May 2017

Recent spate of bad news about Uber’s affairs raising speculation

I certainly hope this never happens to you. My cell phone crashed in the middle of April and about 300 contacts I had stored in the phone suddenly became inaccessible.

The phone simply froze on me and when I tried to do a reboot, turning it off and on again, it would not turn back on: I could not get to my home screen.

I did have a backup, but it was from about six months ago and while I was able to recover some of my lost data, I was left with some seriously gaping holes. This kind of loss is serious for everyone, of course, but for a working reporter it is as close to disaster as I can think of.

By sheer good fortune, one of my golfing pals works for Telus, which owns my service provider and when I told him about the problem he offered to run the balky phone through their tech people to see if anything could be done. After a few days he got back to me and said his techies were stumped, so they sent it over to the phone manufacturer to see if they could help. I’m still waiting for word from them. His help is very, very much appreciated.

Meanwhile, I’m rebuilding the database, mostly phone numbers and email addresses. Some I have in a old fashioned phone book. Others are lost.

So, if you know me, and are maybe interested in me keeping in touch, give me call on my business line at 416-466-2328 and leave your name, phone number and email address and I’ll restore the connection. It will be nice to speak with you in any event. Thanks, and from personal experience, make sure you regularly back up your phones: don’t learn the hard way like I did.

One thing I did suggest to my Telus friend was to maybe suggest to phone and software suppliers that it might be a good idea to write into their in-phone programs to do automatic backups, say every 24 hours, to alleviate this kind of problem, given that we customers are too often idiots, or phones are dropped into water or smashed or whatever.

On to other matters, I hope you all saw the story in The Toronto Star about Uber drivers and how they are manipulated by the ride service giant. I have been to one of their recruitment meetings and was impressed by its slickness and by how so many relevant questions and issues were glossed over, not mentioned and avoided. Even legal questions were deftly evaded.

In my opinion, prospective drivers were being conned into signing up, lured by promises of high earnings and virtually non-existent entry requirements.

Now I’m hearing that at least one car rental company has agreed to provide cars to non-car owning people at incredibly low rates, made even lower if a driver does more than a specified number of rides per week. I haven’t personally looked into this “deal” yet, but I have a working theory that goes like this.

Uber needs a constant supply of new drivers because their existing pool of drivers is not making the income they expected and expenses are higher. (Driving cab isn’t the cushy job they thought it was, I suppose.) So the pool of drivers owning their own cars is drying up, leaving Uber no choice but to go after those who don’t own cars. (If they don’t own a car, I do wonder how good they are as drivers. Just asking.) I’m hearing some (many?) Uber customers are not getting the cheap rides they signed up for – no drivers. Meanwhile, so called “surge pricing” to lure drivers on to the road isn’t working all that well, as customers are getting wise to that scheme.

Corporately and world-wide, it also seems Uber is burning though money at an astonishing rate.

Plus corporately Uber has some other serious issues like sexual harassment charges and the loss of senior executives (for unknown reasons).

So it is fair to seriously ask how long Uber can last, the way it is going. Perhaps not too long.

Finally, one of my favorite events of the year is happening the last Saturday in May in New Hamburg, just West of Kitchener/Waterloo. The Mennonite Relief Sale is this church’s major annual fundraiser, and every cent raised (NO administration expenses!) goes to church charities, mostly in third world countries.

The main attractions for me are the quilt auction (!) and the incredibly delicious food: tea balls, apple fritters, BBQ’d chicken, home-made ice cream, pies, pork on a bun, herring on a bun, apple cider, a breakfast of pancakes maple syrup, fry sausage, apple sauce and coffee for like $4.50 to $6.50.

There is also a “junk” auction where donated stuff gets sold and sometimes you can pick up real bargains. Plus other handmade stuff is sold, plus plants and there is a playground for kids.

Things start at about 8 am and it is over by about 3 as the farmers have to milk their cows. On the way home, we pick up fresh asparagus at a nearby farm.

For those of you who are observant Muslims or Jews, halal or kosher is pretty much out of the question as far as I know so if you come I suggest you pack your own food. Vegetarian Hindus should be able to manage. There is lots of room for picnics.

It takes us about an hour, maybe a little more, to get there from Toronto’s east end. A bonus for those new to this country is you get to see lovely countryside you don’t get to see in Toronto and you’ll meet some really nice people.

It is a great way to spend a day.


2017 Taxi News


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