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Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver III: How do I rate?

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  • goforit,

    hi, did anyone get caught up in the NZTA/Police operation last night.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to goforit,

    I haven't heard anything yet. What happened?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    All I know there was one and like you have not had any feed back yet.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to goforit,

    I have heard of a few people in the last week who have had the book fully thrown at them. Whatever non-compliance they are guilty of, they're up for it. Several fines of $2000 for people having no COF, P Endorsement, PSL, and logbook.

    Uber's advice to these people, according to these people who have spoken directly to me: Keep driving, we'll sort it out. By "Uber" here, I mean the people working down at the office with the word "Uber" above the door, the only one of its type in Auckland. Whether or not they work for any entity that can reliably be identified in law as Uber is still up for debate. They personally claim not to. We'll find out soon enough whether a judge will tolerate that kind of shenanigan.

    As far as I can tell, "Uber" paying the fines is also exactly what is happening. Of the huge number of fines that have been issued to Uber drivers since April, only 2 are being contested that the NZTA is aware of. We can only presume the rest are just being paid. In the case of the drivers I spoke to, they personally did not pay. Which leaves it pretty much clear what's going on here.

    NZTA does not directly track if fines are paid, though. That's a MoJ thing. I'll make inquiries when I have a bit more time. However, if a fine is not paid, and goes to court, then the officers involved in prosecuting would be called up. As I said above, this has only happened in 2 cases out of hundreds since April.

    The drivers usually stop driving though. It's damned scary to be facing a huge fine, even if some unknown mob pays the fines for you (and possibly even because the payments are from an unknown source). Not many people are willing to go through that all over again just for a low paid job.

    So I'm guessing that NZTA and CVIU are responding to Uber doing this by going harder. Since they are now less concerned that these hefty fines are coming out of the pockets of the poor drivers they are catching, they might as well make the punishments truly punitive to Uber.

    Which is well within their mandate, and actually quite a sensible response to the outright disrespect of their whole organizations that is being shown by Uber.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • goforit, in reply to BenWilson,

    The actual case of noncompliance by the drivers does not go away even if Uber pays the fine, when these drivers in the future try to become compliant they can be blocked by the process as they have history of being noncompliant.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    I guess its a matter of time now when the IRD step up there enforcement over the new GST regulations, I wonder if Uber will pay the fines of the drivers over this.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Uber’s advice to these people, according to these people who have spoken directly to me: Keep driving, we’ll sort it out.

    I had a driver last week who told me about waiting for his P endorsement to come through and being urged to just start working by Uber staff.

    "They said they'd back me up. I asked what 'back me up' meant and they couldn't say."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Did you see the New Yorker's story on Uber competitor Juno?

    It's very interesting. Basically, Juno is targeting Uber where it's weakest – driver welfare – and luring over high-rated drivers. They're copying the business model and taking the best workers. That's the flipside of the gig economy – workers are very mobile.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • goforit, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I had a driver last week who told me about waiting for his P endorsement

    You had a driver driving you while he was waiting for his P Endorsement, I hope he was not driving for reward of any sort.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • goforit, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That’s the flipside of the gig economy – workers are very mobile.

    I notice that in India where a driver works for both Uber and Ola the driver's commission goes up to 35% for both companies. The companies must be sharing driver information so to screw the driver for working both sides of the fence.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Singh Singh, in reply to goforit,

    Spot on, I am yet to drive. Cheers

    Wellington • Since Oct 2016 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Singh Singh, in reply to BenWilson,

    The dates may vary Ben, but heavy investments are made by Uber & google on this . So it's happening but will take its own course of time ... cheers

    Wellington • Since Oct 2016 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Singh Singh,

    It could be soon, or a hundred years from now. No one has a road map. Uber and Google have a strong track record in making websites and phone apps. That translates to cracking a huge breakthrough in robotics in the same way that a strong track record in making sewing machines translates into good chances at putting people on the moon. I mean both are impressive, right?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    OIA response shows NZTA got legal advice in May about including Uber as second party when prosecuting non-compliant drivers. I guess either the advice was that they couldn't or they have been instructed not to.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • goforit, in reply to Sacha,

    In early May I had a meeting with the NZTA, they admitted Uber was not compliant with the act but it was until the amendments to the act was made law to expensive to put Uber through the legal system of enforcement.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to goforit,

    You had a driver driving you while he was waiting for his P Endorsement, I hope he was not driving for reward of any sort.

    No, no. He had his P endorsement and was an excellent driver – he was talking about how long it took for his endorsement to come through.

    It was an airport > home trip and I asked how long he'd been waiting (45 minutes) and tipped him when we got to my house. He said no one had ever done that before. People should. I try and remember to have $5 notes in my wallet as cash tips for good rides.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    Drivers don't work for tips but when one is given it is appreciated.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Basically, Juno is targeting Uber where it’s weakest – driver welfare – and luring over high-rated drivers.

    In Auckland, Zoomy is doing much the same thing. They currently have a minimum payout for drivers of $15, no matter what the fare was. They also insist on almost all the compliance, and their rates are highly competitive with Uber's. Currently their model is to grow the driver base in parallel to Uber. They claim that getting a rider base is way less difficult than getting the drivers. A very significant proportion of their drivers are also Uber drivers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    Ben, Zoomy is not compliant with the current transport act, a private hire service such as Zoomy offers cannot carry on as an unlicensed taxi service, the every nature of an on demand and metered private hire serice is not permissable under the currant act, When the amended act is passed they will be compliant in as far as the propsed changes read.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Uber and Zoomy should merge:
    new company title would simply be UseMe.
    I leave it open whether that describes a plea to customers,
    or the drivers’ relationship to the company.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • goforit, in reply to linger,

    Work the drivers longer for less profit, it has been proven that there are plenty of drivers that just flock to this model and of course the public just love supporting this model.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to goforit,

    I only said they were more compliant than Uber. Yes, it's impossible for an app based service that meters rides to be compliant with the current Operator Licensing Rule. As far as I'm aware this has moved into completely unenforced territory long ago. Whether that constitutes an unlicensed taxi service, I don't know, since metering rides is pretty much the only way it resembles a taxi service. In all other ways, it is a private hire service.

    And let's be even more specific. Zoomy itself is not offering the private hire service. That is done by each driver. Their sole violation of the law is that they don't fix a price for the trip beforehand, or charge an hourly rate fixed beforehand.

    Compliant Uber drivers are in the exact same situation, too. Which is why CVIU does not bust them. This would appear to be a fairly sane policy that implements their direction not to stand in the way of technological innovation. The ship of enforcing that one lingering impossible and outdated rule (it's not even an Act of Parliament) has sailed. They are literally waiting for the law changes on that.

    But enforcing the other rules, particularly the ones that will be retained under the law changes, is something they are actively and righteously doing. I don't think it's having very much effect, because Uber pays the fines, so the effect is limited to taking only those drivers off the road. They could go after Uber itself, that is the only sane approach from a coordinated and effective government. But the government is either too cowardly or too involved with Uber to even try this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to goforit,

    Work the drivers longer for less profit, it has been proven that there are plenty of drivers that just flock to this model

    It's not the low pay anyone is flocking to. It's the ease of access, the low barriers to entry, the casualized setting of your own hours, and in some cases, the enjoyment of the job itself, or maybe just the enjoyment of having a job, rather than being actually unemployed.

    Low pay is a consequence of those features above, though. I don't think it's even a necessary feature. It's just a feature Uber is exploiting as they buy market share, burning their investors capital up at an extraordinary rate, whilst also burning most of their drivers. Well, OK, low barriers to entry do tend to suppress prices, which suppresses wages. But to argue for high barriers just to keep wages up is to insist on cartelizing the business. This is what is being busted up. If wages are to be kept high somehow, I don't think arbitrary barriers to entry enforced by the industry itself is the way to do that. It should be done via actual legislation. And that is highly problematic when it comes to independent contractors.

    It is possible to retain most of the features of the gig economy without the low pay. But I suggest that is only possible by cutting out the evasive maverick multinational corporation. I live in hope that the law changes will have this effect. But I don't really have the answers when it comes to the problems of pay rates (and other conditions) for independent contractors. On that, there's only case law in NZ. Which means that the bodies involved have to operate in the NZ jurisdiction. Hence my comment above about multinationals driving most of the problematic parts of all of this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    One cannot choose which regulation they wish to be compliant with and which regulation does not suit them, Uber has shown us ignore one or two regulations in the beginning and then ignore the rest of them. Innovation is a good thing and should be encouraged, the innovation that Uber and the other app operators use is not a reason to ignore the regulations as after all those innovations could and should still follow the current regulations. Because the small passenger transport service is already deregulated as opposed to the closed shop regulations in most overseas countries there was already an over supply (4,000 in Auckland alone) of compliant drivers available in this country that the Uber operation should and could have tapped into. When the regulations change that is another story to be explored.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • goforit, in reply to BenWilson,

    And let’s be even more specific. Zoomy itself is not offering the private hire service. That is done by each driver. Their sole violation of the law is that they don’t fix a price for the trip beforehand, or charge an hourly rate fixed beforehand.

    Dont forget on demand which is also covered in the act. Zoomy maynot be the actual operator of each vehicle but they provide the communication of such. Under the current act there is 5 forms of small passenger service and the one that descibes the Zoomy operation is a taxi service therefore the regulations around taxi service must be complied to. Zoomy is aware of all the regulation as it was not to long ago they only despatched to the taxi service stating that was the law in force and now because of the effect Uber had on the taxi industry Zoomy followed ignoring the same act they once complied to.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

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