Well at least that is what you would be forgiven for thinking if you read the tweets I have seen over the last few weeks
So what is the truth? Importantly, what can be done to change people’s perceptions of the licensed hackney trade?
Firstly all taxi drivers are not scruffy tax dodgers, but clearly there is an image problem and it is at problem that needs addressing as soon as possible. Most of the tweets I read are from or to London Black Cab drivers so it is from that perspective I am writing from, although I believe the points equally apply throughout the rest of the UK.
At the end of the day taxi drivers are all individuals and primarily self-employed so expecting them to wear a uniform is a bit of a stretch. However, I think the point needs addressing and drivers need to have a good look at themselves and be open to the debate.
Without wishing to come over all Gok Wan here (ooh err missus) I personally cannot see why drivers cannot where a smart shirt and trousers. For those that believe that it is too formal, how about considering a polo shirt and chino trousers or if you really must, shorts in the summer. Some consideration to a logo on the shirt can be given. This would obviously feature the black cab (a proud achievement, considering the hard work and dedication to become one of London’s black cab drivers),but perhaps the app providers could come up with something incorporating their logo & details. For those that insist on wearing a baseball cap (why?) the same logo could feature on it.
One thing I will not accept is the cash only brigade. I keep seeing tweets with pictures of “cash only signs” hence the tax dodger’s accusation. Hello, this is the 21st century you have to accept card payments! Your rivals are taking them, passengers expect you to take them and the demand is clearly there.
I have read the argument about punitive charges, but I don’t agree with it. I am not here to endorse any card reader suppliers but a quick glance at the web site of one of them mentioned frequently on twitter shows that; monthly sales of £499 would cost you £14, even a monthly sales figure of £3000 would only cost £72, how can anyone think that is unreasonable? Finally, the money is in your bank account normally every 3 days after the transaction has taken place helping cash-flow.
Even today in the Telegraph there is an accusation that “cabbies seem to be against change of any kind” the author of that article I am afraid to say is sadly being proved to be correct. Where I do take exception in that piece is his idea of dumbing down the Knowledge, I have already had my say on that: Sat Nav’s vrs the knowledge
It was Andy Warhol that said “When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.”
My plea to the string vest, flip flop wearing, cash only mob would be don’t let the Black Cab trade down or die before you get round to it. London’s finest comes at a cost. You are constantly on show and to fight the negative perceptions you should want to change attitudes, and a start would be a change in behaviour!!
Assume nothing, believe nobody, check everything.