Just back from vacation, the director of Licensed Taxis and Private Hire John Mason has again put himself in the spotlight by making a statement via a social media network that he believes it should be compulsory that all Taxis, accept Credit Cards. He them spent most of the afternoon multi-tasking, trying to defend his stance to the hoards of angry Taxi drivers who feel he was overstepping his remit.
Personally I believe that Mr Mason is living in "cloud cuckoo land" if he thinks LTPH can make this compulsory.
LTPH could make installation of a CC machine part of the conditions of fitness, we saw this with the receipt printers that added a financial burden upon many drivers only to find that most passengers still prefer hand written receipts.
As we are all independent sole traders, Mason and LTPH have no authority to insist that we give our customers credit. Their job, as they keep insisting, is as a licensing authority, they have no say in the running of our business financially. This idea is solely a pipe dream of the Director of LTPH who prefers not to carry cash.
Also, for this to happen, every driver would need to have a bank or building society account. (Most do, but there are still a many who don't). Mason has no authority to compel drivers to open bank or building society accounts.
It stands to reason that every Taxi driver who wants to take CC and DD cards already has this facility. Those who don't accept cards think cash is king and will always find a way of refusing. But even most of the ones who take cards, are against a compulsory trade wide order.
Perhaps this is just another ploy to get the trade fighting amongst themselves again while the bigger, more threatening issues slip by unnoticed.
Question: What's in the offering over the next few months that we should be concentrating our efforts on?
Answer: The Law Commission consultation. (Men are still coming to kill us)
Divide and conquer
We have seen this tactic before from John Mason.
When he first came to the throne he immediately split the trade representative bodies by introducing an unfair and biased engagement policy. This caused widespread infighting and efforts to respond to the infamous Private Hire Consultation were diluted.
The result was PH got everything they asked for and we got nothing.
Then we had the issue of the games lanes which hit our attention about the same time as the cheap pieces of card "ID badges" were introduced. This had the trade tearing strips off each other and caused almost civil war as drivers started to argue and fight amongst themselves.
The result of this infighting would be, any campaign against exclusion to the Olympic Zil lanes was always going to be too late.
Even if LTPH was given the power to make CC acceptence compulsory, what business person in their right mind, is going to finance installation of these machines into an extra ten thousand Taxis, most of whom will just stick a plastic bag over them and not use. Much in the same manner as receipt printers.
It is clearly noticeable the amount of rented taxis which have bags covering their CC machines and have disconnected the annoying advertising screens.
Mason can bleat all he likes about Credit Cards, we should just ignore him and carry on with the important stuff. Compulsory acceptance of Credit and Debit Cards really is just a non starter and I believe John Mason well knows it (or is his advisory team really that bad?)
A man who holds such an important office, should not put himself in a position to be constantly attacked on twitter by drivers, its inappropriate, demeaning and damaging to his authority as Director. Could you ever imagine Roy Ellis on Twitter?