When it comes to payments, London taxi is an interesting microcosm. A few years ago, cash was king and cabbies didn't look elsewhere - it is rumoured that many black cab drivers were filing their tax returns on the basis of earning £50... per week.
Things have since moved on. "Mobile" is a familiar part of taxi business now, whether it's using an app to book a ride or taking payments on the go. When
it comes to the latter, "mobile" mostly refers to "POS on wheels".
VeriFone did a good marketing job there, signing up taxi drivers with their "everything for free" offer (whilst aiming to "enhance the passenger
experience"). When something is too good to be true, it usually is - as that poker saying goes, if you can't see the sucker, it's you.
Taxi drivers indeed get VeriFone's shebang for free (if the driver wants an LCD display for screening annoying ads, that's £250 extra). The downside? The driver has to sign a five-year agreement which can be terminated earlier by paying £200 de-installation
fee (which could be waived in some cases).
VeriFone's kit takes up valuable luggage and cabin space, creating some inconvenience for the driver and the passengers. A bank can reverse charges up to 540 days (!) after the transaction has taken place (that time bomb has little to do with VeriFone I
guess, but can/should still be addressed to protect the driver).
Importantly, the driver keeps the fare shown on a meter.
So, who is the sucker? You guessed it right: it's YOU!
VeriFone system adds 10% surcharge to the metered fare. For "cardholder present" (!) transactions. We all balk at airline surcharges, but compared to VeriFone's taxi deal even Ryanair starts looking like Mother Teresa.
Some of us may give a 10% tip to the taxi driver anyway. Giving such a tip to VeriFone is another matter altogether - nobody likes being taken for a ride when paying for the ride.
Is there a better way, both for the driver and the consumers? You bet!