Saturday, January 07, 2017

Uber Boundaries – Bent or Broken? Lee Ward.

Within the borders of Sheffield we have Uber drivers from our neighbouring Town of Rotherham, and also as far afield as Rossendale and London to name but a few. I am sure that these City and Town names can be changed dependant on where in the country we wish to discuss this matter, but for this article I will use my local area of Sheffield because we are not special.

Now we all know that Uber do not use Sub Contracting that was introduced in the Deregulation Act 2015 (why it was ever introduced still baffles me to this day), but they do use Cross Border Hiring (also referred to as the Triple License Rule) which is legal, or rather legal as it was intended to be used. 

But then here comes Uber, bending the local Laws everywhere they go until it’s hard to see if the Law has been bent, or simply broken…

You see, my problem has always been that there is no way that a universal booking and dispatch system would work worldwide, let’s be honest here we cannot even get neighbouring authorities to have the same conditions in the UK, let alone globally. It’s like having a fishing rod, it will catch fish all over the world, but it has to comply with local laws to catch them legally, but I digress..

Uber have offices in Rossendale and Rotherham, operative word here is offices because they do not have staff, computersor telephones in these rooms that they rent, they don’t even have an open door for drivers to walk through so they are simply that, offices.

These offices have associated with them an Operator’s License for the area that they are in, but not to actually cover those areas, it’s so they can use the vehicles and drivers licensed in those areas across the border (Triple License Rule remember) but this is where I struggle to see if the Law has been bent or broken.
Here’s what I see;
• Closed Office
• No Telephone
• No Computer System
• No Staff
• No Driver Access
Now surely you would need a couple of the above to be able to operate a company, or even a branch of a company right? I mean, the internet and technology is good, but not that good surely?

OK, I will give a little benefit of doubt here, let’s say this Technology Company really is that good. Let’s look at how that Technology works.

• A customer opens an App in Sheffield (we are still not special)
• The mainframe (based in the Netherlands) looks for the nearest driver
• The mainframe informs the driver of the customer request
• The driver accepts the offer
• The mainframe looks at the driver and logs the booking with the Operator’s License that the driver is associated with (Triple License Rule, don’t forget)

Now although that’s still illegal because the driver accepted the booking and not the Licensed Operator (as I informed Sea Paul Day and Steve Garelick around 7 months ago) I will skip that part and ask this question, what area was the booking actually accepted in? Was it in Sheffield, Rotherham, Rossendale or even London?
Remember, Uber do not Sub Contract journeys, so it has to be accepted in the area that the driver who is completing the customer request is licensed (yes you are getting the hang of it, Triple License Rule) that’s legal though right?

The Operator can only accept a booking in the area that they are licensed, they cannot accept a booking while in another area, see : ><
So, even if the driver is taken out of the equation in accepting the booking, and we say for arguments sake that the booking is accepted by the server, the server is in the Netherlands, and I am sure we do not have any Operators Licenses to work from that area, or if we did I know for a fact I have not seen any Dutch Taxi or Private Hire drivers with Dutch plated vehicles working in Sheffield.
Maybe I am wrong again, who knows, but let’s look at this a little further still…

Are the drivers ‘working’ for Uber Rotherham, Rossendale or London actually ‘working’ for them, or simply under cover of these bent or broken laws and really working for Uber Sheffield?

Let’s look at the facts around this. I have gained screen shots of Uber journeys completed by drivers licensed in Sheffield, Rotherham, Rossendale and London which are detailed below.

Please note, I have removed all reference that could put the driver in jeopardy for either breaking Data Protection or from being de-activated by Uber, I don’t agree with how Uber operate, I have no issue with the actual drivers on their platform, especially the ones who work within the area that they are licensed and I appreciate fully that some drivers may not share my view on this.

UBER Sheffield Driver (Sheffield to Sheffield)
This journey equates to
£1.30 (per mile) x 4.21 = £5.47
£1.10 (Base Rate) + £5.47 = £6.57
£0.10 (10p per minute) = £0.90 + £6.57
UBER Rossendale Driver (Sheffield to Sheffield)
This journey equates to
£1.30 (per mile) x 3.09 = £4.01
£1.10 (Base Rate) + £4.01 = £5.11
£0.10 (10p per minute) = £0.80 + £5.11

UBER Rotherham Driver (Sheffield to Sheffield)
This journey equates to
£1.30 (per mile) x 1.75 = £2.27
£1.10 (Base Rate) + £2.27 = £3.37
£0.20 (10p per minute) = £1.10 + £3.37

Just to finish off the proof, this is from Uber TfL, and the figures are also included in the following picture to prove that even though they are a few miles from home, they are not really working for Uber TfL but for Uber Sheffield…Broken, not bent…
The difference between the actual cost and the costs shown is between 6p and 9p. 
This is a factor that could be simply the time is not per a whole minute but part thereof.


Let’s look at that map….what area are Uber Sheffield really advertising?

Now do you see where I am going with this?
Who do these Rotherham, Rossendale and London drivers actually work for?
They work in Sheffield, they charge the Sheffield rates, they are told to go to the Sheffield office if they need to talk to an Uber employee….
Do they work for Sheffield, or for the area that they are licensed?
So, is it just bent, or has it been broken?
You decide, because they authorities do not have the balls to decide, they just wait for case law to assist them.
Footnote, you cannot have case law until someone takes the case to the law…. Just saying…

Lee Ward. 



Anonymous said...

A great post, Lee. In my view, the laws have been broken, the problem is though, although there are laws out there, nobody knows enough about them to enforce them. Police Officers in The Met are clueless to Hackney Carriage Law. That is not their fault, but the fact that they have never been taught it.
I once questioned a senior Metropolitan Police Officer about this, and he said "Hackney Carriage Law, are you joking ? Coppers today are not even taught decent standards of general law and order, these days !"
And he obviously had a point. Not only that, the Uber Marketing Team have thrown so much cash at this venture, that they are a law unto themselves, as you and me can see. It has come to the point that I bet if you stopped ten coppers, or even ten lawyers, nine of them would believe that Uber operate within the full constraints of the law, which of corse, they don't. Their massive existence gives the illusion that due to having so much money and due to being so big, they simply MUST be doing everything above board. We know different mate, don't we ?

All the best from the Big Smoke, Lee and regards to our Northern Brothers. After all we are in this together !


Seapake said...

A further question;

If an unlicensed driver is allocated a job on the Uber platform and picks up passengers in an area that Uber do not hold an Operator's licence, then which (Uber) Operator has committed the offence under LGMPA 1976 sec46 1

(e)no person licensed under the said section 55 shall in a controlled district operate any vehicle as a private hire vehicle—

(i)if for the vehicle a current licence under the said section 48 is not in force; or

(ii)if the driver does not have a current licence under the said section 51.

lee ward said...

None, due the the triple license rule...

And thank you Semtex