Earlier this year, the flaws in the MyTaxi app passed before my inspection: it was possible for someone with multiple convictions to get on to their system, to the point of receiving a statement of earnings. But, it seems, MyTaxi is not for listening to those pointing out problems with this app. And one cabby found recently that his insistence on observing regulations meant being sacked from the platform altogether.
Chris Johnson pointed out that MyTaxi was offering app jobs to drivers outside the Greater London area - drivers could lose their licence if TfL concluded that the driver was plying for hire using the app. He asked if drivers were plying for hire on the app, or if an instant hire was a pre-booking (drivers can accept a pre-booking anywhere in England and Wales, but can only ply in their licensed area). He received no reply.
His TfL Taxi licence expired on the MyTaxi system, although he had renewed with TfL. But MyTaxi were sending him instant app jobs on an expired licence, so he complained that this was a public safety risk, as revoked drivers could still operate on MyTaxi on a potential expired TfL licence. No word from MyTaxi.
These are basic safety and regulation issues. And it gets worse.
MyTaxi tells the driver to charge a minimum fare of £10 at certain times of the day, but taxi drivers are not allowed to charge more than the metered fare - as it is an offence. Johnson explained to MyTaxi that MyTaxi could charge the customer more than the metered fare but that would mean that they are the principal in the contract, making him potentially a worker for them. Still no word from MyTaxi.
Johnson blew the whistle on MyTaxi after they persistently declined to engage with him. As he points out, MyTaxi could be benefitting from the proceeds of crime, if drivers were illegally plying on the app outside of their licensed area. After all, MyTaxi would have been facilitating that - so not only would drivers be committing an offence, but MyTaxi would have facilitated the offence and benefited from the proceeds of crime - as they charge a 10% procurement fee. These are all questions that need answering.
But instead of answering and engaging, MyTaxi terminated Johnson’s presence on their platform - allegedly for whistleblowing. The thought enters that the difference between MyTaxi and driver and rider matching service Uber is not so great. Chris Johnson is therefore taking action, and taking out an employment tribunal case.
Playing by the rules, and observing regulations put in place for the protection of both drivers and passengers, should not be a matter for dispute. Not doing so is, after all, what caused TfL to revoke Uber’s London operating licence. And knowing that everyone is playing by the rules is all that Chris Johnson is looking to do.
He is now looking for a pro bono lawyer to support him. And he is not alone in expressing concern at MyTaxi’s behaviour. We all want to see a safe taxi service, that operates in accordance with the law. And for TfL to do its job. That is all.
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