Beware the Enemy Within!

Forget the likes of Add Lee and the other private hire companies they are nothing compared to the enemies within that our trade now seems to have a dilemma with at the moment. The problem  is that the money men have cometh and many within out trade see them as the hero’s who are going to save our trade, many are applauding them stating “they are winning back work from the PH trade” but are they? All that they have done is provided a means for the customer to electronically hail a taxi, you the drivers have won the work back, it is the drivers who have convinced the customer to use the app, it is the drivers who are providing the service, please do not applaud those behind the app for winning back the work but instead give yourself a pat on the back for winning back the work, but are you winning back the work for our trade? of for someone else to profiteer from your hard work?

The driver has done all of the legwork for the app in question, they, the money men have provided the app and have supplied the ability for the driver to sign up, the drivers then managed to get the app up the ratings in the app store, the drivers have convinced the customers to use the app and the drivers have supplied the customers with the excellent service that the customers are so pleased with.

If the app is winning back our work why should we be worried? well lets take a look at the facts!

Hailo state they have had 200,000 downloads of the app.
Hailo state they are growing at 40% per month.
Hailo state they have secured $3 million investment.
Another App coming into the market MyTaxi state they have 10 million euro investment from Mercedes Benz
Other will enter the market including a company who already have their equipment fitted into taxis but are keeping the true intentions quiet!

If Hailo’s claims are correct then if they have 200,000 downloads and 40% month on month growth that is quite worrying!

This means in the coming months their customer base will grow as follows:

April = 280,000
May = 392,000
June = 548,000
July = 768,000
August = 1,075,648
September = 1,505,907
October = 2,108,270
November = 2,951,578
December = 4,132,209

London’s population is about 3.5 million people, so this means that they have a very good Christmas to look forward to and we could end up having a very bleak future as within 4 years they could end up controlling our customer base and dictating to us how much we will pay to service the customers who are traditionally our customers, and who we the drivers have convinced to use their app! clever aren’t we! Big Business could end up controlling our work and customers.

So in essence what we are doing is taking our customers and giving them away to someone who is only interested in building up a business and then selling it off in 4 years for the highest price that they can get, the idea is to float the company raise a lot of money, pay of their investors and pocket a substantial amount of money from a business that you the driver has built up for them, we are then left in the hands of whoever the new owners may be and they will then obviously be looking to maximise the profit from their investment, and where will that profit come from? Yes you the driver will be their cash cow paying handsomely for the work that they will control and provide you.

Worst case scenario is that the floatation may well fail and not realise their expectations and they may be forced to then sell to the highest bidder who could well be one of the larger PH companies who could then do a number of things with us and our customer base. They could keep drivers on the app and call themselves a Taxi company, they could throw drivers off the app and utilise our customer base for their own PH drivers, whatever happens where will it leave us the working drivers? up shits creek without a paddle springs to mind. Would you feel comfortable accepting a job from Hailo if it’s new owners were Add Lee?

I know that an app is nothing without the drivers and many will say that if the worst does happen we could withdraw our service and the app would fail, there are two problems with this. once you have conditioned a customer into using an app rather than walking out onto the street and hailing a cab they will become comfortable with the convenience of using that app, if a PH company bought the app and our drivers withdrew their service they would merely send the customer a PH vehicle, this means the customer would get the same service but with a different vehicle. The other problem is that once customers are used to using apps and the street work declines would drivers be able to afford to withdraw their service from that app for fear of not earning enough money.

Lets look at another company, Verifone, they are in the business of processing credit cards on behalf of drivers, if this is their only intention for our trade then why did they not just fit a credit card terminal in the rear of the cab with a small screen in the front so that the driver can check that the card has gone through? why have they gone to such expense of having a rather large and expensive looking box of tricks in the front of the cab which is obviously some form of computer which must be GPS enabled. I am guessing here but I would imagine that every trip that a driver does is recorded by the Verifone system with geo located pick up and set down plus the metered fare between the two points, why do they need all of this information? they must have bigger plans for our trade than the are letting on at present.

So what is the problem? the drivers within this trade have always wanted something for nothing, they want to accept credit cards but don’t want to pay to have the facility to do so, they want to have apps that customers can book us through but they do not want to put up any of their won money to develop an app, basically through our own lack of foresight we are letting our trade and customer base be taken away from us until in the end we will be no different from a PH driver waiting for our next job from an app that we will pay dearly for.

We need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, rather than looking for short term gain we need to start to invest our own money into our own trade for our own future, we need to have our own app that is owned by drivers for drivers and paid for by drivers with loyal drivers working that app.

At present our future looks worrying and yet with the availability of new technology and its relatively cheap costs this should be an exciting and promising time for our trade but it needs to be orchestrated by the right people with the good of the trade at heart, not those from outside of our trade who’s sole interest is to make a quick buck in a short time and sod the consequences once they have departed.

We have already let most aspects of our trade be taken away from us due to the fact that we cannot unite, we have parasites earning their living off of the backs of cab drivers, never forget that every business that earns a living directly or indirectly gets their money because of you, the working taxi driver, every penny they earn comes through you passenger window or partition payment window.

I could have gone into this in a lot more detail but will allow you to think about this subject before I look at other aspects of this issue.

 

Be Lucky out there

Too Much Negativity

 

It really gets me down the amount of negativity that we have within our trade, whenever you read a trade newspaper or online blog it seems that every article is full of negativity, we never seem to be able to see the positive side of things! Yes there are times when a certain issue or situation is reported and it cannot be presented in any other way than having a negative slant, but we need to start looking at issues and trying to find something positive within them.

The morale of our trade is probably at the lowest I have ever known since entering it some 20 odd years ago and all this negativity does not help to build the morale of the drivers who make up our trade. We need to start to try and build morale within our trade so that we can build a solid future for its members.

Lets just look at one issue that has recently been reported on various media, lets look at the issue of PH drivers no longer being required to take an additional DSA driving test to obtain their PH license, most have reported this with a negative slant to the article and to some extent moaning about the fact the PH Association have managed to get the DSA test for PH drivers scrapped and crying that this is one rule for them and another for us! Well they are correct in what they are saying but the negative slant does nothing for morale and also if the general public read these articles they just get the impression that we are a load of moaning old taxi drivers.

So lets look at the same issue from another angle and try to put a more positive slant on it, the way that our trade should have reported it is as follows:

DSA Driving Test Scrapped for Private Hire Drivers

LTPH have decided to remove the requirement for Private Hire drivers to take an additional DSA driving test, Private Hire operators argued that the additional driving test was adding an unnecessary cost to those who wish to become PH drivers, this is obviously good news for the Licensed London Taxi trade in London as before gaining their license prospective taxi drivers still have to undertake an additional DSA driving test which incorporates an element of dealing with disabled passengers and those in wheelchairs. This difference in requirements between PH drivers and London Taxi Drivers reinforces the London Taxi Trade as having the best and most highly qualified and regulated drivers in the world which obviously helps with passenger safety.

The PH trade argued for the scrapping of the additional DSA test purely on a cost basis without considering the safety aspect surrounding the scrapping of these tests whereas the Licensed London Taxi Trade are happy to absorb the cost of these tests to ensure that drivers who enter our trade are of the highest standard and are tested on dealing with loading and unloading disabled passengers, it also means that when you get a Licensed London Taxi you can be sure that the drivers has a high competence of driving and hasn’t just entered the trade with a license that he got in his own Country by visiting his local post office.

In conclusion this is good news for our trade as our standards are being kept at a higher level than those of the PH trade and reinforces our reputation of being the best in the World.

TLC Addapps Press Release

@tweetalondoncab and addapps ltd are please to announce the launch of a joint taxi booking app for use in London and eventually nationally.

Tweetalondoncab (TLC) and addapps have a unique synergy which we TLC, will earn a significant % of profits, to be reinvested in new technology and build a service that connects drivers to customers in a cost effective way using a "not for profit" ethos, leaving TLC unshackled by the need to pay back investors seeking a return or the payment of share holder dividends.

Our service will grow virally and use our driver ambassadors to sell us to the taxi riding public, those same drivers are our only stakeholders who will benefit as our profit split deal with addapps bears fruit.

The directors of TLC want it made public and clear that at the appropriate time TLC will be placed into trust to prevent it ever being sold off for any persons personal gain. All TLC drivers are considered stakeholders in our service and it is hoped they will participate in every aspect of developing the service.

enthusiastic about the prospects offered by many drivers working together as a business unit, we have many and varied skills amongst taxi drivers and we invite interested drivers with any appropriate skills to step forward and join us.

TLCtaxiapp is available now in the app store and android market, all licensed London taxi drivers are invited to download the app and use it free of charge. The service is young and a trickle of work is beginning to grow. We hope drivers will be inspired by our "not for profit" mind set and help us grow and redress the apparent imbalance between ourselves and lesser private hire operations who steal customers who would prefer to use a licensed London taxi cab.

TLC thanks the 100 drivers who had the vision to contribute the small membership fee which has financed our deal with addapps, without their small contributions TLC would not have been able to take such a huge step forward and we ask you all to consider what might be possible if we converted that 100 visionary drivers into 1,000 or even 10,000.

(TLC is non political and applauds all who give up time to better the working cabbies lot)

TLC is

Kind Regards
Lee Patterson
TLCtaxi
feedback@tlctaxi.co.uk
www.TLCtaxi.co.uk

LOCOG Announce Official Private Hire Ranks for the Olympics

For many weeks now, drivers from the eastern suburban sector 2 which covers the area of Newham, have been complaining about the way their local ranks have been disappearing. Virtually all the taxi rank signage has disappeared from the borough.

Although we have had repeated announcements from TFL that private hire would not under any circumstance be allowed to apply for hire, we now find out that LOCOG are arranging to have a number of private hire ranks in place for many venues the Olympic and Paralympic games.

What the hell has our representative bodies been doing at the official trade meetings and planning stages.

Where is our representation from the joint ranks committee, chaired by the LTDAs Richard Masset?

Why have we not read about this in the Taxi trade media?

How have the UTG let this happen?

Verifone Credit Card System

Today I had the misfortune of having to drive a Taxi that was fitted with the Verifone Credit Card Payment System. I must say that I was surprised at the amount of equipment that Verifone have fitted into the taxi which at first glance seemed to be a little bit of overkill but i suppose verifone are looking to the future with the TV screen being able to show geo-located adverts.

 

The thing that disappointed me somewhat was how intrusive the equipment was, when looking in the rear view mirror all I could see was the credit card terminal that is installed in the back of the Taxi! Also the way in which the front terminal is fitted to the dashboard leaves a lot to be desired, the thing shakes around and rattles continuously making the driving experience quite unpleasant, surely they could have found a better way of fitting the front terminal, also it could have been fitted in a better position to allow the driver to go on a radio circuit if they so desired.

In conclusion I was quite disappointed with the installation of this system and feel that they really need to improve the front mounting bracket as the noise coming from the front terminal would drive me insane!

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