Taxi ride-hailing app FREE NOW have faced criticism from drivers after increasing commission fees by 50% on all jobs. From 1 August, FREE NOW, formally known as mytaxi, will increase its commission in London to 15%.
The firm say the increase is a “necessary change” which will “help the taxi trade to have a sustainable and bright future”. FREE NOW is a leading ‘mobility provider’ which currently operates in 100 cities across Europe, with 14 million passengers and more than 100,000 drivers. In the UK, the service is available in London, Manchester, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Brighton, Reading, Oxford, Derby and Leicester. A spokesperson from FREE NOW said in a message delivered to its drivers: “London is one of the most competitive cities in the world and the taxi sector here has changed almost beyond recognition over the last 10 years. Technology and weak regulation have strengthened the competition, giving passengers more choice than ever before. “We now need to make some changes in order for us to be able to continue to help you fight the competition and for us to be able to support the long term sustainability of the trade.” “When we launched in 2011, we were able to charge a low commission rate and have kept the lowest rate in the industry for as long as possible, while others have increased theirs. We have invested some £200m to support the trade, developing a cutting edge app and running big advertising campaigns. We want to continue to attract new passengers, ensure current passengers are satisfied and to help black cabs stay relevant.”
London cabbies have however shown their frustrations on social media, with one of their biggest concerns centring around any further future increases and whether the service would offer private hire vehicles on its app.
A FREE NOW spokesperson told TaxiPoint: “This is the first time we have increased commission in eight years, It wasn't a decision we took lightly. There are no plans for another increase. The increase will enable us to accelerate our mission to help licensed taxis win back work from a rapidly expanding private hire sector, catalyse the switch to greener and cleaner vehicles and to support the industry communicate effectively with regulators and policy makers. We will keep drivers regularly updated on our efforts and welcome their involvement on shaping our future business.” On the topic of private hire, they added: "FREE NOW is committed to working with licensed black taxis in the UK. We want to keep investing in the trade and promoting the unrivalled service it provides."