Worst pitch of the month: TaxiGuard and fending off 'rogue taxi drivers'

Summary:The end of the fiscal year round-up includes a mobile app for defending "helpless" females and "dumb" tourists.


We're getting down to the wire when it comes to the end of the fiscal year, not to mention many people are already cashing in vacation days for Fourth of July.

Thus, it has been slim pickings in June for PR pitches, bad or good.

Nevertheless, let's end the month on a funny (albeit somewhat queasy) note.

This month's winner (or loser) was sent to one of my colleagues at ZDNet's sister site CNET, which she graciously shared with me for my enjoyment, and now yours. Take a look:


I am contacting both you and [REDACTED] as much because you are women, as for your stated area of responsibility. We seek a review of our iOS app TaxiGuard, described at www.taxiguardapp.com.

In an article on the UK feminist blog The F Word, http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2012/12/how_to_be_a_vic, the author states baldly that "Women get raped by taxi drivers" - as if this is an immutable, albeit chilling reality. Her theme is "blaming the victim"; but the TaxiGuard app is all about the vulnerable taking back control.

Melbourne designed, but for global use; it is directly aimed at a full spectrum of crimes perpetrated by rogue taxi drivers. Unlike other personal safety apps, a strict focus on taxi travel means we can be proactive rather than reactive. We can certainly call out the cavalry when required, but our taxi-specific features make it quite clear to a rogue before the fact - that he will not get away with it - whatever "it" may be. This is true for minor petty fraud, all the way through to sexual assault and worse. Rogue drivers may see "helpless" females, "dumb" tourists or inattentive drunks as targets, but the app is all about presenting them with unavoidable consequences.

http://www.vegasinc.com/news/2013/jun/03/fighting-rape-and-rip-offs/, shows we have attracted attention in Las Vegas, due to their significant problem with the fraud of "long-hauling" - a worldwide phenomenon, which is comprehensively addressed by TaxiGuard, as a review would show.

I applaud the underlying purpose behind this mobile app, which is to protect people (regardless of gender, really) from harm in potentially dangerous situations. And if you have data access when traveling abroad in a foreign country where you don't speak the language, I see the purpose there too.

It's just the wording of this pitch that really irked both my colleague and I.

Without reading too much into this, I'll summarize by arguing that admitting this pitch was sent to these journalists because they are both women is irrelevant -- especially for leading off the email.

All that was necessary was acknowledging they are both journalists who cover technology -- specifically mobile devices and apps.

Of course, that's not all >>

Topics: Mobility, Security, Smartphones, Tech Industry, Developer


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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