj Coromandel hotel. He uses the fare meter, which is a rarity in Chennai, and offers several services, like being a tourist guide speaking bits of German and Japanese in addition to English and Tamil, all mentioned on his website.
Samson, since when have you been driving your auto and when did you create your website?
I’ve been an auto driver since 1992, and I opened my website in 2006.
How did you come about the idea of creating a website?
Once, a Japanese customer spoke with me about the Internet, and explained to me what it was about and helped me create an email id. Then a British Airways pilot from London, Chris Pew, helped me create the website and suggested the name for it (which explains why the “auto” is referred to as “tuk tuk” which is not very Indian, we say). In addition, he helps me by holding the position of website administrator for Tuk Tastic.
What kind of and how many customers does your website attract?
The website attracts approximately four or five customers per week, mostly foreigner tourists.
What do your competitors think about this idea and your website?
They have mixed feelings; they benefit from me when I have a big group of customers who travel in their auto as well. Sometimes, though, the competition isn’t smooth.
Do you keep in touch with your customers? Do they contact you again if they come back to Chennai?
Yes, my customers do keep in touch with me and often contact me again if they happen to come back to Chennai. Not only, but they also direct their friends and family who visit Chennai to my website and me.
What’s your relationship with technology?
I have studied only up to seventh grade, but I did pick up English as I kept talking to my foreign clients, and I bought a dictionary to improve my vocabulary. A Dutch customer was very happy and impressed with my services and so he gave me a laptop as a gift. I am familiar with the Internet, and I helped my auto driver friends to create email addresses for themselves.