Uber acting like a teenager on a brain fart

did i do that

I’m all for innovation, competition and shaking up cosy little industries that have managed to essentially run a protection racket, so in principle taxi app Uber is doing all that just fine.  Except that they are now undermining the industry by cheating, and that’s not on.

Questions are being raised over whether taxi app Uber can be classed as a private hire company, as they continue to come under fire for using fare estimates rather than fixed prices.

Uber, an app used worldwide to order taxis, offers fare estimates between a range – for example, an estimate might be $16-$20.

But police say because Uber is registered as a private hire company, drivers must offer a fixed fare at the start of each journey, as required by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

“We say that a range is sufficient,” says Uber spokesperson Katie Curran.

Nice arrogance there Katie.  The law?  Who needs the law!   Katie says this, so Katie must be right.

The company says the correct interpretation of the law is before the courts, but would not elaborate when 3 News asked for more information.

“The real question is whether the rule being cited is in the best interests of consumers or a way to protect the incumbent industry from competition,” says Ms Curran.

That’s a different argument.  If the rules need changing, do what it takes to change it.  But don’t break the law willfully and then pretend you don’t care.

But the New Zealand Taxi Federation (NZTF) isn’t satisfied, and wants Uber to follow the rules.

“If they’re going to work in the private hire space then they need to follow the private hire regulations, and that’s give a precise fare – not a penny less, not a penny more,” says chief executive Roger Heale.

“Uber is not a start-up anymore, it’s a $40 billion company – it has to grow up and make a decision what it is going to be.”

The NZTF says although Uber has brought a lot of good aspects to the competitive taxi market in New Zealand, it needs to adhere to the law.

“We would like to see Uber playing by the rules like the rest of us have to,” says Mr Heale.

Uber needs to stop trying to be ‘cool’ and follow the rules.  If other taxi companies fail because they run a terrible service, so be it, but if you are undercutting hard working taxi drivers who don’t do anything wrong by not following the law, you need your leash tugged.

Uber has been outlawed in certain countries.  This is a clear signal that it is the Uber way or else, and legislators have had to react by taking punitive measures.

Uber needs to consider the “fair go” aspect of Kiwi culture.  We all love a bargain, but not when people know the bargain comes at the cost of putting good people out of a job by not playing by the same rules.

Uber is like the Kim Dotcom of the taxi industry – counting on it’s underdog anti-establishment status to get ahead.  As with Dotcom, that works for a while, until the people realise you’re getting ahead by crushing hard working normal people.

– Briar Marback, 3 News


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  • andrewo

    With the current technology and data available on traffic volumes and histories of thousands of journeys it should be a piece of cake for software calculate an accurate fixed price. Over many trips it will average out anyway.

    • Sam

      If the price is the same, what difference does it make?

  • sheppy

    If it has to be private hire to get around the protection racket that is the New Zealand Taxi industry then someone should develop a relevant app and fast!
    I’ve used Uber a few times and it has been good value with tidy taxis driven by competent drivers which is more than I can say for a few of the taxis I’ve taken. However they are very naive if they think the ticket clippers are going to give up their cosy little patch without a fight and I worry that they will decide NZ is too small a market to fight in and leave the over priced variable standards status quo as it is.

  • Addedup

    NZ taxis are the most expensive in the world, their lobbying is exceptional and they throw around lots of their ripped off passengers hard earned cash to whoever will shill for them. Joyce legislated for cameras after being lobbied and it wasn’t because they cared for the drivers it was once again another barrier to entry for competition.
    Taxi drivers are generally hated in NZ because they are monopolistic thieves, they rate alongside oil and power companies. Why should there be any legislation for cars for hire at all, we should be able to rate the drivers and choose the best one, it’s 2015 not 1955 sheesh.

    • David Moore

      23km taxi ride in Christchurch yesterday cost me $100.

      Any wonder people will tried and avoid them like the plague?

  • So the Police were now right to be pulling over the Uber taxi drivers, on the basis of breaking the law?

    • Hard1

      Not if they’re up to their neck in property crime and too busy to attend to it.

  • Stuarts.burgers

    I feel that Taxi’s have had it good for a long time and welcome the competition that Uber and others can bring but it must be, as I have being saying since Uber v Private Hires rules came to our attention, with in the rules what ever they be.
    If Uber can convince the powers to be to change the rules to allow for the way they wish operate then all good,but until such time as they have that rule change done then they must operate with in the existing rules

  • Nebman

    No sympathy for the taxi drivers. As soon as they justified not putting down their tariffs when fuel pricing collapsed they lost their credibility.

    • peterwn

      And if you cannot hire an Uber when you want or the estimate is too high, then no doubt you expect to be able to hire an ordinary taxi at standard fares 24/7.

      • Nebman

        It costs around $45 to get a cab from home to New Plymouth airport – a distance of 11.2km. $90 return.

        Or drive my car and park it at the airport for the week for $40. My car is locked in a secure car-park and I’m not waiting or queuing when I get home. If the trip is less than 5 days, the numbers stack up even better to avoid cabs.

        The argument about an empty cab on the way home falls over as we have flights in and out around the same time so the return fares are there.

        I get tired of their add on fees for pretty much everything – credit cards especially.

    • Coffee Connoisseur

      you mean when they saved about a whopping $20 per week on fuel whist the cost of everything else in society remained the same..

  • HSV325

    Same. It’s a load of brown that fuel is not one of their biggest costs. Why do you think just about every second taxi on the road is a poxy hybrid.

  • James Chan

    are the taxi companies paying you to smear uber?

  • oldmanNZ

    I don’t like taking taxis, but thats just me, weather its the cost or the smell or the unbearable conversation I need to endure.

    But I do feel sorry for them sometimes, They sit there all day for a fare that could range from $10 to $80.
    They have a car to maintain, which is costly, and part of the service is waiting, which add in the cost.

    Now Uber comes in and tries to undercut everyone, by not playing the same rules which seems to be unfair.
    I never used Uber, not really sure how to either as I don’t have them on my phone.

    There a story to both sides, that needs to be explained.

    • Wallace Westland

      Take a look at my post. Might help a little.

  • Wallace Westland

    And that’s the crux of the whole matter. The taxi industry has enjoyed one form of protection after another.
    When it was a completely closed shop and finally deregulated in the late ’80s many cabbies lost the value of their license (which back then where I came from was sold for around 23,000 bucks. A house had an average price of 33k)
    Deregulated to drive prices down via increased completion given that supposedly NZ was one of the most expensive countries in the world to catch a cab.(it was)

    Well the big companies quickly changed tack and instead of a license you became a shareholder. They rapidly undercut and drove completion out of the market.

    There are many more players today than there were back then as slowly but surely the game settled down but nothing has changed.

    We are still hideously over charged for the price of a ride and these days the reason is…and I choke at the stupidity…there are too many taxis and too much completion so each driver has to charge an extortionate amount per customer to survive.

    Uber believe the law is wrong…fine get the law changed. Until then you play by the rules of our country and give a fixed price PRIOR to departure.

    Which reminds me. I’ll be having this conversation next time I use a dial a driver too!

  • Hubz

    Cam is right Kiwis do believe is a fair go. That’s why they want Uber and not the rip off merchants they have now.

  • taurangaruru

    I don’t understand why Uber cannot offer a set fare, there is enough technology available to set the fare i.e Google Maps & other journey estimators.

  • david

    Uber are simply being arrogant and lazy. Unlike taxis in most countries around the world the New Zealand taxi industry has no entry controls. Anyone can apply for a taxi licence as long as you meet certain requirements, primarily related to public safety. Uber has an operating model – operating as a hire car rather than a taxi – that is designed to get around taxi legislation in other countries where the taxi industry is protected. It doesn’t need it here. What Uber should do, is change its operating model to fit the NZ legislation. It could do that easily. Instead it is trotting out its standard responses.
    The reason that taxi fares are high in New Zealand is that for most people who take taxis, service is more important than price. So taxis compete on service. When the taxi industry was first deregulated, Combined in Wellington had a cheap ‘off-peak’ fare. After a while they realised it wasn’t winning them more passengers, so they quietly dropped the idea. One reason people don’t chose on price is that when you are choosing a taxi it is hard to work out what the fare will be. (or if its raining you take the first one that comes) This is where Uber could dramatically change the market. If it stopped being a fart and started operating as a taxi.

    • Addedup

      Seriously ! Nz has outrageously expensive taxis thanks to monopolsitic practices imposed by an industry lobby that has successfully lobbied government to erect barriers to entry.
      The outrageous cost of taxis here means for us is that we don’t often go out for dinner and a few drinks because a 10 minute drive to town is 53 dollars each way so dinner out is a stupid 200 plus bucks. We can easily afford it but it kinda kills the Occassion being robbed by a taxi driver expecting to out earn Mai Chen.
      We get from the Wilshire in Beverly Hills to LAX for less than Burwood to Christchurch airport, one trip is 10minutes the other can be an hour

      • david

        You may be right +up, I haven’t been following things closely it certainly was the case originally that the industry was free entry. The thing is, if there are a lot of different companies and taxi divers chasing business, it becomes harder for a company to match trips so empty running increases as does waiting time between trips. That new car has to be amortized over less paid distance and costs go up. If Uber can break into the market and get enough scale it could be a game changer. But the same could be achieved with other taxi apps.