Mike's Minute: Would you give up Uber to save local businesses?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 22 Nov 2019, 9:43AM

Mike's Minute: Would you give up Uber to save local businesses?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 22 Nov 2019, 9:43AM

COMMENT

One of the early examples of theory vs reality that I distinctly remember, was the debate that broke out when the Lange government decided importing used cars from Japan would be a good idea.

Not many in the world did it, still don't, but the argument was it would make cars more affordable, and it did. The upset, of course, was in those days we had a local car manufacturing industry.

From memory, Mitsubishi in Porirua, Honda had work in Nelson, thousands were employed putting together cars. They were made locally, but of course cost a fortune. The spectre of the job losses enraged some, there were protests and promises that no one would buy these imports, that they would rather pay more for local and better quality.

If you had believed any of it, you would have thought revolution was close. But we all went and bought a Civic for $8000.

Last weekend, you would have thought the government and its approach to the West Coast over mining water and power, was the stirrings of some sort of similar fury. That it will see record turnout at the vote, with Labour tossed miles from office for their betrayal and misunderstanding of a lifestyle and history. And yet it's the same area that votes a Labour MP into parliament by a majority of 6000. Noise does not equate to action.

So on that note, I worry for the restaurateurs. In this case, Restaurants and Catering Australia has surveyed 15,000 of its members who say they can't make money, haven't made money, and never will make money using Uber Eats. And they are now pleading for us to stop using it, to save jobs, save livelihoods, and save family businesses.

As sure as night follows day, you will see an outpouring of support. People love to outpour. What they don't like is to be inconvenienced or made to pay more. Both of which are ingredients in the Uber Eats success.

Although when I say success, Uber of course doesn't make money.

Uber lost another billion last quarter on top of all the other billions its lost over the years it has been in business. Its never made a cent. So have you spotted the irony, the plague of modern business?

We are using a service that pays a pittance and doesn't make money, to bring food to us from places that, because of the fees, doesn't make money either.

We are taking two models of business, transport and food, and running them both out of business.

Do we know we are doing this? Do we care? I bet we would say we care. The same way we say we want gender pay equality, we want climate emission reductions to save the planet, we don't like straws in noses of turtles.

Verbally, we say all the right things. But the taxi industry has been decimated since Uber arrived, have we thought about that?

And when the shop down the road closes up, does that matter, given the Uber can lose more money going to the next shop for us and grabbing dinner before that closes as well?

In a circle of life kind of way, the Uber car is of course an import. Because, if it had been locally made, they never could have afforded a cheap car in which to lose money in the first place.

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