back to article Only a CNUT would hold back the waves of the sharing economy

The Turtle-Necked Twats are having their bluff called at last. Taxi-hailing app developer Uber has been invited to rejoin the real world and the TNTs are in uproar. London’s transport authority, TfL, has launched a public consultation into private-hire taxi services in England’s capital. As usual, Uber’s TNTs are convinced …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who's an AC-DC fan then?

    I'll have that song stuck in my head all evening now!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Correction

      Sharing Sharecropper Economy

      1. BasicChimpTheory

        Re: Correction

        Why did you correct someone who didn't even say the thing you were correcting?

        Oh, I see. You thought your joke was so good it needed to be at the top for all to see.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Correction

          "You thought your joke was so good it needed to be at the top for all to see."

          The thing is, it isn't a joke; it is an insightful remark. Facebook, Twitter, Ueber and the like are all, at bottom, the owners of the land used by the sharecroppers. It's feudalism light for the 21st century. Not surprising that the self-employed businessmen that are London taxi drivers are anti Ueber; it wants to peonise them.

          1. BasicChimpTheory

            Re: Correction

            @Arnaut the less

            Be that as it may (or may not, in real terms, because no one had the option to opt-out of feudalism - but that isn't the point), that does not at all justify the poster's lack of regard for other commenters/comment readers. S/he's bsaically shouted over the top of everyone else because they think their post was too important to sit under commenters that beat them to a response.

            It is unquestionably shitty behaviour, regardless of whether anyone agrees with them or not. Nothing less than A-grade attention-whoring.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Correction

              @ BasicChimpTheory

              Yet you did the exact same thing you are complaining about others doing. How ironic. And predictable.

              1. BasicChimpTheory

                Re: Correction

                How so, AC? In both instances I spoke in direct reply to previous commenter.

                The original AC was clearly directing his comment to the content of the article and yet it quoted a comment that had zero relevance to his/her position.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Correction

                  Pretty clear why you have so much trouble keeping a job.

            2. storax

              Re: Correction

              No, it's a tactical use of situational resources. Methinks you perhaps pay too much attention to a-Social Media.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Who's an AC-DC fan then?

      I thought everyone in the IT trenches was an AC/DC fan. But not the TNT's and manglement types...

      1. launcap Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Who's an AC-DC fan then?

        > I thought everyone in the IT trenches was an AC/DC fan

        Nope. They are (just about) tolerable in an 'OK for background music' kind of way. Magic Pie - *now* you are talking!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who's an AC-DC fan then?

      you had me at Turtle-Necked Twats.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Very good article, would read again

    I am however somewhat concerned that if you put Worstall and anti-Worstall in the same room the universe might explode.

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Very good article, would read again

      Sounds well worth the attempt.

    2. BasicChimpTheory

      Re: Very good article, would read again

      Bestall?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very good article, would read again

      The First Law of Economists: For every economist, there exists an equal and opposite economist.

      The Second Law of Economists: They’re both wrong.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Very good article, would read again

        But some are more wrong than others.

        1. launcap Silver badge

          Re: Very good article, would read again

          > But some are more wrong than others.

          Except when they are not - in a 'stopped-clock-is-right-sometimes' sort of way.

    4. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Very good article, would read again

      If this means you are describing me as anti-Worstall, that's possibly the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me. Thank you.

      1. Sarah Balfour

        Re: Very good article, would read again

        As far as I'm concerned, the difference between you and him is that YOUR articles make SENSE! I wouldn't know what side Worstall's on coz I've never understood a fucking thing he's ever written!

        Our local cabbies have been charging Uber prices for aeons; I live around 1.5 miles from the station, but they want £7.50 before midnight and £15 after; I've no option but to cough up because the only way home is across the common, and I don't fancy a chance meeting with Aqualung. Obviously in the summer I'll walk it

        Yes Aqualung, as in Tull, so named by me because he's creepy; I'm 90% certain he's PROBABLY harmless, but I ain't taking the risk, especially as he appears to be an alkie (the area around his campfire is always littered with cans). Not meaning to imply that alkies are inherently violent/rapey, but the booze is probably gonna make him (more) unpredictable. He'll disappear around Hallowe'en/Bonfire Night, and won't return until the weather warms up again - no idea where he goes in the winter.

        So, if it's one of the rare occasions I've been up to the Smoke, and come back late, I've really no option. They're all self-employed and everything is extortionate round here (South Bucks), so I can't really begrudge them, if I could, I'd leave but, sadly, I can't…

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Very good article, would read again

          @ Sarah

          You started off Dabbs but then you went all Worstall and I stopped understanding a blooming thing you were on about...Something about some dodgy geezer called aqua tull who's a bit common and charges too much for his booze? Is it another Uber like app that lets home brewers share their filthy and disgusting brews after the pubs close, or something?

          1. lucki bstard

            Re: Very good article, would read again

            'Is it another Uber like app that lets home brewers share their filthy and disgusting brews after the pubs close, or something?' - That would be a good app. I keep making the stuff (and it's not rubbish) and then not having the time to drink it all.

    5. dotdavid

      Re: Very good article, would read again

      Is Dabbsy really the anti-Worstall? Their opinions of this subject don't seem to be opposed. Worstall seems to like Uber as an antidote to the inefficient rent-seeking that comes from having an arbitrary limited number of taxi licences available, like New York's taxi medallions. I'm not sure whether this is how the London black cab system works; can't anyone become a cab driver by passing the relevant knowledge exams or are there limited "places"?

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Very good article, would read again

        London doesn't have the arbitrary hard limit on numbers that cities with a medallion system impose, so in that regard, anyone could become a taxi driver.

        However, the Knowledge takes a while to learn, so to a degree that does slow down the potential for growth in the number of drivers.

        Private hire vehicles (aka mini-cabs) don't have to learn the knowledge, and again there is no fixed limit on the number of people who can register for those.

  3. gilf

    Gett

    Interestingly, gett (http://gett.com/nyc/#business) is not getting the same publicity.

    Reason: it's a boring radio cab service with a usable app.

  4. Dr_N Silver badge

    Stopping Uber is easy.

    Taxi drivers just have to block the streets and roads:

    The government will then step in and make Uber services illegal, as they have in France. Protecting the existing lazy, overcharging, rule breaking taxi scammers. As they did in France. (€70 for 15min/km airport trip anyone?)

    1. Ilmarinen
      WTF?

      Re: Stopping Uber is easy.

      I've noticed in a couple of articles about Uber that a swarm of downvoters seems to descend. Who they?? Black Cab drivers? Didn't think they could read, let alone interwebs stuff. Maybe they hired some lobyist outfits?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stopping Uber is easy.

        I've noticed in a couple of articles about Uber that a swarm of downvoters seems to descend. Who they?? Black Cab drivers? Didn't think they could read, let alone interwebs stuff. Maybe they hired some lobyist outfits?

        Maybe they're people that can see through the spin and the BS ladled out in large spoonfuls by mainly US companies who think that making a buck by totally ignoring local regulations is their God given right?

        Uber would not have half the problems it has now if it paid attention to regulation that is there for a good reason, but it has actively attempted to not only bypass them but to tap into the black economy in probably one of the most modern implementations of the Citigroup Plutonomy investment advice ever (recommending to invest either in the very high end or to go for the opposite bottom volume end, which is where Uber plays). It only stopped doing that when it was forced to do so by court order, and even then only grudgingly.

        I'd be the first to cry foul over overburdening regulation and pointless red tape, but I am disadvantaged in that I have seen the consequences of their absence. As a normal human being with some compassion for others (with the exception of traffic wardens and people who can't spell) I cannot agree with what Uber is doing, because they're not into "breaking monopolies" and "disruptive evolution" and all those other buzzwords they use. What that river of BS and verbal diarrhoea is trying to camouflage is that they're crooks and have no problem dangerously cutting corners and endanger you to make a fast buck, at least, that's how I see it.

        There are other taxi apps that try to play it straight. Uber, in my opinion, is not. Thankfully, lawmakers exist that *are* paying attention, also without the baying of taxi drivers who are paying their dues and are licensed properly (it does help, though :) ).

  5. Fraggle850

    There's a little more at stake here

    While Uber may essentially be a private hire taxi company their technology does chip away at the advantage that black cabs traditionally enjoy over private hire: the ability to pick passengers up on the street. Although an Uber driver can no more do this legally than any other private hire operation the nature of their app reduces the time between booking and pick up, to the point where the time/convenience difference in hailing a cab and booking a private hire is negligible. This is what the cabbies really don't like and I gather that they are pushing for a mandatory waiting period of (5 mins IIRC?) on Uber bookings.

    Anyhoo, death to the TNTs! Too many of these slimy facilitators running around stitching people up with tech snake oil.

    1. SuccessCase

      Re: There's a little more at stake here

      This article presents a mildly reasonable argument but is wrong because it misses a key point. Yes Tfl are responsible for reviewing the rules but they have perfectly sensible rules already. You can't hail a Minicab in the street, you have to book it through a mini-cab firm first. You still can't hail an Uber taxi in the street. Now technology simply means the existing booking process is super efficient.

      The sensible reason for not being able to hail a - less regulated than black cab - mini-cab in the street is safety. By having to book via a taxi firm so there is a record and (more likely) a responsible controller running a business with many mini-cabs keeping a record of who is sent where. That, as long as users are aware and expect to follow the rules (which most are) reduces the opportunity for stalkers rapists and muggers being able to pick victims up in the street and drive them off to an evil lair.

      Uber hasn't changed the mini-cab model, you still can't directly hail a mini-cab in the street, it's just made it more efficient, but Tfl are proposing changing the rules by artificially introducing minimum wait times from booking to fulfilment. EBay style in service ratings systems have already been shown to be an effective way to manage and help filter out charlatans. So while there will be teething problems, the system, given the journey is also logged and tracked is already potentially even safer than the average local Minicab firm.

      Now black cab drivers are moaning, and it seems Tfl are proposing making an efficient system less efficient just to help them out. That isn't Tfl doing regulation as usual as Alatair argues, it's protectionism plain and simple. It makes an efficient system less efficient for the economic gain of a vested interest and at the expense of the consumer who likes the fact you can now get black cab efficiency at mini-cab prices. So sorry Alastair, your argument has some good points, but in the final analysis is just plain wrong. Uber aren't paranoid. It is all about them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's a little more at stake here

        EBay style in service ratings systems have already been shown to be an effective way to manage and help filter out charlatans. So while there will be teething problems,

        Your confidence in online ratings is most touching, but rather your wife/girlfriend be the "teething problem" than mine.

        1. SuccessCase

          Re: There's a little more at stake here

          Yer right, so whilst the EBay style rating systems used by sharing economy businesses are not perfect it's still in addition to what you get with your local cab firm, ... And you're talking like you have never booked a mini-cab for one of your loved one's with one of them.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: There's a little more at stake here

        Why not add some more arbitrary rules

        You can comment on an article but can only write a blog post if your are an NUJ member

        You can use a web browser if you are a cab driver but can only install Windows if you are a member of the BCS and only connect a new computer if your a member of the ACM or IEEE

  6. Ben Liddicott
    1. Fraggle850

      Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

      We obviously need protectionist legislation in the chainsaw market then. How else am I going to profit on Dabbsy's suggested business plan?

    2. Proud Father
      Thumb Up

      Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

      Whoa! I had no idea a chainsaw would be so cheap.

      Time to finally clear out those Cacodemons in the loft!

      1. Fraggle850

        Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

        Hmm... dual-wielding....

        Or even strapped to each end of a pole a la Dead Rising 2

      2. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

        Those cheap chainsaws took me by surprise too. I spent a year assisting my tree surgeon brother-in-law for a year while living in France, and it never occurred to me that anything other than the best Stihl models existed.

        1. knightred
          Coat

          Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

          I logged a bit as a teen in NorCal, there are actually two brands of chainsaws Stihl and Husquvarna. Brand loyalty is king in the logging world, although you generally follow the lead faller's choice.

          And as in tech contracting, you do your sharpening and routine maintenance when you arrive at a job site, because land owners like to see you there doing something for at least 2 hours before paying 500 to 1000$.

          Ha, that's another business where it pays to hire a licensed, insured, and bonded operator for a job, sure Joe down the street can cut down a tree, but a proper faller can also miss your house, car, garage, etc at least 99% of the time. They can also drop a tree exactly where you swore to hell they told you to stand. Remember to always make sure the axe is sharp and the gas and oil cans are full when you are carrying their gear, oh and never drop their saw, unless of course you're running for your life.

          The jacket has my childhood wonder and innocence lost in it.

        2. 080

          Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

          "for a year while living in France"

          And you never noticed the very old, cheap and un-serviced ones the locals were using?

    3. Your alien overlord - fear me

      Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

      It comes in frustion free packaging because otherwise I'd need to hire a chainsaw to get it out.

    4. Andy 73

      Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

      You can... usually made very cheaply in China, which means increasingly unreliable start, questionable safety brake, poor ergonomics (which actually matters when you're holding a heavy, yet efficient cutting tool) and fragile materials.

      The question is always - spend three times the price on one that should last three times as long, or go cheap? I went cheap.. and at this point the punchline should be that I'm typing this with my one remaining hand. However, I do need to buy a new chainsaw.

      1. Fraggle850

        Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

        I did wonder about the quality for that price. I don't know whether I'd trust a really cheap one, if things go titsup with a chainsaw it could end badly. Having said that I do wonder if any of the brand name manufacturers are outsourcing to the same factories that make this sort of thing?

    5. Stixx

      Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

      Could I borrow that please ?

  7. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Holmes

    Screening Minicab drivers

    I used to have a large dog called Bonzo (The name has been changed, I don't want to give out my banking password. Ha! Ha!). He was a real softy and anyone could take him for a walk because he would obey their commands.

    During his entire life he only ever tried to attack one person. I had called a minicab to deliver some kit and the driver had not even fully opened his door when Bonzo decided that he would kill him. I told the dog to go back inside but I realised that he had detected something about this driver that was not right. I looked carefully at this man, gave him the kit and off he went. It was worrying that this guy was driving around London, who knows what my dog had discerned?

    Tl;dr Always travel with a dog

    1. Zimmer
      Joke

      Re: Screening Minicab drivers

      What did the dog discover?... he was probably a moonlighting postman....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Screening Minicab drivers

      I used to travel with a dog but then I divorced the bitch.

      /s

  8. Fihart

    Mandatory reading for...

    ...housing policy makers.

    The Uber story translates pretty well to the Right2Buy on social housing. In brief, council tenants with no capital buy flats cheap using cash lent by property company. Property company takes flat after three years and lets it out for vastly more than council rents, sometimes renting it back to council to house growing homeless.

    1. Fraggle850

      Re: Mandatory reading for...

      I don't doubt what you say but fail to see the parallels, other than possible TNT involvement in befuddling local authorities?

      1. Fihart

        Re: Mandatory reading for...

        @Fraggle850 I see your objection, but the parallel that struck me was the act of disrupting a system created to meet a long established need (cab licensing, social housing) without any regard to the side-effects.

        1. Fraggle850

          @Fihart Re: Mandatory reading for...

          Not really objecting, just curious as to where you saw the parallels. I take your point re: perverting a system that is set up to regulate a recognised social need.

          I've occasionally commented on housing in response to Tim Worstall's pieces. I honestly believe that successive governments have failed to regulate effectively in this area and have left us in a poor state as a result. One example being: if you have a second property as a holiday home you essentially get a tax break via reduced poll tax, whereas if you are in social housing you get screwed with the bedroom tax.

  9. graeme leggett

    I presume that in order to read it out loud, 'TNT' in the phrase cunning TNT is pronounced with a U between the first T and the N. And with as much disdain as the human voice can summon up.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Which causes

      a bit of a "W" sound between the "T" and "U"

      1. Mookster

        Re: Which causes

        not "oop north"

        T únt T

    2. ZootCadillac

      The correct term is twunt

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      @ graeme leggett

      Maybe you missed the earlier article where TNT was defined.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As identified its the wider management (gvt) not the TNTs

    Real change/improvement is hard TNT'dom is easy, and hence very attractive to the techno deficient mgmt and government culture we have.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Repeated Typo!

    Or so I thought, I kept seeing '60bn' and guessed there must have been some kind of weird keyboard fault because there's no way something like that could be worth such a completely stupid amount of money. What's their business model again? Presumably they get a percentage of something but how does that add up to 60bn? I take it this is the 'normal' question that always belongs with this kind of article because nobody at the company has an answer except 'from our investors, I am retiring, nice to meet you, bye'?

    And why is the uber website so sodding unusable??? Or is that my fault for not being on a slabby thing? It doesn't fit on a screen, there's no scroll bars and the FAQ is shit too. (1) find web designer (2) apply boot, repeatedly.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Repeated Typo!

      I think the value is from all those types with money salivating at the thought of an "on demand" economy where the actual workers aren't employed, so you don't have to provide them with health care, holiday, rights, and so on, and they're eternally grateful for the apps that direct them to whatever scraps they can pick up from day to day. Scraps, naturally, on which you take a hefty commission.

      Uber is aiming to become the 21st century version of a foreman at the docks, deciding which of the many people queuing up each day are going to get work

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Repeated Typo!

        "I think the value is from all those types with money"

        Interest rates are very low indeed and the Stock Market is jittery due to (a) China (b) Saudi Arabia and (c) Russia, with a big helping of HFT.

        So investors are looking for things which promise high rates of return if enough air can be pumped into the bubble. Most of the Internet companies are bubble companies. The big guys covertly buy promotion for them, the shares go up, they get out before the inevitable crash, money transferred to their pockets, done.

        There is one really big not quite a bubble company whose business model will last until its competitors finally get their act together on service, which could be several years yet, and during this time the snake oil merchants keep pointing to the other bubble companies and saying "this will be the next bowl of fruit". And people with money who are upset that it is only returning 1% or so believe them.

        I have a relative, an extremely nice man, who has never quite got the idea that if someone offers you an investment which is guaranteed to return over 5% the correct response is to contact the Fraud Squad. There are many like him, and while that continues there will always be an Ueber. And a Peeple.

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Repeated Typo!

        "where the actual workers aren't employed"

        Irrelevent. If Uber wants to operate as a dispatch service renting out its dispatch service to self-employed drivers, "renting a radio" in the old parlance, go ahead. If Uber wants to operate as a taxi fleet, employing drivers, go ahead. It could even do both. There's nothing stopping it, and there's nothing missing from current legislation to permit or control it.

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: Repeated Typo!

          I think it's extremely relevant, because it goes to the heart of the sort of society we want to have.

          Personally, I think that a world where people have some job security, and some basic idea of what they'll be earning, the right to be ill without suffering massive financial penalties, the right to paid holiday and health care. All those are, to me, fundemental to a decent society where as many people as possible can have a good life.

          The increasing casualisation of labour that things like Uber, Fiverr and so on are bringing about is not something that helps build a stable society for all. The very rich love the idea of being able to hire and fire at will, and treating people as assets. But if you're one of those assets, and you actually want a stable environment in which to bring up a family, it's not so much fun.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Repeated Typo!

            Indeed.

            I can't help wondering what the country might look like if companies had equal responsibilities to their employees as they do to their shareholders; that is, there was an implicit assumption that the company existed to benefit its employers as much as for the bottom line, that continuing employment was both something to be expected and appreciated.

            1. Fraggle850

              Re: Repeated Typo!

              There's a way to fix that: make the workers shareholders. I've often thought that this would make good sense, it could lead to greater productivity and improve the flow of information from the shop floor up to the management.

              1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                Re: Repeated Typo!

                AKA the John Lewis model?

                1. Fraggle850

                  Re: Repeated Typo!

                  Yes, there are companies out there who do operate along these lines. Waitrose, I think? M&S?

                2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

                  Re: Repeated Typo!

                  @Neil Barns @Fraggle A variant of this is the German model, where a representative of the workforce has a seat on the board. This strikes me as less problematic than the "workers as shareholders" concept (and I worked for The Partnership, aka JLP aka John Lewis), because it shouldn't matter whether you have one or a million shareholders and whether they are engaged or not (with the business, as employees are, as some pension funds are, and as investment orgs are usually not)).

                  Of course, the issue then becomes one of defining the workforce, but that again seems fairly simple to address: for every hour they work, they get one vote in issues involving the representative. Full time staff would end up with about 175 votes per month, part timers less. And it doesn't matter if they are salaried (as full or part time) or "outside contractors": 1 hour, 1 vote.

          2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Repeated Typo!

            You want to make self-employment illegal?

            1. Alistair Dabbs

              Re: Repeated Typo!

              You want to make self-employment illegal?

              I've been self-employed for 26 years and can assure you that there is no such thing as self-employment: it's multiple-employment.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Self Employment [was Re: Repeated Typo!]

                I've been self-employed for 26 years and can assure you that there is no such thing as self-employment: it's multiple-employment.

                Indeed, the "customers" you work for are just employers. I hear people talk about being self-employed, and to date, the only way I can think of to be self-employed is to live in complete isolation from society, spending entire days tending to crops and hunting for food.

                1. Nigel Whitfield.

                  Re: Self Employment [was Repeated Typo!]

                  When it comes to Uber and similar services, the issue isn't just self employment - as others have said, many of us have done that for years. But in a lot of cases, it's been the case that people are self employed within specific fields (like journalism, say, or being an electrician) which may have qualifications, skillsets or a need for equipment which serves as a barrier to entry. So, while self employment in that sense can be hard work, it can also be quite rewarding too, both financially and in other ways.

                  However Uber, Fiverr, People Per Hour and so on are not just about self employment, but casualisation, and sometimes the atomisation of work into ever smaller units. Much as politicians always say "I met someone who was overjoyed to have a zero hours contract, because it fit with their lifestyle," there will be some for whom this model does indeed work, and who will be held up as the poster boys. But there will be a great many for whom it represents nothing more than a decline in wages, standards of living, and security.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Repeated Typo!

            "I think it's extremely relevant, because it goes to the heart of the sort of society we want to have."

            A mature economy or society, much like a mature ecological community should surely have many different niches so there should be room for settled employment, freelancing and casual employment. Each has its advantages (to both engagers and workers) in the appropriate situation. What we need, as a society, is to ensure that all those niches are recognised, understood and kept in balance.

      3. Rol Silver badge

        Re: Repeated Typo!

        If I booked a taxi via Uber, who exactly am I making a contract with?

        I'm sure Uber's response would be the driver, but as far as I'm concerned, I am dealing with Uber and relying on their expertise and judgement to send me a responsible and upright citizen.

        No matter how Uber call it, I would be dealing in good faith with Uber and that implies the buck would stop with them if anything went wrong.

        I can see that $60 Bn wavering a bit, when that starts hitting home.

    2. Your alien overlord - fear me

      Re: Repeated Typo!

      Er, because 95% of the fee goes to them and since they are offshore they pay no tax. Small amounts soon add up, that's what Apple does on it's store.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Repeated Typo!

        You are correct but that would be "tax dodge", not "business model". Even if that's all it is.

  12. heyrick Silver badge

    "He then proceeds to destroy your existing systems, persuade your boss to make a swathe of redundancies and then buggers off with his loot before the new systems have been built, leaving you to sweep up the rubble."

    Sounds like every damn scummy Management Consultant that I've ever had the misfortune to know.

    This is nothing new. Management Consultants know dick about business and dick about people, they're just extremely good at lying about how much better things would be with mumble buzzword mumble.

    This? This is just a Management Consultant who has figured out that you don't need a mouse with a touchscreen...

  13. John G Imrie Silver badge

    No regulations

    I have no problem with an unregulated business on one condition. If anything goes wrong I have the right to nail the CEO of the business to the foot of Brighton pier at low tide and leave them there for 24 hours.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: No regulations

      Quite so; a proper implementation of "market forces". It might help concentrate a few minds.

    2. Adair

      Time was...

      when Lloyds Names could bet the entire family fortune, their house, land, etc. on not having to pay out as shipments set out upon uncertain seas. And if they lost they could actually lose the lot, including the shirt off their back, if that's what it took to pay what they owed.

      But we live in softer more enlightened times, where the consequences of greed and foolishness are not allowed to properly touch those who have the means to be greedy and foolish on a grand scale.

      A pity really, no doubt those using food banks and sleeping in doorways would appreciate the sight of shirtless bankers and other monumental rogues who think that 'consequences', like taxes, are only for the 'little people'.

  14. Tom Womack

    'The nice old man’s family now want to sue you for compensation but you are uninsured. You had looked into the cost of insurance but it would have pushed up your costs, so didn’t bother. Instead, you simply declare personal bankruptcy and avoid paying the family a penny.'

    Wouldn't declaring personal bankruptcy mean you paid the nice old man's family *all your money*, rather than 'not a penny'? You're declaring bankruptcy because you can't pay your creditor, namely the nice old man's family, and so the liquidator gets to give all your money to the creditor.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      "Wouldn't declaring personal bankruptcy mean you paid the nice old man's family *all your money*, rather than 'not a penny'? "

      Not when you've had the foresight to put your house, car and money in your wife's name well in advance.

  15. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "All it does is offer the equivalent of phoning around for the nearest available and affordable minicab"

    Exactly. It's Just Another remote booking service, exactly the same as all other remote booking private hire services that have been around since 1976 outside London, 1998 inside London.

  16. Commswonk Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Another Worry

    Anonymous Coward wrote: "Or is that my fault for not being on a slabby thing?"

    This is point of concern to me; I do not have a "slabby thing" either - I do not have a need for one and I do not wish to incur the expense of having and using one. At the same time the world seems to be sliding inexorably towards a position where anything approaching a "normal* life" cannot be lived without one. If Uber (or the Uber model) takes over then trying to source a taxi or minicab by telephone will become increasingly hard or impossible.

    Why should anyone, particularly the elderly or those for whom there are other priorities than fondleslabs, have to face up to the possibility that without one life is becoming just too difficult?

    *I know that "normal life" is a very subjective experience and therefore opinions about what "normality" is will vary, but my version of normality does not require having a 'phone of any description clamped to my ear all day or fondling it with a thumb between pointless 'phone calls.

  17. Naughtyhorse

    I don't wish to alarm you dabbsy, but I just had that worstal round here asking if he could rent my chainsaw for the day.....

    1. Fraggle850

      Dabbsy v Worstall with chainsaws

      Nice image! Presumably Lewis Page v a bunch of hippies and Andrew Orlowski against the freetards as supporting bouts to get us all warmed up for the big fight?

  18. raving angry loony

    Not sharing

    Nice try, but Uber et. al. are most certainly NOT examples of a "sharing economy". A sharing economy is distributed, and NOT under central control. Uber most certainly IS under central control, with the corporation controlling everything from rates charged to who can use it and when.

    They are the anti-thesis of the "sharing economy". They took a black market model, slapped a sticker marked "sharing economy" on it, and journalists by the dozen who don't have a fucking clue what a REAL sharing economy looks like have fallen for it, and keep pushing it as if they knew what they were talking about. Which they most evidently do NOT.

    To (miss)use IT terms: sharing economy is pure peer-to-peer. The Uber model is completely centrally switched.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Not sharing

      Exactly this. Upvoted.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Not sharing

      "They took a black market model, slapped a sticker marked "sharing economy" on it, and journalists by the dozen who don't have a fucking clue what a REAL sharing economy looks like have fallen for it, and keep pushing it as if they knew what they were talking about. Which they most evidently do NOT."

      Exactly. For the win.

      Far too much money is trying desperately to take us all back to the 19th century.

  19. Chris Evans

    King Cnut reference misleading.

    The King Cnut reference reinforces the now common belief that King Canute was an ego maniac who believed he could control the tides. Whereas the opposite was true: "Canute demonstrates to his flattering courtiers that he has no control over the elements (the incoming tide), explaining that secular power is vain compared to the supreme power of God." (Wikipedia)

    n.b. I was in my fifties before I was disabused of the common incorrect belief.

    1. Fraggle850

      Re: King Cnut reference misleading.

      Good call! I'd forgotten that. The same could be said of Luddites too, used as a lazy shorthand for people who are anti-technology, whereas they were really an early example of direct action for workers rights. It might be more appropriate to apply the term to people who oppose, for example, off-shoring jobs rather than those who resist technology because it makes them uncomfortable.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: King Cnut reference misleading.

        "The same could be said of Luddites too"

        I think it was a fairly complicated situation. It was a movement which took place in different parts of the country so that the nature of the industries varied. What was happening was that various industries were moving from a domestic to a factory system, a move facilitated and, indeed, required by new technology (the new machines were often driven by non-human power sources, initially water wheels, which required them to be aggregated around the power sources).

        The owners of the new factories were, in many cases, some of the more successful domestic operators. Clearly not everyone who operated a domestic business could set up a factory - there'd have been neither the work-force nor the markets available. The end result was undoubtedly increased employment in those industries that lasted for many generations.

        The protests came from those who objected to becoming factory employees and were being put out of business by the more efficient machines in the factories but who didn't make the alternative transition to becoming factory owners themselves. At least that's what I make out of the evidence I've looked at.

        1. Fraggle850

          @Doctor Syntax Re: King Cnut reference misleading.

          Thanks for the insightful analysis, most interesting.

          There's what I gather is a contemporary song about 'General Ludd' that compares him favourably to Robin Hood as 'the hero of Nottinghamshire'. It refers to the local textile trade and suggests a lessening of wages in the factories, going on to demand 'old fashioned work at the old fashioned price' (it's on the folk album English Rebel Songs by Chumbawumba - I've got odd taste in music!).

          Given the original discussion at hand I guess one should observe that the situations are very similar.

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: King Cnut reference misleading.

      The Vikings, the Danes where one of the first to bring culture and democracy to the islands including hundreds of words into the evolving and last Germanic language. "Law" comes to my mind. Then there was the French with more culture and some 10.000 words into the language. And still there are Brits who have difficulties understanding who they are, looking at the rest of the world with a perplexed face - who are you, and where did you come from, and what about your funny language. Adam was a Brit, wasn't he, we invented the world, just ask Jeremy.

      Just teasing, pulling your leg, having fun and an icon. But seriously Brits, I think it's time for you to understand you are Europeans, no more and no less, and very accepted as that.

      1. Fraggle850

        Re: King Cnut reference misleading.

        Aren't you forgetting the Romans? And I gather that those 'French' invaders were actually vikings who'd invaded Normandy and settled there before turning their envious eyes to our green and pleasant land. I'm fully aware of the mongrel nature of my country, ta very much and I love it for that. I'm also aware that we are part of Europe although that point is still up for debate where I come from. Having seen the way the Greek debt crisis has played out I for one am having second thoughts about the wisdom of staying in. Maybe 'call me Dave' will negotiate his way to a functional Europe within the next few months? Ho Ho Ho...

      2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: King Cnut reference misleading.

        @Lars, that's fine as far as it goes, and I think the majority of Brits do consider themselves "european", in the "Anglo-European" sense. The issue is whether Anglo-Europeans want to have anything to do with the Franco-Europeans, or the Germano-Europeans, or the Scandinavian-Europeans, or ineed the South-of-Dover-Europeans in general.

  20. Lars Silver badge

    Uber is a scum

    Uber takes the money but no responsibility for their drivers or their customers.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Uber is a scum

      So, if I'm a sole trader private hire company, the Telephone Company should take responsibility for me and my fares, because my fares use the Telephone Company to book me?

      If Uber operates as a fleet, then yes, it is a driver employer, and has a responsibility for its drivers and customers. But if Uber operates as a "radio rental" dispatch service, then it does not employ the drivers, the drivers have responibility for themselves and their customers. But a crucial addition, if it is operating as a dispatcher, the customer pays the *DRIVER*, and the driver pays the dispatcher.

      It is entirely possible for Uber to both operate a fleet and also operate as a radio rental dispatcher, but neither of those means that it is allowed to avoid complying with the law. However, if I was "renting a radio" from them I'd be suspicious that they would be passing customers to their fleet drivers in preference to their radio rental drivers. At least the technology aspect of this has the ability to safely remove this from human interference, as with the Strowger Exchange.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Uber is a scum

        "because my fares use the Telephone Company to book me?". Please don't be silly, it's like you accept that if I order a pizza using the "Telephone Company" then nor the "Telephone Company" (why) or the Pizzeria should have any responsibility. You logic is so screwed I cannot unscrew it. Where I live the Telephone Company has been used to get a taxi for more than one hundred years. Have a beer on me all the same.

      2. Salamamba
        Megaphone

        Re: Uber is a scum

        IfUber acts as a "radio rental service", theywould still only be able to rent radios to drivers with a Private Hire Drivers' Licence.

        All vehicles used by the drivers woud also have to have passed an inspection at a licensed garage every 6 months.. In London new applicants must get a Topographical Skill Certificate.

        This is not discriminating against Uber, it is Uber trying to ignore current regulations.

  21. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    But! Red! Tape!

    Must! Cut! Red! Tape!

    Or so goes the refrain from allegedly small business people across the land.

    Red! Tape! Stops profits! Red! Tape! Prevents us from hiring people! Red! Tape! Makes us move our factories to China!

    I like the Red Tape that keeps someone from starting a lead smelter in my residential neighbourhood.

    I like the Red Tape that limits the speed on local streets to 50kmh.

    I like the Red Tape that prevents manufacturers from dumping cyanide laced waste into local rivers.

    And I'll bet anything that these allegedly hard-done businesses also like the Red Tape that protects their market share, that keeps the CEO from being sued, and prevents their competitor from firebombing their warehouse.

    Yes, if it helps me it's "much needed regulation." If it cuts into my profits it's "Red Tape."

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: But! Red! Tape!

      Friends of mine own a restaurant. They were recently fined for allowing a member of staff to change a light bulb using a stepladder. Standing on the third or higher step is illegal. One must now install scaffolding instead of using a stepladder. Good luck putting up a scaffold without standing on the illegal third step of a stepladder! Gotta love that red tape...

      1. Barry Rueger Silver badge

        Re: But! Red! Tape!

        A) I call bullshit.

        B) buy a bigger ladder. Standing on the top step of a short ladder is stupid and dangerous.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: But! Red! Tape!

          The regulation states that you cannot stand on a step closer than 900 mm from the top of the ladder. The third step is 880 mm from the top of the ladder and is not the top step of a nominal 1.8 m ladder (actual height 1.67m in use). The next standard size ladder is marginally higher than the ceiling.

          I don't bullshit. In particular, I don't need to bullshit about the stupidity of some of Tasmania's laws and regulations.

  22. Uffish

    Anarchy

    In the nineteenth century legislation began to be put in place limiting the loading of ships to some safe value. This legislation was opposed by the free market forces at the time but was imposed after taking into account the human and financial losses from overloaded ships.

    Imposing load lines on ships was nothing new. Wikipedia says that Crete, in 2500 BC had such laws, as did the Romans, the Venetians, the Hanseatic League etc. In the industrial revolution it seems these ideas got left behind.

    Legislation which limits freedom can, in certain circumstances, be "a good thing" and free market forces can, in certain circumstances, be "a bad thing".

    I think Uber is "a bad thing" because too much in it's organisation invites a disregard for risk. Reshape the idea to limit the risk and it could become " a good thing".

    1. lucki bstard

      Re: Anarchy

      'Wikipedia says that Crete, in 2500 BC had such laws, as did the Romans, the Venetians, the Hanseatic League etc. In the industrial revolution it seems these ideas got left behind.' - Please just stop quoting Wikipedia as if it is the fount of all knowledge. Get off your ass, use your brain and learn how to find facts yourself.

      1. Uffish

        Re: stop quoting Wikipedia

        Please don't imagine that you know better than others how to find and use information. From your comment you don't.

  23. ZootCadillac
    WTF?

    reads, reads, loses focus, reads...

    So, something about suburban deforestation then?

  24. ppmm

    TFL protecting users?

    How does the 5 minute wait protect anyone except the incumbents (minicabs, Addison Lee etc as well as black cabs)?

    Similarly, I'm struggling to see what harm there is in me being able to see how many cars Uber (or any other outfit) has near to me.

    Alistair/anybody - are you able to help me understand?

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: TFL protecting users?

      The five minute wait period is, as far as I can see, an attempt to ensure that private hire vehicles (and that's surely the category into which Uber falls) all play by the same rules.

      Black cabs have certain privileges, like plying for trade on the streets, being able to use a taximeter to charge based on distance/time, and being able to drive in bus lanes.

      However, in return for that, they have obligations too, including wheelchair accessibility, and the Knowledge.

      I think some within TfL view the 'near instant' availablility (or promise of it) within apps like Uber as an end run around the rule about plying for trade on the streets, attempting to grab that market, without shouldering any of the responsibilities that have been associated with it.

      It would be interesting, indeed, if TfL were to also propose that the wait period would be waived for vehicles that were certified wheelchair accessible.

      It is odd that the concept of balancing rights and responsibilities, so beloved of right wing politicians when it comes to people doesn't seem anywhere near as important to them when it's companies involved.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dabbsy. U da man.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black Cab App?

    I've used Uber in Manchester in the UK, Colorado, California, and North Carolina in the USA and have been extremely impressed.

    The convenience of being able to see what the wait time is for where you are, being able to check that they're actually on their way (too many lying scumbag minicab operators), not having to explain your destination to the driver because it's already programmed into their sat nav, and not having to deal with payment and receipts because it's automated are all fantastic. And, to boot, Uber's half the price, but what I would call a fair price rather than extortion.

    What's stopping the London cabbies clubbing together and releasing an equivalent app? Though personally I hope the b**tards all go out of business and get replaced with efficient Uber-type minicab services. Late night taxi from Heathrow to a hotel 5 minutes drive away - £20. Oh, you want to pay by card? £40. Thieving twats.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Black Cab App?

      @AC... those are the advantages of good cab booking apps, of which Uber has one, but the only one. There are other models that use the same sort of app, but do not "employ" the drivers; for example, locally there's a thing called Flywheel that uses an assortment of regular cabs to provide the same virtues that you extend to Uber: predictable wait times, preloaded destination addresses, etc.

      Flywheel, IIRC, charges a fixed fee on top of the metered charge, but (critically) doesn't mess around with "surge pricing", which is where Uber rapes and pillages.

  27. John Savard Silver badge

    The First Time

    I was all prepared to make a scathing comment about how this column was a load of nonsense. But instead I find that, for the first time in my experience, someone got it right. Congratulations!

  28. tiggity Silver badge

    Uber is not "Sharing Economy" (there are various lift sharing sites that are proper sharing economy sites - where driver is just sharing a lift & makes no profit (the important part!) - passenger cost just covers petrol / wear & tear (& so possible on normal insurance) , these tend to be more suited for regular commute journeys)

    Uber should just be subject to same rules as other cab companies (so in UK, drivers & cars certified by local authority, have appropriate insurance)

    Not convinced by the 5 minute rule. A minicab company I sometimes use is a minutes walk from a train station so, if I phoned from the station, they would be (driver availability permitting) be there in far less than 5 minutes & an enforced wait pointless so I simply walk to the office, order a cab & then get in it (I assume no 5 minute rule if booking "in person") - however that walking approach not good for someone with mobility issues who would have to phone & needlessly wait.

  29. Magnus_Pym

    How would it go if ...

    ... App controlled mini cabs had to abide by the same legislation (insurance, knowledge, wheelchair access) as black cab drivers? Would that be acceptable?

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