back to article London Mayor backs talks with Uber after head honcho's apology

The Mayor of London has asked Transport for London to meet with Uber following the firm's totally heartfelt apology – issued after it collected 730,000 signatures protesting TfL's decision not to renew its licence. Sadiq Khan said: "I welcome the apology from Dara Khosrowshahi, the Uber CEO. Obviously I am pleased that he has …

  1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    FAIL

    Uber smarmspeak

    "We will appeal this decision on behalf of millions of Londoners pounds".

    FTFY

  2. Cosmo

    Politics at play

    A beautiful example of political theatre. It's interesting that this follows a similar pattern to when the London club Fabric got shut down. After a few meetings and an appeal, they were back up and running with some more stringent policies. I'm sure that the same will happen with Uber - Although probably with a few more brown envelopes passed under the table.

  3. Prosthetic Conscience
    Flame

    All those signatures..

    Will this be one of the last peaceful Government vs Corporations battles, ultimately using humans as ammunition?

    Been reading too much Richard Morgan perhaps.

    The inevitable Uber PR leanings though.. scary and all those mongs signing the petition.. Sure TfL could be more easily seen as the conventional bad guy but that's mainly due to Uber's campaign.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All those signatures..

      You don't have to take any notice of Uber's PR to form the opinion that TfL's decision to revoke their licence does warrant a great deal of (independent) scrutiny. A body making quasi-judicial decisions suddenly reverses the position it took under a Conservative Mayor, to amazingly align with the views of a new Labour Mayor - the same body whose Chair is that self-same Mayor, and whose Deputy Chair is another Labour politician appointed by the Mayor. It hardly gives the impression of independence and transparency of decision-making, does it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All those signatures..

        Who ever said that TFL was independent of the mayor's office?? I always believed that the two were closely linked.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: All those signatures..

          Who ever said that TFL was independent of the mayor's office?? I always believed that the two were closely linked.

          Well, quite. But in in licensing private hire vehicles, to use the Mayor's own words they're exercising a quasi-judicial function - so they have to behave independently. See the problem?

        2. paulf Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: All those signatures..

          @AC "Who ever said that TFL was independent of the mayor's office?? I always believed that the two were closely linked."

          Very closely linked as this page confirms from the TfL website detailing TfL Board members:

          "Sadiq Khan, Chair. Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London and has appointed himself as Chair of TfL."

          I seem to recall the previous Mayor, Boris Johnson, was also Chair of TfL so the position seems to go with the office of "Mayor of London".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All those signatures..

      Some people just like Uber's service and don't care about its behaviour, they have a genuine motive to sign that petition.

      But it did seem to get a very large number of signatories, and Tweeted exhortations to sign it, very quickly (no one I know spent their Friday night in London looking for petitions to sign).

      There were Tweets of the same form (but in different languages) from Monte Carlo to Bogota suggesting people might want to sign - a cynic would wonder quite what the incentive was for many of these people, some of whom were not self-employed media types, to support Uber's London operation so enthusiastically and so quickly.

      1. Mark 110

        Re: All those signatures..

        So I actually got a Facething update from sister saying sign the thing. Not what I was expecting.

        My sister is quite vociferous for womens rights (got chased out of her own company by the people that she sold it too when amongst other things they though a strip club was the appropriate end to a business dinner with their new employee). She is also very very anti sexual abuse type stuff (she got abused by a teacher when she was a kid - teacher recently went down for 6 years).

        So anyway, in response to her request to sign the petition I responded with the litany of news stories that have been on here regarding Ubers utter balls-fuck-cock-up of any kind of ethical, moral & social responsibility or respect for the law (I only went back to the end of May - I got bored), she replies "Well the drivers have always been fine with me"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        This is the level of fuck wits we are dealing with (sorry sis)!!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All those signatures..

      @prosthetic conscience

      Downvoted for your use of the word "mongs".

      Cheers… Ishy

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All those signatures..

        Downvoted for your use of the word "mongs".

        And in turn, I've voted Ishtiaq down for having a sadly thin skin. I grew up with all manner of words like that that are now officially non-PC and therefore totally unacceptable. I'm old enough and wise enough to know what people really mean, and be reasonably relaxed about terminology (including when I'm on the receiving end).

  4. JaitcH
    Meh

    Uber has Objectionable Practices But So Do . . .

    'black' (traditional) cabbies.

    They are simply trying emulate the fight they had when those 'mini-cabs' first burst upon the scene those many decades ago.

    There is little stopping 'black' (traditional) cabbies from setting up their own 'App' scheme as has been done in many other countries.

    1. goldcd

      Re: Uber has Objectionable Practices But So Do . . .

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/05/23/taxi_rage/

      Didn't end too well for Hailo when they started accepting minicabs (even though I'm pretty sure the user could select/pay for a black cab if they wanted).

      Surely better solution is for Uber to allow black-cabs to advertise as black-cabs.

      Can't find a fair - let Uber point you to one for a nominal fee.

      I have a sneaky suspicion that that's not what cabs want though. Using app is easier that hailing - and nothing's going to change that, apart from getting rid of apps.

      1. telecine

        Re: Uber has Objectionable Practices But So Do . . .

        they already have black cabs..... or maybe they stopped...

        we definitely used uber to hire one a while back

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Uber has Objectionable Practices But So Do . . .

      Uber has exposed an anachronism in taxi-licensing in the UK. The solution is to close the loophole and remove the synthetic distinction between Hackney carriages and other vehicles, and work on ways of avoiding exploitation of drivers (and fares) and relegate Uber to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apologies are meaningless - are they going to develop a set of ethical behaviours overnight? Are they going to pay tax properly? Are they going to admit they have employees? Will they treat those employees like they have value?

    No of course not, they are a Sillycon Valley 'Disruptor', that would be tantamount to admitting that anyone outside of SIlycon Valley deserves respect and not be exploited sheep.

    Fuck them!

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Will TfL instead allow Black Cabs to compete in a free market? Nope

      Until then Black Cabs are for rich people.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Until then Black Cabs are for rich people.Who do you mean? The drivers certainly aren't rich. You can end restrictive practices without reintroducing casual labour.

      2. JimC Silver badge

        ...for rich people.

        Personally I am quite happy with the concept that I can't afford to take cabs very often because cab drivers make a decent living. I'm not comfortable with billionaires in silicon valley turning every group of employees into sub minimum wage temps, because I might be next.

        1. JC_

          Re: ...for rich people.

          Personally I am quite happy with the concept that I can't afford to take cabs very often

          You can't afford to take them very often, yet you subsidise them: black cabs are allowed to use bus lanes and exclusive parking zones, which imposes a small cost on every other road user with no collective benefit.

          Black cabs are not efficient - they frequently drive with no passenger in search of a fare - and are foul polluters. A form of transport that is dirty, privileged and unaffordable for most Londoners isn't worth defending.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: ...for rich people.

            When I was a Londoner, I was not by any stretch of the imagination "rich" - yet I could afford to take a black cab occasionally.

            Of course, it only needed to be occasional, because at least 363 days a year the tube was more than adequate for my needs.

            I've never used Uber, and can't imagine myself doing so. On those (very, very rare) occasions when I need someone else to drive me somewhere, I'm still content to take a licensed and labelled taxi. And no, I still don't think I'm rich.

  6. depicus
    Childcatcher

    "London Mayor backs talks with Uber after fearing loosing votes in the next election...."

    There fixed for you ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would add “London mayor no longer has to visit food bank to make ends meet after being hired as a non executive director of Uber” - Sometime soon once this has blown over a little.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      downvoted for "loosing"

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Loose words loose downvotes on loser - no lose

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "London Mayor backs talks with Uber after fearing loosing votes in the next election...." *

      * Only if Uber organises the Ballot.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      He's not due for re-election for a while…

      In many ways the solves problems because it will pre-empt lots of individual court cases. It might also give TfL time to update their rules to create a level playing field. Not holding my breath on that one.

  7. PNGuinn
    Mushroom

    To uber - B0*%0C)S!

    That is all, for you at least.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not a fan of Uber in the slightest but how can they complain about medical and DBS checks when the responsibility falls with Tfl who licence the drivers?

    https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/taxis-and-private-hire/licensing/apply-for-a-taxi-driver-licence#on-this-page-2

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Perhaps the complaint is that Uber aren't too fussed about the drivers and only ask them to self-certify that they've got a private hire licence ?

      Wasn't one of the longstanding complaints that while PH drivers need a PH licence and appropriate insurance, many hadn't bothered and Uber didn't appear to care ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not sure, that's why I'm raising it. I just see how the BBC is pushing Uber and was curious if their remarks were true.

  9. J J Carter Silver badge
    Boffin

    Money talks

    He know Uber has more moola to pass out than the GMB!

  10. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    the use of Greyball in London

    In the BBC report, they stated that Uver claimed to have never used Greyball in London. Even if that is so, the fact the created (or obtained) Greyball and DID use it in other parts of the world still says a lot about the company, it's morals and it's culture, which still has a bearing on the "fit and proper" argument.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the use of Greyball in London

      You're having a laugh. Where I live (Posting as AC behind proxies because it isn't worth doing otherwise) corruption is absolutely endemic. You advertise you're taking paying passengers somewhere and you'll be pulled over and "fined" for something by the police, every single journey. That's after the extra "costs" to get all the bureaucracy in order to get a taxi licence.

      Greyball would be absolutely essential here just to be able to make enough to survive. Probably isn't needed in London at all. You Westerners are wrapped in your cotton wool, working system of government and not having to worry about being shaken down all the time. Talk about a lack of understanding of culture.

      As for safety, I'm really not exaggerating when I say Ubers are thousands of times safer than any other form of public transport here. Tracked, modern cars with navigation, no need to carry cash, and publically rated drivers which weeds out those that cannot drive properly. We live in different worlds when it comes to expectations, clearly.

      Uber works, I've seen people break out of absolute poverty - banks are willing to give car loans if you have an Uber account with a decent rating and a driving licence, and you can earn enough to put food on the table, petrol in the car and send the kids to school - all those things you take for granted. But I'm sure you'd be pleased for all of it to collapse just to punish some badly behaved exec somewhere in America. Kindly leave us out of it, it's making a revolutionary difference here.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: the use of Greyball in London

        Uber works, I've seen people break out of absolute poverty

        … and slip back into it as more drivers mean lower incomes.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're having a meeting?

    I hope someone has nipped out to get some manilla envelopes.

    What else is there to discuss? If Tfl wanted them to make changes then it would have already told Uber to clean up its act by way of a warning.

    The whole affair stinks about half as much as Uber.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "What else is there to discuss? If Tfl wanted them to make changes then it would have already told Uber to clean up its act by way of a warning."

      They have. Multiple times. Reported by El Reg. There's a search function at the top of the page.

  12. Fred Dibnah

    Good analysis here

    https://www.londonreconnections.com/2017/understanding-uber-not-app/

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Re: Good analysis here

      Have an upvote for the link and a down vote for your handle which I think is in poor taste.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Good analysis here

      Excellent link, so thank-you for the education... and it looks an excellent magazine too. So your link has meant one more subscription for them! Upvote incoming.

      (Note to Register editor: people will pay for great ad free content. Ads are not the only way...)

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Good analysis here

      https://www.londonreconnections.com/2017/understanding-uber-not-app/

      An excellent and wideranging report on how Uber operates. It seems pretty balanced and objective too. It ought to be required reading for anyone commenting on any Uber story.

      I think some of the most salient points raised there include the separation of the Uber companies, where the money goes, the fact Hailo and it's app was around at the same time because other minicab firms were already using apps, ie before Uber, and the outrageously unfair competition by operating at a loss of about 50% per journey to kill the competition. Having a "loss-leader" as part of your product line to get customers is one thing, but selling your entire product range at a 50% loss is surely unfair competition.

      Uber seem to have done an Apple in terms of generating the impression they invented taxi apps when the reality is they spent $billions on publicity.

  13. RonWheeler

    Apologies

    ...due from Khan for putting the pockets of his union backers above those of the public?

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Re: Apologies

      Seems to be more complicated than that. See above link and comments.

  14. The Nazz Silver badge

    One thing for TfL to check ...

    The Licence is currently held by Uber London Ltd.

    Presumably therefore, all the revenue raised belongs to Uber London Ltd and is subject to UK Tax, both Corporation and VAT?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One thing for TfL to check ...

      Presumably therefore, all the revenue raised belongs to Uber London Ltd and is subject to UK Tax, both Corporation and VAT?

      You can be sure due to some very 'clever' cross-licensing deals put in place by some very 'clever' lawyers and accountants, that Uber London is running at a £1 loss per year.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: One thing for TfL to check ...

      "Presumably therefore, all the revenue raised belongs to Uber London Ltd and is subject to UK Tax, both Corporation and VAT?"

      From the link above, the users use an app from Dutch UBV, pay their taxi fee to Dutch UBV and Dutch UBV then contract and pay for the ride provided by London based ULL. Profits, if any, will only ever end up in the Netherlands, possibly via an Irish subsidiary one day.

  15. The Nazz Silver badge

    Good news, hopefully there are now 730,000 fewer

    whingers moaning over zero-hours contracts and other ramifications of the "gig" economy.

  16. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    Instantly reminded of:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFvujknrBuE

  17. hatti

    IMHO

    Thick brown envelope delivery for a Mr. Khan?

  18. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    How British...

    Threats of Legal Action, pushing petitions, throwing out PR complaints by the bucket full. Result: No movement from TFL. Licence still revoked.

    Apology and a promise that we'll look at changing. Result: TFL says ok lets sit down and talk about what needs to change to get you back your licence.

    For the first time in a long time, I feel heartened that British values are not being overridden by yanky bullshit. Apologies and negotiation winning out over threats, PR and legal bollocks. Who woulda thunk it?

  19. aaaashy

    ffs!!!

    uber are the unacceptable face of app-led capitalism and should have been slapped down YEARS ago

    now this possible turnabout

    ffs!! ... as i was saying

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