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Thread: Experience with tips or donation only business?

  1. #1
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    Feb 2017
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    Default Experience with tips or donation only business?

    I'm intending on starting my own pedicab business as a side job. I already have a full-time job, so I'm not desperate for income. I have a philosophical and societal belief that more things should be free. I would really like to drive people around for donations, but the problem is that people don't like things that are free; they don't trust them. Couchsurfing was free, but most people didn't use it. But when AirBnB came around, people were happy to spend money for a similar service (though more regulated with background checks, etc). Same with Uber and Lyft. Ride sharing and carpooling have been around forever, but mass appeal has always suffered until people started charging. It honestly upsets me.
    Anyway, has anyone tried running on tips only. What has been your experience with ridership. I don't want to sit there begging for people to ride. Everybody's first question will be: is it really free and why is it free?
    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2004
    Barcelona, Spain
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    Hi Gryffin,

    welcome to this forum. I am not a big friend of the donation system. It is a biz. Of course there are a lot of people with a high "philosophical and societal belief" that more things should be free. And this is ok for me. But I really wonder why they do not work for free in an ONG, carrying for free handicaped or older people or whatever, instead of camouflaging a economical activity as "donation", avoiding paying taxes and social security or even working permits.

    For me personally "pedicabbing for a donation" is "begging for money" and the only solution is: Accept as passenger the ride and give the riders just one Cent with a big smile and a huge saying "You are the best pedicabber in the world".

    May I ask in which country you are going to cycle? For me, this kind of competition is unfair.

    I a agree: Pedicabbers should be able for cycling for free - but leave it clear: "THIS IS FREE - I do not exept a donation. I do it because I believe in a better world. Do not give me money".

    This would be



    Last edited by; 18-02-2017 at 13:24.


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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Working a rickshaw for free just makes you the punters bitch. Don't do it. Charge for the service you provide. That and a winning personally and you may find yourself making more on the rickshaw than you do at your real job.
    Good times and riches and son of a bitches,
    I've seen more than I can recall.
    J. Buffett

    It's all shits and giggles until someone giggles and shits!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Sydney, Auckland, London, Gothenberg, Vancouver
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    That's hilarious!

    I love it. I think everything should be free too. But here's the thing, we live in a capitalist society where goods and services are exchanged for cash. The companies you talk about brought legitimacy and culpability to those industries. Bob's touchy-feely crack-town couch-surf has become Jane's waterfront 15th floor condo with scented candles and chocolate pillow mint. The same has happened with licensing and insuring pedicabs, we are working towards becoming government authorised (and therefore protected) businesses. The police have two main duties in a city, to protect its's people and their businesses. We genuinely crave government endorsement.

    Just a question for you, have you ever ridden a pedicab? It's not the easiest thing to do, and I certainly wouldn't do it for free. It is a very difficult thing to move under your own steam. It requires determination, tenacity and an inner strength most don't posses. If you ask people for a donation, they will give you a dollar, as that's all they think it's worth - "it's a bike right, that's easy, I can do that, have a dollar." The reality is that a pedicab driver has about 10-15 rides in his legs before exhaustion. After you've done a few rides for a dollar, and you see how much pleasure it brings to people, you will quickly realise that you can charge a lot for your service, and you are worth it. I have in the past given free rides as part of an advertising campaign, and I can tell you it is just as difficult to convince people to ride in a pedicab for free, as it is to convince them to ride for $20.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch dude (except in Sikh temples).

    Cyclepath is right, we are street entertainers with personality. We give people a fun experience, we move them to their destination with a smile and a joke/song, we try our best to enjoy their company as they sit on our vehicles. We get asked the same 5 questions over and over again, and we become quick-witted and strong-legged. Most of my riders are spiritual seekers with a flare for street entertainment. They are not ready to make the move into a job with authority and commitment. How would I convince them to pedal it for free? They absolutely work their asses off in a similar vain to a construction worker, or other manual labour gig, and I understand their pain and suffering - unlike their customers! Trixi is right on, it is a business and you need to apply business mentality to something that requires that much physical effort.

    Are you wanting to do it for free as a way to avoid licensing/insuring/taxing your business? If that is your goal may I suggest you apply your philosophy to the banking industry instead. If you set up a bank brother man, i will be your no.1 customer, I promise.

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