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Comment The problem with Uber and pricing in London (Score 1) 214

I think it might be helpful to point out exactly how customers might be disadvantaged by Uber in the London taxi market in relation to pricing.

The pricing problem passengers have always faced in taxis is that unscrupulous operators will overcharge after the fact, ie once the booking has started.

So the London system is set up to provide customers with a choice between two fundamentally different pricing systems, while ensuring they don't get ripped off:
1. Black cabs have a meter, with rates regulated by law, and with drivers (and cars) subject to extensive regulation. So as a passenger, you can hail a black cab in the street, jump in, and be broadly confident you'll be taken to your destination having paid the same amount you would have paid if another black cab had picked you up. There's a risk the driver might take you the long way round, but that's why the regulations exist -- to reduce that risk of being ripped off. So you don't know the bill at the start of the trip, but you do know it's going to be fair.
2. The private hire firms don't have meters. They've got to give you a price in advance, so you can choose for yourself whether you think it's a ripoff before you're committed. Then they've got to stick to the price even if they get stuck in traffic or need to take you the long way round. And you can book a private hire car in advance (and it will hopefully show up on time).
Because the former is more highly regulated than the latter, black cabs are given some specific advantages in the market: in particular, they can ply for hire (but they can't choose their fare).

Now, along comes Uber, and they want to provide you with a taxi service without playing by either the black cab or the private hire pricing rules.

They want to have the following advantages of a black cab:
  - charge you an unpredictable amount
- ply for hire (in effect)
- no need to allow passengers to book in advance

And they want to have the following advantages of a private hire:
- set their own pricing structure, and have it vary unpredictably and be opaque to customers
- use vehicles that are not accessible, cannot complete a turning circle in 25ft, etc
- turn you down as a fare

Any way you look at this, it is a move to increase pricing power of the taxi company at the expense of the customer. If they wanted to solve the problem in London, they could achieve most of it in a heartbeat, by making binding legal commitments to TfL, subject to oversight, that pricing would never exceed the black cab metered tariff, that passengers would never be turned down by a driver, and start providing advance booking. Fat chance of that happening, though.

Incidentally, because my wife and I shared a home address and credit card account and both had Uber accounts, they arbitrarily decided to suspend each of our Uber accounts because they thought this was a security risk. How it makes any difference to them who pays an account so long as my money was good is a mystery to me. They then told me I could unsuspend the account if I scanned my passport details and emailed it to them! I told them to go whistle.

Comment Re:yep, but that's not necessary in the US (Score 1) 317

Well sure, you're protected by law if the card is skimmed -- and the same is true in the UK, by the way. But who wants the hassle of ripping up the card, ordering a new one, etc etc? Not me, that's for sure. So a system that engineers out or reduces the chances of that attack is preferable in my eyes.

I'm pretty sure a Lean analysis would show that typically more time is lost by the restaurant in back-and-forth (=transportation in Muda terminology) than is lost through waiting.

Comment Re:Science-based version of the same thing (Score 1) 444

Most comments? What are you talking about, on the Slashdot article or in the article I linked to? Your post doesn't really make sense. It looks to me that you got stuck on the fact I mentioned the author was a woman and didn't bother to read the article I linked to. Your loss, it was very good, and if you engaged with it properly, you might understand there's more to rigour than an absence of obvious test bias. This is hardly controversial, by the way. It's why double-blind RCTs are the gold standard of evidence in medicine.

Comment Re:Living in the city (Score 1) 322

You need to figure in TCO. The comparison with a 2.0l sportscar is pointless, it's not apples to apples. It's definitely still cheaper to buy a petrol supermini, but that's hardly a surprise when you take account of the economies of scale, and the all-in difference is not that significant. The Renault Clio, for example, is about 80% of the price of a Zoe. You don't have to pay for the battery, but you have to pay petrol instead. It'll cost you about €65 to fill up.

Comment Re:You are right for the wrong reason (Score 1) 317

"Studies in europe showed that when chip and pin nearly eliminated point-of-sale (in store) fraud, that within a year or so the fraud moved to card-not-present sales (that is, the fraud occured by european cards used on the internet, phone, and also countries where the Pin network was not integrated back to europes clearinghouses like brazil, the US, and off-the-grid stores). The total amount of fraud was roughly the same as it had been (one can argue about details or if it's less than it would have been)."

Are you sure this is still true? Most online merchants ask for the billing address for a credit card. So there is still a combination of something you have and something you know for CNP transactions. If someone nicked my card, they wouldn't be able to use it online without knowing my billing address too.

Comment Re:you never eat in restaurants? (Score 4, Informative) 317

Which is another reason why restaurants in the UK feel a shitload more secure than in the, the waiters bring a wireless card reader over to the table. They don't wander off with your card to some back room where they can copy down the details. (It also speeds things up, as it involves fewer waiter back-and-forths)

Comment Re:How much will it cost. (Score 1) 396

If you rent a secure parking spot, seems to me you at least know the people who could, if they saw the value, provide you with a place for re-charging an electric vehicle. I mean, in your particular case, you're not going to ask, and they might have said no, but you began this by thread by implying that there was a physical impossibility to get an EV charged in your apartment, and that's clearly not the case. There may be logistical issues (first-come first-served parking) or commercial issues (the landlord won't pay for it), but there aren't physical issues.

Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green. -- Goethe