Why are Police doing standover for taxi companies?

Instead of catching real criminals, or stopping speeding drivers doing one kilometre per hour over the speed limit (because you know, speed kills) it seems the Police are now acting as enforcers for the beleaguered taxi industry under pressure from a new company in the market challenging their fold failed business models.

Two Uber drivers face court amid a crackdown that led to an Auckland DJ being kicked out of his cab yesterday.

Tim Phin, George FM DJ and publisher of Remix magazine, posted details of yesterday’s incident online.

“We pay the police to find crack dens, prevent rapes, stop burglaries. Not to kick me out of a car,” he wrote.

Fellow passenger Carl Thompson told the Herald on Sunday they had travelled about 200m along Great North Rd, Ponsonby, when police pulled the car over and ordered them to get out.

“It’s a bit ridiculous. The cop stuck his head in the window and asked us if this was an Uber and then told us to get out because Uber was operating illegally,” said Thompson.

“We contacted Uber afterwards and they filed a police complaint on our behalf, so that’s pretty cool.”

Uber claims an officer has been targeting drivers and leaving passengers stranded. “We have filed complaints with the Independent Police Conduct Authority for this unacceptable and potentially dangerous behaviour,” said Uber spokeswoman Katie Curran.

Police denied that claim, saying officers dropped off passengers at their homes or in the central city where licensed cabs were available – but confirmed “several private hire drivers” had been issued infringement notices.

“We take our responsibility to ensure public safety seriously and where police stop a vehicle that has passengers on board, police will look to ensure they have a safe way of getting home,” said Inspector Jim Wilson, acting district commander for Auckland City Police.

Funny how the cops never go after dodgy cab companies with foreign drivers who try and rip you off, it’s been complete silence from them for years on the taxi industry.

Don’t tell me there aren’t problems out there with current cab companies…everyone has a story to tell of ratbag drivers.

Just last year one driver tried it on with me in Wellington, not realising I lived there for 9 years doing my penance in the Windy City.

Fairfax confirms that the Police have unwittingly stepped into the middle of what is really a demarcation dispute. With old school cab drivers filing complaints with Police who then go bully their competitors.

Police are cracking down on Uber, the cheap and trendy new-kid-on-the-taxi rank, leaving paying customers on the pavement.

After complaints from the old-school taxi firms, police have begun fining the Uber drivers whose lower fares have been hurting the big cab companies.

The private car hire service has hit back, lodging a complaint of police harassment with the Independent Police Complaints Authority. A spokeswoman said police officers put passengers at risk by booting them out of the hired cars.


The Police have overstepped their mark here. The complaints are nothing short of harassment on behalf of business competitors…it is a civil dispute not a criminal one.

The public and market will judge the service and reputation of Uber, but now as a result of basically industrial sabotage that reputation is tarnished because of Police action and headlines in major Sunday papers.

Who ever is their NZ PR person they should be fired, they’ve allowed their customer to be smeared from one end of the holidays to the other while they have been sunning themselves with their high ranking “connections” who have been no use whatsoever for the cause.


– NZ Herald, Fairfax


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  • Spiker

    And the Police continue to burn public goodwill.

    • The Accountant

      The front line staff are following direction from those on high, an important distinction.

      • johcar

        The result is the same, however…

      • Mark

        Yep,just following orders.

    • Goldie

      Amen. I used to have huge respect for the police, but really they are behaving like parking wardens.

      I was pulled over by a cop for a random breath test. The cop then checked my driver’s license, my car rego and WOF. This wasn’t about road safety. It was a shake down – the cop had a ticket quota, and was looking to find fault.

      The police are not focussed on reducing crime – they are looking to fill quotas.

  • Aucky

    I have already had my rant in this mornings General Debate. There’s a bit going on here behind the scenes in the old boys network and I understand that because it’s how Auckland works if you want anything done. What makes me grumpy is that our reputedly overworked and underresourced police force can find the time to apprehend cab drivers for breaching a piffling piece of red tape when Auckland citizens can’t get any rapid action on burglaries, car conversions or other ‘petty’ crime.

    I would suggest that the taxi ‘establishment’ settle their issues in court with Uber at their expense rather than out of the public purse.

    • Coffee Connoisseur

      The reason that they will need to is that if Uber are operating outside the law and a complaint has been laid yet nothing is done. Taxi Companies and Taxi drivers may very well be able to take action against Land Transport for not enforcing the regulations against Uber that they themselves are subject to if it can be shown to have resulted in a loss for their business. If they won that means we as tax payers would be paying. Its not like Uber can’t afford to get their drivers compliant with the law.

  • Rodger T

    A shame they aren`t quite so zealous and proactive when it comes to serious crimes like rape,murder and pillage that the law-abiding citizen has to endure but then there is not a buck in it for our overlords.
    The cops are not immune to the human instinct to take the path of least resistance.

  • Wendy

    Not that many years ago the taxi industry was highly regulated and difficult, if not impossible to break into.

    “Deregulate” they cried…”More competition will be good for the public/customers”.

    Well here you have it…deregulation and innovation.

    Looks like those same people who called for deregulation are now saying “Jeez…not THAT MUCH deregulation”.

    • Coffee Connoisseur

      or they simply want the same laws applied to Uber as they themselves are subject to. Not too much to ask really.

  • Hard1

    I’m losing it with the cops. Easy stuff, every day. As they are so fond of saying themselves, this is a civil issue.

  • Grizz30

    The Taxi industry cannot stop this. Shut down Uber, something else will take over and will use social media tools to bring passengers and drivers together as well as to agree upon a pre-determined fare.

    I did not know about Uber before this. Now with the free publicity this generates I certainly will consider using them in the future. I do wonder how Airports will handle this. They bully cabbies a fee for picking up passengers which ultimately gets added onto your fare.

  • Hedgehog

    So not happy making criminals of drivers doing 101k in a 100k area, Police are now targeting passengers. Great use of police time and resources, all under the guise of “road safety”. May as well close up the roads, and bring in Len Brown train sets. Maybe then we can get a copper to a burglary inside of 3 days. Although we could make it an offence to be burgled, then they would be round within the hour.

    • Je Suis Charlie – Respect!!

      Maybe Hedgy you have hit the nail on the head.

      If the roads are stuffed then there is no option but to use the buses or trains.

      • Steve (North Shore)

        Nope to that. Just stay at home and not work. Food is ordered online from Countdown and delivered. Waste goes in the bin, the hardest job is taking the orange council bag to the berm. Clothes can be ordered – anything can be ordered online. Those who do not get this are living in poverty

        • Je Suis Charlie – Respect!!

          Maybe not living in poverty, but rather living poorly.

  • Peter Bickle

    Can you be arrested if you told the police no to THEIR request to get out of the cab?

    • Chrismcm77

      What would the police have done if they had of said no?

  • Michelle

    l was gobsmacked this morning when l read the headline and then thought l wonder whose pocket high up is being lined to sort out Uber for the taxi companies without having to go through the courts

    It is competition and the taxi companies need to get with the times or they will become dinosaurs

  • DLNZ

    A few years a go I caught a taxi in Auckland from the viaduct. I asked the driver to take us to K-Road – he told me he’d only been in NZ a week and would he be able to give him directions, or would we mind if he checked the map. He then forgot to start the meter until we were 2/3 of the way up Queen Street so at least it was a cheap trip.

    • Mark

      Happened to me last week from St Marys Bay,even getting them to take you that short trip can be a battle!

    • Pharmachick

      Many years ago, a friend and myself tried to get a ride home at 3am from High Street to Grafton. We were tipsy (obv.) but not drunk or abusive or anything. Mostly we didn’t want to walk home, partly we were 22/23 and worried about two of us walking up Queen St or Symonds St alone at 3 am. The first three drivers refused to take us because the trip was “too short and they’d lose their place in the queue”. The fourth guy was an awesome, older Maori guy who said (and I remember this to the day) “Get in Love, I wouldn’t want my daughter walking home, don’t let those B— put you in danger for an extra 5 bucks”. That’s just one example (don’t get me started about airport fares) … I am no fan of Auckland taxi drivers – best of luck to Uber.
      EDIT: grammar

      • LabTested

        If I’m doing a short trip I grab the cab from the back of the rank.

    • Once in Melbourne I had a driver hand me the Melway (map book) and state “You show, I go”

  • murrayirwin

    Just who is the idiot (apologies Wallace) setting the priorities for the lads in blue?

    • Wallace Westland

      I’d be offended by that comment if I was as easily offended as some people are. Fortunately I’m not so all’s good. Ty for the apology though :)

    • peterwn

      Parliament – its annual Appropriations Act provides for a direct general policing appropriation and a traffic policing appropriation via TANZ. Part of traffic policing includes commercial vehicle compliance – log books, weigh stations, licencing, taxis, etc. In recent decades the public has sent Parliament a strong message that it wanted the overly bureaucratic control of taxis lifted (eg when an Alert or Co-op taxi dropped someone at Auckland Airport the cab could not backload a fare, the passenger had to catch a ‘South Auckland’ taxi into town, and it could not pick up another fare until it returned to South Auckland). However the public does demand some regulation of taxis eg 24 hour service, equitable fares, safe cabs, vetted drivers etc. So when an owner-driver spends some thousands of dollars to set up and plays by the rules he does not expect to have to compete against cowboys be they shabbily run taxis or UBER.

      • Bretto

        Or the owner-driver can save thousands and sign up with Uber.

  • peterwn

    This sort of work, like other traffic enforcement, is met from the budget that Parliament provides to the police via TANZ for traffic enforcement. So resources are not being taken away from catching burglars to dealing with taxi/ UBER issues. So arguably, the officers dealing with taxi/ UBER issues have been taking off +1kph enforcement duties.

    • Aucky

      So the Uber harassment should cease then once the 1 kph hunting season has finished – arguably of course.

  • metalnwood

    Uber vehicles are not marked I dont think so I am asking myself how the officer knew this was an uber car to pull over. Had be been tailing the car waiting for a ride to pull him over?

    Something very off about the story in this respect.

    • Aucky

      There is something decidedly off as you so appropriately describe it. I have never ridden in an Uber cab and have no relationship at all with them. What I detest is a new & exciting business model open up in Auckland with plenty to offer the consumer in the way of new standards in customer service harassed by the establishment using a government agency to enforce piffling laws. It all rather reeks of the 70s when the likes of Air NZ hid behind the Ministry of Transport to keep out non-IATA competitors such as Singapore Airlines. We know how well that worked.

  • kayaker

    Happy to see Uber and some decent alternative competition. Haven’t used them as yet – tried to before Christmas, but they were obviously very much in demand.

    On the subject of ‘conventional’ cab rip-off fares to the airport – we’ve just come back from three weeks away. We booked a long term carpark at Auckland Airport online before leaving. Checked out of the carpark yesterday – $86+GST for 19 days! Will never use a cab again unless we have to.

    • Cremster

      Sshhh let’s keep it a secret please otherwise the airport will start jacking the prices up :)

      Haven’t taken a taxi to the airport for years…

      • STAG

        Nothing less the $80 from the cbd last couple of times I have, still I prefer the smell of corporate cabs to BO. Gotta pay for lives luxuries.

  • Cremster

    Many years ago when I lived in Invers the Police would routinely raid non-Invercargill Licensing Trust premises and impose the maximum fine for any 17 year and 11 month olds they found in them, and yet when there were brawls and 15 year olds drinking at ILT premises they would turn a blind eye.

    Not to suggest that they were being ‘encouraged’ to do so of course…

    This raiding of Uber cars strikes me as a similar sort of behaviour now in Auckland.

    • STAG

      The ILT is the biggest rought in town. Still I like not having booze in the supermarket.

  • shykiwibloke

    Where’s a strong Police Minister when we need one. Seems the cops are becoming very picky as to which laws they enforce and which they ignore. Perfect recipie for reducing public support.

  • Gillie

    Taxi drivers on Ponsonby Road are an effn nuisance apparently half the lanes are allocated to taxis on Friday and Saturday nights, driving at walking speed, pulling out, stopping short, doing u-turns without looking chucking the hazards on causing massive queues just to pick up their next fare. Worst of all they’re all Priuses probably having a competition to see who can get the best fuel economy – why can’t the Police deal with these inconsiderate muppets?

  • Je Suis Charlie – Respect!!

    Sheesh. The Police PR department are going to be busy with this and the speed/booze BS. All that is left for them to do now is go out and bash some kids to sink to a new low.

    Seems like the police force manual of the 60s/70s has been reused. Kickbacks anyone…?

  • david

    BD the industry is deregulated – anyone can start a taxi business as long as they meet a certain set of rules, which are not onerous. Unless there is some technicality, I don’t know why Uber isn’t just registered as a taxi company. But then again I don’t know why the existing companies are not using any one of several taxi hire apps (used extensively in south Asian cities) that achieve the same as Uber.

  • Hard1

    There is little risk, but less people will travel by train.

  • Just a thought …

    I love the way the police always glumly say after an accident that ” speed” was a factor. Well guess what – if the vehicle was moving then obviously speed is a factor. If the vehicle wasn’t moving then guess what – speed was also a factor in the lack there of….
    They have done themselves and the public a huge disservice this Xmas period and I truly hope some wiser heads in the Police will reflect and correct…….

  • andrewo

    Uber cannot be allowed to operate in Auckland because it might lower the overall standard of driving by taxi operators…BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

  • Murray Smith

    Back handers, perhaps ?

  • willtin

    I haven’t noticed any mention of the Uber drivers having been recognised as having the necessary skills to transport paying customers safely. One presumes the P endorsement on a NZ legal taxi drivers licence accords them a minimum skill level. What does Uber require in the way of Driver endorsement? Will your insurance cover you for injury in the case of an Uber accident?
    It’s all a bit iffy for me.

  • reitama

    Have used Uber in the US and in Auckland (i live in Wellington), the cars are always clean, the drivers are perfect and i have already agreed the fare before i leave…cheaper by heaps, 30% in the US. And i have been ripped off by taxi drivers so newly arrived they did not even where the overseas terminal was from Wellington railway station….give me UBER any day

  • Tom

    I’d hazard a guess that more than half the Uber drivers can speak English properly.

    • Coffee Connoisseur

      you must be kidding. In Auckland the Uber drivers are simply drivers from shall we say less than reputable taxi companies. The ones that you would normally think twice about getting into and would only do so if that was the only option available. Those same drivers then simply remove their signage and wala Uber Taxi. They then do a job from Uber and when finished put their taxi company signage back on. Its a great concept but not very safe and the companies record of dealing with things when they go wrong leaves a lot to be desired. A quick google shows that Uber drivers overseas have killed a little girl, attacked a customer with a hammer and used being an Uber driver as an opportunity to rape a customer. I mean someone in Uber seriously needs to look at the background check process for their drivers. That is of course assuming that they are doing them.

  • Bretto

    Uber is just providing a market place for private citizens to share a ride and be compensated for it, they are not providing a taxi service. If people think there is an unacceptable risk accepting a ride from a stranger, I guess they won’t use it, and will pay a premium with a registered taxi service instead.

    • Coffee Connoisseur

      they calculate a fare using a flagg fall, per km rate and waiting time. They are clearly operating a taxi service whilst trying to say they are not. Why shouldn’t they should need to comply with the law like everybody else in the taxi market. Either that or remove all of the regulations for the taxi companies so its a level playing field.

      • Bretto

        Au contraire, they don’t employ any drivers, the cars aren’t branded, and they take a commission for processing the payments and brokering rides. They are clearly NOT a taxi service.

        A simpler analogy for you might be protesting that Amazon shouldn’t be allowed to operate because they don’t own any shops like other shopkeepers do.

        This is a better way of providing an individual transport service as an alternative to an overpriced (given the extremely low skill-set required) taxi industry, and it won’t be the last industry to be revolutionised by the internet in favour of the consumer.

        • Coffee Connoisseur

          thats all well and good but we have laws that govern public transport including Taxis and Private hire services here in new Zealand. If someone wants to supply those services they must abide by the laws for doing so.

          It is no different than someone wanting to open a resaurant and sell food to the general public. There are certain rules and standards that must be met… or should we simply do away with all of our laws because some big overseas company decides they don’t want to abide by them.

          As for
          “Au contraire, they don’t employ any drivers, the cars aren’t branded, and they take a commission for processing the payments and brokering rides. They are clearly NOT a taxi service.”

          That argument would hold water if they weren’t also supplying the charging for the fare. As they do however this puts them squarely in the camp of providing an illegal taxi service. The laws are pretty clear in this area.

          • Bretto

            Trademe and book-a-bach provide an exchange platform and payment service, but are they liable under the consumer guarantees act? Of course not.

            The provider of an aggregation platform delivered over the internet cannot be considered the provider of the actual service. There are countless examples of this type of business model. I understand it’s a new concept for many but it’s the way things are inevitably heading.

            Either taxi companies compete in this space or they will lose. If they do compete, it will be great for consumers.

            As for your strained restaurant analogy, have a look at http://www.eatwith.com.

            The days of overcharging for low-skill services by promoting then hiding behind complex regulatory hurdles are fast coming to an end. Very scary for some, great for the rest of us.

          • Coffee Connoisseur

            and if their were specific legislative requirments for what trademe or book a bach do they would need to meet those requiements. Uber want to play in the taxi space. There are legislative requirements. They need to meet them. Its that simple.

          • Bretto

            You so nearly got there! The point is that Uber is offering a software platform, identical to Book a Bach and Trademe. You could argue that users and drivers are providing a taxi service, but that’s a whole different issue.

            In fact you must have noticed that police are prosecuting drivers not Uber?

          • Coffee Connoisseur

            yes I had noticed that. But what is Uber without drivers?

          • Coffee Connoisseur

            On Eatwith.com thanks I have been doing a lot of work on something and you have just given me a potential solution to a particular problem that as yet I hadn’t been able to solve. cheers

          • Bretto

            Always happy to help a brother.

  • abbaby

    Buggers shouldn’t turn on their meters, they know the rules.

  • Coffee Connoisseur

    thats great no probem then. So if your a female and you get raped when taking an Uber cab as has already happened overseas its all good because you can rate the driver one star.
    Very shortsighted to say the least.

    • Mark

      Yeah,because stuff that that hasn’t happened in the highly regulated,background checked taxi industry;

      “Abdiraham Sheikh Mohamed Guled, 31, has denied one charge of abduction, one of rape, one of unlawful connection and performing an indecent act on a 14-year-old girl.

      The charges also relate to a complaint from a woman who was 19 when the alleged attack occured on March 8 last year.

      The 19-year-old alleged she was forced to have sex with him after he took her to a secluded area of Riverlea Drive in his Dial-A-Cab taxi. She claimed he threatened to abandon her if she didn’t have sex with him.”


      • Coffee Connoisseur

        See now in the world of logic and common sense that’s a reason to look at better regulation not none at all.

        Or are you saying that’s a really good reason to allow a company that doesn’t want to adhere to any regulations at all. If so following that logic we should pretty much do away with all laws. If its ok for Uber why should anyone need to follow the law on anything..

        • Mark

          I dunno maybe we could let the market decide & the state could get out of the damn way. Rape is already against the law,making it more expensive to get a taxi home makes no positive difference.

  • sheppy

    We used Uber extensively in Wellington and it was excellent. Well maintained clean late model cars, punctual service and competent drivers.
    The driver I got using one of the other apps from Auckland airport was shocking, didn’t know the way back to the shore, drove like a nutter up the bumper of the car in front and was late. Give me Uber any day!

  • Russell Bell

    Uber drivers are background-checked and are also rated by passengers, the drivers’ access to the Uber platform is conditional on their maintaining a high average rating.