In the past 24 hours, the Victorian taxi industry’s arguably misguided #YourTaxi campaign has gained rather a lot of traction.
Yesterday, YourTaxis earnestly sent out an enthusiastic invitation to Melburnians to share their taxi stories on Twitter and, oh boy, did it backfire.
The hashtag was immediately inundated with horror stories and complaints that ranged from drivers not knowing where they were going to ripping people off, to refusing short fares, dangerous driving and even physical and sexual assault.
Here are just a few of the doozies that appeared:
Other people were just along for the ride:
It’s no secret that the taxi industry worldwide has been clutching at its collective collar since the ride-sharing app UberX entered the market.
Melbourne taxi drivers were so concerned about losing their customers that they went on strike last month, gathering on the steps of State Parliament to ask the government to crack down on the company, which they say is running an illegal and unregulated service.
Here’s the thing though, people are choosing Uber for one simple reason: Uber is better.
It’s simpler, safer, cheaper and the drivers are immediately held accountable for the service they offer.
Uber was designed with a single aim in mind — to connect commuters with people with cars — and since it’s launch in 2010, the Google-backed company has grown almost exponentially.
Late last year we chatted with a spokesperson from the company, Kate Curran, to find out how safe the service was, given the scaremongering coming from the taxi industry.
“We’ve disrupted the (taxi) industry, which is an industry that hasn’t changed in a very, very, very long time,” Ms Curran told Mamamia.
She explained that the drivers are just “people like me and you that go through very thorough screening processes”.
“They have to be over 21, have criminal background checks from the police, an exemplary driving record, they have to have full insurance policies… so every trip is fully covered,” she said. “And the vehicles have to be no older than 2005, four-door.
“So once they’ve passed the background checks we on-board them and train them how to use the app, (and) train them how to do customer service.”
Here’s what else:
- Ubers bypass the frustration of trying to hail a cab in the street.
- They are up to 50% cheaper than cabs.
- You will never be refused a short fare.
- You can rate your experience at the end of each trip.
- You can track your journey in real time.
The Chief Executive of Victoria’s Taxi Association David Samuel appeared on ABC Breakfast this morning to defend the #YourTaxis campaign, describing it as an attempt to “open a dialogue” about taxi service.
“Four years ago we had a customer service rating in the low 50%, we are up to 75% now and getting better. We want to improve that and we want to use this type of feedback to improve it further. It’s really that simple.”
Despite the undeniable failing of the taxi industry, it’s important to remember that for the most part taxi drivers are simply trying to make a living.
They endure long hours, dismal pay and conditions, and innumerable drunk idiots.
Uber is a threat to taxi drivers’ livelihoods, but perhaps it is also the impetus needed to make sure that #YourTaxi goes down in history as a hilarious PR misfire and doesn’t continue to be the daily reality of people trying to get from A to B.