Saturday, May 24, 2014

Uber To help 100K drivers buy new cars: Top executives play dirty with competitors

Last week Uber rolled into our 60th city – Moscow.  It was Cali, Tokyo and Montreal the week prior.  Jacksonville and Abu Dhabi the week before that.  Their global growth is happening fast. 

Uber is partnering with auto manufacturers – GM and Toyota – and leading financial institutions to reduce operating costs for drivers and get cars on the road faster. The key to this new platform? Uber partner-drivers have a robust, reliable cash flow through the Uber platform.  Their cash flow lowers the risk of financing drivers and means better access to cheaper credit than otherwise available on the open market.

“Collaborating with a technology company like Uber is a great opportunity to introduce our latest products to Uber users and partner-drivers. GM and Uber are innovating together to revolutionise transportation alternatives in cities around the country.”  - Steve Girsky, GM Vice-Chairman
But Uber Are Playing Dirty:
Uber are taking on Get-Taxi in New York, but are not playing a clean game. Uber is a company that doesn't care about being hated. It flips off regulators, thinks taxi cabs are obsolete, and when it comes to other smartphone car services, plays very dirty. And the sabotage is happening right at the top.

You probably haven't heard of Gett, and Uber would love to keep it that way. Gett provides an almost identical service—order a black car pickup from your phone, no cash needed—but lacks Uber's high profile or mammoth war chest. It also, crucially, uses a flat pricing system, without "surge" multipliers. During a recent snowstorm in New York, Uber's prices were an unpredictable "3x" of normal, while Gett just tacked on a $15 charge. It's an underdog in every way.

But Uber considers Gett a threat: over the past few weeks, Uber employees have been posing as pedestrians, creating Gett accounts for the sole purpose of scheduling and then canceling Gett rides. The result is clear: wasted time for Gett drivers, fewer available rides for Gett users, and general disarray for the whole service.

And it's coming from the top brass at Uber NYC.

Screenshots provided to Valleywag show multiple instances of Uber staffers using dummy Gett accounts for the sole purpose of canceling rides as a diversion. This includes Uber's New York General Manager, Josh Mohrer, who ordered and canceled at least twenty Gett rides from December 30th, 2013 to January 14th of this year. Uber's Operations and Logistics Manager, Jeanine Mendez, faked three ride requests in two days—Uber's Community Manager Kimiko Ninomaya faked seven in a single day. After these rides had been canceled, Uber texted the affected drivers in an attempt to recruit them—and after all the frustration they'd had with Gett, it'd seem like a sweet offer.

Altogether, at least 13 Uber employees of varying seniority took part in the scheme to derail Gett: Community Manager Amy Perlman, Operations Manager Andrew Salzberg, Operations and Logistics Manager Benjamin Stein, Operations and Logistics Manager Chad Dobbs, Community Manager Elliot Beltzer, Social Media Strategist Jake Langbecker, Community Manager Jake Naughtrip, Operations and Logistics Manager Kyle Thomas, Community Manager Michael Fine, Operations Manager Shalini Challa, Community Manager Randy Berridge. Uber sure has an interesting notion of community.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Uber PR chief Andrew Noyes attributes the scam to mere over-zealousness out of the local office, a "sales tactic" gone too far: "It was likely too aggressive a sales tactic and we regret the team's approach to outreach of these drivers." Noyes adds "We have messaged city teams to curtail activities that seek lead generation by requesting transportation services." This makes it sound like it was a team effort. But it wasn't—the man in charge of Uber New York was perhaps the worst offender.

Given everything we know about Uber's shark CEO and the company's general fanatical free market indifference towards the people it services, it's hard to imagine this was some rogue initiative of startup bullying. Corporate culture, poison or positive, always comes from somewhere—and all's fair in love and Ayn Rand book clubs.

      Sources: ValleyWag &VentureBeat

Addison Lee Lose Major Account To A Green Tomato.

Addison Lee’s spiteful prank on ITN

Mini-cab firm Addison Lee exacted cold revenge on ITN last night at about the worst possible time. Slap bang in the middle of the election coverage, they cancelled the news provider’s minicab account.

ITN had recently announced that they would be moving the company account to a rival firm. It seems Addison Lee did not take this news well, suspending their account in the middle of the night, on one of the busiest news nights of the year. 

In a frantic email to all their staff and crucially the guest bookers – ITN bosses vented their anger:

‘Our decision to move to Green Tomato is based on a number of factors including cost, the quality of service and their commitment to environmental sustainability. 

ITN has acted in a professional manner throughout our dealings with Addison Lee and we are very disappointed that they have adopted such aggressive tactics in responding to our choice to move to a new supplier.

This has to be Addison Lee's biggest account lose since Liam Griffin took control, after his father John stepped down. 
Co-founder of Green Tomato Jonny Goldstone, is said to be over the moon with this major account acquisition. 

Source: The Sectator 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Update from Hailo Chairman 23/05/14.

I wanted to follow up on my note from Monday to respond to some of the feedback we’ve received, to clarify some areas where there have been some questions and concerns - and to personally apologise if any of my comments came across as anything but sincere and genuine.
Understandably, there have been some strong opinions expressed about my message, though I’m sure all drivers would agree that personal abuse aimed at Hailo’s founder taxi drivers, or any Hailo drivers, is never the right thing to do. Just as importantly in this instance, it’s simply not right - Terry, Russ and Gary don’t sit in a room on their own making every decision.  Hailo is now a sizeable company with a large management team and over 200 employees worldwide.
No-one at Hailo believed our decision to expand our customer offering into PH would be anything less than controversial and difficult. We know when we started three years ago that we said that Hailo would be Black Cab only.  Unfortunately, the market reality is that things are changing rapidly and we sincerely believe that we have to change with them.  It was never our plan but it has become a necessity.
  • Hailo For Business - Although it was not our ambition to build our business on the back of large corporate accounts, the reality is that the longer jobs and off peak work are heavily supplied by these types of customers.  It has become clear that to win and service this work, we must have a service offering which runs beyond just black taxis and includes executive cars and a host of new product features. We have already signed up hundreds of accounts for Hailo for Business in London, and have ongoing discussions with other large potential clients.
  • UBER - In November, Uber began to aggressively expand UberX in London.  You may have seen many more unmarked Toyotas, BMWs and even Mercedes around town lately using Uber’s hailing app to directly compete with street hail work traditionally reserved for London’s black cabs.  What is happening to taxis around the world, is now happening in London. Hailing App technology can allow anyone to go after street hails.
  • LYFT -  Lyft is unknown, at the moment, in Europe.  It is a US car service which allows any unlicensed member of the public to download an app and apply to pick up fares.  This may not have seemed relevant in London six months ago, but Lyft has just raised $250m to expand in Europe. Neither Uber’s or Lyft’s business models may appear legal but regulators in London are not even barking, never mind biting.
I appreciate that it is easy to talk the talk versus walk the walk and you must judge us on our actions.  But I would ask all of our drivers to consider whether Hailo has helped you to earn more money over the last three years and to please judge our current decision on whether we continue to help you to earn more money in the future.  Ultimately  the intent behind any promise that we have made, or will make in the future, is always to put black cab drivers first and to help them earn more each day when they go on shift. The decisions that we are now considering are designed to help you earn more money not less and to make sure that ever more people use the Hailo App and so get to choose a taxi, rather than losing customers to alternative services.
Over the last three years we would never claim to be perfect, we have certainly made mistakes, but I hope you can give us some credit for helping you earn more and keeping the London black cab competitive and relevant.  I apologise that the information causing this controversy was not given to you directly by Hailo but the leak was beyond our control and we still do not have a license.  In the future, we will try to be as transparent as possible about our plans without putting at risk Hailo’s ongoing competitive position.
I would welcome Hailo drivers’ views and promise to read all of them personally, so please use this form to share your thoughts >CLICK HERE<.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Ron Zeghibe, Co-Founder and Chairman

City Of London Tout Enforcement, Almost Non Existent. Touting Jim Thomas

A good friend of mine saw this guy touting right in front of a police van in King St, EC2. He flashed & beeped and pointed, but the City of London Police van (who saw everything taking place) did nothing, in fact they went round the tout, turned left and at the next junction and sped off.

My friend then rang the City Police to ask what their stance is, on minicab touting. 

The Taxi driver explained what he had just witnessed to the desk sargent at Bishopsgate police station, who replied:
"We are fully aware of the problem and we are doing everything in our powers to tackle this". 

He added: "Touting is rife and out of control".

But it's only rife and out of control because they allow it to be. By turning a blind eye and driving off their officers are condoning this behavour. 

Touts are left unhindered to illegally ply for hire and tout outside clubs bars and restaurants, while Taxis, who sometimes form rolling ranks outside venues, as guests leave, are given tickets and warnings of reporting to TfL by belligerent police officers.

After checking with TfL's website licence checker, we found this car's is not registered as a private hire vehicle.
Every job picked up by the driver booked or not, is illegal and uninsured.

Unlicensed touts are common in the City as enforcement is so poor. Blue pre-booked stickers are easy to get hold of and change hands for as little as £2 each. Taxi Leaks bought 4 stickers openly advertised on eBay a short while ago. 

Although illegal plying for hire is only a reportable offence, once the driver picks up an unsuspecting passenger, he commits the act of Touting. 

Touting is an arrestable offence and Police have the power to impound the vehicle which, because of the way the hiring was conducted, becomes uninsured. The driver can then be taken to a police station, where fingerprints and DNA samples can legally be recorded and checked against the national register. 

We also checked River Cars LTd and found they have no license variation (satellite office) in the City of London, so the driver couldn't claim he was waiting to be given a job by a clipboard Johnny.

Ride Along:
In 2012, myself and a colleague from the United Cabbies Group (UCG), went on a Saturday night ride-along with the City Police. We started the night at the tout squad HQ control centre and were shown, state of the art surveillance equipment. 
We were informed: "These cameras can pick out the logo on a drivers tie pin".

As these cameras are everywhere, we would assume they are quite aware of what's happening with PHV touts.

But it was highly apparent from this tour of duty, they mainly concentrate on Black cab misdemeanours, as drivers cherry-pick, looking for jobs going homeward bound.

Along with us for the ride, was Deputy Director of TPH, Helen Chapman.

To our complete surprise, Helen refused to report touts we found, illegally plying for hire in Queen Victoria Street. Her excuse for non action: 
"If I move them on, they will just wait somewhere else".

The tout in question even had a mobile number advertising a PH operator on his bumper, which we pointed out, but Helen didn't even take his details.

We know exactly what's going on and so do TfL and th City Police, but at present, they do very little. WHY?

It's as if it's all part of an underlying agenda. Everything connected with touting and illegal plying for hire, always points back to TfL.

*  TfL pay a massive lump towards CoL's tout squad budget. Why do they continue to fiancĂ© non enforcement in the City.

*  TfL also finance the Mets Cab Enforcement unit, but with only one conviction for illegal plying for hire in 14 years, does anyone really believe it's value for money?  

Before we can turn this situation on its head, we need a Mayor who will act on illegally plying for hire. We need a zero tolerance policy. It worked with the sex-workers and street beggars of King's Cross. They can do it if they want. But with Boris and Hendy at the helm, we have little chance of things changing.

LAW COMMISSION REPORT: Regulating taxis and private hire vehicles. Press release.

News release: Embargoed until 00:01 hours on Friday 23 May 2014
Reforming the regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles

Taxis and private hire services, which include minicabs, are an essential link in the transport network of England and Wales, with passengers spending in excess of £2.5 billion a year on fares.

But the law that governs how the taxi and private hire trades operate is old, inconsistent and struggling to deal with internet-driven changes in passenger behaviour.

In a report published today, the Law Commission is recommending reforms that would update the law and make it clearer for those working in the taxi and private hire trades and their passengers.

The Commission’s report recognises the value to passenger choice of the two-tier system of private hire vehicles – which must be pre-booked, and taxis – which can use ranks or ply for immediate hire. It makes recommendations to retain and reinforce the distinction.

Passenger safety is at the forefront of the Commission’s reforms. It is recommending that standards be set nationally for public safety, accessibility and environmental impact. For the first time, passengers of taxis and private hire vehicles could confidently expect consistent levels of safety and quality wherever they travel. Under the reforms:

  •  all private hire vehicles, including stretch limos and other “novelty” vehicles, would be subject to the same standards, wherever they operate
  • taxis would be subject to a comparable set of standards, which could be added to locally, allowing licensing authorities to choose to set higher standards where they want to, and
  • local licensing authorities would have the power to inspect and, if necessary suspend, any vehicles working within their areas, wherever they are licensed.

These reforms would not impact on the famous black cabs in London, where standards of safety and accessibility are already high. But pedicabs in the capital will fall within taxi licensing for the first time, allowing Transport for London to set appropriate standards. Cars used for weddings and funerals, however, will continue to be exempt from regulation.

Among the measures designed to improve the accessibility of services for disabled people, the Commission is recommending a national requirement for taxi and private hire drivers to take disability awareness training. And local licensing authorities would be able to impose a duty on taxis to stop when they are hailed, bringing to an end the unacceptable practice of drivers passing by disabled people.

There would be stiffer penalties, too, for touting (actively soliciting customers), which poses a significant safety risk. Under the Commission’s reforms, licensing authorities would be given the power to impound any vehicles used in connection with touting.

Passengers are increasingly turning to the internet to book their taxi and private hire services. In a move to help the private hire trade respond, the Law Commission is recommending that operators should no longer be barred from accepting bookings or using drivers and vehicles from outside their licensing areas.

Licensing authorities should be able to continue to limit taxi numbers, provided they conduct a regular review of the service being provided. Restrictions on the numbers of taxis in some areas have led to inflated “plate values”. 

To protect the investment of existing drivers, the Commission recommends that the trade in licences should be allowed to continue. But, in areas where quantity restrictions are introduced for the first time, licenses should not be tradable

Nicholas Paines QC, the Law Commissioner leading on the project, says:

“The taxi and private hire trades are of enormous value to England and Wales. They provide a living for thousands of operators and drivers, and many more thousands of people depend on them to go about their daily lives.

“The reforms we are recommending will clarify the legal distinction between taxis and private hire services, and retain the valuable qualities of both. They will equip operators, drivers and their vehicles to meet the demands of a modern passenger-service trade, while making passenger safety and accessibility paramount.”






Thursday, May 22, 2014

Template Letter To Hailo, Please Remove All My a Financial And Personal Data.,

Did you realise that if you want all you financial data removed from a third party data base, then according to the Data Protection Act, you have to apply in writing.

Below is a template letter for you to use requesting the deletion of all your personal data held by Hailo networks.

It also informs them that you are withdrawing your consent to use your personal information in any way, with immediate effect.

This letter must be posted.
Copy and paste the letter between the banners 

Hailo Networks Ltd
Somerset House
The Strand

To whom it may concern;

I am writing with a formal request withdrawing my consent for you, Hailo Networks Ltd, to use or process my personal information with immediate effect.

I no longer use your Mobile Driver App and won’t be in the future.

Section 1 of your Privacy Policy, states that you may use my personal information when contacting third party companies. As this could have an adverse effect on any future financial obligation of mine, I am asking you to delete all relevant information you hold on your servers regarding me.

As the Rights of Individuals, Principle 6 of the Data Protection Act states, I have the right to object to your use of my personal data and as I am no longer using your application, I would like you to delete all my personal information from your servers.

You hold bank account details, email addresses, a mobile telephone number, home address details, a copy of my MHC License and other such information. This is what I wish you to dispose of.

I would appreciate your consideration of this matter and hope it can be dealt with as soon as is possible.
I await your response.


(Your name and details)

Rio Taxi Drivers Scamming Ahead of World Cup.

SSoccer fans visiting Rio de Janeiro for next month’s World Cup are being told to watch out for drivers who overcharge them for a ride in one of the city’s yellow taxis.

The delay in fitting new meters to the fleet after fares rose 12 percent this year means some passengers and drivers have to work out the fare based on a table. Some drivers who have had the new meters fitted are adding another 12 percent onto fares, said Rio’s consumer watchdog, Procon Carioca.

“They are thieves,” Silverio Barros, a taxi driver in Botafogo, one of the city’s business hubs, said of some of his fellow drivers.

Both the blue seal attached to one side of the new meters and the yellow tag on older models are difficult to spot. Rio’s government expects to fit all taxis with new meters by June 6, six days before the start of soccer’s World Cup.

About one-third of the 500,000 World Cup ticket holders from overseas will pass through Rio, according to Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes.

Procon has called on passengers to pass any grievances over fares to the watchdog.

“Complaints will be forwarded to the department for transport, which could fine, seal the meter and, depending on the severity of the complaint, revoke the driver’s license,” the agency said.

The city’s delay in updating meters makes it difficult to explain to tourists who don’t speak Portuguese why fares can be higher than the amount displayed, Barros said.

“The change has been poorly handled by the city,” said Barros. “These tables are terrible for taxi drivers.”

Source: Bloomberg 

And this from Trip Advisor 

Thought I would share this as I have recently had several taxis try to use the temporary price chart when in fact their taxi meters have already been re-calibrated. Look for a sticker on the meter. BLUE sticker means that it has already been adjusted thus they should NOT use the new price chart. While ORANGE sticker means it is still running the old prices. More info in the attached article.

And for a little background, at the start of the year, the government approved an increase in taxi fares. So until a taxi's meter was adjusted, they used a chart to convert the meter price to the new price.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Things Turn Ugly At Hailo HQ. Staff Barricade Themselves As Taxi App Office Is Vandalised.

Unconfirmed reports have been received that 'the boys & girls in Blue' had to attend Hailo's office in Great Suffolk Street on Tuesday as driver after driver visited 'to discuss' the matter.

Apparently Russell Hall had to put in an appearance after worried staff called him. Things started to turn ugly as more and more drivers became angry, leading to the Hailo people locking the door and barricading themselves in.

Apparently 40 angry drivers turned up at Hailo's HQ in Great Suffolk Street. Graffiti was left on the wall outside and eventually the police were called.

One driver who did not wish to give his name said:

"They're lucky only 40 odd drivers turned up, it could have been 1,000's". 

He went on to say "Hailo has been the top app for 2 years and still they want more. Their greed is staggering. What next Hailo Richshaws? 
Have you ever known a minicab operator to offer Taxis to win account work?
Virtually every driver I know is deleting the app".

Another driver said:
"When you've known these guys for as long as I have and knocked yourself out trying to build "their dream" for the benefit of the taxi trade, could you really sit back and bite your lip?
Don't know if I could. I know their financial masters call the shots, but I (like most of us) am not for sale, never have been, never will be. 

Sadly it seems these guys are. 

I think they have to expect more of the same.
I just hope no one gets too carried away, they are certainly not worth losing your bill over. 

Just treat them with the contempt they deserve and as Harold Shand said:

What we're looking for, is someone who can contribute to what England has given to the world: culture, sophistication, genius. 

A little bit more than an 'ot dog, know what I mean?"

The current hysteria seems to have been caused, by a statement from co-founder and Company Chairman, Ron Zeghibe, which was made to clarify Hailo's acquisition of a Private Hire Operators Licence.

You can read the Letter by clicking on the link below.

Source: LTDF. 
Not Just in London...this from Ireland
We are very excited to have started trialling our upcoming executive car service in Dublin and Cork. Starting this Easter, Hailo a car as usual and you may be pleasantly surprised when the job is accepted by an executive driver. During this trial period, pricing is set at the same (or less) than a regular taxi. If you are one of the lucky ones, please do send feedback and let us know what you think

And this from Hailo's Chicago blog.

New! Hailo Black Cars with Introductory Pricing

The next time you open Hailo, you’ll notice that you now have the ability to choose either a Hailo Taxi or a stylish Black Car within the app.

Black Cars offer a luxury option for our passengers and just like Hailo Taxis they arrive quickly and offer great convenience.

Special Introductory Pricing

Starting from today, and lasting throughout our introductory phase, Hailo Black Cars will feature special pricing, making them one of the best luxury travel options in Chicago.

How This Adds Up:

Hailo Fee: $1.50 (same as Hailo Taxis)
Black Car Rate: Taxi Rate +30% 
Minimum Fare: $12
With these incredible rates, taking a Hailo Black Car from The Loop to Wicker Park will cost just $17 compared to about $13 in a Hailo Taxi. Similarly, a journey from Lincoln Park to O’Hare will run about $46 compared to about $35 by taxi.

Notice in America, the service charge is a flat rate $1.50 and is paid by the passenger. Unlike the 10% charged to the London driver.
Source: Hailo blogs.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Transport for London in a spin over Boris bus failures

Transport for London have reacted angrily to an Adam Bienkov story that recently appeared on the blog revealing the extent to which passengers are being prevented from hopping on an off Boris Johnson's 'new Routemaster' buses.

TfL’s Director of Buses, Mike Weston, sent them this remarkable reply:

"It is completely incorrect to suggest that rear platforms on New Routemasters have been closed off to prevent passengers boarding and alighting."

Completely incorrect?
So if the rear platforms are not closed off to prevent passengers boarding and alighting, what are they being closed off for? 
Decorative effect?

He went on to say:
"The Mayor and TfL have always been clear that some routes will not have conductors and others will have them at certain times only."

Yes and when they don't have conductors on them, the rear platforms are closed off.  On certain routes, they have been and will be closed off permanently. 

The statement then moves on to the buses' safety record:
"Since coming into service in February 2012, passenger injuries while either boarding or alighting from the rear platform while the bus is in motion amount to one in every one million passenger journeys and in the vast majority of cases the injuries have been minor."

They go on to claim that just 33 people have been injured hopping on and off the buses.

This is interesting, but it doesn't get the point of our story.

The point was that people are being prevented from boarding and alighting via the rear platforms, not that they're falling off of them. Of course it's the case that the more difficult you make it for people to use the rear platforms, the fewer injuries there will be. Plus, if you close off the rear platforms altogether, as they plan to on several routes, then there will be no injuries at all.

But this completely misses the point of what Johnson had promised to do. Boris spent millions of pounds in order to bring back buses which imitated the freedom of the old Routemasters.

But while the policy was designed to stick two fingers up at what Johnson called the "health and safety fiends," the precise opposite has actually happened.

Instead, we have a multimillion pound 'open platform' which TfL increasingly won't trust people to use and an army of health and safety staff, whose main job appears to be preventing people from using it.

This isn't freedom, this is an expensive fudge.
TfL's statement goes to the heart of the farce that is Johnson's "new Routemaster" project. 


                    BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR 
                           2pm 11July, 2014