Recession Ride Taxi Service

Eric Hagen and his "Recession Ride Taxi Service"
Burlington, Vermont's Eric Hagen started a new business: "Recession Ride Taxi Service."

Some people are born entrepreneurs; and 46-year-old Eric Hagen is not one of them as CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman reports.

Here are just a few of his better ideas. He thought of starting a business delivering taco ingredients to people's homes.

"People love tacos," he said. "And then they would put them together at the home."

He also thought of flavored ice cubes. Perhaps his worst idea of all: a mobile bar - a bar on wheels.

Fortunately, Eric does have a day job. He works for the American Red Cross setting up blood drives in and around Burlington, Vermont.

But it doesn't pay much, which is why he was determined to start some kind of business to offset his bills. Just a few weeks ago, it struck him.

"I was watching the financial channel one day listening to foreclosures and people losing their jobs and the idea just popped into my head - a pay-what-you-want taxi cab," said Hagen.

Recession ride taxi, pay what you want.

Recession Ride on Facebook

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Clearly Eric fails to grasp some pretty fundamental business principles. Friends and co-workers worried he would lose his shirt if he didn't have some kind of pricing structure. But Eric insisted that it didn't matter that he didn't know business, because he knew people.

"It's about trust. And I think a lot of businesses today forget about the trust in people," said Hagen.

When people tell Eric they can only pay so much, he believes them and welcomes them. "I just know somebody will make up for it. So basically it evens itself out."

Call it socialized ground transportation. Although for Eric at least, it's also smart capitalism.

Eric's been outpacing the local taxi competition. When compared to average fare of a regular taxi - he's taking in about $6 more on every three-mile ride. Eric says people pay more because they like feeling empowered.

It all comes back to trust. Try it - he says.

"It's what America needs right now."

That's a good tip.

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.