I left Uber on August 12, 2015 and returned to Addison Lee on August 17, 2015.
WRITTEN BY CAB4NOW.COM IN 2015
During that time I logged on to Uber for a total of six months due to my other commitments. I also managed to fit in two months in Malta and two months in Asia – mainly Thailand and Philippines.
The commission Uber charged me when I joined was 20%. It is now 25%. A year ago I was paid time OR distance depending on if I was travelling above or below 11MPH. Now I am paid time AND distance for the whole journey.
The mileage rate changed from £2.85 per mile to £2.65 per mile and the time based charge changed from nearly £30 per hour to £15 per hour. The Uber fare structure was changed in an attempt to make fare estimates more accurate.
The change meant that shopping trips with Uber riders had to end. It was no longer viable for me to do multiple stops with waiting time at £15 per hour while riders went shopping. Uber’s argument was that as riders were only ever 3 minutes away on average from an Uber driver the rider should end the trip and book another car when required.
The new Uber policy ignored the need for riders to store their shopping. As an UberExec driver shopping trips on Uber were common and popular with me and most UberExec drivers. That market segment has now left Uber and most have moved to Addison Lee, BlackLane or Crawfords. The benefits of keeping a few thousand customers who would like to go shopping were outweighed by Uber’s desire to have more accurate fare estimates for all riders.
During the first couple of weeks after the change I was having to explain the new charging structure to customers requesting journeys with multiple stops frequently and why, sadly, I was unable to accommodate their requests.
On one trip the customer was insistent that I should wait and asked that if I just drove around randomly until he was ready to go to his next destination would that be acceptable? I agreed it would be and so the journey above came to pass. The customer telephoned me when he was ready to leave and I returned to the location I dropped him at and we continued on for the second leg of the journey.
Last month we had a tube strike. Uber’s competitors have complained about surge pricing – their dynamic pricing model, which comes into effect when demand massively outstrips supply. The increase in prices encourages more drivers to come out to work and ensures that those already on the road know where they are needed most. And, of course, those who don’t really need to travel will likely wait until prices have dropped.
Demand led pricing may become more common. The fact that the most basic tenet of capitalism, supply and demand, has to be explained and justified over and over again is a sad and frightening indicator of the state of the world we live in.
I have included the current fixed price airport transfer fares at Uber which may become an attractive option for Uber drivers as demand grows. Currently the wait for a fare at Heathrow and Gatwick is not sufficiently profitable for me.
Despite only nominal growth of UberExec drivers over the last 12 months UberExec bookings have not grown at the rate that I anticipated. This means that UberExec drivers are earning considerably less than at this time last year. It doesn’t float my boat.
After a promising start at Uber earnings dropped. This was partly due to the revised pricing structure but mainly due to the UberExec platform not growing to compensate for the over supply of drivers. As an UberExec driver doing 80 hours fares of £2,000 are easily achievable. But do the same number of hours at Addison Lee and net income in excess of £1,000+ per week is also usual. This is now a more attractive offer than Uber. Commission rates will increase again on UberExec to 30% before the end of the year.
At Uber when the current commission of 25% and another 25% for costs are deducted Addison Lee now represents a better deal. The costs associated with car rental, or depreciation and maintenance if you own, are significant. Most minicab drivers at Uber operate without a net. That is to say that if their car goes wrong or if they have an accident it will take longer to get going again than at Addison Lee.
So as incomes are now similar for Uber drivers and AddLee drivers it now comes down to one of my favourite tests – risk. Is there greater risk to your income at Addison Lee or Uber? The answer is clear. Due to Addison Lee always having availability of spare Ford Galaxys I would come down firmly in favour of Addison Lee – far less risk.
As a result I will I be returning to Addison Lee on Monday 17th August 2015.
I reached out to Uber to be considered to run Brighton for Uber but sadly nobody came back to me and they are having difficulty obtaining an operator’s license in Brighton as they have failed the fit and proper test.
I offered my services in a light hearted gesture and I did go on to complete the first UberExec journey in Brighton a few months later before their Brighton Twitter launched.
I really am not interested in earning a net £12 per hour before tax at Uber. I can understand why the majority find earnings in this industry at that level acceptable. Most find £12 per hour acceptable because it is considerably more than they are used to in their original country of origin. Most minicab drivers are now immigrants. Many do not know where they are and have even less of a clue where they are going. Is this okay? Of course not.
The lack of orientation in London’s minicab driver market lies firmly with the not fit for purpose TfL – Transport for London. I support the introduction of a test nearer to London’s Knowledge for taxi drivers and English tests for all minicab drivers. The tests should apply to all existing drivers and until the testing process has been completed no new minicab drivers should be licensed. TfL needs to get its house in order before licensing more drivers.
I believe that around a third of the current 80,000 minicab drivers will fail the tests initially. This would be good news for drivers that pass because demand for their service would be higher, fares would increase, it would be great news for passengers because all drivers licensed would know where they are going and ultimately Uber, Addison Lee and other operators would benefit by providing a better service and would take even more business from the London taxi trade.
The LPHCA, who lied on LBC last month as to who it represents – they claimed 20,000 members when that was the number of minicab drivers working with the private hire operators they do actually represent – wants to limit self employed London minicab drivers to only one operator on the grounds of safety. Hogwash.
It’s because they want to allow their members – the operators – to control their drivers.
The implications of their suggestion really have not been though through but the LPHCA has the right of reply and their further uncensored comment will be published below immediately if they wish to put their case further.
It’s possible to pass your driving test never having driven at night, never experiencing how snow or ice affect handling, gone on a motorway or travelled through country roads and much more. Is it really acceptable that a professional driver has not passed an enhanced driving test?
In addition, it is a fact, that throughout the world you are able to buy a driving license without passing a test. These licenses can then be swapped for UK licenses. Do not, for one moment, think that this is not the case in the EU. It happens today! And as for our colonial friends, well, it is pretty much the route of choice. Pardon the pun.
I am of the opinion that London needs a private hire industry to be proud of. For the same reason, quite rightly, that the London taxi driver is proud of his or her trade. Addison Lee has made huge strides in taking the initiative here by setting up their diploma course.
Addison Lee tests a driver’s knowledge and their driver’s conversational English.
Another real safety benefit which I am sure the LPHCA will support as they are so concerned about safety is that in my opinion all London private hire drivers should have to pass the Institute of Advanced Motorists (the IAM) driving test.
Advanced drivers are taught to drive using the system which is derived from the Police Roadcraft system of car control and has been used successfully by the IAM since 1956. This system teaches drivers to approach situations and negotiate hazards in a methodical and flexible manner. Nothing is left to luck or chance, so safety is instantly increased.
This would ensure that London’s minicab drivers would become the gold standard for driving ability and safety would be improved.
Training by the Institute of Advanced Motorists is a huge task and would take years. But we have to start somewhere. And the time is now. Driving standards in the minicab industry are now appalling due to the de facto choice of most immigrants entering London and becoming a minicab driver. Standards need fixing. And fixing fast. Addison Lee has standards. Uber doesn’t.
If you want to work full time – 60 hours plus – in London’s minicab industry with only one operator then you’re better off at Addison Lee. Uber is now only a part time opportunity. Choose your hours carefully. Maybe surge only? Use other apps. Soon there’ll be one app for all the driver apps. Then you’ll have no excuse. Perhaps that’s the best route if you’re a Prius driver? I just don’t fancy driving a Prius.
I collect my Addison Lee Mercedes E Class on Monday and will be digging out my best Gieves & Hawkes tomorrow.
Now for a quick round up of notable tweets concerning me, Uber and occasionally others over the last 12 months. Click on the date in the tweets to read more of the conversation on Twitter. The Uber Drivers Club – now reformed as the LPHDN – complained about me to Uber as you can see.
Boris Becker bumped in to me at Marble Arch
One of my shortest journeys ever was completed.
The Uber Drivers Club – the LPHDN now – continued to complain to Uber about me.The only thing worse than being talked about is… not being talked about. Crack open the Bolly Dom!
Uber cocked up the UberExec fixed pricing to Heathrow on UberExec but quickly put it back to £60 a few days later.
On a final note it would be nice for all Uber drivers to have an airport rank system that works consistently. Right now it doesn’t. I’m not going to dwell on this further here but suffice it to say Uber knows the allocation system has serious flaws but I believe they are unlikely to do anything about it. Another reason for my departure from Uber.
Please bear in mind that my experience at Uber is only on UberExec and this article reflects that. If any UberX, UberXL, UberLux or UberTaxi reader fancies sharing their experience here then comment below please.
The growth at Uber is on the UberX platform but I understand drivers rely heavily on surge pricing to make it viable. The net rate, without surge, paid to an UberX driver by Uber is currently a minimum fare of £4 with a base of £2 plus £1 per mile and 12 pence per minute. An insane pricing structure when considering that Addison Lee’s account rate is £1.60 per mile but no time based charge. Addison Lee’s cash fare is based on £2.90 per mile with a fully maintained and insured Ford Galaxy at around £200 per week and a quick replacement car when needed. The last time the cash rate was £1 per mile at Addison Lee was 20 years ago! At that time drivers also kept the lot.
My UberExec earnings were a little under £10K per month for the months I worked. The average last year was £12K per month and this year the monthly average has dipped below £8K per month
The drop in fare revenue can be attributed to the Uber increase in commission from 20% to 25% and the time based charge reducing from nearly £30 per hour to £15 per hour. In addition, the UberExec platform has not grown sufficiently to sustain the growth in UberExec drivers towards the end of last year.
It’s a wrap.
Now back to the pool. It’s hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement here. Addiju u grazzi għall-qari. Jibqgħu sikuri.