Taxi man pleads: Why are fuel firms ripping off drivers?
TAXI drivers in Southport are being hit in the wallet by extortionate fuel prices, according to one furious driver.
Martin Rowe, of All White taxis, said that prices are continuously going up and taking up to 15% of his wages, despite reports that prices should be dropping.
Martin said: “It’s a continuation, they were going up a couple of months ago at a penny a day, then it stemmed at 130.9p and then on the news – obviously we listen to the radio all day – it said that fuel prices were down.
“I made a point of thinking right, it’s 130.9p for diesel, 127.9p for petrol, and the prices stayed the same. They always give this excuse that ‘we’ve already paid for the fuel at X amount, so it takes a while for it to come through’, so I thought a few days and prices will come down again.
“They didn’t, after a week prices carried on going up, they’ve gone up 2p since that and never went down.
“Somebody else was telling me the other day that as far as they were aware, at the moment fuel prices in terms of the oil for a barrel is actually the lowest it’s been for a while.”
Further frustration for cabbies is caused by inconsistency in prices, even from the same company in different towns.
Martin said: “If I get fuel at Tesco at Kew now, for I think 132.9p, you can go to the one on the Formby Bypass which is a penny cheaper, or you can go to Bootle where it’s 4 or 5p per litre cheaper.
“Even Aintree, you can go to Asda and pay 5p per litre cheaper.
“I don’t see why there can be a difference between Tesco in Bootle and Tesco in Southport, it’s the same company, so it can only be them pricing what they think they can make out of the customers.
“Southport’s a bit more of an affluent area, we’ll charge them 5p more a litre. The strange thing is the taxi drivers in Bootle are charging at a higher rate than we are.
“They’re charging more, earning more, and paying less for fuel.”
Martin believes that, as this is an issue that affects him and his colleagues almost daily, the average driver doesn’t realise the price rise that they are being subjected to.
“It’s not the normal car driver who goes and fills up once a month, once a fortnight, people think ‘oh, 1.32p, well, I don’t have to fill up for however long’, we’re filling up two or three times a week, we notice if the price is going up because it’s hitting our pocket every week.”
He said it was impossible for the taxi companies to keep up with fuel prices by altering prices as it would not be fair on customers: “I know for a fact that we had a rise in our rates early last year and it was the first time in 14 years that the rates had risen, something like 10p on your smaller journeys and 20p on your average journeys, but nobody ever notices that as fuel’s going up it’s costing more for us to fill the car.
“If it goes up a penny every day, we can’t just change our rates like that.
“Our rates are set until the office does something about it, but we can’t just change them every time fuel goes up because people wouldn’t know what it was going to cost from one day to the next.”
He added: “I put £60 in on Friday, which was 40-something litres, and I’ve put another £40 in today (Tuesday), so it’s every few days.
“On the hours I run, it’s minimum 10-15% of my takings will go on fuel.
“Essentially, we’re selfemployed, it’s all your own costs. It’s my vehicle, it’s my insurance, it’s me that has to wash it and keep it clean.”
He said companies quietly raised prices after a publicised drop in cost.
“It’s one of these scenarios that when the news is focused away from fuel, you’ll see now around Christmas the price will drop, but it will drop by 5p and then as soon as something new comes up, Brexit or anything like that, the prices creep up in the background, like nobody’s paying attention.”
Despite the emergence of electric and hybrid cars, Martin feels these may not yet be the solution for taxi drivers: “Electric cars have just been introduced into London, new black cabs into London – £60,000 per car. How long does an electric car go for, and how long can I charge it for?
“I might come out at 7am, I might not come in ’til midnight, 1am, 2am.
“I know a lot of drivers are sort of shifting towards the hybrids, and that does help, because they’re on petrol then, which is cheaper than diesel.
“Ultimately, though, 127p a litre is a lot of money, we’re the ones having to pay out of our pockets for a vehicle now that’s running on electric, hybrid, throwing our money at it, and our rates aren’t changing. It takes us a while to recoup that.” Visiter
Martin Rowe, of All White Taxis says he cannot put fares up every time petrol prices rise