Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Big Taxi Credit Card Conspiracy : Why Have TfL Made It Such A Mess

There's quite a bit of misinformation currently floating about the Taxi trade in regards to driver's future responsibilities when taking Credit and Debit card payments and also when certain restrictions and new regulations will be introduced. 

TfL have posted clear instructions as to what is expected and when new regulations will be imposed. 
Below is part of the statement TfL put out in regards to Card Acceptance. 

On 3 Feb the TfL board decided that TfL will not set a maximum charge that the card equipment suppliers can charge taxi drivers and that market forces should dictate.  

There are a number of TfL approved card equipment suppliers offering card payment systems for the taxi industry as can be seen in the TPH notice. 

Currently card transaction costs start from 2.75% and taxi drivers have a range of options to meet the mandatory date for card acceptance of 3 October 2016. The existing card payment surcharge payable by passengers of up to 10% or £1, whichever is greater, will be removed from 2nd April 2016. 

After this date taxi drivers must not charge passengers a surcharge when accepting credit or debit card payments. 

TfL is working with card payment systems suppliers to ensure they are prepared to meet the changes, which include the new requirement that a card payment terminal must be fitted within the passenger compartment.

     Len Martin Chairman United Cabbies Group

Editorial comment:
In Taxi Leaks opinion, these new regulations are completely unreasonable and should never have been agreed or signed off by the trade orgs and Unions.

Why should a driver who has been using a hand held mobile machine for many years with no complaints from passengers be forced by TfL to have the machine taken away and fitted in the rear. At present, the driver has to enter the price on hand held appliances by hand.
So how will the driver do this if the machine is fitted in rear?Will he have to get out of the front, enter the rear of the cab to perform a card payment? 
(Compromising both driver and the passengers safety!)

Of course not, this is just to preempt that connection of the third party supplied appliance to the meter. 
(Which could then be used as an impromptu tachograph)   

Although there is no mention (yet) that the machine should be connected to the meter, this would render machines such as iZettle, PayPal and CabApp totally unusable.

At present over 70% of drivers have the means to clear CC payments, albeit by machine, App or through their radio circuit, but as soon as drivers are required to pay clearance service charges, we could see this situation change dramatically. 

Between April and October, we predict a massive expansion of "Cash Only" signs and machines covered with old socks and plastic bags, this will have a lasting damaging effect on the reputation of the trade. 

Why has this not been thought through...well many it has. Perhaps this is exactly the agenda TfL are following!

The question must be asked, why is it imperative that drivers are expected to pay any CC service charge?

TfL say the customer should not be charged for taking the option of paying on credit. WHY?
TfL also say the driver must not charge more than the metered fare. 

The important word here is "FARE". The surcharge is in fact a service charge, charged not by the driver, but by a third party card company and inasmuch is not the part of the fare paid to the driver.

One of the major card company directors, is also a director of a company selling Taxis to drivers. 
Would this director consider paying the extra charge made by the driver (as a customer) for buying a Taxi on a credit, paying the interest on the loan.....I don't think he would for one minute!

When TfL put out their consultation last year, they carefully left out one important question -Should the driver pay the surcharge- it's just not there.

TfL made much about the fact that nearly 90% of everyone who filled in the consultation voted that all taxis should be forced to accept card payments.

Taxi Point carried out a similar consultation, but included the question "should the driver be made to pay the surcharge on transactions". This came back with a massive 90% saying "NO"

Our question now, will the Orgs and Unions collectively fight these unreasonable edits from TfL.

Many rumours are floating about, alleging conflicts of interest regarding advertising revenue from the major card equipment suppliers. Surely members interests should be paramount. 

The longer this situation goes on, there's more chance it could seriously damage the trade's reputation. 

Worst of all, TfL have already informed the media that drivers will be mandated to accept card payments and that drivers will pay surcharge and not passengers. 
They've actually put this out, even though they haven't changed the cab act and have no legislation to back up their claim.

Also, it should be pointed out that no similar regulations have been announced in regards to a Private Hire mandate of card payment acceptance. 

Will TfL now immediately drop their credit card surcharge when Taxi and Private Hire drivers pay for their licence, the vehicle inspection?
Why is there one rule for us but another rule for TfL?