Posts by BenWilson

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver, in reply to Bob van Ruyssevelt,

    Yes, the rider app can be used to find Ubers. I'm not even sure that we do disappear when we have passengers. At least, several times I've watched the rider app whilst on a fare, and a ghost car has shadowed me miles out into the burbs - I presume it's my time lagged location.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9719 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver,

    Yes, in case it wasn’t clear, I think Uber’s defence that they are now “Ridesharing” is total bullshit. The law in NZ is clear. If you drive for hire or reward, you must have a P Endorsement. It really is that simple. Uber thinks that some weasel words about my endless stream of payments being in some way a sharing of costs with riders, rather than an income, will fool people. They will get literally no support from anyone, any where, any time on that. No rider is going to accept getting into an Uber and having me telling them that since we’re now ride sharing, I’ll pick the destination.

    And yeah right the drivers agree to it. It's like we're driving to all corners of the city for hours on end purely for the fun of it. It can be fun, but it's still work. And when it's not fun, which occasionally happens, it's definitely work.

    Hell, Uber puts huge pressure on drivers to accept as many jobs as possible. We don't even know the destination until the passenger gets in and we start the trip. At that point, refusing the trip is very difficult, involves a lot of mucking around. If you do it frequently, Uber will cancel your account. Also, they put big pressure on you to accept trips where the origin is a long way from you. Refuse (by which I mean "fail to accept" because it works by offering the ride to you, with 15 seconds to decide if you want it) too many of those, and you will deactivated as well.

    I don't have a problem with these rules, they're part of what makes Uber so reliable and fast to come. But I refuse to accept that what I'm doing is therefore "ridesharing", as if I have some say in the matter of destinations. Often, I want to go home and a ride out West would be a good thing to get. Instead, I get a ride way out in the opposite direction. If I refuse that, I get downrated by the customer, and if it happens frequently, Uber would deactivate my account.


    There is no mechanism for me to even register my desire to go West to end my shift. Nor any way to even signal that I am nearing the time I must take a mandated break, so that I am only really available for short trips. If I'm at 5 hours and a trip comes in that somewhere 45 minutes away in South Auckland, I'm in violation of the law for 15 minutes of that trip. Then I have to take my break in the back blocks of South Auckland, potentially just sitting on the side of the road waiting half an hour in the middle of the night. Yeah, right, I "shared" the cost of that.

    They’re playing fast and loose with the term. Yes, riders in the Uber can share. But they do that with taxis now, always have. That does NOT stop the taxi driver being in the situation of earning an income from the work. There’s no way that what is happening with the tens of thousands of Uber trips every night is ridesharing, except in the irrelevant sense that is already completely covered by our laws. It’s even covered in a lot of detail for taxis, there’s a lot of rules about how strangers in their cabs can have their fares split and what the driver can or can’t do as a result.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9719 posts Report Reply

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

    The Transport Agency has a minor problem because Uber cars are unbranded.

    It's not a minor problem. It's a major problem. It's what makes it so hard for enforcement to do anything about Uberers. They are nearly invisible against the general population of cars. Of course anyone trained to know what to look for can pick them rapidly. The badges and certificates are important. To say the drivers are OK without them makes the drivers that much more stealthy.

    Also, the fact that the passenger will typically find you, rather than the other way around, means that Ubers don't have to place themselves anywhere obvious.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9719 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's an easy mistake to make because they confusing use the word "License" to refer to the business license. Don't confused "Passenger Service License" (PSL), with P Endorsement.

    A compliant driver needs evidence of both. The P endorsement is what lets you drive for hire, and it is also printed on my actual driver license, on the back. The PSL (which is a subset of Transport Service License (TSL)) is the license showing who it is you essentially work for. This is displayed in the window facing outwards. The P endorsement is displayed within the vehicle, facing backwards for the passengers to see, and has the photo ID, and the "memorable" identifier. Mine is bwilson1. That identifier is unique to the driver, and links back to the NZTA databases.

    The PSL need not belong to the driver. You can work under another person's PSL, with their permission, and you must carry papers showing your arrangement with them. I work this way. Many drivers get their own one - in the long run it would pay off, since I pay my guy a cut of 5%. This is my ongoing compliance cost, set against the $449 cost of applying for my own one, and other costs related to the test that they have to pass, which show more detailed knowledge of the law, and much more in-depth knowledge of how a transport operation should work.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9719 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Got your eye in spotting P endorsements yet?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9719 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: How the years flew by ..., in reply to Tom Semmens,

    In the end, probably the only economically sane solution is policies designed to halt the upward price spiral without an actual downward correction, and some mild inflation combined with a wages policy that encourages actual wage growth.

    I almost totally agree. I'd just say that earnings targeted should not be limited only to wages. We should also be encouraging salary, small business, and benefit growth.

    It's another place where a UBI rears its head. Long touted as insane because it could be inflationary, it could now be seen as a good solution because it could be inflationary. It would inflate what matters, people's buying power.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9719 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: How the years flew by ..., in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    I wouldn't say I'm stoked about the thought of both of my parents needing to die before I can take full advantage of Auckland property prices. I want them to live forever.

    No but the family home, an investment property or 2 and the bach on waiheke might.

    You've got my number there, precisely. But I'd still vote for measures I thought were realistic to control runaway prices.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9719 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver,

    Amelia Wade has picked this story up in the Herald. Good article.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9719 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver, in reply to Bob van Ruyssevelt,

    Aha, good pickup. That makes a lot more sense now. Oh, and welcome to Public Address!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9719 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver, in reply to Bob van Ruyssevelt,

    You are right about that. I should really have said “however much more to get it back to the same”. It’s a bit of a magic unknown formula to me at the moment, because the question of empty returns comes up. If you are getting a lot more jobs, then that may also mean that you’re doing a lot less driving all the way back to a starting point. Also we have the unknown effect of surge pricing on average hourly rates.

    As far as I’m concerned the argument can only really be approached by going back through the payments, time online, counting up the kms traveled whilst Ubering, etc. For a reasonable number of people.

    I’m definitely aware of the multiple cuts. I’m also aware of the level of driver outrage about the current rates.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9719 posts Report Reply

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