has launched an investigation in to complaints against Hailo London, the smart
phone app that allows customers and drivers to hook up directly by telephone or
News of the investigation, broken by Mayorwatch follows Hailo's announcement late on Tuesday that affective from 6am on Wednesday, a minimum fare of £10 will be set for taxis hailed through the app between 6am and 10pm and £15 for journeys from 10pm on.
The wording of TFL's statement suggests the appropriate authorities are not amused. Helen Chapman, TfL’s General Manager for Taxi and Private Hire, told MayorWatch: “We are investigating complaints about Hailo introducing a minimum fare policy."
And in a clear warning to black cabbies, she continued, “It is against the licensing regulations for any taxi driver to charge a customer more than the metered fare. Action will be taken against any driver found to be doing so.”
TFL's minimum fare currently stands at £2.40 - under half of Hailo's previous minimum tariff of £5. Justifying their move, the company said in a statement sent to customers on Tuesday and later published in a blog, “In order to give you the most chance of getting a cab when you want one, we need every driver to know that the job is worth accepting – and that means guaranteeing them a reasonable minimum fare".
Indeed many drivers this writer has spoken with have complained vociferously about Hailo's terms and conditions which obligates drivers to wait for five minutes before turning on their meter - and no wonder some drivers have complained about passing viable passengers who are attempting to hail a taxi in the good old fashioned way only to battle through traffic, sit outside a venue for 5 minutes and take a passenger 200 yards up the road for £5. More than this, Hailo's 10% deduction means our imaginary driver - let's call him Dave, has actually potentially lost quite a bit of money for £4.50 in his pocket.
Of course (and this is a personal argument now) Dave might be foolhardy not to consider that the viable passenger he passed two minutes earlier may also have wanted to travel 200 yards up the road - only he's paying the £2.40 minimum fare TFL allow - and he's also potentially not taking the rough with the smooth. Let's call our imaginary passenger Sean. He has done perhaps 3 jobs under £10 in the last three months, but the vast majority of his jobs are between £17 and £29. How does Dave know whether Sean wants to spend £5 with no waiting time, auto-tips 15% and doesn't want to travel the other side of
for £30 and
auto-tips 15%? He doesn't - just like a job on the rank or the street. Now
let's take Sean since I feel in precisely his position... Most of his journeys,
which let's say are refunded by his employers would actually not be affected by
the new rates, and we'll imagine that
his employers would cover all jobs regardless of any fare he may regard to be
punitive. I'm suggesting that Sean's one button is when he's actively
disrespected - or in this case, has his intelligence insulted by a company who
purport to be introducing higher minimum fares for his advantage as opposed to
their own. It's fair to deduce that Sean feels as if Hailo have slapped him in
the face, pushing their minimum cut from each job to £1 or £1.50 depending on
time - up from 50p or £1 at peak times as was the case. London
Hailo were at pains to point out that the average taxi journey in
is over £15 anyway - so effectively,
why should customers worry? Well, since the average taxi fare in London is over £15,
apparently... why should drivers worry? London
The investigation that follows will be most interesting. Drivers have my absolute sympathy, John Kenney @johnthecabby for instances asks a fair question on twitter
"Dear @MayorofLondon why is TFL threatening drivers with enforcement action ? TPH should be dealing with #hailo not individual drivers..."
The answer sadly is that you are the Licensee, not Hailo and this type of action affects your reputation more than it does Hailo.
I'll make a bold prediction - Haily will have to reverse their decision... either due to public demand or following a TFL investigation in to the legalities of their service. The gritty reality is that Hailo's previous £5 minimum fare may also be held to be wrong. We'll find out but I'll suggest people don't mind paying a fair fare - but many may feel disrespected and insulted by policies that are clearly motivated by greed.
A new slogan for Hailo? "This glass is ice cream... we want you to be happy!"
I'll close by patting Mayorwatch on the back for an excellent bit of work. Evening all.