back to article Ad banned for suggesting London black cabs have properties that prevent the spread of coronavirus

Though taxis can do a lot of things, like getting one from A to B, emptying out bank accounts, and even transporting BSODs, we suspect that preventing the spread of COVID-19 is not one of them. It appears the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) would agree because an ad by the the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) has …

  1. Tim 11

    Seems a bit harsh

    At the risk of inciting a flame war, the decision seems a bit harsh to me. I would imagine the risks of catching anything from the driver in a black cab with the screen is significantly less than in a normal minicab due to the screen. On balance I think that would be enough to make the difference between whether I felt safe enough to use one or not.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Seems a bit harsh

      @Tim 11

      Glad I am not the only one. Although reading the transcript it doesnt look like it is promoting anything other than protection from the driver interaction.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Seems a bit harsh

        >>>protection from the driver interaction<<< Isn't that enough justification!

      2. cyberdemon Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Seems a bit harsh

        Glad i'm not the only one either..

        Seems as if had they left out the word 'over', then the judgement might've gone the other way.. Which is odd, since the difference between "exactly 2 metres" and "over 2 metres" is mathematically zero. Plus there is a screen, so it is more protection than the requisite 2 metres without a screen.

        As others have pointed out, it certainly seems a lot safer than riding a bus, train or tube where people may or may not wear masks, there are many times more of them (and therefore many times higher chance that one of them is infected), or indeed riding an Uber with a hanging plastic sheet, which only seems to waft the air about.

        I wonder if the person who reported this to the ASA was a self-employed contractor ("my boss is an App!")

      3. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Seems a bit harsh

        Lobbying from Uber........

        Nuf said

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Seems a bit harsh

      Yep In all the black cabs I've caught since 'lockdown one' there has been a seal on the cash payment hole. All the cabbies were wearing masks and quite a few had hand sanitser in the back for customers to use. One told me that she cleaned all the touch points and the seats in between jobs. I also have a window open to reduce chances further and am always wearing a mask.

      I certainly feel safer from covid in a black cab than on the bus or the tube. I also don't understand people on trains who despite the carriage being empty come and sit extremely close to you. Yes they're normally but not always 2m away but they could easily be 4 times that. What the fudge is that all about? I normally mover to another seat further away to make a point. One of my colleagues has stopped using Uber because she felt she was just sharing a car with a stranger. Albeit a car driven by a masked stranger which also didn't help with her fears.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Seems a bit harsh

        Self interest alone would suggest the cabbies are trying hard to avoid catching anything from us punters as well. They're don't have the best job for a robust cardiopulmonary system.

      2. cd

        Re: Seems a bit harsh

        Similar to when I park in a spot in a back corner of a shopping center lot, just want to sit alone for a bit. Someone will then park right beside me. I'm assuming this is some sort of neurotypical compassion/empathy thing where people shouldn't be left alone or something.

        They nearly always look like limited types with no inner life. If anything, they make me even more considering of doing away with myself, if only to get away from them.

        1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Seems a bit harsh

          That's some A-grade misanthropy.

          1. cornetman Silver badge

            Re: Seems a bit harsh

            > That's some A-grade misanthropy.

            I dunno about that. I'm not particularly anti-social but my commute time is "my time" and I actively avoid bumping into people that I know so that I don't have to interact with them. It's just a great time to decompress and checkout for an hour.

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

              Agreed

              I fail to see what the problem is with keeping to oneself.

              If I'm out and about, especially these days, it's because I have somewhere to go and something to do. Spending dozens of minutes in conversation is not on the schedule.

              Yes, I'm not a complete troll (getting there though) - if I meet someone I recognize I will politely ask how they're doing and give the basic responses, but if I want a lengthy conversation I prefer it in a more relaxed environment, i.e. my living room or theirs.

              With a glass of something, preferably. And some munchies.

        2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Supermarket parking

          I'm sure that there is some law just waiting for a PHD student to put their name to that relates to why people do:-

          1) Park as close to the entrance as possible even though they are probably going to use a trolley.

          2) If you have parked well away from the entrance in an area where there are few cars parked, the next car to arrive in that area will park right next to you and with a high probability that they'll :-

          a) park on the side adjacent to your drivers door

          and

          b) park so close as to make getting into your vehilcle next to impossible.

          Such are the problems of modern life.

          1. dwyermic

            Re: Supermarket parking

            Years ago, I lived in a remote town in western Australia, and used to own and drive a Mini Moke there. I hardly ever cleaned the exterior body and left it dusty and dirty. I never had a problem with people parking right next to it. Wish I still had it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Supermarket parking

              With a Moke being narrower than most of today's cars and not having doors, it's a doddle getting in and out when parked in a supermarket car park

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Seems a bit harsh

          Try to exclude the words, I, me, my or myself from every sentence you speak.

          You'll feel better in general.

      3. cornetman Silver badge

        Re: Seems a bit harsh

        > I also don't understand people on trains who despite the carriage being empty come and sit extremely close to you. Yes they're normally but not always 2m away but they could easily be 4 times that. What the fudge is that all about? I normally mover to another seat further away to make a point.

        That's a phenomenon that I have noticed on the Skytrain here. It's weird isn't it?

        Practically empty carriage and the one passenger has to come and sit right in front of me.

        We are all wearing masks, but that is supposed to be the second line of defence *after* maintaining distance from others.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Seems a bit harsh

          Are you cute?!

          1. cornetman Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Seems a bit harsh

            I really couldn't say. However, my self confidence just went up a little.

        2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Seems a bit harsh

          A lot of people are craving social contact. The average human is a social creature and needs to be in a group, even an ad hoc one. There is probably some survival value in being ASD or misanthropic during a plague :-)

    3. AdamWill

      Re: Seems a bit harsh

      "Wrapping up, the ASA said that although it recognised the intention was merely to talk up features of black cabs that "might be particularly attractive to consumers in the context of COVID-19", because it could not be guaranteed that riders would be "over" two metres nor "completely separated from the driver", the ad was deemed to exaggerate its coronavirus-stymying properties."

      i.e., "yes, we get you were sort of just trying to push a warm fuzzy feeling, but the actual things you said are not, in point of fact, strictly true, and that's sort of the thing we're here to deal with, so."

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: Seems a bit harsh

        "i.e., "yes, we get you were sort of just trying to push a warm fuzzy feeling, but the actual things you said are not, in point of fact, strictly true, and that's sort of the thing we're here to deal with, so.""

        Exactly. The ruling does seem a bit harsh if you only consider the general gist of things. Black cabs have various features that actually would do pretty well at limiting the spread of diseases live covid compared to a normal car, so if they'd kept to just saying that it would have been fine. But if you're going to make claims about specific numbers and it turns out those numbers aren't actually correct, that's obviously going to be a problem to an oversight body whose entire job is checking you're not saying things that aren't actually correct.

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Seems a bit harsh

          If all ads were held to the same degree of exactitude, advertising hoardings across the country would be blank, colour supplements would be mere leaflets, and ITV could be done by 3pm!

    4. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Seems a bit harsh

      False advertising is still false. The ad said two meters and that was not true in all cabs.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems a bit harsh

      Sorry, are you on some heavy medication?

      Covid19 is able to stay on a myriad of surfaces for a very long time. The door handles of a black cab will have been used by customers, the driver (to check the rear area) and other parts, such as the seatbelt, will have been touched a lot over the previous fortnight.

      The notion that the virus is only airborne reeks from your post. Ultimately black cabs are very expensive and no more or less clean than, for example, trains. You don't have to touch anything when getting on or off a train and they're mostly empty now, so far less chance of touching covid and transferring it to yourself and the windows are opened on all the ones here in Scotland.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Seems a bit harsh

        The fact that *all* risk is not eliminated does not mean that they cannot be considerably safer than the alternatives.

        1. Insert sadsack pun here

          Re: Seems a bit harsh

          Well, yeah, no-one is disagreeing with that. It's just that that wasn't what the bleeding ad said!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uber vs Black cab flame war incoming.

    Followed by horse and cart vs the automobile .

  3. aidanstevens

    Aerosols

    Surely the problem is aerosols from one passenger still being present in the air in the back of the cab - it's a sealed box, after all - ready to be inhaled by the next occupant?

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Aerosols

      You just open the windows or at least that's what I do.

    2. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: Aerosols

      You have to beware of complete aerosols.

    3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Aerosols

      The probability of infection decreases significantly with time. As said in a previous post, the fact that the risk is not eliminated entirely doe not mean that it is not safer than the common alternatives.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Aerosols

      Quite. It's the passenger before me who sneezed on the door handle before he got out that would be my bigger concern.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Aerosols

        That's what the provided or your own hand sanitiser is for.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

      Walk? London isn't really that big, a bit further from your start station - grab a hire bike.

      It's amazing the number of people who have no idea how far things are apart in London. I've shown a number of passengers much faster ways to their destinations, but then I've also seen people get onto the northern line at Warren Street and off at Goodge Street. (not quite covent garden - leicester square, but not far off)

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

        A hire bike is useless if you have bulky luggage. I agree some stations are closer than the Tube map suggests. My main reasons for getting a cab is that I'm late and I'm supporting somone who had no income during lockdown. As I was and am again furloughed and on full pay (company makes up the difference) I feel that's the right thing to do. The same with my cleaner who has really suffered from a drop in income, I've got an annual travel card so TFL aren't doing badly out of me either.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

          "A hire bike is useless if you have bulky luggage."

          Very bulky luggage I agree, though the real comment was on "meetings near paddington" - as one of the major rail entry points that rather suggests someone coming in on that line - and I don't expect meetings to need bulky luggage.

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

        An even more extreme example is Paddington to Lancaster Gate.

        I've seen people take the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus and change to the Central Line.

        The walking distance between the front of Paddington Station and Lancaster Gate is about the same as from the front of Paddington Station to the back of Paddington Station.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

          Many of us visitors don't have "The knowledge" - all directions to anywhere are based off tube stations

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

            > Many of us visitors don't have "The knowledge" - all directions to anywhere are based off tube stations

            Right but you do have access to "maps", most commonly in the form of Google maps. I once worked at Holborn Circus and there were colleagues who complained about the hassle of getting from Waterloo or Euston by tube. In both cases it's easier to just walk and a hell of a lot more pleasant. Or get a bus if you can't walk (or it's pissing down).

            I only use the tube if I have to in London. Most places are walkable from Waterloo, which is where my train comes in.

            As for black cabs, I've had too many bad experiences with them and I try to avoid. They're not all bad of course but I prefer not to use them.

          2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

            Many of us visitors don't have "The knowledge" - all directions to anywhere are based off tube stations

            The 90s called , they want their A-2-Z back!

            .

            A bet a few of the visitors have got smarphones,

            With magic maps that zoom in and aout , have a little "U R here" dot and even little dynamic dotted lines for you to follow.

            You have little excuse for less than perfect navigation these days.

            (on foot that is , in car different story)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

              You both still miss the point.

              Brochures, guides, websites, give directions based on the tube stop.

              Why would someone read those and go "You lie. I'm going to now get my phone out, fire up maps, type in the location, and het it to calculate a quicker route in this strange city I don't know"

              Believe it or not, not everyone knows or cares much about it. If someone has directions to a place, they generally don't second guess them with some gadget they may have in their pocket for facebook, whatsapp, and phone calls

              1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

                If the difrections start at a place you are not going to be , said tube stop, You're going to have to do some manual interpretation of the directions.

                Or do you just prefix that with another set of directions to get to the tuopbe stop to follow the first set , which could mean some travel in completly the wromg direction

              2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

                i've actually used a magnetic compass when getting off a train in European cities before now.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

            https://mappinglondon.co.uk/2019/walking-tube-map-extended/

            1. katrinab Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

              That shows walking times between stations on the same line, but not walking times between stations on different lines.

              Paddington to Lancaster Gate looks like you have to walk half-way across zone 1. You don't.

              Warren Street looks like it is mid-way between Euston Square and Great Portland Street. It is practically next door to Euston Square.

              Queensway to Bayswater looks like they are a fair walk away. Again, they are practically next door.

              By walking to a different line, you can sometimes save massive amounts of time on your journey.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

        If you don't know London, it's difficult to do it any other way - all directions are based off tube stops.

        Still, I didn't downvote you!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

      Shall I compare Tube travel to a Taxi Cab?

      Thou have more lurgy, and raised temperatures,

      Rough hands shake not the disinfected ways to pay

      For Covid's lease hath all to short a date;

      -

      ... oh, I give up. I don't really think it was working anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

        Oh it was working - you just need a couple more quatrains and a couplet.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Can we compare Tube travel to a ride in a Taxi.

      "When I have to visit London and have to use the tube, I always end up with something. If its not sticky dirty hands or chewing gum on my trousers I end up catching a cold. I travelling on the tube, I am subjected to hot and cold temperatures (cold platforms and draft tube) and then subjected to the fumes and dust of the tube and the streets of london."

      Maybe it's because you don't travel there often enough. The regulars will build up an immunity to the hive of infection and scumminess :-)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd be more concerned about them using the word "bubble". Since that word has a specific meaning in Coronovirus legislation it could give a false impression that black cabs were somehow exempt from the rules about social distancing.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      very few people seen to understand the idea of a bubble as it is , so they wont make it much worse.

      (1 bubble each!)

  6. MOH

    How does the distance from the driver protect you if the previous passenger in your seat had been coughing and sneezing Covid all around the back of the cab?

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      You might say the same

      about any particular location in a public place. If the area is reasonably busy you can never be sure you aren't walking through a cloud of viral particles someone has just sneezed out. But aerosols settle so if no one is actively breathing on you, (and you're taking the recommended precautions) your main concern should be to avoid surfaces that might have been recently touched.

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      "

      How does the distance from the driver protect you if the previous passenger in your seat had been coughing and sneezing Covid all around the back of the cab?

      "

      That's a bit like asking how a seat belt can protect you if a falling tree crushes your car. The fact that something does not protect you from one type of risk does not mean that is ineffective at protecting you from a different risk vector.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        That's a bit like asking how a seat belt can protect you if a falling tree crushes your car

        Thats exactly the example i've been using when people use the:

        "Its not 100% effective immediatlely in all cases for everybody , so im gonna use that as an excuse to ignore all advice go and do what the fuck I want"

        rationale

  7. chivo243 Silver badge
    Devil

    When is Marketing or Advertising the truth?

    Huh? What? You want truth in marketing and advertising? Hahahahahhahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahhahhaaaa ha

    ha!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When is Marketing or Advertising the truth?

      PR and spin.

      Truth is coincidental.

  8. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Failed on the two metre rule?

    If there is a wall between you and the other person, surely the two metre rule doesn't apply?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: If there is a wall between you and the other person

      Well said.

      Given the paper thin walls of many modern houses these days, you could be well under 2m away from your neighbour and who knows, made to self-isolate if they get the Chinese Lurgi...

      Fail. Mega fail.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Failed on the two metre rule?

      tell that to the test and trace app!

  9. Claverhouse Silver badge
    FAIL

    Never in favour of Advertising

    But it was a reasonable assumption and I doubt anyone ever caught Flu through taking a Black Cab instead of a bus.

    Haven't they anything better to do ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never in favour of Advertising

      "Something" must be seen to be being done...

  10. quartzz

    yes you're isolated from the driver....

    but what about the previous 20 people that used the cab that day?

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      yes you're isolated from the driver....

      but what about the previous 20 people that used the cab that day?

      Seriously?

      1. quartzz

        yeah. seriously. what about the previous 20 people who have been in the 1 metre by 2 metre space that you're currently sitting in?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You mean <the government approved> public transport.

          Which is presumably safe or they'd have banned it.

          1. quartzz

            riight...

            or they want people to pay money to get taxis

  11. Barrie Shepherd

    Who do I complain to.....

    The ASA decisions have always been questionable and many are PC driven.

    They uphold some frivolous complaint from a couple of people who have 'been offended' but ignore complaints where there is, IMHO, clear breach and intent to con the punter. (I won't harp on about the distortions in the Smart Meter 'Adverts' - which cannot be challenged because they are 'Public Information Announcements')

    There needs to be an Advertising Standards Authority, Standards Authority to investigate them.

  12. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Covid-Safe Black Cabs

    There is hardly any risk of a member of the public catching Covid-19 from these Black Cabs...

    https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-hundreds-of-black-cabs-stored-in-fields-as-fares-in-london-dry-up-12136016

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the ASA

    The people that banned a Microsoft ad back along for showing life as a literal cradle to crave experience.

    Because that reality might upset fragile folk.

    1. quartzz

      Re: It's the ASA

      don't know - I haven't bought an X-box

  14. Richard 12 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    As always, the sanction is fake

    Being told not to run an advert again, months after it's already had its entire planned run.

    No different to being told not to use your car after selling it.

    Call me when the ASA apply an actual penalty, instead of doffing its hat and politely requesting that its master be highly misleading in a slightly different way next time.

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