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Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver II: How we doing?

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  • linger, in reply to BenWilson,

    How does (justifiably) refusing to service the airport fit in practice within the business model whereby drivers generally can't risk refusing jobs based on destination? Is there an input code for "Request cancelled, it was an airport job, hence no can do"?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to linger,

    It doesn't fit. Which is why Uber themselves should be doing something about it. But they appear to have shot themselves in the foot on this, because when Wellington Airport engaged with them over it, the Airport itself realized that there was no way on earth they could give preference to a service in which a rising number of the drivers openly have no official licenses to operate for passenger hire at all. It literally violates their health and safety policies, and exposes them to huge risk.

    So yes, drivers who won't service the airport, like myself, pretty much have to just cancel rides after the fact. It sucks, but that's what a cut price illegal model of business generates, a substandard service. It sucks for me, it's a waste of time and counts against my stats. It sucks for the passenger, who expects of their taxi that they can go to the airport. It doesn't affect Uber much, though. Except reputationally, which they seem not to care about these days.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to goforit,

    Now even taxis are having second thoughts over the viabiltiy of working the airport.

    Classic. I think the airports have a cheek, really. There's nothing about a job from the airport that makes it special. By and large, it's actually a very undesirable place to wait, because it has low volumes. I'd only be there because a previous customer took me all the way there and it's remote and thus a PITA on that account alone. Also, airport customers are among the lowest quality. It's very common for them to not have an idea where they want to go, how to communicate it, and they will rate you using standards from another country. They will want to fill the car with luggage, and will cram as many passengers in as possible. For a taxi it might be a good place to rip people off who don't know how things work here, but Ubers can't do that. Also, given the way Uber riders expect you to come to them, it's a hell of lot of trouble just getting the buggers into the car.

    It's really a place that's set up for taxis, and they can have it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    thats the point Ben even the taxi industry is saying to hell with the airport. I only go out there if (a) a job takes me there, but I don't cant work the airport stand for a return.
    (b) if I have a precharter job to pick up.
    Cheap cabs has a fixed price of $38.00 to the CBD so the whole idea of working the airport is now a waste of time and resourses.
    Will have some update for you on the Ezygo Ride sharing app later today.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    here is it, the predicated race to the bottom.
    The Ezygo Taxo App is now the Ezygo Ride Share app, Flag fall is $1.25, Km rate is $1.35 and the time factor is 0.30 cents/min. Commission is 7%.
    Hell i earn more with my pension and no running costs. LOL

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to goforit,

    Do you have a link for those prices anywhere goforit?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    not as yet, there web page is being updated along those lines.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    this coming Weds is kick off day

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Christchurch is it's fastest growing city in world, Uber says. Local cabbies are unamused.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    the Airport itself realized that there was no way on earth they could give preference to a service in which a rising number of the drivers openly have no official licenses to operate for passenger hire at all. It literally violates their health and safety policies, and exposes them to huge risk.

    Good point - and under the new law arguably applies to *all* companies whose people use Uber for work purposes. Does not seem worth the risk.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    Ben, webb page is ezygo.co.nz still has corrections to premium and van rates to come

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Guyon Espiner presses Richard Menzies from Uber hard. Listen to him carefully slither around being caught inciting criminal activity on air.

    The persistent refusal to answer questions about paying fines can only be about that. The question is asked dead straight repeatedly, and repeatedly evaded.

    The idea that they hold drivers to a higher standard is a joke. The NZTA representative forgot to also mention that P Endorsement involves (amongst the things she does say) a medical check, and we have to resit our practical license test.

    This line of “we are showing the government a better way and are happy to engage with them” is simply a lie. The engagement process began along time ago and was done properly in the Small Passenger Services Review. Uber just does not like the result which is that the regulatory body insists it’s right to regulate, and will be retaining some aspects of the current laws after due consideration and multiple submissions from invited parties.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Fare of flying...
    Last time I took a cab to airport in Chchch the driver asked if they could drop me off just before the entrance to the airport, so they didn't have to enter the area and be automatically subject to all the extra taxi charges.
    They aren't allowed to just drive through and drop me off and leave apparently - that seems weird to me - I can understand the airport taking a whack for providing cab ranks for them to wait for a fare, but charging just to drop someone off in the drive through area seems over the top (as do their other charges - gouging I'd call it in light of the return to drivers).

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Gawd, I also forgot to mention that the P Endorsement also involved the 2 days of testing, in which we learn:
    -The law about P endorsements
    -The laws that govern the particular services that require P Endorsement
    -How to fill out log books, and why we should
    -What the rights passengers have, particularly disabled passengers
    -What rights and recourses we have

    Obviously, since Uber simply doesn’t believe in following the law they think these tests as counterproductive. Definitely they do not replicate of it in the induction program, according to the now enormous number of drivers who have been through it. 1700 illegal drivers! WTF! This has long since gone past the point where the government should be pressing charges directly on the instigators. A judge is not going to allow persistent evasion of questions put straightforwardly to executives.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Correction: The guy being interviewed is Richard Menzies. Operations Lead for Uber in NZ, whose background is in corporate finance. Why am I not surprised that the person charged with being the NZ lead has law and commerce degrees? Nothing to do with engineering, transport, or software. No wonder he’s so carefully cagey about not incriminating himself or Uber by saying in which ways they will “Stand by their drivers 100%”.

    Advice to interviewers in future: Instead of asking if Uber will pay fines (since we already have refusal answer the question repeatedly), ask “In what way will Uber stand by its drivers?”. Follow up with “Will you provide legal assistance?”, “Will you give any kind of written undertaking to help drivers?”, “So drivers are supposed to just trust Uber, having suddenly found themselves in violation of multiple laws, while earning money for Uber?”. “What LEGAL argument could drivers provide in court that they are not violating the law?”. “Could your disruptive model be applied to other areas of industry – for example the sale of cannabis? What line do you think the government should take with a multinational corporation that decides to just sell cannabis via independent contractors in NZ?”. “Are you, as a man with legal training, afraid that you personally could end up facing jail time for massive incitement to criminal activity?”. “Who told you that this was OK in NZ? Do you have assurances from anyone at all representing the government in any way, that Uber has a free pass to break the law?”.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Since Menzies openly admitted that they are breaking the law now, without any reservations, without even contesting that (which is quite an interesting change) I think it would be good if interviewers, from now on, used language that reflected that. Is there some need for kid gloves (apart from the fact that they always employ kids in these roles) on someone who openly admits to fronting an organization that profits from crime????????????? Seriously????

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Nice!! Radio Live interview in which the interviewer really puts Kate Styles on the spot about why they don't go after Uber themselves. Love it!

    I feel the floodgates of a media storm opening here. Bring it on!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Can anyone tell me what the interviewer Suzie's last name is? Big, big ups to her.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The answer Kate Styles gave to Suzie asking why NZTA aren't going for Uber is exactly the same one I got in April from NZTA. It's a consistent and very inadequate answer. "The options with Uber are still being explored" and "we wouldn't talk about individual actions that we are taking with any company, whether they are a passenger service operator or not". This line was very effective when used with me 3 months ago, especially since it was followed up with a veiled threat "Just as we wouldn't tell Uber about the conversation you and I are having now". At that point I was not sure whether I was OK to have my name out there, such is the culture of fear in the early days of organizing worker resistance. I'm well past that now, I welcome them telling Uber everything about my conversation with them, and most certainly want to know from NZTA what their options for directly prosecuting Uber are. I want to know if there even ARE any options, or if we should be moving directly past NZTA as a completely toothless organization and confronting the government itself.

    I already think we should be doing that, that the window for the government to act has now passed, and a partisan political approach has become necessary. The ministers have evaded all responsibility, flopping it on NZTA to uphold the law so far. If the NZTA is unable to uphold the law when it comes to what Uber themselves are doing, and it limited to the piss weak and morally questionable approach of stepping up enforcement on one of the main victims in all of this, the drivers who are being tricked into working for Uber, then it is on bodies with more muscle to do something about. There is no question that the government could reign Uber in with little more than a stern word from the minister. There are multiple homegrown alternatives to Uber already sitting well placed to fill the hole, if Uber decides to go through with its threat of pulling out of NZ completely. This is a bluff that needs to be called, or the government itself is being made a laughing stock by Uber.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    What I really want to know now, is whether Uber has private and personal assurances from anyone in the government that they are getting special treatment. I know no one will ever admit to that, but if the question and answer are on public record, then when the truth really does come out, it’s a big story. And questions asked in Parliament hit an entirely different level of hurt for people making secret deals, if they mislead Parliament in their responses. This is one for whichever Opposition politicians feel like a free shot would be nice.

    As I see it, what’s going on here really does go to the “Future of Work”. We’re staring down the barrel of it right now, as drivers. The future of work for Uber drivers is one with no rights, poor remuneration, no responsibility held by the employer, and constant fear of being harshly punished by authorities. This setup is entirely on them to bankroll too, their whole operation, with many random and often extreme costs could bankrupt them at the break of a cambelt or a random collision. For all of this, Uber drivers continue to supply a 5 star service, a high quality, low cost experience. That’s what the future holds, if good people won’t act.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to BenWilson,

    Can anyone tell me what the interviewer Suzie's last name is? Big, big ups to her.

    Susie Ferguson

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/presenters/susie-ferguson

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Stephen R,

    Wicked, thanks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to BenWilson,

    The future of work for Uber drivers is one with no rights, poor remuneration, no responsibility held by the employer, and constant fear of being harshly punished by authorities.

    Actually, I should probably say that this is also the Present of Work for Uber drivers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Just imagine this sort of big corporate vs govt behaviour with TPP ensuring who wins.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to BenWilson,

    or a random collision

    This has already happened to at least one non-compliant driver now. Their insurers have refused to pay out on collisions, because they are driving professionally, and only took out a standard non-commercial policy. Fortunately in the case of the driver I heard about, the collision was the fault of the other party and they were covered there, but his own insurer was not going to supply him a courtesy vehicle to cover all the time while his smashed up car is off the road, like my insurer has undertaken to. Of course, some guy signed up in a day by Uber doesn't realize any of this. We're just waiting for the first person to come in who is up for tens of thousands, and has to invoke the Uber insurance slush fund that they openly claim to operate. Which strikes me as incitement to commit insurance fraud. One for the insurance companies themselves to go for.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

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