While driver and rider matching service Uber readies itself for an appeal against Transport for London’s decision not to renew its licence late last year, the last thing it needs is more bad publicity. But when the subject is Uber in London, bad publicity is never far away. So it was that last week brought more complaints about opportunistic price hiking, and ended with another high profile crash, to add to all the other crashes.
There was wintry weather across the capital for much of last week. In addition to this, some rail services were cancelled. As a result, the taxi trade found itself busy. There was an additional reason for the increased demand: Uber had used the bad weather and transport disruption to hike prices and allow its overworked and underpaid drivers to fill their boots. Many punters found that taxis were now far less expensive.
The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun were dismayed: “Commuters left stranded by rail shutdown hit by Uber price hikes by up to 500 PER CENT … TAXI giant Uber has hiked prices by up to 500 per cent as stranded Brits try to make their way home”. The response from the Uber spokesperson was the usual “Our app uses dynamic pricing to encourage more drivers to pick up fares so that more cars are available”. Yeah, right.
Worse, one of Uber’s finest ratted on Good Morning Britain co-presenter Piers Morgan, who was not a happy bunny. “Many thanks to the Uber driver who said he’d wait 3 minutes as I picked my daughter up from school - then pissed off, leaving us to trudge back in the snow … Fortunately a Black Cab driver (with his light off) rescued us half way home. Thank God for real cabbies”. Could Morgan’s tale get worse for Uber?
It certainly could. “The Black Cab driver, Ben, refused to take the fare. ‘Just say something nice about us.’ I will. You guys are great. Thank you. And as for that Uber driver, you’re a dick”. That message is going out to millions of Breakfast TV viewers, and Twitter followers.
Then came the pièce de résistance - crashes. After Sean Stockings - happily now with his licence restored - Tweeted a photo of a crashed Uber car earlier last week - “First ignore that it’s just another crashed Uber ... Then marvel at how he’s managed to hit literally the only obstacle in an otherwise empty Road” - he had even worse news.
An Uber driver smashed his Toyota Prius - there are a lot of bent Prius around London nowadays - into the railings outside Buckingham Palace. Freesheet Metro said “Witnesses described the ‘scary’ moment a car crashed into gates at Buckingham Palace in the early hours of the morning … The crash is being treated as an isolated accident and police have confirmed it is not being looked at as a deliberate act of violence or a terrorist attack”.
But it’s not the first Buck House Uber shunt recently, as Zelo Street regulars will know, and that ended up with the driver nicked as a terrorism suspect. Most likely this one, though, will be the result of the driver becoming tired and disorientated as a result of the long hours they have to put in to make ends meet, let alone make a profit.
The drivers can’t be bothered to wait for their fares, they rip off the public when the weather turns bad, and the drivers clearly work such long hours they are positively dangerous. In London at least, you’d be best advised giving Uber a very wide berth. So perhaps TfL should bite the bullet - and make sure everyone does likewise.