Nice to see the 'disruptors' disrupting each other. A lot of money got put into what amounts to a global minicab slapdown, so I guess it's time for the bullshit about competition to take a walk. Here's to them both ending up a pile of smoking rubble and final victory to Aardvark Cabs of Ardwick, with Ray, Mohammed and the lads at the controls and 40 a day Lil dispatching. But then maybe the people taken for a ride here are Venture Capitalists, dotcom bubble style.
I've been chatting to local minicab drivers about Uber's operation in Manchester. They don't feel threatened, or tempted. Prices here start at £1.50, and wages are hard for even those VC types to undercut. Uber have allegedly been trying to do this with the bogus guarantee technique: drivers around here are apparently on £10.00 an hour, anything above that gets kicked back to Big Minicab. They don't fancy the deal. Even in slack times, when they're not being robbed of their reward moments, there's always the hope that a fare to the airport will show up, and that's part of what keeps you ferrying people around all day. It means you can fuck off home a bit early, which you can't do if you're on Uber's clock.
Uber, Lyft, Hurnya and whatever don't seem to realise that there's such a thing as a minicab work culture, intensely local and adapted both to the people who work in it and their customers. For one thing, cab driving in the UK isn't about young proto-entrepreneurs learning a bit about life as they ferry fantastic partygoers to fantastic places. It's family-age family guys (mainly) driving old folks to and from the supermarket. That's your bread and butter there, and so far as I know the Uber people haven't bothered to get one supermarket taxi freephone up and running. Also, what's their Estate capacity? You know that thing where every cab company runs a bunch of estate cars as cabs so you can shift a bit of furniture in a hurry or get the second hand cooker back from the charity shop? I don't think Uber do.
We have a number of minicab drivers locally. Remember that petulant rant from one of the 7/7 bombers in his suicide murder video about 'so called Muslims lying under their minicabs instead of Allah, Palestine yadda yadda'? It's like that round here. Three brothers up the road run a cab 24/7 on an informal shift system, sharing the proceeds from slack and busy times. There's another guy who sleeps in the morning, cabs in the afternoon, and pulls on a security guard uniform to do his nightshift. I suspect his life could do with a bit of disruption, though not in the way that Uber & Co mean, to the extent that they are aware that such people exist.
So, anyway, I'm here to tell you that our local ferriers of persons and things are, to quote another modern asinine buzzword, resilient. It's not a great life, but disruption offers nothing better and they have built capacity. Sadly, they are not innovating, but the wankers will just have to live with that. Until, inshallah, they finally run out of money and die.