Posts by BenWilson

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  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to Alfie,

    Keep your eye on the bigger picture. Uber is actively involved in developing driverless cars.

    I really don't see this as anywhere near the problem it is popularly seen to be. For starters, this is NZ, not Silicon Valley. And secondly, once driverless cars are possible, I think Uber's days are also numbered. Why pay Uber, when you could just own the car yourself?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9792 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to MargaretB,

    Thanks for your comment MargaretB. It looks like you're in an ever so slightly better set of circumstances than the average Uber driver. None of them earn a wage at all. The entire business is off fares. No fare, no pay. Which is sometimes good, when fares are flooding in, but on the average case, it's looking like it's much worse than a wage. In fact, it's much worse than the minimum wage.

    The closest we got to a wage was the "guaranteed minimum rates". These were ONLY offered at drunk-o'clock.

    How flexible are your hours and location, though? If you don't own your car, I'd expect the employer to want to you to do some kind of minimum hours, and to work some kind of area?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9792 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to Moz,

    I do hope it doesn’t take someone actually getting slapped by the plod for Uber to see reason.

    Unfortunately, it's going to take more than that, because that has already happened, in a number of blitzes done last week, by the accounts given by the NZTA. Uber may or may not foot the bill - they always intimate that they will, but of course are far too canny to sign any kind of contract to that effect. Just as they are too canny to let us actually see the contingent liability insurance they have to cover that guy the day their insurance company won't pay because the policy was not a commercial one. I expect that contingent liability policy either does not actually exist, or is under lock and key somewhere.

    He seemed to think that getting $20/hour from Uber was an excellent deal.

    Well if it was after costs, it would be a living wage. But before costs that would be appallingly low, could easily come to something like $8 per hour in real terms.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9792 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to Moz,

    Yes, the kind of headline grabbing direct actions that could be taken are all the kind of things that are way premature. You've got to be organized into some recognizable body to even make demands, otherwise you're just an anarchic rabble who can be shut down in short order. You've got to have huge numbers for a a strike to do anything, and things like pickets and blockades are way too confrontational to the general public.

    Before all of that, you at least try to exhaust the less militant options, like writing to the company, alerting the media, forming an association, getting legal advocates to review your options, contacting the regulators about your concerns, getting politicians on your side. We've been doing all of that instead. I can't speak for the grumbling masses of drivers in general, only those who have chosen to at least make an attempt at getting organized.

    It's progressing just fine, albeit not in a way that will hit headlines, certainly not if Uber gets the message and begins a backdown. I've had the first indications of that possibility already reported in. I like to think they're run by sane people, and they see disaster looming down the path they trod. It's not too late to get their foot out of that quicksand. Otherwise, we will quite literally suck them down to their demise.

    This is a New Zealand story and they're not getting away with this shit. Not in my country. I have some faith in the resilience of our institutions to deal with foreign attempts to act like some kind of mafia, that can dictate slavery terms and induce people into widespread lawbreaking for their profit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9792 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to Katita,

    Well I find it hard to believe that I've cost Uber anywhere near the thousands of dollars that I've already generated for them in a few months. But I don't know what their business model is - it would seem to be aggressive growth at all costs, most particularly at human cost, which they 100% externalize. So maybe it's true they're not making money. But there's a reason that their valuation is skyrocketing, and it's not because they're just a Ponzi scheme. It's because they're literally trying to tap into an enormous global industry and seize primary control over it. There are billions of dollars in fares for them to take. It's not funny imaginary tech stock money these guys are chasing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9792 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to Alfie,

    Uber’s plan to fill the streets with cheap, unlicensed drivers can only spread the potential income and guarantee that nobody makes a living.

    Especially since those drivers will also have to factor in the extremely punitive fines and other punishments that they can receive. They could Uber for a year and lose the entire year’s income, their car, their license and their job in one single moment at a check point.

    Or they could have a crash into an expensive car, and find that non-commercial insurance will not pay out and they will be pursued into bankruptcy by the other party.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9792 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Perhaps it was more fun in the olden days.

    Oh, I enjoy the work. Particularly on Friday night, there’s like 15 different parties in the car that evening. Been listening to a much wider range of music recently. It’s been a surprising discovery for me that the biggest fans of gangsta rap would seem to be teenaged white girls.

    Young men, surprisingly, seem to be much bigger fans of R&B. I always thought it was the other way around.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9792 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to Alfie,

    Yes, my maintenance and depreciation calculations are only based on a few months of data. I’m getting plenty more in the pipeline, though, so the true picture will emerge over the next few weeks. It’s been a job to convince hundreds of drivers that this data is a very valuable contribution to their cause.

    By hundreds, I mean there are about 400 odd drivers on the various FB pages, most of them in Auckland. A whole lot of them want to go on strike and don't see the worth of the long game. I can't convince them otherwise, indeed the People's Liberation Front of Judea dynamic has been hard at work for weeks. I've had to leave those who think striking would work as independent contractors to their own devices. Unfortunately, anyone committed to that path is usually there on grounds of a total misunderstanding of how things work in NZ and around the world, when it comes to the rights of independent contractors, and people with such severe misunderstandings are hard to get into a rational camp of people committed to the more progressive pathway of organizing together as a strong team. I doubt their ability to even organize anything that would come up on the radar as a strike.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9792 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…,

    But there's no way to skin $10/hour into a high income. The median income is a bit over $20/hour for wage and salary earners, so even if you do 70 hours/week, you're going to be on a below average income. For busting your arse doing several hundred trips a week, and basically having a life that is either working or sleeping, except for your mandatory day off per week.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9792 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…,

    I'm not personally across that. It would be interesting to hear from anyone who actually is a taxi driver. My information came from the bank when I went to get another mortgage for my new house. They told me that it was considered by the bank to be a high-income profession. Since they pretty much demand to see the details of your income when giving a mortgage, I can only surmise they base that heuristic on actual facts. I think it is likely, though, that it's "high income" because they work extremely long hours. In other words, the pay is not great, but you can do 70 hours a week, which takes an average hourly rate into an above average yearly income.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9792 posts Report Reply

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