Uber alles: Tatarstan's officials will reseat, taxi on runway and a card ''freeze''

Realnoe Vremya tried to get comments from the top manager of the American company about the problems and scandals of the service in Russia

Uber alles: Tatarstan's officials will reseat, taxi on runway and a card ''freeze'' Photo: anews.com

Director for policy and communications of the company Uber in Europe, the Middle East and Africa Christopher Burghardt, who communicated using an audio translator, and CEO of Uber in Russia Dmitry Izmailov have recently come to Kazan to present their market research of the urban transportation and the impact of Uber on the market development in Russia. The study was designed to prove the superiority of Uber over the competitors. However, Realnoe Vremya was more concerned not with loud statements but solution of problems of the company in Russia. We tried to get comments on the scandals and failures of Uber from the top management of the company. Despite the fact that we often heard ''no, but we are working on it'', we still managed to get some answers from the management of the service.

1. Within 2 months the officials will be forced to use Uber, but Uber does not hasten to go to Tatarstan

As Minister of Informatization and Communications of Tatarstan Roman Shaikhutdinov told at the press conference in Tatar-Inform, the republic is considering cooperation with Uber in three directions.

In November, Rustam Minnikhanov proposed the leadership of the service to use the services of the data center in the regional IT Park. However, since that any specific agreement has not been reached and the issue is still under discussion. Discussions of the issue on the localisation of the main company of the service in Russia on the territory of Innopolis is also ongoing. However, Uber does not hasten to make the decision and probably to move to the town near Kazan. What is more, it probably does not burn with desire.

The third project is the interaction of the company with the bodies of state and municipal authority in the provision of transport services. ''In fact, the possibility of substitution of own transport using such service model is being under consideration,'' said Shaikhutdinov. The issue of using taxi by civil servants, he said, will be decided within two months — during this period, there will be a relevant public procurement. Besides, Uber needs to prepare a functionality for corporate clients.

2. The taxi drivers make money on system errors

At the end of last year, it became known that entrepreneurial taxi drivers of Kazan learnt how to make money on several taxi services at a time using errors of the system. There were cases when having arrived through the service Gett, a taxi driver asked a client to call the same taxi through Uber choosing a cash method of payment. Thus, a taxi driver gets money from the both services for one call.

CEO of Uber in Russia, Dmitry Izmailov, surprised at the existence of such schemes and in conversation with the correspondent Realnoe Vremya replied this way:

''It's difficult for me to comment on, but if there are situations with unfair behaviour, we deal with it,'' said the interlocutor of the edition. He called such situations ''extremely rare''.

But that's not the only trick of drivers of taxi services. Realnoe Vremya wrote that the online aggregators of the taxi Gett, Yandex.Taxi, Wheely, Uber found that drivers sometimes use programs that distort the results of the GPS system and change the coordinates of their car on the map. These programs are used most often in airports. The driver can set coordinates right on a runway. The systems choose the closest to the client car. If a client orders a taxi from a landed plane, it is one that according to GPS data is right on the strip.

Uber could not comment on these issues.

3. They know about the problem with child seats, but it is unknown when it will be solved

According to Uber CEO in Russia Dimitry Izmailov, the company's affairs in Russia are doing very well, but Kazan is one of the leaders in the development of Uber. However, in fact, a number of shortcomings of the service repels clients. One of them is the inability to rent a car with a child seat. Now after ordering a car the client has to call the driver and to ask about its presence. In the case if the taxi driver does not have a child's seat, they have to cancel a car and try one more time.

''As for the child's seats, we know from a research that this is a very important feature for customers. We conducted several studies in Kazan and other cities and we see what customers really want. Now we are actively working on it. When exactly and in what cities we will run — we are not sure yet, but we understand that this is a popular feature, so we are working on it,'' commented Dmitry Izmailov.

One of the shortcomings of the service is the inability to rent a car with a child seat. Photo: infocar.ua

4. Will they refuse from ''freezing'' money before boarding a taxi?

According to him, the company is also working on fixing another claim against the service: using a cashless payment at a fixed price of the trip, money are ''frozen'' on the card before boarding the taxi.

Izmailov assured the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya that they are aware of this shortcoming and they are also working on it.

5. It is unknown when UberRUSH will be launched, but before that, they will test UberEats

A few days before the press conference in Kazan, Dmitry Izmailov announced that Uber is developing the courier service UberRUSH. However, the issue on the launch of the service, as on many other issues, journalists have not received any details.

''In terms of specific dates, again, it's hard for me to comment on. I would divide into two categories: UberEats is the service that is already being tested in Russia, it started in Moscow just three or four weeks ago. We already see the result, the successful development of the service. Accordingly, as for the service UberEats, our task is to test the model in Moscow successfully, to see how it works on the Russian market and then to expand in other cities where we are present in Russia. <...> The product UberRUSH is a slightly different category, it is a courier service. This product is still under development and it is not ready for the rapid development in the cities,'' said CEO of Uber in Russia.

In Russia, the service Uber is currently available, in addition to Kazan and Moscow, in 14 cities.

By Mariya Gorozhaninova