Nutmeg Avios

Bits: Uber loses its London licence – or does it?, £5 off a 16-25 Railcard

News in brief:

From January 2018, please use our new Uber sign-up code HEADFORPOINTSUK. This gets you a 50% discount on your first ride, up to £10. This is more generous than the current refer-a-friend offer of £3 off your first ride.

Uber loses its London private hire licence

Yesterday’s breaking news about Uber losing its taxi licence in London was a surprise for many.

Transport for London has announced that Uber’s current five year licence, which expires on 30th September, will not be renewed due to the company’s operations not being ‘fit and proper’.

It is true that the company has had some negative press lately regarding the drivers working conditions, but no one expected Uber to be banned from London’s streets.

Uber will, however, appeal and until a final ruling is passed, drivers are allowed to continue working for the app.

If you look at the Transport for London statement:

“TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications. These include:

Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences.
Its approach to how medical certificates are obtained.
Its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained.
Its approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London – software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.”

….. there is nothing here that Uber cannot fix.  It seems more likely that TfL is taking the licence renewal window, which only comes around every five years, to force change from the company that it has not been rushing to make.

If you’ve redeemed your Tesco Clubcard vouchers for Uber credit, you might want to use it up in the next few weeks – just in case.  You can read more about the Tesco Clubcard / Uber partnership in this article.  It is actually one of the best uses of Clubcard vouchers, arguably better than Avios, giving you 3 x their face value.

£5 off 16-25 Railcards this weekend

If you know anyone heading off or back to university, you can pick up a 16-25 Railcard for them this weekend at £5 off.

Code 5offsep takes the price down from £30 to £25 for a year.  You need to buy on the official railcard website here by Sunday night.  You need to enter the code on the first application page (it will say ‘code accepted’) but the discount will not show until the payment page.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Get a 35% bonus on hotel transfers to Avios - but is it a good deal?
Do you know that Amex has a private lounge for cardholders at the O2 Arena?
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. Sam wardill says:

    A bit of a draconian negotiatong tactic (especially in the light of brexit). Makes us look like a bit of a Luddite nation.

    • the real harry1 says:

      so far all the posters have missed the bit about the criminal offences – Uber has a high incidence of sexual assaults reported against drivers (high compared to other taxi companies) – and a poor record in reporting those to police and getting the drivers responsible removed from service.

      • the real harry1 says:

        There were others paying the price, and it was too often vulnerable women. In August, Uber was accused by the Metropolitan Police of allowing a driver who sexually assaulted a passenger to strike again by not reporting the attack as well as other serious crimes. Rather than reporting criminal complaints to the police, the tech start-up logged them with TfL, causing delays of up to seven months before crimes were investigated.
        Inspector Neil Billany of the Met’s taxi and private hire team suggested that the reason for this was because the company was attempting to protect its reputation. When they were reported, the rough estimate is that between February 2015 and 2017 there were 48 sex attacks involving people who were Uber drivers at the time the attacks were reported.

        • If you are sexually assaulted you tell the police not the cab firm. It’s easy to make fictitious claims to a cab firm because you didn’t like the driver…. Or are a relative of a black cab driver.

        • Exactly.
          I don’t think uber is a shining example of standards of morality but surely it’s the responsibility of the person who claims to have been assaulted to report it to the police immediately.

          I think more should be highlighted about the positive aspects for Uber, like the fact most of the cars are hybrid or electric compared to diesel black cabs.

          The really interesting thing here to be is that when a driverless uber or uber clone becomes a reality all of the arguments fall away reference safety and workers rights so really if I was a young black cab driver I’d be training for another career ASAP.

      • Why on earth was it being left to Uber to report these assaults? They should be reported directly and immediately to the police otherwise there is a risk of losing evidence.

        • Exactly. Something very dubious about these claims.

        • I have not seen any suggesttion of “it being left to Uber to report these assaults”, and of course aussaulted persons should make their own report to the police.

          But given that as recently as last August the Metropolitan Police singled out Uber for a failure to report sex attacks by its drivers promptly, one can only assume that there is a statutary duty upon taxis, minicabs and operators such as Uber to report these attacks too, and the fact of the police complaint surely indicates strongly that while other undertakings are complying with that duty, Uber is not.

          The basic problem with Uber appears to be that they feel that rules are meant for other, not themselves.

        • Indeed. Interestingly I’ve found in other UK cities where I’ve used Uber (Glasgow, York and Edinburgh this year) the drivers have always been private hire, with the usual council licensing badge, etc. They just use the app as a way to supplement their income. Perhaps the London market has been a bit different with more drivers that hadn’t gone through the same checks. As an example, most councils require drivers to meet the more stringent DVLA Group 2 rules for medical conditions, something I’d imagine Uber don’t require.

        • London Uber’s have to have a council issued private hire license too.

          From that point of view, if the council are taking responsibility for issuing licenses then they need to make it clear if it is their responsibility or Uber’s to run criminal checks on the driver.
          The fact that they issue licenses does cloud the water over who is responsible as surely a license should not be granted to a sex offender.

        • It’s not unusual for assault victims not to want to report to police immediately, or not to want to report at all, because the reporting process can be traumatic in itself. Reporting to Uber doesn’t require you to have a physical examination or give evidence in court and allows you to feel like you’ve done your bit to stop other women being attacked.

        • the real harry1 says:

          Well said.

          Shame HFP is deleting a serious post I made. Uber is seriously negative & potentially dangerous for single women – it’s particularly [some of] the drivers & the company ethos that cause the danger – deleting posts that point that out won’t make the issue go away.

        • the real harry1 says:

          we’re not allowed to reference Rotherham etc on HFP!

          non-European background Uber drivers are assaulting single females – admittedly just a few – yet we’re not allowed to point out the facts?

          It’s Afghan, Somali, Middle East drivers disrespecting females in our country.

        • While I accept that it’s potentially traumatic to report a sexual assault to the police we’re entering into very dangerous territory if your suggesting that simply reporting a sexual assault to a business with no evidence results in someone losing their job.

          If it’s the law that Uber should be reporting these things to the police immediately then they’re clearly in breach. If it’s not the law and it’s seen as wise for it to be then rather than take their operating license away the correct resolution is to implement the law change and then enforce compliance on them (and then take their license away if they fail to comply)

        • Will, that’s the reason why not reporting assaults to the police is grounds for their license to not be renewed. It does not mean drivers automatically lose their job if someone reports, it’s simply that reports must be passed to the police so they can be investigated because victims very often don’t contact the police directly themselves.

          Also sexual predators are notoriously repeat offenders – very often they are caught because of multiple women making reports against the same driver. So you want reports to be logged properly even if the victim doesn’t want charged pressed, so you have got the full picture.

        • From what I’ve read, Uber passed the reports in question to TfL who ultimately issued the drivers in question with their licenses and also ran the background checks.

          I think both TfL and the police need to make the policy on who is responsible for reporting such incidents and what private hire firms are obliged to do both with respect to recording the incident and taking any action against the driver.

          We’re in a situation where TfL run the checks and issue the licence to the individual driver and then they are pointing fingers at Uber for not vetting drivers.

          I’m very much against the concept of unsubstantiated claims against anyone being held on record and used against them in the future. That’s open season for anyone who takes a dislike to someone else to smear them without any repercussions on themselves.

          As much as it is important to protect the public and uphold the law, we have to remember that the drivers are also human beings who need protection themselves from false accusation which can ruin their lives. There is a mechanism in place within the bounds of the law to deal with assault, if we make records of unfounded allegations it’s very hard for drivers to defend themselves against false accusations as they would not require proof in order to leave a record somewhere.

  2. Is Uber over? That’s the question Eddie Mair was asking on PM yesterday. My goodness! It’s all a bit Chicken Licken. I wonder what they thought about that in up in Rotherham…

  3. Lady London says:

    Hum. That list of charges against Uber looks like it has been drafted by the LDTA (the London Taxi Drivers Association which is kind of the union of the drivers driving black cabs – the longstanding traditional London taxis).

    • The complaint about the non reporting of sex attacks comes from the Metropolitan Police

  4. Anyone would think London doesn’t have a public transport system that is the envy of the rest of the UK. A tube and bus network that the rest of us can only dream about. Black cab and private hire coverage and supply that is massively more than any other major city.
    Clearly it’s a heavy handed tactic by the Mayor to Uber to be a better company but ultimately Uber will comply rather than lose such a major market.

    • The odd thing with Uber – whilst people generally focus on the low cost – is that it is actually of most use to the better off. Because they keep raising fares to meet demand, as long as you are price inelastic you will get something even in the worse weather, unlike a black cab.

  5. Hmmm, a cheaper, comfortable, usually more environmentally friendly Prius, or an uncomfortable, boneshaker black cab? I think that the Mayor will regret this decision, which Sam above, rightly states, makes us look like Ludites.

    The Uber petition is now up to nearly 500,000 signatures already.

    • The text of that petiton – referring to “our app” implies to me that it was drafted by Uber itself, so hardly an independently organised petition!

      Sorry – just read to the bottom of the page – it clearly stated “Uber London started this petition”

      Is there a counter petition anywhere? How might I find out?

  6. This could significantly devalue the AmEx Platinum benefits. What are they going to replace the free Uber credit with, I wonder?

  7. Clearly Uber will not be going anywhere. There will not be any break in service in London.

    I find all the criticism of Transport for London rather ridiculous. It is Uber who have been failing to comply with the rules, TfL are simply enforcing them.

    As we all know, unless Uber is forced to, they will quite happily flout laws left right and center.

  8. There’s nothing to stop Uber buying another minicab firm with a recently renewed licence. The new company will need to do health/CRB checks for all 40,000+ drivers which will take some time, but I’d guess it’s a better option than exiting London.

  9. O/T: I signed up for zipcar along with my partner, and although I have a full clean licence and have done for ten years I got instantly rejected! And my partner with a foreign licence was approved almost immediately. They haven’t given me a reason why and blocked me from applying for ten months.

  10. Involved in the industry (no I don’t work for Uber) and the level of driver checks performed by Uber is very comprehensive. Additionally, TFL perform their own checks before handing out a PCO licence. There has been a concerted effort from the Black Taxi lobby to get this to happen and to undermine Uber since day one. If this were to happen, it would push some drivers back to the unlicensed and uninsured dark market (waiting outside clubs and bars) or back to mini cab offices (if the Unions are worried about how Uber treat their drivers, they should look at some of these models!). However, even if Uber can’t find a compromise with TFL, they will drag them through the courts for 3-4 years and keep trading while they do.

    • I’ve no link to the industry but it sounds like some good points there. I remember coming out of clubs and being harassed by loads of dodgy unlicensed taxi drivers. Having these people registered and checked by Uber is surely an improvement.
      In my opinion the black cab is obsolete. That’s the harsh reality which is dawning on the drivers. It might seem unfair, but life is unfair and you have to move with the times or get left behind. It’s a wake up call to be on the lookout for threats to our own respective industries and have a backup plan if a game changer like Uber turns up.

      • Same – I remember all the dodgy cabs we used to take from outside clubs as the official cabs were a rip-off. So much better now with apps like Uber and Kabbee.
        I never take black cabs as they are just too expensive and everyone has a satnav now so in the vast majority of cases you don’t need the driver to know all the streets by heart.
        The last time i used a black cab they were still covering up the card machines and insisting on cash – presume that must have changed with the competition from Uber but it seems to me they spend more time trying to protect their once dominant position rather than adapting and moving with the times

  11. Uber is (generally) cheaper than black cabs/taxis because they are subsidising fares with significant VC money to grab market share. As competitors give up/go bust so Uber prices will go up… Happened in China, will happen elsewhere. My experience of using Uber is generally very positive, but I’m not sure I’d want them establishing a monopoly, given some of their aggressive business practices – I don’t believe it will end well. Challenging them to improve is a good thing in my opinion.

  12. I´ve just came across an interesting observation. This might be extremely useful for those travelling without a 2 for 1 or without an upgrade voucher, BUT MUST be travelling from the regions.
    This is just an example: Manchester to New York in J.
    -If you choose to book with BA with Avios: 100.000 Avios + 733 GBP (Cheesus)
    -If you choose to book with IB with Avios: 108.000 Avios +346 GBP. The only problem (ok, first world problem) is you have to give up your sandwich and drink + empty middle seat between MAN/LON/MAN. But hey, you will still have access to the lounge in Manchester (outbound) and London (inbound), AND save almost 400 GBP. Ok, you need an extra 8.000 Avios (but 400 GBP are 400 GBP). It´s up to you. (Iberia Plus won´t give you the “free” connection to the regions, but it will save you around 400 GBP).

    Digging deeper in this study, the real saving of a 241 is actually massively overvalued by all of us, when flying from the regions. In this case, two people flying Business would need 100.000 Avios + 1466 GBP + voucher.
    If you choose to book the flight with Iberia Plus (and accepting flying economy between MAN-LHR-MAN) the “value” of the voucher is around 41.200 Avios + 22 GBP (and not 100.000 Avios). Let me explain you why. The reason behind this is the Avios&Money options available at Ib+: 70.600 Avios + 744 GBP, so very close to the 100.000 + 733gbp BA is asking you to pay (this x 2 = 141.200 Avios +1488gbp).
    And I haven´t even considered the fee you have to pay for the premium card (195 gbp).

    I´m not the best one to explain this, but I guess you get the idea.

    You may consider booking via Iberia Plus your trip with Avios, the next time you fly with BA (if you´re happy flying economy between London and the Regions).

    • There is something wrong with BA’s regional tax calc. That route should be around £500 (which doesn’t explain the £346 either). Did you actually click to the payment page where recalculates?

      • Just priced this and the tax is £544 from MAN to JFK.

        • Forget about my “maths” then. I think IbPlus somehow doesn´t charge the correct fees. But atm is 200 gbp cheaper than BA (good for solo travellers or no 241 holders or upgrade voucher)

        • I’ve booked MAD->Tokyo on Iberia’s website @59,500 plus £96.27 fees (biz). With living near LGW and regular IB reward flights to MAD Iberia is a steal.

        • Cate – interesting, looks like even with adding on a BA / JL redemption either side I could get from LHR to ICN for less than CW in avios / tfc

  13. Like the articles mentions, it sounds to me that TFL don’t like being pushed around by big companies and want to use this opportunity to finally get something done.

    The mainstream media likes to make a big deal when a disruptive technology or company is involved as that is what people want to hear, the reality is these issues with TFL could be resolved in a matter of days if they wanted to work out the issues.

  14. IslandDweller says:

    It’s easy to forget that using uber or taxi of any sort is a minority sport. Only about 2% of journeys in London are made by Uber / mini cab / taxi.