Taxis, Ubers and the Bitter Pill – by Lucy Watson

An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014. A Frankfurt high court will hold a hearing on a recent lawsuit brought against Uberpop by Taxi Deutschland on Tuesday.  San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, offers two main services, Uber, its classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service, and Uberpop, a newer ride-sharing service, which connects private drivers to passengers - an established practice in Germany that nonetheless operates in a legal grey area of rules governing commercial transportation. The company has faced regulatory scrutiny and court injunctions from its early days, even as it has expanded rapidly into roughly 150 cities around the world.   REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CRIME LAW TRANSPORT)

Ok, so it’s a Friday night, and you’re a bit thirsty. This a perfectly reasonable thing for you to be feeling – it’s the weekend. You’ve had a tough week at work and you’d just like to unwind. So imagine you walk into a bar. After all, bars serve drinks, don’t they? And drinks are delicious and refreshing. Only when you get to the bar it takes 20-30 minutes for the bartender to arrive. You stand there. You check your watch. “This is odd,” you think. “It’s a Friday night. Aren’t they expecting me?”

Suddenly they appear; 3 or 4 bartenders rush in, but they keep just walking past you, for no apparent reason, even though they don’t appear to be busy. “How weird, isn’t it their job to serve me?”

Finally one of them comes up to you and asks you what you want. When you say, “Just a beer, please.” he walks off, as this order is not big enough to warrant his time. “But,” you think, shaking your head in confusion, “I just want a beer, isn’t this the place I come for that?”

After another interminably long and frustrating time another bartender comes up to you. He’s on the phone to someone else but takes your order. When you ask for a beer, he rolls his eyes, says OK and continues talking on the phone. He then wanders around the bar for another ten minutes, and can’t seem to find the beer anywhere. It’s like he doesn’t know where he’s going. He also continues talking on the phone this entire time. You try to talk to him a couple of times, but then you realise he’s not talking to you. I mean, why would he be talking to you, he’s only serving you?!

After what seems like forever, you get your beer. You go to pay, and get out your credit card. He tells you there will be a surcharge for using your card. “WTAF?! It’s 2015?! Why would I be charged extra to pay by card?!”

The next morning you wake up, and you realise that you left your bag at the bar, so you ring head office, but there is no record of who was serving you, or that you were even there.

Would you go back to that bar? Of course you wouldn’t. Except if that bar was the only bar in town, so if you wanted a drink, it was the only place you could go.

Until, all of a sudden, there’s a new bar in town. There’s lots of bar staff, and they’re always very prompt and friendly with their service. You know their name, and you can even rate them, so you know you’re getting the best service. The drinks are cheaper, and not only are you not penalised for using a card, you are charged automatically so you don’t even have to worry about paying! It would seem like a miracle.

Now would you go back to the old bar? Of course you wouldn’t.

That’s why taxis striking today is so ridiculous. This isn’t about regulations, or fairness. This is about service.

People use Uber because it offers them something they have been missing. You want to beat them, taxi drivers? Don’t look at the government. Look at your customers. They’re the ones you’ve been driving past on Smith St at 1am. They’re the ones you’re charging extra for using a credit card. They’re the ones you’re not talking to in the back of your car when you drive them home. They’re the ones who have good money, and just want a safe, comfortable and pleasant drive home.

You want to win? Do better.

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  1. September 10, 2015

    It’s much like the demise of the ice (water, not the drug) industry when cheap, available and reliable technology replaced the need to get ice manufactured and delivered to your home or work place. I’m speaking about the refrigerator, you wouldn’t go back to using blocks of ice to keep things cool would you? Technology progresses how we do things in our lives and thus make our live simpler and better. So either evolve and join the party or get out of the way.

    1. Dionysis
      September 11, 2015

      You forgot to mention that this new bar operates illegally and doesn’t have a license to serve alcohol therefore it can serve you this cheaper booze. Also this new bar being clean and fresh that’s this year cause it’s new, next year when you and your mates have thrown up all over the bar a few times it starts to smell like your old bar. Also it’s subsidising it’s barmen until it closes down the old bar , thats why these new barmen seem happier and chearfull Once the old bar is closed this fantastic new bar will start to resemble the old bar as it’s barmen realise that they’re not earning what they used to earn and they have to supply their own booze to sell at this new bar so they stop being chirpy and friendly.

      1. Brian
        September 11, 2015

        I love the way this person used the same analogy back on the author . Two good reads. Only thing that annoys me about taxis is their grumpy face when they realise I’m not going that far. Had to stop using apps with them when I was living in one suburb as none of them would take the fair. Apparently Uber doesn’t the driver where the fair is to. Uber also uses dynamic prices so the author is not really correct when she states it’s cheaper . Sometimes, around peak it’s actually dearer. But yes, I mean taxi drivers increasing charges on a debit card is just rediculous. Good on uber for making them accountable and adding competition. There is room for both. Taxi drivers should go buy their own car and uber and get away from the clutches of the big boys/companies who own the plates and take half their fairs. Drivers end up getting nothing for an entire 12 hour shift which is probably why they are so disinterested in customers. Although I have met some nice ones.

      2. September 12, 2015

        As soon as they can they will get rid of all the bartenders and replace the with vending machines.

      3. Jordan
        September 15, 2015

        “Sometimes, around peak it’s actually dearer” Huh? What peak? Clearly you’ve never used Urber X. I’m an Uber X driver. One passenger I had several weeks ago had worked out that if the rate ‘surges’ to x2.0 UberX its still works out cheaper than a taxi.

      4. Doc
        September 12, 2015

        Obviously it’s a matter of service. When you have to wait on hold for 20 mins for someone to answer the phone, and 1st available is half an hour later it’s bad service. Taxi drivers need to have a better system and better service. Of course people want an alternative, we’re not sheep!

      5. Rodcket
        September 21, 2015

        The old barman is supposed to serve you when he passes. To skip you because your order is small is illegal. Get his ID number and report him.
        I found the old barman also (illegally) charged extra for a booking fee, even though I was ordering right from him. He also (illegally) charged extra for carrying the drinks to the bar and for opening the door for my elderly mother.
        The barman may be legal, but his practices sure aren’t.
        If the old bar is screaming that the new bar is illegal, start reporting the old bar for all their illegal practices.

  2. Joel
    September 10, 2015

    Uber is cheaper because taxis are forced to pay higher rego (6k per year), a taxi licence (upwards of 200k), and other safety systems in the car which adds up to thousands of dollars. So yes we need to look at the government to change this so it’s a fair playing field. The customers can’t change this

    1. editor
      September 10, 2015

      I agree that Uber should be regulated in some way. I have had some great taxi drivers and it does make me sad the system is screwing them over. But people aren’t just using Uber bc it’s cheaper. I use it in surge pricing too, and it’s far more expensive. Taxis need to look at their service and wonder why people are really going to Uber in droves.

    2. Shane
      September 11, 2015

      This is only part of the picture, what gets lost in this is the level of service. A couple of mints a bottle of water from Aldi isnt going to break the bank.

      Being friendly and offering something more than just a ride is a huge part of the Uber experience and something that the Taxi industry could focus on.

      But instead of actually trying to improve their product they just want that nasty competitor removed by the government.

      1. Jules
        September 11, 2015

        Shane, we don’t want to remove them. We are not afraid of competition when it is played on the existing, newly constructed, playing field. The Victorian Taxi Industry Inquiry dealt with all aspects and 138 recommendations were adopted and legislated by the Napthine government. The Act is in place to protect you, the travelling public. They, by their own admission are operating in the same capacity as us and so just need to abide by these regs and get on with it. Then, we’ll see some real competition. Bring it on.

      2. Dave
        September 12, 2015

        When taxi industry people talk about the “level playing field” they really mean they want uber drivers to buy a t plate that costs near half a million dollars. The other stuff is just trivia, and only expensive because of the ridiculous mark-up from the operators. Despite the spin, the stuff fitted to taxis doesn’t enhance passenger safety at all, that equipment is just 1990’s tech supposed protect drivers from the fact that they have no idea who is getting in the car. Back as far as 1993 the productivity commission was pointing out that the artificially low number of cars hiked prices and reduced service. Increasing the number of cars would lower plate values, and the owners went to work lobbying government.For another two decades we have been ripped off by a parasitic industry that charges a vastly inflated price to essentially run a call centre. Additional rego (pro rated) and three times a year rwc’s fair enough. But a plate owner has made a dud investment. Sorry mate, but tough.

    3. Cold Hard Truth
      September 12, 2015

      The problem is the taxi licensing set up is designed for people already in and takes massive advantage of the drivers. Even with regulation if they took away the medalion and forced people to pay a licensing fee, uber would win out.

  3. Myles
    September 10, 2015

    Nail. Head. Well done

  4. Mani
    September 10, 2015

    the thing what I am trying to understand is if uber pay the same fees and tax to govt. and start providing the service same as taxi then who wins ? Taxi drivers or public ?
    One more thing , I still haven’t heard one statement from taxi driver Union that they are going to lift their game ! Or have they even thought about it ?

  5. Colin
    September 10, 2015

    I use UBER for several reasons:
    Nicer vehicles and drivers.
    Drivers know where they’re going, and most offer free hospitality things like mints, water, or plugging in your phone to charge.
    If you leave something behind you can contact them.
    It’s a bit cheaper but I still use it during price surge.

    The main reason I use UBER is because a car turns up and picks me up in less than 5 mins.

    UBER just does the service so much better.

    1. bazz
      September 12, 2015

      fact .most of uber drivers didn’t pass the geography test that taxi drivers have to pass as part of thiers licence process.. just take the mobile from the driver and you be like a fly without head.

      1. Naomi
        September 12, 2015

        If that’s true, then why have I had to give directions to the driver in the last five taxis I caught in the Melbourne CBD, when I was only traveling five blocks? Not one of them knew how to get from Southern Cross Station to the corner of King Street and Batman Street. Geography test? I’d be seriously wondering about that.

      2. Crying
        September 12, 2015

        It’s a non argument. Like all the industries (music, film, Foxtel, chemists, etc) that had monopolies they provide poor service and have tried to stitch up their laziness by inventing laws (copywriter anyone?). And then act like they are looking after their artists, drivers, etc. What a load of bollocks.
        Like Uber, they only care for themselves. So what? It’s business.
        But with the rapid change in technology and the service it can help provide, the ones who provide the service will win. There are ways around everything.
        Napster spelt the death of the music industry and do you think the record companies took heed. No of course not. They tried to use their bullshit laws to enforce their monopoly. Instead of sitting back and saying “hey, we need to change our model”.
        And governments like this one, passing laws for isp’s to monitor ‘lawbreakers’ are just as idiotic. It won’t happen and in a couple of years it will be irrelevant because everything will be subscription based and bundled and tailored for what the CUSTOMER wants, not what they tell us we are going to get.
        Same goes here. Give the customer what they want and they won’t go anywhere. Level playing field? Pfft. Where’s the level playing field been for the last 50 years.
        Yes it’s unfortunate people have spent large amounts of money on a bad investment.

        But you know what. I’ve invested in some bad horses that didn’t run to their potential. Not anyone else’s problem.
        The only safe investments are bricks and mortar long term. Everything else is changing so much it’s risky. And fine if you want to take that risk. But when the playing field changes, be prepared to do your dough.

        We all want the convenience of technology. We all want the benefits of globalisation ($5 t-shirts, iPads made by slave children, etc). Well here it is. Take it all or shut your hypocritical mouths and go live in a commune.

        And it doesn’t matter about moralising or opinion. It’s happening. Adapt or perish. Simple.

      3. David
        October 14, 2015

        WOW! Love it.
        This is the best argument for Uber I’ve heard yet

  6. Richard Hordern-Gibbings
    September 10, 2015

    Great article Lucy. The vast majority of taxi drivers in Sydney have been taking their customers for years. Now that there is an alternative that is superior in every single way, they are crying foul.

    Spilt milk and good riddance.

  7. Scott
    September 11, 2015

    I’m an avid Uber user since i discovered it in the States a couple of years back. Although, regulations do cost taxi drivers a huge amount more than Uber which in turn is the price rise.

    The taxi companies should’ve been proactive about this seeing how Uber was successful in the states and updating their mobile presence to create an app similar for their service. It’s not our fault another player has entered the market.

    It’s kind of like the Winklevoss twins trying to sue Mark Zuckerberg for FB.

    I think one of the only solutions is to integrate ‘taxi’ into the Uber app like they have done in the States.

    1. Jules
      September 11, 2015

      Scott, we already have apps and indeed have had them for near on 6 years. Are you not savvy? The difference is we as yet do not record your card details and we still allow cash payments for those who don’t own smartphones or wish to pay by card. We cater for ALL travellers, not just some.

      1. SeenTheLight
        September 11, 2015

        I had used the taxi apps 6 times prior to using uber. 4 of the times, the taxi drivers lied and claimed on the app that they had picked me up, and my logged request had therefore disappeared. I was left high and dry, and didn’t realise my request had disappeared until I’d been waiting a long time and called the taxi company to find out what was going on… And you can imagine how friendly the taxi company was when they had to talk to a customer on the phone.

        I guess I’ve now used über over 20 times, and not once have I had an issue with being picked up where and when the app says I’ll be picked up. I’ve not yet encountered a driver who’s lied about picking me up either.

      2. PG
        September 11, 2015

        There is a great Australian app called GoCatch which is the taxi services I use it all the time You can pre book as well as book at the time. It’s a service that I always use over and above uber as it gives me more flexibility in payment in- fact I find it better than uber

      3. Tim
        September 11, 2015

        Problem with go catch is that they ask for an end destination so if you are going on a small trip taxis won’t come. Has happened me heaps. We can’t choose the move parts of our job and lose the bad parts so why should taxis …

  8. Brad Adams
    September 11, 2015

    You fail to mention that “your new bar” is only open when it pleases them and not always when you want it. That it’s only in very few locations, like try getting Uber in the outer suburbs of Melbourne like Frankston, Dandenong etc. Or in the pouring rain when you only need to go 5 blocks or from the Airport to Mickleham Road and see how many Uber take that job. You have seen a service through very rose coloured glasses. You won’t find any Uber driver sitting 2 hours at the airport waiting for your flight or being up at 3am to take the first train driver to work to start the entire metropolitan transport network. People won’t realise just what taxi drivers do until they go missing for a day and your entire train network grinds to a halt. (Silvertop take every first train driver to their rail heads in the morning and then pick up the last driver and take them back to their start point) No taxi’s = no trains either.

    1. editor
      September 11, 2015

      Of course, my article is a very simplified look at a complex problem. And I still take taxis to and from the airport etc. I have also had some fantastic taxi drivers who have given me great service. And yes, Uber is limited, and needs to be regulated in some way. But I guess I was just saying that people are using Uber for a reason. Instead of complaining, taxis should be looking at how they can improve their own service. They’ve had a monopoly for far too long.

      1. Velovibes
        September 11, 2015

        While I agree with the notion that competition for the taxi industry is good for consumers, the real issues do not get addressed.

        For example, having to pay to use a credit card for payment is in fact a good thing to fight the terrible oligopoly of MC, Visa and AMEX in the credit card industry. Customers need to be able to choose the cheapest payment option. Otherwise these credit card companies can charge businesses ridiculous fees because they know customers will generally prefer to pay by card and businesses will have to raise their prices accordingly to compensate. The problem with these card charges in the taxi industry has been Cabcharge which has a near monopoly and can charge what they want. Now we see more payment processing alternatives appear.

        Another big problem is that all these taxi drivers are told to operate as a contractor thereby shifting all risks and responsibilities to the driver. In addition they are usually required to pay the owner around $200 per shift (I Sydney at least) regardless of revenue generated by the driver during the shift. As a result taxi drivers earn a minimal amount which is reflected in the service quality you experience as a customer. The taxi/license plate owners are not motivated to increase their driver’s service standards in this model, they are getting a guaranteed income.

        The license plate owners have had to fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars per plate and are of course looking to recoup that cost asap. The high plate cost often prevents drivers from purchasing their own plate and more in general it is an obstacle for new entrants, which is not good for competition.

        In short, the main point I want to make is not to blame it all on the taxi drivers who are largely victims of the system.

      2. Velovibes
        September 11, 2015

        Oh I forgot one major issue for those in areas where you don’t see many taxis: if you book a taxi, even if you book it a day in advance, the ‘job’ will not be dispatched to drivers until 15 min before you are due to leave. Very often you will never see a taxi because no driver is interested in taking the job as there are other more lucrative jobs they can get
        That to me is the biggest flaw of the system. You cannot be guaranteed a taxi ever. Kind of hard if you need to catch a flight.

      3. September 11, 2015

        Agreed! I live in the outer suburbs. My dad was ill, had to stay with me and needed to use taxis during the day. Sigh. They didn’t turn up most of the time. The dispatch people were rude. He always waited outside because he was slow. They always said they driver turned up and no one was there. Had the same thing happen to me when i was getting my car repaired. Then they told me that i lived in a really short street and therfore the number i was giving them was wrong. I don’t live in a short street. They said my street was only 200 metres long. Ugh! My street is at least two km long and it’s a new estate so the street hasn’t been fully finished yet.

      4. Anthony
        September 12, 2015

        Exactly! After missing a flight, that was it for me.

    2. Alex
      September 11, 2015

      Brad, that is partly true although in fringe areas like that I’ve found with taxis they accept the booking and just never show up. At least Uber tells you there’s no one available.

    3. September 11, 2015

      @brad I lived in Essendon and used to fly weekly for work. Can’t tell you the number of times i got abused because i was a short fare. One time i told the driver to pull out and let me out on the freeway! The only way i could avoid getting abused was to get into a taxi upstairs at the drop off. In addition, the taxis in Melbourne are some of the most expensive in the world. About half the taxi drivers are fantastic! But that’s only 50%. About one in four taxis stink of cigarettes or pot or just bad BO. I have yet to use uber, but I’m hoping the competition will see improvements in the general taxi population.

  9. Cherie
    September 11, 2015

    Oh and uber is illegal people and do not contribute to our economy. If you ride in one you are actually a criminal. Anyone who uses uber is just a too cool, mindless upstart who cannot see the bigger picture. All companies including the criminal uber have good and bad drivers and experiences. Seriously they have mints and water?! Big deal! Can’t believe people actually fall for that as a positive thing. Of course they are cheaper. They don’t pay TAX or have exhorbitant regulatory fees. Open ur minds people and think outside your little city dwelling too cool for school bubble!

    1. Alex
      September 11, 2015

      I think you mean UberX there, not “all of uber”. And its illegality is questionable at best. This is why the Government doesn’t know how to deal with this.

      1. Jules
        September 11, 2015

        They are illegally operating Alex. In Queensland under cease and desist orders. No matter the state governments that inform them of this matter, their answer is well regulate us, oh but no, not under that reg, or that one, or even that one, We want this and this and this. Because we don’t fall under that, or that, or that. Really? Pardon me? Who is running this country? Watch this space!

      2. Plainly
        September 13, 2015

        Ah yes jules. Capitalism. Free market. Manipulated by monopolies with power and money. Laws invented by that greed.
        They are bogus laws that the consumer is no longer buying.
        Laws are only relevant if the majority of the population deem they are. In this case and many others over the last 10 or so years (music copywrite and distribution laws being one), the population is saying these laws are bogus.

        If they try and go the legal angle and not change to adapt they will perish. Like the music industry It’s not even about right or wrong. It’s about what WILL happen.

    2. Shane
      September 11, 2015

      If water, mints and being nice isn’t anything why arent the Taxi companies now offering these services along with the government regulated service?

      Why arent the Taxi companies adopting the existing apps that allow for tracking cars and rating drivers (that existed long before Uber)???

      The refusal to look at their product for improvement drives the younger customers further and further away from them.

      1. bazz
        September 12, 2015

        taxi drivers are not giving mints and water just because thy follow the code of conduct been given by the government.not give customers any food or drinks or demonstrate medicine…to not fell into any legal matters as consequences. .. what if been given sleeping substance in that? people now a days amazed by any this and can do anything to be in..thy think its cools when they say I took this ride sharing and been given water and

    3. Billy C
      September 11, 2015

      Uber may well be illegal in Victoria for the driver but it’s certainly not a crime to pay an unlicensed taxi driver. So no problem for us passengers.

      Taxi’s are a form of public transport. The problem is that the licenses became and investment. It should be simple. You want a taxi license? You need to drive the car at least 3 days a week yourself. So drivers will make more money as they will be getting the owners share as well. Higher wages will attract better drivers. Or just lower the license fees for private hire care licenses and let Uber drivers buy one for a few hundred dollars.

      1. September 12, 2015

        Certainly not a crime to pay an unlicensed driver. Whose going to pay when there is an accident and no valid insurance. Not legal, no insurance. The one to end up being sued the driver. No winners at all except Uber with their 20% to 35% of the fare.

    4. Anthony
      September 12, 2015

      I would agree that both companies have good and bad drivers – but after using Uber daily for the past 6 months I haven’t had a single rude driver. I have never once had to rate them anything but 5 stars.

    5. Judith
      September 12, 2015

      I think that most people are under a misconception about Uber. The media just reports about UberX which is a service contracted to private car owners who elect to offer lifts to the public and is a more recent option. And, of course, the media only likes stories that are controversial. I have been using Uber for 3 years in Sydney (not UberX). Prior to that, taxis would rarely come to our home unless they considered our fare to be substantial so we were unable to get a taxi to a restaurant to avoid drink driving. Along comes Uber and Uber Black. Uber Black is more expensive than a taxi but you get a premium car (Audi etc) and service – great for a special night out or airport service. Uber (regular service) is when you book a taxi through Uber (you just get a normal taxi like Combined or similar) at the Uber rate and you can track the taxi through the app so you know how far away it is, who the driver is etc and pay on your credit card at no surcharge. The beauty of this is that you do not have to advise the destination until the taxi arrives, so the driver can’t preclude picking you up and everything is trackable. If you leave something in the cab, you know exactly who the driver was – you can rate them and they can rate you. You receive a receipt almost immediately after you arrive at your destination. Everything is transparent. Uber selects it’s taxi contracters so the taxis are usually of a higher standard. I hate getting taxis through the usual taxi radio service and their cars are often clapped out old stationwagons that shouldn’t be on the road. Uber was introduced so that the public can get some service and it’s time the taxi business upped their game. So, in a nutshell, Uber isn’t just about UberX which is just a small part of their business. Uber does police checks and vehicle roadworthy checks on all UberX drivers and they have insurance to cover any claims.
      I wonder how many taxi drivers (not cab owners) have had police checks done on them. There are also lots of taxis on the road who’s road worthiness is suspect. As an overseas traveller, our Sydney taxis in the main are an embarrassment.

  10. bunghole
    September 11, 2015

    Now imagine someone in the bar has had 1 too many drinks and mistakes you for someone else. A fight breaks out. The culprit can’t be charged because no one saw it and there aren’t any cameras.

    1. editor
      September 11, 2015

      But you have the name, number plate and phone number of the driver. More than you get in a taxi…

    2. bazz
      September 12, 2015

      thanks bughole…you said part of what I was gonna say..the author wrote this beautiful article..but through her eyes only..I wonder what is old bartender saw written on her forehread .may be he saw too much milk in her blood that day and didn’t want to offend her and told her the bear is not enough order..may be saw written im trouble. and I will screw this bar tonight. as they are traind to read body language.the old bartenders takes care of thier safty and thats a right given to them..your new bartender is not been tested yet. make sure after a long night when you fell into a coma in thier cars you are not been filmed… as there is no evidence for you to sweet little sister

  11. Rob
    September 11, 2015

    Uber IS taxed, we pay GST and have to have our own ABN (as of 1 AUG 2015) so dont listen to the lies the taxi industry is pushing. As a driver myself once to 20% goes to uber then another 30% in tax, then take out fuel there is not much left. If anyone doesn’t pay tax then as directed by the Australian tax office you will be found as uber sends the information directly to them. I only know this as ive only recently had to sort it all through the ATO and ABR. So the comment above can be dismissed. Its a great platform to use. Keep it up uber.

    1. September 12, 2015

      No, that’s the whole point Uber isn’t taxed you are. You even pay Ubers share of the GST as well as your share and your own own personal tax. Ubers 20% share of the fare is safely away in Amsterdam so they don’t pay any company tax in Australia. Actually , I calculate after all costs and tax you would struggle to make $3 to $4 an hour. And at the end of 3 or 4 years all you will have to show for the experience is a worn out worthless car and the undying gratitude of all the people you provided cheap fares for ? Rob you are being conned, there will only ever be one winner—not you, not the customer(when the taxi industry is gone), not the taxi industry—-UBER.
      Latest news out of the states, Uber has increased their cut to 25% and is trialling 30% in some areas. I freely admit the taxi industry isn’t perfect but UBER have put new meaning to the word EXPLOITATION.

  12. Jess
    September 11, 2015

    You don’t want to tell a taxi driver that has waited for 3 hours at the airport that you live in Coburg north… On a weekly basis I’d be scoffed at like I purposely chose to ruin the dudes day. It’s worse for my mum in Tullamarine! I used to go to departures and get into a taxi that had just dropped off someone, but the last time a c word from the airport went to fine the taxi driver for taking me. I feel for taxis a lot, and even though I have the uber app, with a baby I can’t use them because they don’t use baby car seats, where taxis don’t need them – which generally means I use neither these days – but the service I get is terrible a lot of the time… And on TWO occasions pre being a mumma I was followed to my door in the dark by taxi drivers – one tried to push me inside until I screamed for my pretend boyfriend and neighbours then he ran off. I tried to report the incident to the taxi company but because I hailed it it wasn’t recorded, and I couldn’t be sure which service I had used. I’m sorry, but uber seems safer to me… The taxes and licence fee for taxis should be looked at, but don’t bull shit me, you’ll have your older generation that don’t use Apps, and in the meantime pick up your game.. I know the U.S. Worked out a way for both to co exist- even taking some personal cars off the road for lack of necessity.
    Viva la über (and taxis once you’ve picked up your game… The monopoly is over!!)

  13. Melanie
    September 11, 2015

    The reason Uber is so preferable is because you know who the drivers are and they’re held accountable.

    The fact that they rely on a user rating system means that if they want to keep their job, their car needs to be clean and they need to provide friendly and professional service.

    Although this is the case in some taxis, if their taxi is filthy and their service is rude and horrible, they’re almost anonymous, there’s no way to hold them accountable and therefore no reason to improve their service.

    Why wouldn’t I prefer to ride in a brand new Audi than a dirty, smelly Prius with a rude driver?

  14. September 11, 2015

    I like beer.

  15. September 11, 2015

    Do you guys go to a Registered Doctor or a Backyard witch doctor when you are sick? Taxi v Uber is the same principle .

    1. Anthony
      September 12, 2015

      Yes, because driving a car and being a medical practitioner are totally the same things.

    2. Ben
      September 12, 2015

      Irrelevant comparison – The average Uber driver is typically more experienced and a better driver for a start, they resemble the expertise of a doctor more than many of the hapless cap drivers I’ve had over the years.

      There is also a clear distinction in principle about dealing with your health and quality of life vs your day to day transportation needs, obviously the latter is less important. To use an oversimplified simile like yourself, it doesn’t really matter that if drive a 2014 Mercedes or 1995 Nissan to the supermarket but I would be concerned if someone performing brain surgery on me was not a brain surgeon.

  16. Aya
    September 11, 2015

    Hmmm. I like the parallels. Like the prohibition, only selling alcohol and consuming it is done predominantly without the focus on health and wellbeing; people getting to and from places safely is a whole different arena. People do not take up drinking to get healthy. They do take transport options to travel safely.

  17. Jackie
    September 11, 2015

    That “new bar” that is giving the great service is also serving without a food or liquor license. Also, for some reason none of their staff require a RSA, RSG, Gaming Nominee, Approved Manager, Food Safety Supervisor or any of that silly regulatory stuff.
    OLGR and the councils won’t say anything to them or shut them down, but in the meantime all the other bar owners have to not only pay their annual fees but they have to ensure all of their staff are appropriately trained and have the certificates to prove it at a huge cost to them.

    It is great for the customers that they are adding competition to the field and driving down prices but it is not so great for the poor guys that invested $200k in to buying a taxi license and the cab itself. The reason why the taxi industry is taking issue with the government, is because the taxi licenses are issued and are (supposed to be) regulated by the government.

    I understand what your article is, a fun play on words that attacks the big bad taxi industry, but just so we are clear, the taxi industry is made up of thousands of men and women, statistically speaking, a large number of which are baby boomers that are set to retire in the next few years. So if the Government isn’t going to regulate Uber, basically the 200k investment that these guys have made via the Government is now completely devalued. Do you still really think these guys don’t have a bone to pick with the Government?

    1. Scott
      September 11, 2015

      You just nullified the article; respect.

      1. editor
        September 11, 2015

        So just ignore the voices of the public, and shut down your competitors? Doesn’t sound like good business to me. Every other industry has had to deal with big bang disruptions from digital competitors. Why should the taxi industry be protected by outdated legislation, that is frankly unfair to the thousands of men and women who work in it. By all means, regulate Uber. I’m not saying it should be free from laws, and safeguards. But if taxis still had the trust of the public then people wouldn’t be using Uber. So perhaps the real problem is the relationship the taxi industry has with the public. Which judging by the response I got to this article is in a dire state.

      2. September 12, 2015

        One question, since when has a car and driver been a part of digital competition ?

      3. Freddie
        September 12, 2015

        It’s not john, but service is. And like many industries going down the toilet because of having a monopoly and being complacent and inventing laws to maintain that monopoly, they are going down. (Music, film, traditional media, retail, etc) Nothing you, or I can do about it.
        The technology is the vehicle for service, not the car.

    2. Fourex
      September 12, 2015

      Unfortunately Jackie these regulations are bogus. They are not ‘real’ laws. They are laws to protect a monopoly.
      The music industry had (still has officially but pretty much irrelevant now) their laws with copywrite and distribution of music. The public basically declared these laws are rubbish (as they are) and now they are screwed. Yes lots of people lost money, jobs,etc. but it’s a fact of progress and globalisation driven by technology and challenging antiquated law.

      Trillions of dollars have been lost in a variety of industries of the last 10 years or so due to the challenging of company invented laws, Internet and globalisation. This is the new world where the consumer rules.

      Nothing you, I, or the taxi association can do about it. Change your model or perish.

  18. bazz
    September 11, 2015

    I would certainly not let my girlfiend or sister or dear friend jumb in a car with this new bar tender who don’t have security safety camera…they means more to me than a bottle of water and a piece of mintiee.
    more safer for them to be in a marked car. specially if thy been out drinking.

    1. editor
      September 11, 2015

      a) you wouldn’t “let” them? Do they not get to make their own decisions?

      b) bc taxi drivers have never raped anyone??????

      c) I feel much safer in an Uber than a taxi. I have their name, phone number and number plate in my phone.

      1. Jess
        September 11, 2015

        Please refer to the message I made earlier… I like many of my female friends have been made to feel seriously unsafe with taxis! Plus no one could help me when I tried to report it… Learn what you’re talking about first dude. Uber seems to have a far safer system. Those video cameras are to protect the drivers… Not the passengers. Come on, unless you are a taxi driver yourself, you can’t possibly be against healthy competition!?

      2. bazz
        September 11, 2015

        1)I choosed the word let them when thy drink, I don’t compermize thier safty with a new found trend
        2) is the arrival of uber makes all taxi drivers rapers..or if some raped by one dentist you replace all of them by locksmiths?
        3) if you feel safer thats good but is actually makes you feel safer? unmarked Car? or no camera?not complying with the department of transport safty training?
        the only things for my friends about uber is that thy can cheat and drop by private car if thy busted thy can say it was ride sharing

      3. Jess
        September 11, 2015

        If my dentist raped me I’m pretty sure I’d be able to report it!

      4. September 12, 2015

        1. If it were a man would you feel different?
        2. Not all taxi drivers are rapists, though there have been several cases that do give them a bad name.
        3. The rating system makes riding Uber safer. If there are any complaints of inappropriate behavior of a driver they are removed from the system.

        I used taxi’s regularly prior to discovering Uber on a trip to the states, in that time i experienced the following:
        1. A driver who did not know where the Westgate Bridge is.
        2. A driver so tired that he fell asleep at the wheel & i had to grab the wheel to avoid a crash (1am on the freeway travelling at 100km p/h)
        3. A driver who’s personal odour was so pungent we wound down every window in the car in the middle of winter
        4. Missed a domestic flight due to a pre booked taxi not showing up
        5. Almost missed check-in cut off on an international flight (thankfully when i called the airline from the taxi they where understanding) again with a pre booked taxi
        6. A driver who refused to drive the shorter less costly route i requested as “the GPS says to go the other way”
        7. An overnight bag left in a taxi containing several expensive items which where never recovered as the driver did not turn them into the police or his company.
        8. Rude & unfriendly behavior (refusing to turn the music down etc.)
        9. Talking on the phone (illegal)
        10. Sexist comments i.e. “A girl like you should not be out alone at night, if you where my wife i would not let you be out this late or alone with another man”
        11. A taxi with it’s warning lights on
        12. A taxi that stopped for petrol and kept the meter on as he was filling up

        Each of these was reported and nothing was done about any of them, no compensation was provided to me for my lost belongings or for my replacement flights & i received not apologies or follow-up from the taxi company’s

        I have been using Uber for years now and have had only 1 issue with it, a domestic flight was missed as there was a car accident ahead of us on the way to the airport, Uber not only booked and paid for my replacement flights they also credited my uber account with $50 as an apology for the inconvenience. I have never felt unsafe or vulnerable using Uber which is the main reason that i choose Uber over taxi’s, forget the added extra’s (water, mints etc) & the cheaper fares (which are nice but not a decision factor for me), I choose Uber because i feel safe.

      5. Fourex
        September 12, 2015

        That’s fine Bazz, don’t use Uber. Simple.
        Your choice. Others choice is to ditch traditional manipulated taxi’s for an alternative.

        Don’t tell us what we should or shouldn’t do. We can make up our own mind 🙂

  19. Andy
    September 11, 2015

    The King is dead. Long live the King.

    I love Uber and use it in London almost once a week. It’s fast, secure and a LOT cheaper. Black cabs hate driving me out of London and often refused a journey unless it conveniently ties into the end of their shift. Uber drivers know up front and always arrive on time. A black cab would be £120, whereas I’ve paid from £38-68 with Uber. It’s a no brainer.

    Oh and for the rating thing; they also rate you back. So if you’re in this “new bar” and you’ve had too many and are getting angry, then you’ll get a negative rating and essentially get “barred”. I’ve heard anecdotally from drivers that the less stars YOU have, the less likely you are to get a taxi. So be polite 🙂

  20. Mark
    September 11, 2015

    Man o man! It’s amazing how many different excuses the taxi industry can think of…In Melbourne they are rude, try and overcharge and slow. Now those are the reasons competition is winning. If not uber then the multitude that will follow. If you want to stick around, take a good hard look at yourself taxi and co. Me , I will never ever spend another cent with a rude, expensive service…and at the moment this is the taxi industry in Australia.

  21. Chris
    September 11, 2015

    I understand the taxi industry griping. I use Uber though simply because its cheaper and they don’t refuse to drive me from the city to my outer suburb. I know how long I need to wait and so far they have been very polite.

  22. Stephanie
    September 11, 2015

    We don’t see Woolworths and Coles banging on the doors of the regulatory bodies screaming about Aldi and Costco coming to town. They have responded like “big people” and looked at their own pricing and service, and made changes where it is deemed necessary….come on Australia. Wake Up….competition is good, and new ways of doing business are good too. Regulate Uber by all means, just as you would any big business in Australia, but if they can find loopholes (and it seems so far they have) then they are only doing what the big mining and pharmaceutical companies have been doing for years.

  23. Pingback: RIP Taxis of Melbourne, Hello Uber! | Newsli

  24. September 11, 2015

    Hey, you hit the nail on the head. Ive had constant problems every time Ive tried to use a taxi in the last 12 months , and it’s not a new thing. Your article inspired me to write about my own experiences with Taxis and Ubers, and Ive linked to and addressed your article too.

  25. Gavin
    September 11, 2015

    The service is often terrible when booking taxis but the problem with your analogy is the assumption that every customer arrives sober and civilised. Really?! That new bar can rate and pick their customers so it’s a more socially sophisticated model that is better at weeding out problem customers that ruin it for everyone. Better working conditions attract better people. If you want to crap in your own nest, thats fine, just don’t complain about the smell.

  26. Eddie
    September 11, 2015

    There is no comparison between Taxi industry & Uber. Details as follows:
    1. TAXI LICENCE – $200000 – $500000
    UBER – TILL 1ST AUGUST 2015 PAID NONE (promoting black economy)


  27. Patrick
    September 11, 2015

    This article has nailed the public’s sentiment

    This issue is purely about perceived customer service and safety – rightly or wrongly, it doesn’t matter

    Many, many people feel that they don’t get the customer service they would like when catching a taxi

    I don’t have a car myself and rely on taxi’s to supplement my public transport and the experience has been frustrating on so many occasions, with many examples similar to those mentioned already – I have often walk rather than ask for a taxi just to avoid the response of the driver.

    The taxi industry must improve its customer service from this point or become irrelevant

    The UBER model makes drivers and passengers accountable – both are registered, both have a role to play and both need to keep their part of the deal or they will be held accountable.

    That accountability will always drive good service and good behaviours for all concerned. The sooner the taxi industry includes this level of accountability the better.

    All the talk of tax and unfair playing fields are all very real and I believe it will be worked out but this discussion is about CUSTOMER SERVICE and how to have a system we want to use.

  28. September 12, 2015

    I prefer Uber because they always know where to go and know how to use their GPS.
    That said not every taxi driver is a pain, but in the City it must be a good 90%

  29. ben d
    September 12, 2015

    I use a mix of hire cars (for airport) and uber. It is all about service, not price.

    A majority of my taxi experiences were in poorly maintained vehicles (owners cut costs) and quite often driving standard was appalling.
    The other thing is trying to get a car and ordering one (experience in taxi apps, online or on phone) has never been that great. You never have clarity about when and if they are arriving.

  30. Anthony
    September 12, 2015

    For me, Uber is far superior for many reasons.

    Firstly, you can rate the driver, which means they are more likely to be polite and provide good service. There have been NUMEROUS times when I’ve stuck with a homophobic, or racist driver – making comments like ‘Bloody asians, don’t you think they’re taking over?’ (actual quote).
    The rating system also means they are more likely to have not only clean cars – but clean bodies. Too many times I’ve been stuck in a cab with my head out the window trying to avoid the stench of the driver.

    Secondly, not only do they arrive promptly – but they actually arrive. Twice this year I have had cabs not turn up, both times I had booked the flight several hours before. Once, when I was going to the airport, my car didn’t arrive. I called, and apparently the driver took another, better paying, job. So the woman on the phone assured me that they would send another – ‘on priority’. Guess what? That cab didn’t arrive either. I missed my flight that day. When I called to complain the woman on the phone said (and I shit you not) “We don’t actually guarantee that your driver will arrive”. Well what is the point of booking ahead?

    And then they is the price. Much cheaper. Which is great.
    And yes, the price is more expensive in peak period – but I would rather pay 3 times the normal amount to ride with a clean, polite and prompt driver.

    So cab drivers and companies, don’t blame uber for your dwindling passenger rates. Just provide a better fucking service.

  31. Jack
    September 12, 2015

    Its 4:30am and I want to get home after work, if I go to a taxi rank in the valley not only will I usually wait a good 20-30 minutes, I will actually be asked to pay anywhere between 40-60 dollars upfront in cash before I can even get in the car.

    The flip-side is, I open my uber app select where I would like to be picked up and order a ride home. If you are super paranoid you can look at the driver who picked up your ride and if you aren’t happy with their rating or god forbid their car, you can cancel it. There are no upfront costs, no cash transactions, sometimes there are lollies and usually there is good conversation. This is why I use uber. As a service it is much better, friendlier and cheaper. Well done uber!

    1. bazz
      September 12, 2015

      no upfront cost? hello! thy have your credit card details..there is no way in hell you can get to order without your card details.

    2. Eddie
      September 12, 2015

      Flip side is your credit card is on file with Uber. Upfront payment is by looking at you coz there is a lot of fare evasions by people in Australia.

  32. Tim
    September 12, 2015

    Waaa! Uber’s illegal! Waaa!

    Face it, taxi driver’s – Uber is here to stay. It provides a better service in every way. You can either do better or die off. That’s how the real world works beyond your little protectionist cocoon.

    Also, you can bet that Uber is only the first. Uber’s success will undoubtedly herald a wave of new, modern, privately owned taxi companies. Welcome to the 21st Century. You can’t stop progress and today’s yellow taxi service is already starting to look like a fossil in comparison.

    By all means petition the government to lower the registration and licensing fees for taxi drivers, but leave Uber the hell alone. It provides a better service, and therefore, quite frankly, deserves our business more than you.

    Deal with it.

    1. bazz
      September 12, 2015

      I think you are the kind of passenger that all taxi drivers would hope to take Uber

      1. Tim
        September 12, 2015

        Then taxi drivers can rest easy, as that’s precisely what I’ll be doing, in spite of Uber’s laughable ‘illegality’.

        Think what you like, bazz. I’m not trying to be mean, I simply live in the real world. It’s the 21st Century – the world is changing and people are looking for quick, reliable, flexible, reasonably priced transport that’s safe, friendly and can be accessed conveniently. Taxis are well behind in every aspect. Get with the times, or get left behind.

        No one’s going to coddle taxi drivers out of sympathy. In the end, people just want to get from A to B without having to wait 45 minutes to see whether their taxi shows up or not.

    2. Eddie
      September 12, 2015

      Uber should stay but by paying all the government regulated fees and taxes like any citizen of Australia pays. Why Uber is so special that it’s above law and Queen Elizabeth and doesn’t have to pay taxes and fees.

      1. Tim
        September 12, 2015

        Uber is not the problem – this is just people whinging about having (superior) competitors.

        The problem is in just how much taxi drivers are charged in fees and taxes. It’s extortionate.The regulation fees and taxes should be dropped drastically.

        You want drivers to enjoy their work and earn enough to have a decent quality of life? Stop charging them an arm and a leg just to be able to work legally.

      2. September 12, 2015

        Uber is the major problem as they stated in the Wall Street Journal , their business mantra is ” The company hopes to build enough loyalty that it can charge customers more and pay drivers less”. There is only one WINNER and that’s UBER. You really think they care about anything other than their bottom line. Its all about the money, they are just a mob of gangsters who break laws all over the world which is precisely why their business model works. Obey the law it doesn’t.

      3. Tim
        September 12, 2015

        Of course they care about money! They’re a BUSINESS!

        And there’s another winner besides Uber – the public. Competition will force taxis to provide better, more reliable service at a more reasonable price. The protectionist bubble in which taxi drivers operate is coming to an end, and for that anyone who regularly uses a cab service should be grateful. Monopolies aren’t healthy and over the years we’ve seen a steady decline in service quality, accompanied by a rise in price. It’s not on.

        Oh, and they’re GANGSTERS, are they? Sure, whatever mate. I don’t see Uber drivers rioting and setting cars on fire, or beating up the drivers of competitors.

        You can hide behind obsolete laws if you wish. It’s the equivalent of sticking your head in the sand and won’t change a damn thing. Uber, and the similar privately owned transport services that will inevitably follow, are now a fact of life. You’ll find your views becoming quickly and increasingly irrelevant.

  33. Foul play
    September 12, 2015

    Why is this even a discussion?
    1. Taxis have had a monopoly.
    2. That monopoly is threatened
    3. Learn from the other nongs (music industry etc) who squealed like stuck pigs instead of adapting to what the customer wanted.
    4. If you don’t learn you will be extinct.

    There is no right or wrong. Laws that are unfair will be broken as they should. Not saying all laws regarding this are, but many are. Like the music industry.

    Bleating about it won’t change a thing. Yep, you might have done your 1/2 million. Welcome to the world of risky investments. Even though they may seem safe at the time.
    The whole music industry has been decimated. Billions upon billions gone.
    The whole manufacturing industry has been decimated. Trillions upon trillions of dollars gone.
    Etc etc.
    This is chicken feed compared to those 2. And there are many more to come.

    And it’s life at the moment. The consumer is ruling and if companies won’t realise that then they are gone.

  34. Nigel
    September 12, 2015

    A bit harsh , but have to admit that is fair enough about Uber at least. I think you may have been a tad unlucky with cabs though if that’s been your experience. But improve their customer service? Yes they can.
    Heavy handed point making though , think youre thinking to much about yourself

  35. September 12, 2015

    No system is perfect. However, pure & simple! If the taxi industry was providing the service that customers expect, they would not have left such a huge gap to give a new entrant an huge opportunity. A few years back I was hanging onto what I thought was a great business opportunity, however, I was blind-sided, well not totally true in hindsight, as I ignored public sentiment, and was swamped by an alternative. I had to write off several taxi plates in value. That’s life. Get over it, taxi plate owners. It’s your investment that you thought you could sit back and simply act like a ‘pimp’. Well, you’re the ones who have been caught with your pants down!! As Joe Hockey stated ‘This is the end of the age of entitlements’. For me, all power to Uber (I use all the time, other than occasionally I pick a suitable clean taxi off the rank) & Elance & Freelance & Gumtree & Airtaskers & AirB&B & others who are delivering ‘REAL CUSTOMER VALUE’.

  36. Plainly
    September 12, 2015

    Here’s what I’m gonna do. Start a business and lobby the government (with the appropriate incentives of course) to make laws that anyone who sells Jewellery has to have strict compliance on shape, size, delivery mechanism, components, and more importantly the number of items that can be manufactured.

    I will then make the limit of said jewellery items to my manipulated specifications and give poor service, quality, and charge whatever I like.

    Sounds like a good business model?

    They are a joke. Move over dinosaurs.

    1. September 12, 2015

      LOL – you pretty much just described the diamond industry.

      1. Plainly
        September 13, 2015

        Yes Kieran. Good pickup. That’s a tougher nut to crack.
        Greed and power

  37. Andy
    September 13, 2015

    Take a bus, take a train, take a ferry. Al of these are analogous with a vending machine, and if we are going to write witty pieces, rather than think back in the box with outdated transport modes, maybe one should get with the times, and look at mass transit. Which means making governments listen, so it all seems futile. If I can’t get public transport, I’ll drive myself, get drunk at home and keep my car smelling nice with no strangers in it, thanks.

  38. Ollie
    September 14, 2015

    Best thing i ever did was get the number of my favorite silver top cabbies number, he doesnt charge me the extra fee for a clean nice leather interior car, he’s rediculously friendly, picks me up quickly and if he can’t pick me up, he calls in one of his mates who’s in the area, and he isnt a cheeky prick like 90% of normal cabbies who take the longest route to get my money.

    I dont think the whole taxi industry is rubbish, just the rude majority of yellow top drivers (although i have had a small few yellow top drivers that have been great)

  39. Kevin
    September 15, 2015

    I caught an Uber the other night and the driver had moved from one of the regular companies across because he could make more money working less hours. Remember there are many taxis on the roads in Cape Town who don’t have drivers licenses never mind a taxi licenses or PDP’s. I ran a club for a long time and the horror stories I heard about regular taxi’s and the illegal ones make Uber the best Choice.

  40. Pingback: Uber vs. Taxis: who should change? The answer: both. | James Carstensen: Freelancer

  41. Pingback: Uber vs. Taxis: who should change? Both. | James Carstensen: Freelancer

  42. Tim
    September 22, 2015

    Taxi drivers are also among the worst drivers on our roads. I can’t number the times I’ve seen taxis perform unsafe manoeuvres, from suddenly changing lanes without indicating and cutting other drivers off, to barrelling through roundabouts without even slowing down. For allegedly professional drivers they’re not the finest examples to follow, and despite their vaunted ‘licensing’ and ‘regulation’ they’re far from the safest option.

  43. Orion
    September 22, 2015

    Cheaper to fly from Melbourne to Sydney than to catch a taxi to the airport. ‘Nuff said.

  44. feeling safer
    October 11, 2015

    The thing that bothers me the most is that suddenly taxi drivers are incredibly concerned about violence against women and wanting to warn us to stick to their service in order to stay safe. Every time I see these warnings on the back of a taxi it makes my blood boil, it’s a scare campaign targeting women and other vulnerable groups and frankly it demonstrates how desperate the industry is.

    If the taxi industry had any sense, they might consider how many people are inspired to switch to uber after seeing these ads. Many of us have had scary driver experiences, and frankly it just reminds 50% of the community that checks aren’t effective, as they only pick up people who have had convictions RECORDED in Australia. That by the way is a very small percentage of the offending pool, especially if you consider that 1) offences may have occurred overseas and 2) that reports are only made on a very low percentage of serious violent sexual offences and a lower percentage still result in convictions.

    Does anyone want to hazard a guess of how of what % of offenders get through a police check as a result? My experience was much like that reported by Jess- the company I reported my driver to weren’t interested in investigating which driver was responsible even though I suspect there were ways to narrow down who this was and at least monitor his conduct for a period.

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