Taxi protest on the Malieveld in The Hague. Photo for illustration. Photo: ANP/Hollandse Hoogte/Sandra Uittenbogaart

A group of about eighty taxi drivers intends to sue Uber and Bolt. Mostapha Ali, leader of the action group called Taxi Eenheid 3.0, a Telegram group of which more than two thousand drivers are members, said this to TaxiPro. Both platforms have misled drivers, according to their position.

“Uber and Bolt took advantage of us,” Mostapha Ali begins his story. According to him, Bolt has promised certain things, which the taxi platform has not kept. “When Bolt entered the Dutch taxi market two years ago, I spoke to Lars Speekenbrink (country manager ed.). During that conversation, together with other drivers, we indicated that we would be happy to drive for Bolt, provided they treated us differently like Uber. He indicated at the time that he would keep the commissions per driven taxi ride low. ‘The more customers and drivers we have, the better we can make it for you,’ he wrote to me by email. A year and a half later, Bolt has raised the commissions and lowered the kilometer price.”

According to Ali, the commission that Bolt charges per taxi ride is currently 20 percent, just 5 percent lower than Uber asks its drivers. Previously, this commission was still at 13 percent. “Bolt has promised us to keep commissions low. This taxi platform now has many customers and currently owns about half of the Amsterdam taxi market. Yet, without any form of communication, they raised the commission. Only after several drivers noticed this and started complaining about it, Bolt sent an email to inform the drivers about this increase.”

Lokken Not only Bolt, but also Uber is guilty of deception, according to the group of drivers. “Uber misleads drivers by using different prices and commissions in different places in the country,” said taxi driver Said. “Drivers are lured to other areas in the Netherlands, such as Brabant and Limburg. In those areas, the kilometer price is 2.03 euros and the commission percentage is between the 0 and 5 percent, while the commission here in Amsterdam is at 20 percent. In this way, Uber is trying to lure drivers to Brabant and Limburg to take over the market there as well. Once that happens, the prices there will be the same as here in Amsterdam. In this way, Uber is trying to get hold of the entire Dutch taxi market.”

Mostapha Ali also accuses Uber of spreading fairy tales. He is referring, among other things, to sponsored Uber articles that recently appeared in De Telgraaf, in which drivers boast of a good income. “They publish articles with headlines like: ‘I live like a king’. Uber offers articles to De Telegraaf, where it is stated above that the newspaper is not responsible for the content. So they do that kind of deception. They use fancy talk that is totally unrealistic.”

Level playing field That is why the group, consisting of about eighty drivers, is stepping after 13 June to court. The stakes: a level playing field. “We want Uber to play by the same rules as other taxi companies. That means: fair rates and no misleading drivers with unrealistic stories. We will also submit the issue of unfair competition to the court. Are we promising? No idea, but we’re going to try anyway.”

Bolt confirms to TaxiPro that the commission of 13 percent has indeed been increased to 20 per cent. “This increase was communicated to all drivers in good time one week prior to the change in ”, says country manager Lars Speekenbrink. “This may not have been noticed by drivers who have not actively driven through Bolt for an extended period of time during this period.”

Satisfaction Speekenbrink emphasizes that driver satisfaction is paramount at Bolt. “We therefore always try to enter into a constructive dialogue with drivers who are active via Bolt, among other things to avoid any misunderstandings.”

In addition, the Bolt director indicates that the rates have been increased several times in recent years, as a result of which the average fare is now 36 percent higher then lies in 200. “During the corona period, we introduced the ‘Economy’ option, where drivers can decide themselves to be active in this category. This option came about after a majority of drivers indicated via a survey at the time that they were positive about this. This, along with major investments by Bolt on the customer side, has led to increased demand for rides. Even at times when there was very little demand for taxis in the entire market”, concludes Speekenbrink.

Feedback Uber has also responded to the allegations. The originally American taxi platform says it does not recognize itself in the allegations made. “We take the feedback from drivers and passengers seriously and we are always in dialogue with them to ensure that our app remains attractive to all users,” says a spokesperson.

In addition, Uber says that no formal charges have yet been filed against them. “We have not received a message about the announced legal action from these drivers and can therefore not respond substantively. Aside from this possible move, the facts about earnings speak for themselves. Independent research by Maastricht University shows that drivers on average pay €30,30 left over per hour, after deduction of the service fee. At 36 hours per week, that amounts to over 4.200 euros per month,” concludes the Uber spokesperson.

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