This week, I have spent a lot of time in London city centre and I have to say, I love catching a London black cab. The cabby is almost always in good humour and can fill you in on the gossip of the city whilst driving you along the secret back roads to your destination. This week, the talk of all my taxi trips was about Hailo, Uber and the strike just passed.
To my surprise (not being a London girl), I was irritated to learn that Hailo (branded as ‘The black cab app) no longer exclusively used black cabs. When hailing a taxi via their smartphone app, you might be collected by a private hire or minicab. I have been a big supporter of this technology which to me personally, was a very convenient and innovative offering to the market.
My preference is still to use the traditional cab. It’s not about price – and I can see a very valid commercial argument based on fare competition – see this article from Lynsey Barber where she breaks down the real costs of the competition, where and how. More. – my gripe is with the misrepresentation of the brand.
Over the years, we have all read the stories about unlicensed drivers targeting vulnerable individuals (frail, drunk etc.) when using minicab or private hire cars. Personally, not only do I feel safer in the black taxi, I like the nostalgic London experience. I was not aware of the strategic changes to the Hailo business model and in fact, they are still using ‘the black cab app’ strap line online. Had I used the app this week and a minicab arrived, I might have awkwardly accepted the ride.
What kind of brand promise is that?
Drivers’ unions said that the rise of Uber is leading people to contact unlicensed drivers without any checks on whether they are legitimate.
Uber now operates in more than 100 cities in 30 countries and last week was valued at $18.2 billion, a fivefold increase in the space of a year.
Yesterday, Uber said it experienced an 850 per cent increase in new users as London's black cabs staged a protest that brought gridlock to the city centre. (Well, they were offering a £20 promotional discount - of course people were voting with their fingers!)