Taxi Drivers Score an Own Goal with Protest against Uber

Total Croatia News

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Instead of improving their position, taxi drivers’ reputation has declined further.

Hundreds of taxi drivers protested recently in the centre of Zagreb against Uber. In Vukovarska, they blocked traffic by parking their cars in two lanes along the road in both directions. However, their protest action seems to have backfired, reports on June 23, 2017.

According to readers’ comments on news websites, the unannounced protest on one of the main streets in Zagreb was the final nail in the coffin of their reputation among the rest of the citizens. They had most likely expected to draw public sympathy and understanding of the relevant Ministry, but their plans failed spectacularly.

Here are five reasons why the protest was one of the most stupid actions in recent times and one of the best possible marketing campaigns for Uber.

1. They blocked the busiest street in Zagreb

Closing down a road which is used by tens of thousands of people a day is a foolish move. Furthermore, they decided to do it in the middle of a working week, on Wednesday morning, at the beginning of a heat wave. That demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the situation, so it is no wonder that people often complain that taxi drivers never arrive in time.

2. Protesting during tourist season

In the middle of the tourist season, the capital of a tourist country was blocked by hundreds of cars. Uber operates in 613 other cities around the world and has become, just like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola, one of the internationally recognisable brands. It was probably not easy to explain to tourists that a traffic jam was created due to anti-Uber protests, which is a regular business in the rest of the world and which visitors can see daily on the streets of their own countries.

3. Tremendous service to Uber

With their protest, taxi drivers have turned the day into one of the best and most profitable days for Uber since it was introduced to Zagreb. Uber even thanked them via Twitter. Ironically, taxi drivers and their “spontaneous” gathering did a disservice to those few customers who have until now remained faithful to them. Their clients, unable to get a taxi, installed the app and called an Uber.

4. They attacked a journalist

If your job consists of driving people in a car from point A to point B, you do not need to be a genius to understand that you should treat people with respect. No one wants to get in a car and be stuck with a rude, violent and aggressive driver. Taxi drivers and their behaviour, even before the whole Uber affair, did not have a particularly good reputation. However, attacks on the competition, at a time when every little incident can be recorded on a smartphone, have further damaged their already shaky public image. As if that was not enough, during the protest they physically attacked a journalist from, accompanied by insults. Even if they had any credibility, it ended up under the wheels of their cars owing to that action.

5. Public relations suicide

Three taxi drivers’ representatives who tried to make a public statement demonstrated that they do not know anything about what they were doing. First, they argued that it was a “spontaneous gathering”. So, a taxi driver from Dubrovnik, a taxi driver from Pula and a taxi driver from Zagreb happen to appear at the same time and the same place, feeling the need for a “spontaneous gathering” at Vukovarska in Zagreb?

Their story became even less believable after they were asked whether they reported the protest. The taxi drivers’ representatives did not know whether to continue to stick with the story or accept that it was not the truth. After the shameful avoidance of any response, they started insulting and attacking the journalist.

Ironically, the taxi drivers said they launched the “spontaneous gathering” because they were concerned with what they described as Uber’s illegal operation. But, since the gathering had not been reported to the competent authorities, it was, by definition, illegal. So, the taxi drivers organised an illegal protest to draw attention to Uber’s alleged illegality.

The taxi drivers managed to ruin their position to such an extent that even Transport Minister Oleg Butković, who has so far played the role of the protector of the “oppressed” taxi drivers, had abandoned them. “I do not think that this protest should have taken place. I join all the citizens who were surprised and revolted by this move today, which I think was not right”, said Butković.


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