Taxi industry's Twitter campaign backfires


#1

[Read the post]


#2

I have one.

“Wife leaves phone in taxi. Taxi company claims no one turned it in. Get bill with $200 worth of calls to Ethiopia.”

Well - I hope they at least called their mom.


#3

If the taxi industry tried to do a twitter campaign like this in the states, a good one third of the replies would be about how taxi drivers ignore black people trying to hail a cab


#4

Taxi drivers in Melbourne are responsible for most of my bad experiences with taxis. Dishonest thugs. The backlash comes as no surprise to me.


#5

Ugh. I know everyone loves to hate cabs right now because shinier/newer/whatever, but I just want to point out a few things.

  1. There is no “Taxi Industry” the way it is being presented in this post. Cab companies are all independent from market to market, many/most are not union, and most are not represented by or part of some shady “cartel” or mob-type group. The headline should have been something more accurate (and specific) and less sensational and click-baity.

  2. Uber has invested a HUGE amount of effort into astroturfing any and all digital media where cabs are being discussed. A large percent of what goes on in comments sections is completely artificial, and consists mostly of actual cab drivers (including Uber drivers) and Uber astroturfers, so it’s wise to take it all with a grain of salt.

Disclosure: I am a cab driver and have friends that drive cabs and drive for Uber, so I am intimately familiar with this narrative, both fact and fiction. Driving a cab is one of the worst jobs there is, and pays next to nothing (literally, I’ve come home many many times after a 12 hour shift with $10-20, despite being a very good, professional, courteous driver with a spotless cab, good nights rarely make it above $10/hr). Driving for Uber is well on it’s way to being as bad as driving traditional cab, and as the markets become over-saturated with Uber drivers, the service will become identical to traditional taxi services, mark my words, I guarantee this. The cause of nearly all quality problems is drivers making next to nothing and being forced to work extremely long hours (because the people at the top squeeze every penny out of the system they can, to the detriment of drivers and riders).

That’s my two cents, and sorry to do a drive-by, but I can’t participate in these convos anymore. It’s very hard to listen to people make so many sweeping, inaccurate, and ill-thought out claims about your profession, esp. when it’s something you care deeply about and are in the process of letting go of. :smiley:

TLDR; I’m a cab driver that doesn’t appreciate the click-baity sensationalist headline; user-generated media related to cabs is almost always mostly drivers and astroturfers.


#6

I got stuck at an area in town I didn’t fully know because of bad weather. I didn’t know the address of where I was at besides the cross streets. Cab company flat out refused to pick me up because of a lack of address, and the person I was talking with accused me of being a criminal just because I couldn’t come up with an exact address. After calling around for a while I managed to get a ride from a friend. This was back in the day before I had access to a smartphone, just had my flip phone and that was very stressful.

Also I’ve had a cab driver just not show up after I scheduled for a pick up a day ahead to head to the airport. I had to frantically call a bunch of companies to see who was able to send a driver ASAP. Most of them were only able to send someone an hour or two later.

No thank you, I’ll stick with Lyft and Uber.


#7

I do not understand the love for Uber!! If its just an app many taxi companies also have apps now! I don’t understand! Taxis are going to have more horror stories simply because they’ve been around longer! But the horror stories coming out of Uber now despite being new are just as bad, if not worse!

I support you! I love my regular taxi drivers!


#8

Do people ever learn?

Not sure about your particular situation wherever you are, and I have reason to believe Ăśber in particular is not the freshest smelling outfit out there.

But! The taxis vs. apps situation, here in Brazil at least, has been mostly about taxi drivers loudly protesting “pirate transportation” while defending what is essentially a vastly lucrative, corrupt monopoly being broken.

The discussions are focused on taxes with nary a peep about the fact the actual taxi service has been bad for decades in most cities. Not just because of the arrogance of the “don’t like it? walk then” there’s-no-competition attitude, but also frequent ripping off of tourists or the unwary, and actual cases of outright robbery, rape and who knows what else.

Of course most drivers are good people, but the system is thoroughly shitty. Actual users of the service have been overwhelmingly supportive of the concept of some competition being introduced around here. No idea about Australia, but in the context I’m familiar with I’d have no reason whatsoever to think the sort of comments mentioned in the article would be anything but genuine.

Edit. Forgot to add the current system is shitty for the drivers, as well. It’s pretty much only good for the companies and their owners.


#9

this is interesting and very different to the situation in Germany: Here the taxis have a quasi-monopol but are part of the public transport, they must drive everyone everywhere*. Some drivers try to dodge short trips but they are fined heavily if it comes to light.

*) within the taxi district, most often identical to the county


#10

I didn’t mean it in the “we are refusing to drive you to Brooklyn” way, sorry if I gave that impression. More like “we are refusing to make our service better because public transportation is a wretched, slow, expensive and unpleasant last-resort choice and you know it. if it even goes where you need, of course”. Yay car culture.

Personal aside:

I’ve lived for a year in Cologne on a design school interchange sort of thing. It was excellent. One of the many little culture shock moments was finding out how nice the German bus-and-tram public system was.

Clean. New. Maps, electronic time schedules and otherwise good, helpful information design everywhere. Super affordable semester passes for students! And, most shocking at all, on time. And I mean “the thing says arrival at 8:53 and it arrives at 8:53, not even rounding up to five minutes if you’ll believe me” on time.

It’s almost like they wanted people to enjoy their city. I miss it.


#11

As @telecinese says, its the same here in Toronto, the taxi industry is actually terrible for the drivers. And we already have a two tiered system with Taxi plates and “Ambassador” plates (which is way too complicated to get in here) - and Uber just adds a third tier.

I get the desire for convenience, but theres more to it than that. Taxis have to take guide dogs, taxis have to be insured, taxis have to take wheelchairs, theres a lot of legislation around taxis that just don’t exist for Uber that make me leery of the whole shebang.


#12

but the regulation has a reason (and I think it’s a fine one), if I understood telecinese correctly he loathes the current system and hopes unregulated competitors like Uber et al will win


#13

[citation needed]


#14

Huh, I didn’t get that?

I agree that regulations are good and needed, but I also agree the taxi industry needs an overhaul, there has to be something in-between the Taxi vs Uber fight. Something in the middle.


#15

but I may be wrong. @telecinese, you’re the only one able to answer this :smile:


#16

Oh, not really. Whoever “wins” will only revert to screwing the little people over.

I hope the competition gets regulated enough to be able to operate in a way that curbs the drama, then I hope the mere fact competition now exists will force both parties to offer better-than-current services. Maybe even better-than-current jobs for the drivers?

You know, all that “advantages of the free market” stuff capitalism keeps promising. We’ll see.


#17

Yourtaxis is a wonderful idea. Getting the good and bad things that happen in taxis in the open so people know what’s up, and companies have to respond to it, is a boon.


#18

Well, yeah. I am stunned they tried this.
Melbourne taxi drivers range from Great Guys, to Rapist. And yeah I have heard stories. I wouldn’t want my teenage daughter taking a taxi late at night.
It’s awful job admittedly. Your customers follow a similar range of personality, with the added extra fun of racism, fair evasion, alcohol and drugs. And the system is setup so that you must keep that meter ticking over. A short drive across town that means you have dead time driving back to a taxi rank is not wanted.

Taxi licences are limited, and are auctioned off to the highest bidder for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s a lifes dream of a driver to get his own licence and so run his own car. Uber drivers of course don’t have to pay that, which is a big part of the warfare.

And they’re just expensive.


#19

My only problem with taxis is that they always rely upon you to tell them where to go. What’s up with that? Why can’t they use GPS? I get in an Uber and they know where they’re going. I was in San Francisco once and got out of a club and there was a line of taxis waiting. I got in one and told him my hotel’s address as he pulled off. He asked me where it was. I had no idea, I’m not from there. So I had to have him drive around the block and drop me back off at the club. This scenario repeated with the next 2 cabs I got into until finally I refused to get into the next cab until they assured me they had GPS, when he seemingly reluctantly took out his phone. If taxis are reluctant to embrace GPS then they are going to and deserve to become outmoded sources of public transportation.


#20

How long ago was this? Because every taxi in Toronto is equipped with a GPS. I mean, they still ask me how I want to get there, and often I have opinions on which is the best route, but if you just gave them an address they’d be fine with that too.