NYC Cabbies Who Resisted Credit Card Machines... Now Making More Money Because Of Them

from the resisting-technology dept

A rather common theme around here is how often various industries resist the use of new technologies, fearing that those technologies will somehow harm or even destroy the industry. And yet, before too long, the opposite turns out to be true. Remember how Jack Valenti declared the VCR to be the "Boston Strangler" to the movie industry? Just a few years later, revenue from VCR rentals and sales represented a massive part of the movie business's yearly income. It happens over and over again. The NY Times has a different kind of example of the same basic thing. Two years ago, Mayor Bloomberg in NY pushed for taxis to be required to take credit cards. The cabbies resisted, complaining that it would cause all sorts of problems. They even went on strike over the issue.

And yet, two years later, having easy to use credit card readers in the back of every cab means that more people are taking cabs, because it's easier, and they tend to tip more as well. Part of that is because the machines have "preset" tip suggestions that many riders use, which often result in higher tips than average. While the article still quotes a few angry cab drivers who insist that higher tips aren't true, the reporter was able to review the receipts from a few cabs and found that the average tip was 18%, with the preset tip suggestions being used more than half the time. While it's still early, it certainly seems like this was yet another overreaction to new technology that has actually ended up helping, rather than hurting.
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Filed Under: cabs, credit cards, nyc, technology

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  1. icon
    Javarod (profile), 10 Nov 2009 @ 9:57am

    Laughs, "This is news? Five years or so ago, i was one of the few drivers at Allstate Cab who took credit cards. It was volutary, but you had to give the company a 10% processing fee, so most of the drivers didn't want them. I looked at it as an oppurtunity to get more calls, and more than once, i became the only car that could take a call, because no one else logged in took credit cards. Sure, it cost me 10%, but i pay the company that, lease and gas, and keep everything else, so being able to get more calls puts more money in my pocket, so why not accept credit cards? Heck, in NY, its easier and offers more features, including the aforementioned tip recommendation feature, built in card swipe, and so on (back then we did it manually and phoned dispatch to get an approval number), which makes it quick and easy. Frankly i can't see why they resisted, especially with Visa pushing for increased credit card use (with policies such as not requiring a signature on card swiped transactions under $25).

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