Last year, the Northern Ireland Assembly introduced new legislation, which means all taxis must now carry an approved printer receipt system in a bid to improve transparency. But with more than 10,000 taxis in the country, it’s also a valuable opportunity for electrical contractors to build their customer base through the installation of new equipment, explains Sarah Baines, Business Development Manager at Able Systems, a specialist in small printer solutions.
Most people remember an occasion when they feel they have been unfairly charged for a taxi journey. It might happen if they are in a new town and do not know if the fare accurately reflects the distance or perhaps feel the driver has plucked a price out of the air, rather than using the meter.
The taxi reforms recently implemented in Northern Ireland are expected to go a long way in eliminating some of these problems by promoting greater accountability in the sector. Businesses in particular should see a huge change when it comes to auditing staff expenses. Under the current system, handwritten notes issued by drivers make it difficult to keep accurate records, especially if they are illegible or do not include a VAT number.
However, it is not just the wider business community that could benefit from the new laws – electrical contractors will be able to tap into new markets through the installation of printers, helping drivers to fulfill their legal obligations and improve customer satisfaction.
If successful, the Northern Ireland taxi legislation could be implemented in other parts of the UK, opening up further opportunities for those in the electrical trades. London alone has 242,000 public and private hire cabs so the number of potential clients is enormous.
Reforms like these would also support other initiatives in the capital such as the introduction of card and contactless payment systems, which became mandatory for London black cabs last year. While this adds an extra level of convenience for customers, some might want more assurance that their card data is secure and that they are not going to be over-charged. Furthermore, YouGov research found that consumers still have concerns with mobile or non-traditional payment systems, with 81 per cent of those surveyed citing security as the primary issue. Producing receipts will no doubt help to eradicate this problem.
When seeking new business opportunities, it is therefore important that contractors stress that by installing receipt printers, drivers are creating robust and transparent systems that foster trust and loyalty with customers.
It is worth bearing in mind that when printers are installed, they must work with the taximeter. Many of the major contractors, notably Autocab and Viking, are already selling compatible systems – however, contractors may need to update software or reconfigure taximeters designed to work with mobile printers.
With clear accountability critical for both leisure and business customers, it is evident that operators must do all they can to bring their practices in line with other services. Despite only providing an online proof of receipt, one lesson we can take from Uber is that customers are made aware upfront about how much a journey is going to cost. It will be interesting to see if the company decides to provide printed receipts, as the demand for physical confirmation is clear to see for expenses and auditing purposes.
Even if the taxi reforms seen in Northern Ireland are not introduced across the UK, contractors should still be looking to work with operators who want to win the trust of customers and secure repeat business.
For further information on Able Systems, including its range of mini printers, visit www.able-systems.com.