Fake Taxicab in NYC: Not an Uber Problem

Uber haters love to point to cab problems when they're found in Uber, but don't acknowledge problems unique to taxicabs.



A favorite parlor game among the anti-Uber is to find a problem a customer has had with Uber—invariably a problem that also exists with licensed cabs—and use it as evidence of why Uber drivers shouldn't be allowed  to compete with cabs. Take this list of 10 Uber driver scandals from Daily Dot—from shit drivers to the criminal kind, not one of those problems is one that doesn't exist in the licensed taxicab world. Complaints from economically illiterate neo-Luddites about Uber's surge pricing system—an algorithm that raises prices in an effort to get more drivers on the road when demand is up—are probably the only complaints about Uber that are actually specific to Uber.

But here's a problem, discovered by a Reddit user yesterday, that is exclusive to taxis; a fake cab. Gothamist reports

A Redditor believes he stumbled upon a fake cabbie ripping people's credit cards off with a skimmer this week. "I got into a normal NYC taxi today, but when it was time to pay, the driver took my card and swiped it through two different machines, stealing my info," he wrote. "Then I realized he wasn't even a real NYC taxi!"

The man was traveling in the cab from Tribeca to Union Square on Thursday when the incident happened. He only became clued in to the scam when the credit machine in the back wasn't working. "The swiper in the back was turned off and when he presented his, I instinctively gave him my card," he wrote. "It was when I saw him swipe it in TWO machines that I got nervous. And then, when he told me that the two machines 'work together' is when I started taking pictures." You can see more of his photos here.

This is a problem that does not exist in Uber because payment of Uber drivers happens through the app. Money never changes hands between driver and passenger. That means the driver can't steal credit card information. Almost as importantly, it means the driver can't raise prices discriminatorily. Cabbies, especially where meters are rare, tend to set prices based on how much they think a passenger belongs where he gets picked. And outsiders pay more. Unlike surge pricing, which kicks in based on volume and usage, the decision to charge someone more based on who they are and not the distance and time they're going is transparently discriminatory, and another problem that's not replicated on Uber.