Barcelona Taxi fears Free Now will raise its commission

Barcelona Taxi fears Free Now will raise its commission

There is no official announcement. Not even a clear will. But taxi drivers are a reserved breed. The fact is that Free Now, a multinational taxi broker, has just increased the commission it charges London taxi drivers. Now they pay 18% per trip. In Spain, this ratio stands at 12.5% ​​(plus VAT) since the company became Hailo (formerly My Taxi) at the beginning of 2019. The union claims that it has been accumulating power. The company stresses that each market “works independently” and that nothing is planned at the moment.

Until 2019, the business model was very simple: for every service they received thanks to the Hailo app, taxi drivers had to pay one euro, regardless of what the taxi meter read at the end of the trip. The arrival of Free Now has changed the game board. It went to a percentage, which Isabel García, the company's general manager in Spain, explained, was due to the desire to democratize the business, that is, to pay more to those who benefit most, without exclusivity, without permanence. Things are starting to grow, to the point that out of the 10,521 active licenses in the Barcelona metropolitan area, around 4,000 are related to the app. So that the taxi driver, in a way, fears a supposed monster that he himself helped create.

Trojans

Luis Purple, president of the Taxi Federation of Catalonia (Stac), puts words to this fear. He believes that the fact that they control such a large slice of the pie “gives them a privileged position to impose what they want.” This of course includes the commission they charge from taxi drivers. “They will make the taxi their slave,” ventures this industry veteran.

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“They can raise the percentage as much as they want because many colleagues depend on the trips that come to them via their app and they will not dare to argue. I think in the medium to long term they can even reach a 25% commission.” In other words, he felt a Trojan horse that not only let him in: they also knew what was inside.

Free Now's manager in Spain would neither confirm nor deny. Not because he wants to; Because he confirms that no revision of the conditions has been proposed at the present time. “Each market – referring to what happened in the City of London, although it has become more expensive in Greece – meets its own business needs, taking into account the social and economic context.”

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