Monday, August 15, 2016

When The Dream Turns Into A Jim Thomas

Very shortly, we will all be taking Credit and Debit Cards as the mandate kicks in . 
We've been sold the dream that Credit Cards are the future, the work will come flooding back and cash is for dinosaurs. 

That may be the dream, but it has already started to turn into a nightmare for some.

• When did you ever have to pay a third party transaction charge for taking cash?
• When did you have to pack up work and go home because your coin dispenser suddenly developed a fault?
• When did you ever decline a twenty pound note?
• when did you ever get a claw back request for cash?

I've been taking CCs for a number of years, first through Adelante's POS mobile app. I then progressed to CabApp's app which allowed a transaction through your phone without any third party equipment. 

But then, when certain card providers stopped accepting this type of online transaction, I decided to invested in an iZettle unit, which works by Bluetooth connection to a smart phone. I can honestly say, in all the time I used these systems, I never encountered a problem other that I once entered the amount as 32p instead of £32. Lesson learned, I moved on and was more careful with future transactions. 

About a month ago, in line with the impending mandate, I had a terminal fitted in the rear, connected to my meter/printer, with its own GPS source and independent of my phone's Bluetooth and data usage.

Stickers were attached to my passenger compartment side windows and partition screen. I was told this is the future, work will flood back. 

Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case.

Although I don't work the airport and only do about 30 hours over 5 nights, I'm averaging approx 5 to 6 CC trips a week. Passengers it seems, are not queuing up to use my new service, which currently blocks my rear view (well done TfL)

So what happens when the equipment suppliers come to the conclusion, passengers have not gone contactless wholesale and their machines (26,000) are not being used as much as first hoped?

To attract drivers into the pool, some suppliers have reduced their 10% service charge to around 3.95%, quite a drop! 
But what will happen when they come to the realisation, they've supplied machines to the whole trade, have taken over a 50% drop in service charge and yet the cab riding public haven't suddenly become a cashless society....

What do you think will happen next. 

Service charge will increase, there will be daily/weekly/monthly rentals (already happening with some radio cab companies). 
I know this seems hard to imagine but one CC equipment supplier in particular is asking for £100 deposit from drivers they believe won't last out a three year contract.

Even rental garages are starting to stick their greedy hands further into drivers pockets by charging their drivers a weekly (what they are calling) accidental damage insurance fee on fitted CC machines.

One of my friends has had a unit fitted in his MetroCab. 
The unit, fitted on the side hand rail, is so low down, the screen cannot be read from the normal sitting position. 
The passenger has to bend down almost with head touching the seat to read the LED screen. 

And this has been passed by's a joke.

At a time when the trade is in dire straits, the "Credit Card Mandate" has added an extra financial burden, which is about to get a lot worse -if/when- rentals are introduced and service charges rise dramatically. 

Yes there was a consultation, but in true TfL fashion, our licensing authority rarely take note of replies not suiting their own agenda. 

• The 3% cap on surcharges was dropped to favour equipment suppliers.
• The surcharge was moved from passenger to driver even through the vast majority voting against this happening. 
• The same with rear fitted machines. No notice taken, of their own consultation.

Major suppliers have indicated to TfL, they may not be able to equipt all vehicles by the 3rd of October. 
TfL have stated firmly on Twitter, there will be no extension to the deadline. 

With compliance being expanded to 350 foot soldiers (with no power other than to harass Taxi drivers) looks like there's going to be a lot of stop notes being issued in October. 

Well done TfL, another complete mess you've made.