Sunday, August 5, 2018

Uber and Sydney Airport

When Uber arrived on the scene, it was like the travelling public’s revenge on the taxi industry.  We had been subjected to a lifetime of micro-aggressive behaviour directed towards passengers.  We bore the brunt of an unhealthy attitude to service delivery from taxi drivers, their front line service staff and the business owners.  

As soon as Uber arrived on the scene, the nasty attitudes to passengers was unleashed upon the Uber drivers who were accused of breaking the law and providing an unsafe travel experience.  When thinking of safety, just think of the violent demonstrations from taxi drivers in Europe who protested against Uber as it was winning the affection of the travelling public. 

Now that Uber is well and truly a part of Sydney transport, we are seeing a less palatable side to the business emerging.  Apart from contractural arrangements with drivers that sees many working for below what would be minimum award wages, we are also seeing an emergence of inappropriate behaviour from Uber drivers.  It is not uncommon to hear of news stories of Uber drivers stalking or sexually abusing passengers. Whilst totally unacceptable, these occurrences are relatively few considering the number of rides undertaken on a daily basis.

An annoying pattern of behaviour is emerging amongst Uber drivers doing pick ups from Sydney Airport.  Here is how the scam works:-

After accepting your ride, the drivers will almost immediately call you under guise of checking whether you knew the whereabouts of the pick up location and as to whether you were already there.  The signage for the Priority Pick Up area for ride share vehicles is particularly well signposted at Sydney Airport (especially at the Domestic terminal) and if you cannot follow these signs correctly, then you are beyond help.  They know that you know where the pick up area is.  This is simply the opportunity to then ask you about your destination.  As you know, they don’t know where you are going until they pick you up. If they determine that it is going to be a short ride, they promptly cancel the ride.  By cancelling the ride quickly, they will not be penalised and will not lose their place in the queue. If you won’t reveal the destination, they will assume that you wish to hide that it is a short ride and will also cancel the ride.

You could argue that this behaviour is driven by the frustrations associated with waiting for up to an hour for a pick up from Sydney Airport.  On the other hand, if the drivers are not prepared to accept that they may only pick up a short ride, then they should not join the queue.  

I have found that in more than half of the times that I have been picked up at Sydney Airport that I have received a call and on most of the occasions when I tell them that my destination in relatively close, they drop the ride. As earlier mentioned, when I do not give the destination, many will also cancel the ride because they understand my reasons for concealing the destination.  

I have drawn this to the attention of Uber. Sadly, they appear disinterested.  The public face was to appear concerned about the tweet that I sent to their Australian account but once taken off line, there was an immediate loss of interest.  Its the old story of familiarity with the travelling public breeding contempt.  Bring on competitors to Uber - I am ready to embrace it.

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