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Uber Geek
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Topic # 204246 23-Sep-2016 10:03
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While I know there are clearly many fans (and users) of Uber on Geekzone, the more I read of this organisation the more I'm concerned that they're a dodgy operation that I'd rather not have here in NZ. Even the stuff I've read about how they operate in NZ has been enough to ensure I'll not use their service.

 

Things like the significant cut in the per km rates paid to drivers has been well-publicised, as has the thumbing the nose at the law in regards to licencing requirements etc; now there's a clear problem with the firm's policy regarding cutting off "non-performing" drivers, the lack of openness as to how this is conducted, and what appears to be a failure of natural justice.

 

If you've not come across these, there are some interesting posts on Public Address by an Uber driver; this is the same guy who has talked quite a bit in the media about these issues. Latest post here covers this most recent issue: http://publicaddress.net/speaker/confessions-of-an-uber-driver-iii-how-do/

 

What a bunch of arrogant @#$@#$s with no concern for their workers. This is one 'disrupter' company I'd be quite happy to live without.

 

Rant over!

 

 


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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1639245 23-Sep-2016 10:10
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You'll probably love the sort of research Uber does too ;-)

 

 

 

Apparently they monitor you battery levels and have worked out that people are more likely to pay significantly higher surge pricing if their batteries are low and they're afraid their phones will go dead soon.

 

They've also found that people are more likely to pay surge pricing when it's 1.9x or 2.1x than exactly 2x - the theory being that if it's a round price people tend to think uber is just jacking up pricing to rip them off, while if it's a non-round number then it looks like there's some sort of complex algorithm at work that's more "fair"

 

 

 

I must admit I haven't read a lot of the anti-uber stuff, but yeah I guess some of their stuff may be a bit dodgy, though I also think people are perhaps scared by how much data they obviously collect and the fact they don't seem afraid to use it.


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  Reply # 1639256 23-Sep-2016 10:23
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Be aware also that potentially there are some large interests that would like to see Uber fail (Taxi companies for one). The conspiracy theorist in me says that it wouldn't be above these interests to push out anything that could make Uber look bad.

 

Not saying at all that those blog posts are plants or anything, or that Uber is perfect, but they are a technology company, making full use of the technology available to them. So long as they obey laws (employment, tax, licensing) then good luck to them. If you are looking to become a driver for Uber, I'd hope you'd do your research and talk to as many drivers as possible about their experiences. The ones I've talked to seem to quite enjoy it and are happy with it (though, to be fair, when I use an Uber, I've usually been drinking).


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  Reply # 1639273 23-Sep-2016 10:45
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jonathan18:

 

While I know there are clearly many fans (and users) of Uber on Geekzone, the more I read of this organisation the more I'm concerned that they're a dodgy operation that I'd rather not have here in NZ. Even the stuff I've read about how they operate in NZ has been enough to ensure I'll not use their service.

 

Things like the significant cut in the per km rates paid to drivers has been well-publicised, as has the thumbing the nose at the law in regards to licencing requirements etc; now there's a clear problem with the firm's policy regarding cutting off "non-performing" drivers, the lack of openness as to how this is conducted, and what appears to be a failure of natural justice.

 

If you've not come across these, there are some interesting posts on Public Address by an Uber driver; this is the same guy who has talked quite a bit in the media about these issues. Latest post here covers this most recent issue: http://publicaddress.net/speaker/confessions-of-an-uber-driver-iii-how-do/

 

What a bunch of arrogant @#$@#$s with no concern for their workers. This is one 'disrupter' company I'd be quite happy to live without.

 

Rant over!

 

 

Their plan is to operate robot cars soon anyway....so there won't be any Uber drivers. This government is all on board. 
 





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  Reply # 1639277 23-Sep-2016 10:52
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If Uber are breaking the law - and they plainly are in the area of driver registration - then they should be prosecuted

 

If they are applying the laws of supply and demand and a free market to disrupt their competition and make a profit - then good for them.  You don't get to be successful in a crowded market by copying the incumbents


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  Reply # 1639291 23-Sep-2016 11:09
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Uber has never been an ethical company. Period. Why do I support them? Because they offer me a product and service better than others do.

 

jonathan18:

 

Things like the significant cut in the per km rates paid to drivers has been well-publicised,

 

 

This is one thing that really seems to be without cold hard facts. Uber's data modeling is world class. Their goal is to ensure that drivers are fully utilised and don't spend their time sitting on a taxi rank like a taxi does and only having a trip once an hour. Being able to seamlessly go from job to job is their ultimate aim. Their data shows that by cutting prices you drive demand so this can happen.

 

Why would Uber want to force down drivers income? As they merely take a % cut it would also force down their revenue also.

 

A couple of people I know driving for Uber (and yes it's only a couple of drivers out of the thousands) are doing pretty well out of it and are extremely happy. They've seen revenue steadily increase in recent months.

 

 


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  Reply # 1639292 23-Sep-2016 11:10
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I tend to think that the taxi licensing law may nowadays be a bit of overkill, so it's not necessarily a bad thing to subvert/evade it. If people knows that Uber drivers don't hold taxi licenses, and people *still* choose to hire Uber rather than a taxi, what does that tell you about how much the general populace values taxi licenses?

 

It might have been really important to vet taxi drivers back in the day when a person in a car was essentially cut off from the outside world and at the mercy of the driver, but in this day and age you can call and send video from almost anywhere, so a taxi driver is no longer has the power that he once had.

 

Obviously people who have invested in becoming taxi drivers in return for an expected ROI will fight tooth and nail to keep their monopoly. It's not unlike RIAA fighting the distribution of music and video over the Internet. Whilst everyone will try to grab the moral high ground and tell us that they're fighting to protect the public, there's an undeniable level of self-interest.

 

Of much more concern to me is the abuse of power by Uber itself... *that* is what needs to be regulated and controlled.

 

 




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  Reply # 1639294 23-Sep-2016 11:18
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shk292:

 

If Uber are breaking the law - and they plainly are in the area of driver registration - then they should be prosecuted

 

If they are applying the laws of supply and demand and a free market to disrupt their competition and make a profit - then good for them.  You don't get to be successful in a crowded market by copying the incumbents

 

 

Simply because certain behaviour or actions may be legal, this in and of itself doesn't make that behaviour or actions moral or ethical. Sure, that's going to be viewed differently from person to person, but from my perspective I'm not comfortable offering any support to an organisation that treat their workers in such a way as Uber has displayed.

 

I know the company sees their future in driverless cars; clearly drivers are simply a current necessity until that plan is realised. Workers shouldn't be treated as just another component in the mix of making Uber function. Their workers are people; they have families; they have rent or mortgages to pay.

 

I struggle to understand how so many people are apparently comfortable holding such a laissez-faire position that excludes human decency and the rights of workers from the equation. Then again, we're only a year off the seemingly inevitability of National being elected for a fourth term, and still public discussion is still more focused on matters like brangelinaexit than the big stuff.

 

It's great to see a company innovate, and I'd agree it's probably time the taxi industry was shaken up, but not if that comes at the cost of the shiny, corporate, dehumanised model that is Uber.


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  Reply # 1639299 23-Sep-2016 11:26
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jonathan18:

 

 

 

Simply because certain behaviour or actions may be legal, this in and of itself doesn't make that behaviour or actions moral or ethical. Sure, that's going to be viewed differently from person to person, but from my perspective I'm not comfortable offering any support to an organisation that treat their workers in such a way as Uber has displayed.

 

 

Absolutely - nobody is making you support Uber, and nobody is making anybody become or remain an Uber driver.  It's a free market, for both the consumer and the worker.  Other systems have been tried without success

 

jonathan18:

 

I struggle to understand how so many people are apparently comfortable holding such a laissez-faire position that excludes human decency and the rights of workers from the equation. Then again, we're only a year off the seemingly inevitability of National being elected for a fourth term, and still public discussion is still more focused on matters like brangelinaexit than the big stuff.

 

It's because most people (arguably) think that NZ has good laws to protect workers' rights and that if these are followed, then that is enough.  That is why Union membership is steadily declining.  It's also why having an ex trade union apparatchik as your party leader isn't a great way to win an election

 

jonathan18:

 

It's great to see a company innovate, and I'd agree it's probably time the taxi industry was shaken up, but not if that comes at the cost of the shiny, corporate, dehumanised model that is Uber.

 

 

Funny, but I see the likes of Corporate Cabs etc as the "shiny corporate" and Uber as the new innovator

 

 


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  Reply # 1639301 23-Sep-2016 11:28
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The thing is, talking about things like human decency is all very well, but things can be more complex than they initially appear.

 

 

 

I know recently Uber was in the news because the NY/NJ bombings triggered surge pricing (IIRC?) and people started jumping up and down about Uber profiting off tragedy. On the other hand, in a situation like that there's perhaps another side to the story - surge pricing may also mean that more drivers get out there and start doing runs. It's nice to think that all the drivers will just drive for free during some sort of emergency, but at the end of the day, in a situation like that demand is up and trying to artificially cap prices or whatever could potentially make the situation worse...  


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  Reply # 1639343 23-Sep-2016 12:11
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sbiddle:

 

This is one thing that really seems to be without cold hard facts. Uber's data modeling is world class. Their goal is to ensure that drivers are fully utilised and don't spend their time sitting on a taxi rank like a taxi does and only having a trip once an hour. Being able to seamlessly go from job to job is their ultimate aim. Their data shows that by cutting prices you drive demand so this can happen.

 

Why would Uber want to force down drivers income? As they merely take a % cut it would also force down their revenue also.

 

 

Uber doesn't pay the expenses, and does virtually no "work" for each fare. So they're perfectly happy to reduce their (and their driver's) income per fare by (say) 20% if that increases demand and consequently increases their total income by even 1%. But the driver does pay the expenses, so *his* income (i.e. his profit after expenses) reduces not by 20% but by maybe 50%. He has to drive twice as much to make the same income. But he doesn't get twice the amount of work... he only gets 21% more work.

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1639403 23-Sep-2016 13:48
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frankv:

 

sbiddle:

 

This is one thing that really seems to be without cold hard facts. Uber's data modeling is world class. Their goal is to ensure that drivers are fully utilised and don't spend their time sitting on a taxi rank like a taxi does and only having a trip once an hour. Being able to seamlessly go from job to job is their ultimate aim. Their data shows that by cutting prices you drive demand so this can happen.

 

Why would Uber want to force down drivers income? As they merely take a % cut it would also force down their revenue also.

 

 

Uber doesn't pay the expenses, and does virtually no "work" for each fare. So they're perfectly happy to reduce their (and their driver's) income per fare by (say) 20% if that increases demand and consequently increases their total income by even 1%. But the driver does pay the expenses, so *his* income (i.e. his profit after expenses) reduces not by 20% but by maybe 50%. He has to drive twice as much to make the same income. But he doesn't get twice the amount of work... he only gets 21% more work.

 



I guess when the pay goes too low, Uber won't have any drivers.....





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  Reply # 1639520 23-Sep-2016 16:30
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Linuxluver:
I guess when the pay goes too low, Uber won't have any drivers.....

 

 

I think the average could go to zero and they would still have people waitlisted to join as drivers. Human nature will get them drivers no matter what. Reports of drivers being unhappy about payout have been around since Uber started. This might dissuade some from joining but it won't stop everyone. 


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  Reply # 1639532 23-Sep-2016 16:54
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Elpie:

 

Linuxluver:
I guess when the pay goes too low, Uber won't have any drivers.....

 

 

I think the average could go to zero and they would still have people waitlisted to join as drivers. Human nature will get them drivers no matter what. Reports of drivers being unhappy about payout have been around since Uber started. This might dissuade some from joining but it won't stop everyone. 

 

 

I know an EV driver who's reasonably happy. He has zero fuel costs...and servicing his Nissan LEAF costs close to zero as there's nothing to service but tires and wear and tear on rolling parts....eventually. ECO Mode means you don't even really use the brakes, most of the time. 

 

He'll be keeping more of that Uber cash in his pocket than anyone driving a petrol car or hybrid. 





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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1641184 27-Sep-2016 11:33
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Elpie:

 

Linuxluver:
I guess when the pay goes too low, Uber won't have any drivers.....

 

 

I think the average could go to zero and they would still have people waitlisted to join as drivers. Human nature will get them drivers no matter what. Reports of drivers being unhappy about payout have been around since Uber started. This might dissuade some from joining but it won't stop everyone. 

 

 

I'm inclined to agree with you there Elpie. Some will do it just to say they're a Uber driver, as you said it's just human nature. 


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  Reply # 1641200 27-Sep-2016 11:58
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Elpie:

 

Linuxluver:
I guess when the pay goes too low, Uber won't have any drivers.....

 

 

I think the average could go to zero and they would still have people waitlisted to join as drivers. Human nature will get them drivers no matter what. Reports of drivers being unhappy about payout have been around since Uber started. This might dissuade some from joining but it won't stop everyone. 

 

 

The law of supply and demand will apply - if the supply of drivers falls below the demand, then the price will have to rise until supply and demand are rebalanced.  There's no need to try to manipulate this via regulation or moral outrage


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