I returned to Addison Lee on 17th August 2015. There have been many changes while I’ve been away. I am pleased to say that the changes have been positive for the self employed London minicab and private hire drivers who choose to work with Addison Lee.
The main impact for me has been that the driver share of credit card bookings is now more equitable. Most days I complete a Gatwick in to London as First Job Of The Day and then I usually receive another in reverse as a Going Home Job in the early hours of the morning.
Society is moving away from cash so more credit card bookings are being completed every year at Addison Lee and cash bookings are reducing. The admin fee charged by Addison Lee is 20% on all card and cash bookings but is capped at £11.45. This has the effect that my AddLee card and commission average is a little under 16% due to my higher average job value on FJOTD and my GHJ because I live in Brighton.
A new introduction at AddLee is an earnings map which shows the breakdown of earnings and highlights busy (red) and quiet (green) periods. It is a useful breakdown of earnings too as you can see in my chart. The best total result for me in the week shown is £376.22 for between 8am and 9am. Of course, the earnings reflected in that hour may have commenced in the previous hour or two because the earnings are credited to the hour in which the job or jobs are finished.
The best day was, oddly, a Monday with earnings of £462.22. Of interest also is that the chart shows that I only worked 7 of the busiest hourly periods. I must try harder. I took Friday off that week to prepare for a friend’s wedding on Saturday and worked a total of 72 hours.
— Cab4Now.com (@Cab4Now) September 5, 2015
Account bookings are still paid to self employed London minicab and private hire drivers at a rate of around 50% which I have never had an issue with when balanced with the strongest cash circuit in London where Addison Lee will now never be challenged. Yes, there is less cash. But I have paid all my fuel with the cash fares I received during my first month back and there was a little left over. 😉
All self employed London minicab and private hire drivers love cash for the same reason that so many London taxi drivers choose to only take cash or claim their credit card terminals are broken. Many London taxi drivers will never change. That’s a shame. But, hey, we all have to paddle our own canoe. It’s their choice. As it was my choice to return to Addison Lee. But why did I return to Addison Lee? I’ll be totally candid here. The deal at Addison Lee if you wish to work full time with the changes that were made on credit card bookings makes Addison Lee a better deal.
My best week at Uber was a little over £4,000 last year and I rarely took less than £3,000 each week in 2014. In 2015 it is now a struggle to earn more than £2,000 weekly with Uber. Uber Exec commission is now 25% and it is likely to increase to 30% before the end of this year.
— MaK (@T319Addlee) September 22, 2015
The cost of renting a Mercedes E Class or the costs of ownership are significant. In all my calculations I ignore fuel when comparing Addison Lee to Uber as most self employed London minicab and private hire drivers would. This means that fares of £2,000 at Uber means a gross profit for me before fuel of £1,200.
The fact is that when comparing the costs of running your own car at Uber it is now my contention that Uber is no longer attractive when compared to Addison Lee for self employed London minicab and private hire drivers who wish to work full time with one operator.
Uber is now simply a part time opportunity with very high costs of car depreciation, maintenance and insurance. When these costs are considered – insurance north of £2,000 per year – then even as a part time opportunity the profit may be less than attractive to most. Pin money? Yes. Serious earning opportunity? A resounding no! That was last year and it will never be back.
I have had many comments on my earnings from both minicab and London taxi drivers. Mark, a London taxi driver above, comments on many of my tweets and I welcome his opinion even though he rarely agrees with me. What I no longer tolerate is Twitter discussions based on the assumption by London taxi drivers that I lie about earnings or things that matter. I simply don’t. There is a notable exception, however, of the most successful wind up of London taxi drivers last year through CabWave. I have now blocked dozens of London taxi drivers who seem to believe that as a minicab driver we are at the bottom of the food chain and for many their prejudices cause them to resort to abuse of myself and others when I tweet topics that do not sit well with their mindset. Such as a London minicab driver earning a reasonable income legallly.
The simple fact is that the knowledge that London taxi drivers chose to undertake, whilst a remarkable achievement, does not guarantee that their earnings will not diminish or increase over time. They’re in business and they carry the risks of that business. It may be that we are in the twilight days for the London cab trade but I truly hope not. Traditionally, technology drives prices down and for many Londoners the price of a London taxi is, sadly, beyond reach. There are now more choices than ever before to get you home.
It was great to bump in to Mick in my second week back at AddLee in terminal 5 London Heathrow above. I’m the better looking one. 🙂
So far this month Addison Lee have invested over £160,000 in Promotional codes and have generated over 20,000 additional jobs.
I always use the 5 minute to drop button on the XDA which means that often I have a job to run straight on to. I still follow my drop and stop routine but as I write this I feel it may be a step too far in Wanstead! Nevertheless, whilst there are currently 202 jobs booked in the next 2 hours counting busy regions only and 37 drivers currently empty most of this work will be cleared in the next 60 minutes so I’ll stay put for now and will consider moving just after midnight if nothing drops in.
The introduction of ClubLee, Addison Lee’s loyalty scheme, has proved very popular and is an exciting initiative to ensure that passengers return time and again. The net effect is that more clients travel more with Addison Lee than ever before.
Addison Lee’s success will be their points of difference between the London taxi trade and, more recently, Uber. Addison Lee wants to attract and retain the most Professional Drivers in the industry. They’ve screwed up in the past as we all have. I have the T shirt for that! But they have introduced many changes as a result of driver feedback.
Addison Lee has a virtual rank system at all main airports which works and is fair. Uber’s virtual rank system can be cheated and is erratic. If a job is cancelled the driver is meant to return to the top of the rank. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it does not. I say the Uber rank system is unfair because I was able to join the Uber Gatwick rank when I woke up in the morning in Brighton. In fact I could put myself anywhere I chose. There are probably others who have figured out how to do this. Even with that edge my earnings at Uber did not justify me remaining there.
Addison Lee drivers can take a pre booked job to start their shift and the Going Home Job facility at the end of each shift serves me well too as regular readers will know. Due to the success of the pre book site recently it has faced its own challenges but I understand a more robust solution will be available soon.
The busiest time for the Addison Lee pre book web site is at precisely 18:20 Monday to Thursday and it has recently proved challenging to maintain a consistent service level. This issue is currently being addressed as I wrote above. Some years ago I wrote that it would be great if Addison Lee drivers could log on and off at will and start at any time. My wish was granted and that is true today.
My wish now is that the pre book website should be available 24/7/365 and not limited to opening at specific times on weekdays. This would have several benefits for drivers and Addison Lee. There would be no surges in activity on the site causing issues at 18:20
Given the opportunity to log in at any time some drivers, like me, would take a job a little earlier and be cleared in central London for the busiest part of the evening. At 12:20 the first job available to be seen is 16:00 but mostly for logistical reasons I rarely start my pre book before 18:00.
No doubt the pre book website will become available 24/7/365 one day.
Addison Lee is the business class car service for London and as such the service levels at Uber cannot compete. Addison Lee transports over 10 million passengers each year.
Addison Lee have grown by evolving with their customers’ needs, always putting the passenger first, and delivering a first-rate service every time. Unlike Uber who really don’t give a toss about riders or drivers. They simply give lip service to riders and drivers alike. The majority of journeys are completed without issue at Uber but this is more luck than judgement.
The most dangerous car in London is now a Toyota Prius with many Uber drivers spending more time looking at the satnav than the road.
Addison Lee customers are guaranteed their journey will be in a top of the line luxury vehicle. Their fleet includes the instantly recognisable Ford Galaxy, Mercedes E and S-Class VIP vehicles, Toyota Prius hybrids and even Taxybikes – so whatever the customer’s priority – comfort, speed or the environment – there’s an option for them.
Addison Lee receives 22,000 bookings every day via phone, website and their iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone mobile apps. That’s more jobs for each driver, in more parts of the city than anyone else. Including Uber. Uber has 20,000 drivers now so the wait for each job on Uber is now unacceptable to many Uber drivers and the churn of drivers is increasing every day. Addison Lee, in my experience, is busier than ever.
During busy periods cash and card bookings are still declined by telephone but savvy Addison Lee customers have figured out that transparent availability of cars can be seen on the Addison Lee mobile apps.
Over the last month I have noticed an unusually high percentage of bookings which cancel before arrival or shortly after. Sometimes, the customer may really push the boat out and claim they never made the booking when contact is made by telephone after the 5 minute delay.
It is clear that for journeys which the customer considers important they may be making multiple bookings with different operators and then cancel journeys after the arrival of the first car.
An example of this happened to me yesterday. A pre booked journey was received by me as a Going Home Job at 3:30am for 3:45am at Fetter Lane Moravian Church. I made my way and arrived at 3:40am and completed the phone out process. The customer immediately receives a text that I have arrived and if we are not on our way within 5 minutes I am connected by my mobile to the customer’s mobile by the Addison Lee phone out system.
The customer picked up and immediately apologised profusely but claimed she had not made the booking and that she had friends coming to pick her up. No doubt she knew this 5 minutes earlier when she received the text confirming my arrival with my mobile number but she chose not to call me then. Ho hum. Never mind. It was a cash booking of £89 as you can see above. Addison Lee would have charged me £11.45 for matching me with the passenger for a net fare to me of £77.55.
I called control to advise them of the cancellation and after a few minutes – the customer was contacted to confirm cancellation – the job was cancelled and removed from my file. Fortunately, this is a quiet period for the office. I understand during busy periods cancellation confirmation by control can occasionally still take 20 minutes or longer which I wrote about here. Fortunately, I have been unaffected by this delay over the last month.
On my arrival I had noticed a white Toyota Prius parked on the other side of the road. Eventually, the driver came over to my side of the road and parked behind me. At that point a Galaxy driver who I knew double parked by my car and we had a chat. Then a lady appeared with a suitcase and put it in the Toyota Prius and went back in the direction she had come from.
The Toyota Prius driver came over to see me and before he could ask his question I asked if he was going to Gatwick and if her name was REDACTED. He confirmed that the name and destination were correct. I told him a little story to raise concerns about him taking her anywhere. I won’t publish that here but suffice it to say that he may have been looking over his shoulder for most of the journey. The driver confirmed that he worked with Uber.
The fare with Uber on the UberX platform as you can see above is £50. After Uber commission he would have received a net fare of £40 compared to my £77.55. And he still has to pay for his car which he told me was £220 per week. He told me that he wanted to join Addison Lee but he had been unsuccessful and asked me if I could help him in any way? I was about to give him a few pointers but then the lady, and I use the term loosely, returned and they departed.
Many drivers would ask why I did not give the lady a mouthful and point out the error of her ways? In my twenties when I was a bit lively I would have. But there really was no benefit to me or Addison Lee in doing so. But it did cross my mind.
I then contacted control again, explained the situation and asked them to block the customer from future bookings. They declined. Later in the day I contacted Driver Liaison and they declined to block the customer also but I understood the issue would be escalated to get a ruling.
So it seems currently that Addison Lee policy is to allow passengers to use Addison Lee as a backup in case they can’t get an Uber on demand. I am a strong advocate of managing risk and as Uber can be very unreliable due to drivers cancelling when they don’t like the destination after they have made contact by telephone it makes a lot of sense for the passenger. Where that system fails for the self employed London minicab driver choosing to work with Addison Lee is that if the passenger does not cancel the booking before arrival the whole process of run in, delayed passenger contact and control delays can easily cost the Addison Lee driver over half an hour.
I have every confidence that Addison Lee will address this challenge in the coming weeks. It was great during the brief period that we were able to cancel our own cash bookings but due to the stupidity of some drivers I understand why that facility had to be removed. London minicab drivers really do need saving from themselves sometimes.
Finally, I thought I’d just comment on the ETA feature of app bookings. Frankly, I love it. I log in from Brighton and I’m available to be booked with an accurate delay instead of the customer being given a standard call centre delay of 90 minutes!
I am aware that some drivers complain at busy times it is not accurate in central London. Hey guys. It’s an estimate. That’s all. It can’t be 100% accurate. Sometimes due to one way systems our delay will double. Or more! If the customer phones due to an extended delay I explain the reason and mostly they are happy that I’m out there doing my best to reach them. Simply, I’d rather attract the customer first with a best effort ETA than lose the customer.
I commented on this in some detail back on on June 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm and again on on when no affort was made for accurate delays. I put it on my wish list then. Now we have it. Which is best? A best effort ETA or a guess with no effort? I know which I prefer. An Uber ETA is crap anyway and when customers speak to UberX drivers many will simply park a block or two away and give up. They wait 5 minutes and then log a no show. The customer is charged a cancellation fee. Absolutely hopeless.
Service? Quality? Language? Orientation? Forget it at Uber. It’s just cheap and often very nasty.
Addison Lee will continue to grow because we are the highest paid and most professional drivers in the London private hire industry and I’m proud to be back. Let’s get it on.