Attila the Hun, Adolph Hitler and many others seem to have
good claim to the title of most hated person. But who
seems to be the most hated person to 2000 or so drivers on
Dial-a-Cab? Well it seems to be me, Tom Whitbread! Is
this because I do my job well and like a level playing field
with everyone being equal? It really annoys me when I hear
of a driver cheating on those whom they would like to call
their friends. Do you go around taking advantage of your
friends, stealing off of them and by your actions, risk
losing their livelihoods?
This is what some drivers by their actions risk doing and it is
very dangerous for your livelihoods. Whatís more annoying
are those who know what these drivers are doing and attempt
to protect them. It is because I try and combat these
problems and retain work for the great majority, that it
seems I am so disliked. Someone like me, a married man of 37
years, a man who loves children and animals and runs a
childrenís charity. They seem to believe that I am
But I cannot do things by half; it is all or nothing, so if I start
on a problem I have to follow it through to its final
conclusion - even if on the way I may upset some people.
Whilst I am working, it is very hard to look at a problem
and stay completely neutral, this is because I have known
some of the people involved for over 30 years. As Brian Rice
once said of me: "If he found his Granny breaking the
rules, he would do her as well!"
After some 15 years of acting as the Societyís Complaints
Officer, you gain an instinct of telling if someone is
telling you the truth, whether it be by their body language
or attitude. But you still have to stay neutral until all of
the facts have been gained and checked. Sometimes it can be
impossible for one person to stay unbiased, as we all have
tendencies to feel sorry for one person or another. Thatís
when the complaint may be passed onto a panel of 3 drivers.
You will rarely get those drivers to all see a complaint in
the same way, therefore by using 3 drivers you will never
come to an impasse, it will usually go one way or another.
The decision is not always as expected, but that is what
happens when you have a democratic Society.
The Owner Drivers Radio Taxi Service is the fairest circuit
you can ever work on, if you do not believe what I say then
I suggest you try one of the others and your attitude will
change. In fact, it is our failing that we allow too many
drivers to try and run the Society from the road, this
sometimes costs the Society dearly. These people are quite
often bullyboys who have absolutely no idea of how to run a
large profitable organisation.
At his moment in time, we are having a boom in the amount of work
being offered to drivers. Due to the forward-looking
attitude of the Board, we are the leaders in the taxi trade
and gaining more account clients every day. We have a
wonderful hard working team of dedicated employees as well
as the majority of excellent drivers out on the road. But as
in most organisations, there are the lazy and corrupt, these
are the ones that it is up to me to try and weed out.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that no complaint is pushed under
the carpet and forgotten, obviously some get to a point
where you can gain no satisfactory answer and they have to
be dropped or left in abeyance. Even those complaints that
are left in abeyance allow you build up a history, which
could later assist in another complaint.
As Iíve mentioned in the above
paragraphs, we have never had so much work. As to whether
are we covering it in the allotted time, the answer must be
no. So how do we combat this problem? There are currently
two answers - we either take on a lot more drivers or make
sure that all of the drivers abide by the rule book and
complete the minimum amount of account rides per month. So
what happens to drivers who fail to complete the minimum
amount of account rides?
Firstly they will get a letter informing them of how many
account rides they have completed per month over the last 6
months and receive a warning. If this continues into the
next months, they will be taken to a Complaints meeting and
possibly expelled. This will enable us to the enlist drivers
who will assist the Society to stay in the position it is
today and supply the drivers with the profitable work that
they are enjoying.
If a driver works 5 days a week, we are only asking them to
complete 2 jobs a day. I do not think that is unreasonable.
The other day we put 7000 jobs through the system, so please
do not tell me there is not enough work for you to complete
your 2 a day. Any driver who does not complete 2 account
rides per day is not a radioman and should think hard
whether his / her subscriptions are worth paying. You as
subscribers have invested over £2000 in the equipment
sitting idle in these driverís taxis, equipment that could
be given to a driver to help in retaining your accounts for
We have put numerous articles in the magazine explaining how
to complete a Credit Card ride correctly. You must issue a
receipt to the client and gain a signature on the copy that
you keep. You must not key in the card number!
Your terminal informs the Clearing Agency and us whether a card
has been SWIPED or KEYED into the computer. If the card
number is keyed in, then it informs the Agency that the card
may not have been present, therefore it could be a
fraudulent transaction. Banks and cardholders can then deny
a transaction took place and refuse payment. Always carry a
Credit Card receipt pad (available in the drivers reception)
in your taxi, if a card will not swipe put the card under 2
or 3 copies in the receipt pad and rub the blunt end of a
pen or pencil over then face of the card through the paper
therefore gaining a perfect print of the card details. This
method can also be used if your printer will not produce a
receipt. You must then get the cardholder to sign one of
these receipts in pen after you have entered the meter fare
and handling charge. There have been quite a few drivers who
have failed to complete this method correctly and have had
money stopped or claimed back by the bank.
We have some drivers who do not like conforming to the rules
regarding logos. Some of them have now had small Dial-a-Cab
logos made which they have affixed to both front doors. DaC
do not approve these logos. Therefore, if any driver is seen
with these logos and they are claiming the lower rate, their
subscriptions will be raised to £170. As they are not
conforming to the rules for the reduced rate, they will also
have the logo attribute removed and will not be offered
certain types of work through the data system.
In addition, as the PCO have not approved them, so the driver could
also get a stop notice from the Carriage Office,
which could prove to be a costly problem in the long run.
You should all know by now that
the data computer system can read the meter in your taxi,
therefore if any changes are made to the meter fare, it is
produced on a report daily and sent to my office. There are
times when a driver is allowed to alter the fare shown on
the meter. You are allowed to add the pre-booked
theatre charge or a pre-booked station pickup. These
journeys will have a pre-booked time shown in the job
details. Football grounds do not carry the surcharge.
Neither are you allowed to add money on at the end of a
journey if your run in was lower than the maximum allowed.
If a client or passenger tells you to add any money on at the end
of a journey as an extra tip, you must go to the voice
channel to find out if this person has the authority to do
that. If this is an employee, then they are giving away
their employerís money. This could also end up with a
complaint for you from the client due to overcharging.
Any car parking, food or shopping layouts should be put in the
expenses and the appropriate code entered.
Phoning or messaging the Call Centre
No driver should phone the Call
| Centre if he can get through
on the voice channel, this practice stops a despatcher doing
his work in the correct manner. Drivers have been phoning
the Call Centre to jump the voice channel queue; this causes
the drivers waiting on voice to wait even longer. You should
only phone the Call Centre if your voice channel is
or you are out of range. You are also allowed to phone the
Call Centre if you are inside an
airport terminal, as you have to phone in every 15 minutes. A recent phenomenon involves drivers sending childish messages to
the despatcher; please do not do this as it causes time to
be lost and airways to be blocked.
There is a procedural rule that will be enforced which refers to
disrupting the smooth running of the Call Centre. This rule,
if accompanied with any other procedural rule broken, could
end up with the driver getting a suspension.
We have been lucky recently in
acquiring many tickets for different London shows. These
tickets are given to our drivers in the hope that they will
inform their passengers about the shows, therefore getting
more bums on seats and more people travelling in taxis to
But as usual, many drivers take advantage of the generous
offers but do not complete the deal; this being the case the
theatres and agencies may see no advantage in this avenue
and close it. Lets keep our part of the bargain and
hopefully it is another way in which the driver saves money
because these free tickets are worth up to £40 each. I have
made some good contacts, donít let us lose them.
Some of the shows we have had tickets for in the past 2
months are, The Genius of Ray Charles, Circus Oz, What the
Butler Saw, Telstar, On the Ceiling and a few others.
Motor cab licence
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have asked in the past and it
sometimes falls on deaf ears; when you receive your new
motor cab licence following the overhaul, please make a copy
to give us or you can bring the original one into the
Drivers Services office and they will make a copy for you,
it takes just a few minutes. As I have said before, this is
our proof to the Registrar of Friendly Societies that you
are allowed to retain your share in ODRTS. If we do not have
this proof, there are some people out there who are ready to
point it out to the authoritiesÖ
There are many drivers who come into the office and ask
for my help in fighting fixed penalty notices, complaints
from the PCO, driving offences and motor accident claims. I
will help in the best way I can or put them on to someone
with far more experience. I can say that we have had some
minor successes, which help the driver to keep a clean
If you have a new meter fitted at your taxi overhaul or
any other time and it is a different model or make to your
previous one, you must go to our Roman Way fitting
department to have a new computer connection fitted. I also
now believe that there is a meter that does not need to have
a PCO lead seal put on it; it is sealed and shows that
electronically. This could end a lot of driver problems.
So as I was sayingÖ
After reading this article, you will understand what I
mean about being the most hated person. Itís the same
way most people view a policeman, he is disliked because he
has to enforce the law. Hopefully you are happy when I do my
work correctly in putting right those taking advantage of
our Society. Nobody likes getting caught doing something
wrong, they are embarrassed and that is when they try to
besmirch the personís name who is trying to right that wrongdoing.
Have a pleasant month and drive carefully, remember you
have a family waiting for you to get home safely...
DaC Complaints officer