While the Evening Standard, edited by someone whose other jobs include a six-figure wedge from Black Rock, who just happen to have a stake in driver and rider matching service Uber, runs articles telling how all those drivers are about to fall on hard times if the firm is permanently banned from operating in London, the news from the Great British Public is rather less good for the aggressive private hire company.
Sam Coates, deputy political editor for the Murdoch Times, has reported on a YouGov poll for the paper which brings less than totally good news for Uber and its band of shameless media cheerleaders, who had told anyone listening that Transport for London’s decision not to renew the company’s operating licence was out of tune with the public mood, and that the petition started by Uber was evidence of that.
Under the headline “Mayor right to ban Uber, almost half of voters say”, Coates tells “Almost half of London voters support the decision to remove Uber’s licence in the city, a poll for The Times indicates … Customers of the taxi app were much more likely to oppose the ban, and one in four was likely to think more negatively about Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London”. But the numbers did not look good for Uber.
“The YouGov poll found that 43 per cent thought Transport for London (TfL) was right to take away the company’s licence, 20 per cent said it was wrong and 37 per cent were not sure. Among Uber customers, 31 per cent said that TfL had taken the right decision and 49 per cent said it was wrong … Eleven per cent of Uber’s customers said they had felt unsafe on a journey”. Overall, the public seems to have backed the ban.
Worse for Uber is that a significant percentage of its own customers agreed with TfL. And worse still was the double-digit percentage who “said they had felt unsafe on a journey”. When more than one in ten of your punters registers concern about their safety when using your product, your reputation is in serious trouble.
Not only that, the Evening Standard’s cheerleading for Uber, and the paper’s insistence on pushing the line that the public was in fact backing the company, is looking dodgy. Joe Murphy’s article only yesterday told readers “Londoners overwhelmingly against TfL decision to ban Uber, analysis of social media posts reveals”.
How did he reach that conclusion? “The exclusive findings come from an analysis of more than 51,000 online conversations and postings on social media in the days after Friday’s announcement … ‘It is clear from our analysis that Londoners do not support TfL’s decision to ban Uber,’ said Impact Social which carried out the research … ‘Overall, when reading these online conversations, there is a feeling of disbelief and exasperation that this step could be taken’”. Sadly, what agreed with the Standard’s editor may be wrong.
The Times poll, carried out by a reputable polling organisation and using proven techniques, is more likely to be on the money. So that’s another jolt for the Uber PR juggernaut - and another time the Evening Standard got it wrong. No surprise there, then.