Cabcharge accused of bullying its competitors

TAXI drivers and owners who have tested alternative payment terminals in their cabs claim they have been bullied by the industry’s most powerful player, Cabcharge Australia, in a bid to protect its $450 million stranglehold over the market.The companies behind the new payment systems, Live Payments and the Transport Australia Xpress System, accused Cabcharge of trying to keep them out of the market as they prepared to launch their products this week.Tom Varga, chief executive of Live Payments, said Cabcharge-owned taxi networks – which in Sydney include Taxis Combined, Silver Service and Yellow Cabs – had refused to allow their drivers to use his firm’s terminals despite a 2006 ruling by the competition regulator designed to break Cabcharge’s monopoly over the electronic taxi payments system.”We have experienced first-hand where drivers and operators have come to us and said that their network has told them they are not allowed to have another terminal,” he said. ”We have seen evidence of messages from networks where they have displayed messages [on the dispatcher] that Live Payments is not an endorsed method.”Almost all of Sydney’s 20,000 taxis are fitted with Cabcharge terminals, while about 25 per cent contain secondary terminals.The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is pursuing Cabcharge in the Federal Court over alleged anti-competitive behaviour on the grounds that it created barriers to entry by new players and used its ”substantial degree of power” to discourage competition.Live Payments is one of six companies expected to give evidence in the trial, which is set down for October 4 in Melbourne. Cabcharge declined to comment when contacted by the Herald yesterday.Live Payments, which held a launch on Tuesday, will enable passengers to pay using its own brand of cards and vouchers that can still be used on Cabcharge terminals where a Live Payments one is not available. Live Payments will still charge a 10 per cent processing fee, but unlike Cabcharge, which doesn’t pass on any of the fee to drivers, Mr Varga said drivers using Live Payments would receive a 30 to 40 per cent cut.The Transport Australia Xpress System, developed by the breakaway industry group the Australian Taxi Drivers Association, will broadcast jobs and accept payments using mobile phone technology. It will undercut both Cabcharge and Live Payments by charging 8.5 per cent commission for credit card payments and 5 per cent for payments from debit accounts. Passengers will also receive the driver’s name, taxi and phone numbers at the time of booking. ”In Sydney there are 14 million bookings over the network each year,” a spokesman for Xpress, Michael Jools, said. ”From that only 9 million get picked up.”He said Cabcharge had used ”regulatory stealth” to secure a deal that gives it exclusivity over payments for government subsidy schemes, such as taxi trips for the disabled.
Nanjing Night Net