Uber hits back against protests with campaign to ‘keep London moving’
Cab-hailing app Uber has launched a campaign to exploit the travel chaos likely to be caused by angered black-cab drivers, who claim the service threatens their livelihoods.
The mobile app, which lets commuters book rides in private hire cars as well calculate the fare by distance and time, has partnered with the Metro to spearhead its fight back. Its print ad describes the service as “practical” and “start of the art”, offering “affordable prices”.
It goes on to read: “We’re the car service that’s keeping London moving, proving that choice is a beautiful thing”. Readers are also given a promotional code for £20 off their first ride.
While no reference to the strikes are made, the language and timing of the creative suggest Uber plans to position itself as a tonic to the anticipated congestion caused by the strikes as turn it into an opportunity to recruit customers. The move is part of a wider pan-European push from the Google-backed app to hit back at protests in cities such as Paris and Madrid.
Rival services Hailo and Kabbee have both launched eCRM drives to allay any travel concerns to existing customers in London.
Thousands of protesters have vowed to bring the city to a standstill today (11 June) to stress claims that Uber is using the app as a taximeter, which only licensed black cab drivers are allowed to use. The strikes are in response to Transport for London (TfL), which regulates taxis, referral of the case to the High Court after it decided the service does not flout the rules. A ruling is not expected for several months.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, along with its peers across Europe, argue the service is disrupting their business models by allowing customers to order a ride from drivers who do not need licenses. Uber has attempted to defuse bubbling tensions by opening its service to London to black-cab drivers today, adding its five per cent commission is the lowest of all booking systems in the city.
Jo Bertram, Uber’s general manager for UK and Ireland, says: “There’s room for black cabs and private hire cars to co-exist in London; and we want to be part of a healthy, vibrant and diverse market that is great for consumers and drivers alike,”
Uber has around 3,000 registered drivers in London.