Police now hassling Uber passengers as they continue their commercial jihad on behalf of cab companies

The police have involved themselves very prominently in a civil dispute between Uber and other cab companies and are now shaking down passengers as they continue their jihad against Uber on behalf of cab companies.

Auckland police are questioning Uber passengers in their crack-down on the driver-on-demand system.

Holly, a 26-year-old woman who did not want her surname used, said she was in an Uber car at Auckland’s ferry terminal on Saturday.

A police officer in an unmarked police car stopped the car and questioned her telling the driver to stay away while she was grilled, she said. Holly said the officer pulled her aside and asked how she ordered the vehicle and whether they had agreed a set price before the journey.

When she said “it (the Uber app) tells me at the end”, the officer turned his attention to the driver.

Holly said the officer told her that Uber was illegal in New Zealand.

It’s not, but the manner of billing passengers is what has caused contention. Uber operates as a private hire service which means the fare has to be set at the time of booking, rather than using a meter.

Police have confirmed they have stopped several Uber drivers and charged them or issued them infringement notices for using their smartphone app as a meter – a breach that would make them subject to taxi regulations.    

Two drivers are reportedly before the courts on charges.  Several people have reported being in Uber cars stopped by police, including Auckland DJ Tim Phin who posted his experience on Facebook.

Uber spokeswoman Katie Curran said a number of precedents around the world determined that smartphones were not taxi meters.

“Uber believes policy makers in New Zealand could reasonably come to the same conclusion, rather than having this debate played out over a potentially lengthy period which is not in the public interest.” She said one particular police officer had targeted several drivers.

Let’s get this straight…the Police are now hassling responsible customers looking to get home as safely and as cheaply as possible instead of jumping in their cars and driving drunk.

Yay!, go Police on road safety.

Why are the Police even involved in this. Surely it is a civil dispute, there is no public safety issue here, there are no crimes being committed…it is either a vest interest somewhere within the Police with a relative or friend who is an embittered cab owner or it is simply another revenue gathering exercise.

The Police should stop justifying their actions and start focussing on public safety which they spent countless hours telling us all about before the road toll ballooned so alarmingly.


– Fairfax


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  • I may have misread the reports but I think that they found the driver were using smartphones as meters – and that is not allowed under the private chartering provisions. Passenger and driver must agree on the remuneration before the contract is formed.
    If Uber drivers are using meters – in whatever form – they are simply circumventing (and breaking) the law. The police are justified in their actions (assuming I am right about the meters)

    • Dave

      I agree with you Hamilton Lad, the taxi laws were introduced partly to protect taxi users against rip offs etc, and also to ensure minimum standards of operators and of vehicles, such as background checks etc etc. Now, im also for free enterprise, but what checks do the Uber drivers and vehicles go through. They clearly state on their incomplete blog, they check, but such checks can take weeks or months, and are not conclusive for immigrants.

    • Hoju

      When the first case of a Uber driver raping his “intoxicated” female passenger happens, everyone will be saying the police have let us down – isn’t that why they cracked down on dodgy cabs a few years ago? There are taxi regulations for a reason.

      • Addedup

        Like the Indian taxi driver in Hamilton who sexually assaulted 3 women. Uber drivers still need to get a P endorsement on their licence so it’s not just any Tom dick or Harry rocking up in Mums car.

        • viking

          And thru uber they are completely traceable and get rated by the customer. Unlike taxi pickups where the drivers face may be on a photo ID if you take any notice or could remember what it was like in a ID parade of indian faces.
          Time to ditch all the bulls…t taxi regs and open the corporate welfare bundle up fore some proper competition Competition exalted by the customers not the taxi radio companies.

    • Rachael Membery

      I doubt that the police were acting on a passenger complaint. So what were their grounds?

  • Bruno 32

    The police are idiots. I have been burgled 5 times and was never visited by police. Just sent me a form to aknowledge burglary to claim insurance. Used Uber many times in London with excellent service at 2 thirds the cost of a black cab.the police are idiots.

    • Captain Darling

      Agreed Bruno, they seem to focus on issues that have no real consequences and/or easy targets.
      I’ve said this before, they need to get a better PR company, because who ever is doing it at the moment is crap.

      • Bruno 32

        I have friends in the police in the Frontline and they are getting sick of idiotic directives from the top.the 1 km per hour threshold for speeding being a classic.

        • Captain Darling

          I’m glad to hear that, I hope they’re making their concerns known to management.

          • Hard1

            Not in the current Police structure they won’t. No promotions for the squeaky wheels. On that note, do police still drive home from the police bar?. Surely they are redundant by now, or maybe they’re using Uber !

    • Guest

      If I were burgled 5 times I would consider myself an idiot.

      • Bruno 32

        Maybe. What if it was an inside job by a trusted employee and involved a diverse range of thefts over a number of different properties. ?? .I eventually sorted it out myself and the only assistance I have had fromthe police since is aSunday afternoon spot check to make sure I was complying with the conditions of my firearms license. Which I was.

    • Teko Flaps

      If you have been burgled 5 times and not even a crime scene investigator has turned up to finger print/D.N.A swab etc then you should call your local Superintendent and make a hell of a fuss. I love Uber. No more sweaty, obnoxious cab drivers charging $45 for a 15 min trip.

    • Coffee Connoisseur

      have you considered that taxi fares could also be 2/3rds of what they are if taxi companies weren’t subject to legislative compliance costs that Uber is trying to circumvent?

  • Rachael Membery

    Ridiculous police priorities re Uber but does everything have to be a jihad?

  • HunuaRanger

    Don’t forget the “Traffic Safety Service”(road cops) and the “NZ Police” combined in 1992, the guy who is targeting UBER drivers is probably just an old Road Cop trying to relive his glory days.

    He’s probably getting to long in the tooth now to do anything now but harass drivers and UBER drivers are just an easier target than most. It’s still harassment and revenue collecting but you really can’t blame the “Real” Police for it.

    I remember the jokes flying around before the merger amongst my cop mates, I guess the saying is “no truer a word said in jest” is correct.

    • Pharmachick

      Really? I mean, we all realize that the merger was twenty three years ago, right? Anyone still living (or re-living) their “glory days” in 2015 as a traffic cop seriously needs to get a life.

  • Just a thought …

    Is Michelle Boag running the Police P.R team now that her Power Company theft commission is going up in smoke ? ………

  • sheppy

    Sounds like the police are down on revenue at their alcohol checkpoints and they blame Uber for it.

  • Blue Tim

    Going by past history and their tactics I’d say it’s the commercial vehicle compliance unit (the guys in generally unmarked utes and station wagons that round up trucks, harvesters, couriers ie those subject to a Certificate not Warrant of Fitness) and in my experience none of the officers on that squad know the meaning of polite or understand that education goes a long way further than fines and lectures on the side of the road

    • Whitey

      Yeah, it does sound like the Mermaids.

      • williamabong

        Very good, you have to know it to understand it, LOL

    • Aucky

      Probably looking for stuff to do with the normal volume of trucks and courier vans being down over the holiday period. Conversely home burglaries are probably way up with home owners being away and are now being discovered by returning holidaymakers. Maybe these cops could be re-allocated on to burglary duties.

    • Woody

      I was told a few days ago by someone close to the CVIU but not of them that they have been given instruction to up their PR game, in other words, to start acting like human beings rather than the body part you usually apply toilet paper to.

      • williamabong

        The general tax paying public would be shocked if they ever saw the real face of the CVIU, suffice to say a number of truck drivers I know have stated if they saw a CVIU member getting a hiding at the road side the only help would offer, is to hold the perpetrators coat lest he get tired.

        • Ford

          I was stopped by the CVIU a few weeks ago. The truck I was driving was pink stickered and I was sent back to town. The officer was extremely polite and pleasant. In terms of safety, he did me a big favour.

  • cows4me

    It’s sad the more you hear about the police these days the worst it gets. Is the thin blue line morphing into a for hire brown line.

  • BeachHavenDad

    I much rather use a Uber than a Taxi any day. At the end of the trip you get a proper receipt along with details of your trip showing the route taken and you can rate your driver.

    • LabTested

      On 3 separate occasions I used a Co-op taxi from Auckland airport, paid cash, asked for a receipt only to find no GST number on it. I’m sure non gst compliance is rampant in the taxi industry.

  • Salacious Crumb

    I feel so much better knowing the New Zealand Police have solved all the outstanding criminal investigations so that they now have time on their hands to dedicate to such trivialities.

  • John1234

    Uber should be fine with the cops as long as they set the fare at the start of the journey not the end (as is the case now for private hire cars without Uber). The problem is where the driver makes up a fare at the end of the trip and could rip off the passenger.
    Uber quotes me $44-$59 for an UberX fare from the airport to home – I think it’s about $80n or $90 in a regular taxi.

  • Mighty1

    Looks like Police want us to drive home drunk so they can tax us at 50-80mcg.

  • James

    Stopping car drivers from exceeding the limit by 1kmh and now hassling people who are engaged in voluntary economic transactions; are we safe to assume that the Nats crime policy has worked to such an extent that there is now no more crime in New Zealand?

  • Kevin O’Brien

    The taxi industry has been regulated in NZ by transport authorities for over 50 years. Fares are set externally and meters are certified as to compliance with the fare schedule and NZ law. The fact that this is not generally known shows how well the industry has worked. Entrants generally join a co-operative company that levies them for order/radio and other services. Everyone is expected to take turns so that those working the same hours get an equal opportunity and similar returns. The regulation goes beyond fares so that the public can also be assured of safe cabs and drivers.

    Without a NZ certified meter for their car Uber drivers are outside the law if they substitute some other device or devices to fix fare charges. It appears they can operate on an agreed up front fare basis, but not metered. Cabbies do not like outsiders operating at busy times when fares are plentiful and there is minmum unpaid k’s between fares or wasted time. In the companies they see to that themselves so that everyone gets a fair go.

    The police are probably being proactive in preventing a likely potential severe breach of the peace and also some undesirables.

  • Jafarma

    What is it with the police these days. If this article by Ian Apperley fairly reflects the situation http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/nz-uber-war-shows-divide-between-dinosaur-business-models-and-new-innovation, then it seems to me all the Police are doing is further ruining their credibility in the eyes of the public after their zero speed tolerance fiasco.
    Rather than waste their time on these matters, surely they would improve their worth out of sight in the eyes of the public if they were to zealously pursue all those people and parties who clearly breached aspects of electoral law in the run up to last years election.
    Alas I wont hold my breath waiting though.
    And my last thought. The silence from the Minister of Police is deafening over these times. Hello Michael Woodhouse, are you there?

  • metalnwood

    OK, Uber has a way to operate within the law by giving a price upfront. No issue there. If they are essentially metering the ride and not giving a fare until the end then I guess we could say uber are not operating as they should.

    However, what gets me is that the police are pulling over cars with no knowledge of any wrong doing and then questioning people to see if anything is wrong. It’s plain and simple. If a person is treated wrongly by uber then they complain if they need to and the police follow up. Like any other law abiding citizen I dont expect the police to stop and question me on the chance I did something wrong. They need to be fairly certain I did do something wrong.

  • RAT40

    Uber solves some common complaints/issues in the current inefficient model that is the current taxi fare market. As a general observation, 1) One can see exactly how far away their ride is..no more ringing call centres to ask how far away is my taxi? 2) Efficient and safe payment method that suits the customer and driver…no run off’s for the driver and no more annoying $3 fee if paying by credit card for some companies (a rort if you ask me). 3) a reasonable charge when compared to the current traditional model. Uber fares I’ve caught have been with company taxi drivers who also drive for Uber. Generally, if Uber can solve 3 of the above issues for me, why can’t the current incumbants do the same? That’s not to say that Uber is perfect but, they certainly go a long way to solving 3 issues in using a taxi service…seems like another inefficient market where technology is playing a part in agitating for some change?

  • reitama

    in Auckland on Thursday – using UBER … unlike lens trainset, it gets me to where i want to go, in comfort and a reasonable price…as some said below, you see where your car is, you can choose to the driver based on feedback and the price is set up front…brilliant

  • damm good thrashing

    A typical misuse of police resources. No wonder crime solution rates are so low. And unreported crime figures are rising.

  • Disinfectant

    I am going to go against the flow here.
    Uber could solve this problem right now. All they have to do is make it clear what the price is before the car turns a single wheel.That’s it, simple. Why are they making a problem out of it?
    I think the Police will win in Court. Other countries might have set a precedent, but that has to be considered in the context of what their laws are.
    So Uber, sought it out yourself and remove all doubt and don’t waste Police time and taxpayers money.

  • Sailor Sam

    This just another example of the policedoing the bidding of corporate interests.
    But then again, we live in NZInc, where everything is done to promote the country as a business and where the prime minister is in effect the CEO.
    The police are now pulling people over for no apparent reason.
    Shades of what is happening in the USA.
    Do we arm the police if they start behaving like this?

  • Comms_is_cool

    This is happening elsewhere as well. I live in Malaysia where taxi drivers have been voted as some of the worst in the world. Then they managed to push the Police to crack down on Uber saying they were not licensed to carry passengers etc (some loophole like that). NZ is just following suit I think, with the force of the taxi companies behind them.