No, not Uber, London’s black cab drivers, who in general we’ve always liked.
We first heard of the Uber cab booking app a while ago because London’s black cabs were complaining about it in the media.
As far as we can tell, there is nothing particularly remarkable about it. What seems to incense London’s black cab drivers is that it will tell you what the fare will be. But we’ve booked endless mini cabs over the years who have insisted on telling us what the fair will be, because they don’t want us complaining about it when we arrive. And from a consumer’s perspective, knowing how much something is going to cost before you buy it is obviously a good thing, as well as being a perfectly normal thing. And so the black cab drivers were never likely to meet with resounding public sympathy, were they?
Apparently TfL have given Uber a license, which has particularly incensed London’s cabbies. The matter is going to be dealt with in the High Court and so some resolution will be provided soon.
However, that wasn’t enough for the cabbies. Quite extraordinarily they decided that what would help their position was to go on strike, so causing considerable disruption to their customers….in protest against a competitor that offers a clear customer benefit!
Entirely predictably, such an obviously bad idea didn’t go well.
Perhaps it could have gone worse, but we can’t imagine how.
Almost every news report was negative. From the fact the strikers hadn’t given the proper notice and so were heavily constrained. Through the risk to life by them obstructing emergency services. To the £125mn they would cost London’s economy (about £1,000 of which proved to be ours). But most of all to the reports of the 850% uplift in Uber downloads on the day.
And promising to cause ‘chaos’ for their customers probably wasn’t the world’s finest PR idea.
Here are a few examples:
It even made the Wall Street Journal…negatively of course:
And then the media went on to helpfully explain what Uber is, for the many millions who didn’t know….but now do!
And so the cabbies’ made themselves almost universally unpopular and Uber is far, far more famous today than it was yesterday by virtue of millions of £’s of free publicity, courtesy of their bitterest competitor: well done London’s cabbies!
What is so frustrating about this situation is that we can see numerous counter arguments that black cabs can put to the public versus Uber, but we can’t see them raising any of them. They seem to be basing their argument to the public on a self pity pitch, which is a communications strategy we’ve never seen work before.
We’ve listened to many a black cab driver tell us how the country should be run, but on the basis of todays debacle we suggest they should stick to running a cab.
If they want to debate whether Uber is legal, the place to do it is in a court of law, not the court of public opinion. However, as they invited it, the court of public opinion has given it’s verdict, and it’s verdict is clear from Uber’s download numbers.
The cab drivers say that Uber will kill their business. If so, it will be a case of assisted suicide, not murder.