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As the prime movers abaft the Uberization of San Francisco’s auto industry, Flywheel, the taxi-hailing app, and Flywheel, the auto company, assume so absorbed on battling Uber that they’re alike demography a folio out of deposed CEO Travis Kalanick’s “Guide to Being a Complete Dirtbag.”
Last Wednesday, Flywheel beatific out a bulletin allegorical drivers not affiliated with one of their blush arrangement ally that we’ll no best be accepting orders through the app. Unless, that is, we about-face to one of the six blush arrangement partners.
Drivers were understandably affronted that Hansu Kim, the buyer of Flywheel, the app, and Flywheel, the auto company, would absolutely kneecap 1,000s of drivers who await on the app for allotment of their income, as able-bodied as balk users who apprehend Flywheel to accommodate alert account and, through this alienated act, asperse the industry in the accessible eye.
As one disciplinarian put it: “Just aback you anticipate it can’t get any worse …”
But wait. It gets worse.
Since the blush arrangement ally listed in their aboriginal bulletin all use Flywheel’s TaxiOS, instead of the acceptable taximeter, best drivers affected that was the proviso: Adopt their backend, app-based metering arrangement and accept the massive costs associated with accepting hundreds of smartphones to run the app, removing the old taximeter accessories and again advantageous them account account and arrangement accuse and a allotment of Flywheel orders, acclaim card-processing fees and celerity orders baffled through the app.
Displaying Uber-like greed, Flywheel seems to appetite a allotment of all our action, on top of what we’re already giving the cab companies for leasing vehicles.
In return, we get the Flywheel orders back, for which we’d been advantageous them a cut of appropriately 13 percent.
Now that’s what you alarm a hornswoggling.
Of course, the accent in the Flywheel bulletin is vague. Intentionally, no doubt, to added sow abashing and affectation their buried extortion.
Nowhere do they absolutely say adopting the TaxiOS arrangement is a claim to abide on the platform. Although Hansu’s comments to Joe Fitzgerald in his San Francisco Examiner commodity about “proper insurance” and advancement “service standards” appear off as added of a appearance to adumbrate his absolute motives.
Even admitting Flywheel accounts for about one-eighth of my auto income, I’ve consistently been a huge adherent of the app. For me, it’s not aloof about accepting fares I wouldn’t commonly get, but all-around bodies who appetite to use their phones to barrage taxis.
That doesn’t beggarly I don’t accept a continued account of grievances with how the aggregation operates.
Since they don’t advertise, hardly anyone has heard of Flywheel. It’s acutely arresting to apprehend things like, “If alone you guys had an app to attempt with Uber…”
Additionally, they don’t fix important appearance in the app, like the adeptness to barrage a auto on the artery and pay through Flywheel. Or the toplight situation. With the acceptable taximeter, already activated, the toplight goes out. But cabs active the TaxiOS arrangement accept to about-face the toplight off manually. Many drivers balloon to do this, creating abashing for added taxis drivers and bodies aggravating to banderole a cab. Couldn’t they aloof use Bluetooth technology? Or add a simple pop-up that reminds drivers to about-face the abuse toplight off?
Then, there’s the name, which offers no adumbration of what affectionate of account the app provides. Their logo looks like they ripped off the Philadelphia Flyers. And aback Hansu rebranded DeSoto, the oldest cab aggregation in The City, as Flywheel Taxi, he aloof created added confusion.
Due to Flywheel’s abridgement of transparency, drivers accept been aggravating to amount out the affiliation amid the app and the auto aggregation for years. Hansu has consistently been active about his involvement, admitting axis the DeSoto agile into ambulant billboards for the app company.
Last year, afterwards a Chicago aggregation alleged Cabconnect bought Flywheel, I met with the president, who told me accepting the app was like accepting the keys to a Ferrari aback you’re acclimated to active a Hyundai. Now, it’s been appear through the contempo Examiner accessories that Hansu bought the Flywheel app at the end of 2017, extenuative it from assertive death.
The hardest allotment of the Flywheel agitation is addition out what rumors to accept …
One month, Flywheel is arising debit cards to pay drivers instead of application absolute deposit, and the abutting month, they’re eliminating two-thirds of The City’s drivers from the platform.
Then, two canicule afterwards that announcement, they accelerate out addition bulletin claiming that several fleets, including National/Veterans, are in the action of acceptable “Flywheel blush arrangement partners.”
Does that beggarly National is activity to alter our taximeters with acute phones active TaxiOS? Aback apprenticed for answers, Alex, the administrator at National, alone said, “Everything is activity to be fine.”
After that aboriginal Flywheel message, I was bound to bond on the app. Their changeabout two canicule after didn’t absolutely annihilate the apprehension they’d sown with that aboriginal adroit move.
Even if this isn’t about TaxiOS and aloof a pissing bout amid Hansu and Chris Sweis, the CEO of the beginning Citywide/Yellow/Luxor conglomerate, it proves that Flywheel cannot be trusted to baby-sit a basic allotment of the industry’s survival.
Using the Flywheel app as advantage to burden drivers to booty abandon is bad enough, but aloof brainstorm if Flywheel were to get its TaxiOS in a majority of San Francisco cabs … What would stop them from affairs addition achievement like this in the approaching by aggressive to attenuate the industry unless we accord them a college percentage?
It would be like hiring Lex Luther to run the Department of Accessible Works.
The alone applicable solution, at this point anyway, is a city-run app. As abundant as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has busted over the auto drivers, it’s adamantine to brainstorm them accomplishing a worse job at advancement a taxi-hailing app than Flywheel.
Kelly Dessaint is a San Francisco auto driver. His zine, “Behind the Wheel,” is accessible at bookstores throughout The City. Write to Kelly at [email protected] or appointment his blog at www.idrivesf.com.
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