I don't recognise any contemporary gangs in Britain as proper organised crime groups. They consist of uneducated hoodie wearing flops whose speciality is mostly in petty crime and abusing the elderly. Today's Cosa Nostras of Britain don't run cartels. Firstly because they never finished that BTech business degree their families hoped for and thus have no knowledge of the word 'monopoly', secondly because they're outsmarted by polite mobile lone wolfs who know better how to run that illegal drugs business and how intimidate you into buying with their first class customer service.
There's one, of course, gang-like cartel still existing in London. Black cabbies are the last remaining fortress of old-fashioned gansterism. They try to terrorise online the living out of you into using their services, which are blindly overpriced and not even in comparison with the most of minicab companies or innovative apps such as Uber or Hailo. In fact, as a proper cartel, they try their best to kill off any advancement of technology by lobbying to ban it, as it happened in other cities across the world. Shocking truth really, gang cartels as such don't behave in a consumer-friendly way. Why should they? Black cabs drivers are self-righteous that they're underpaid and thus lobby all the time for fare increases. In the wet dream of a black cabbie, they would be the primary transport of commuters and would charge double that it's charged now.
I had a quandary as every festive season. You know, the TfL decided that the 25th of December is the day reserved to spend time with your family. It's fine by me, as far as it goes, but how do I get to spend the time with relatives if I have to catapult myself through six zones of London, as according to London underground map. I could opt for a black cab, a minicab, or use a state-of-the-art app such as Uber. In the respective order, they ask you from the highest fare to the lowest. The problem with blacks (meaning cabs of course) is that they charge chunkily more on that blessed day because that's exactly how monopolies behave. Minicabs, while say that the charge is the same as usual, fluctuate in their proclaimed fairness. When it comes to Uber, I didn't really know anything about their pricing during the Christmas day, so I asked for an answer.
The response I got on Twitter was that Uber charges the same since it's an app based on supply and demand and it would have higher pricing only if all drivers suddenly become lazy drifters. Great, I thought. A final nail in the coffin of black cabs that abuse the privilege and inflate fares almost by double on the day. Predictably, drivers of black cabs didn't like this thought of mine. Officially, the fare by the blacks for the day was only a fixed rate of £4 plus whatever the meter shows, which is nothing for a Londoner you'd think, but 'officially' is the vital keyword here. By stopping at every forsaken crossing at 4am, taking the longest route once they find out that 'this is the first time I'm visiting my sister's house here', driving at criminally legal speed and thus burning the precious time in order to balloon the bill of the ride. But since they posses The Knowledge of knowing every London street we tolerate this idiocy because we love authoritative people, no matter how laughable it may sound in the world of GPS. A bit like librarians who base their existence on knowing on which shelf the book is located.
In the past, Italian mafias used to silence their critics by the usual practice of kapish at a gunpoint or by a few broken ribs. But in the era of social media, employing the same techniques probably are too much resembling their youth to Cockney wags who got their driving licences and took the trade of taxicab driving. What they do instead now is gang up on social media. Dozen of Twitter accounts, with bios such as 'proud black cab driver' are lurking around the Twittersphere and pick on any anti black cab rant. They start posting those one time examples of Uber overcharges, by the way - by the people who are absolutely worth it because they couldn't understand what does '2x price surge' means, and call you a bloody fool for uttering the disapproval of the cabs. A confusing marketing tactic, I would opinion, calling someone an ignorant bastard yet complaining for people choosing other means of transport and trying to ban the service which actually offers pleasant service and gratitude for using it.
There are dozens of sites and evidently fake social media accounts designated deliberately for patrolling the Internet and making sure that people know that streets are marked as their territory. It's not possible to know, but I wouldn't be surprised if those campaigns to expose the sins of alternative transport is funded by the same lobby group and not just concerned truthers of fairness. But I guess I should leave you here without making any binding allegations.
It's indeed beyond me how black cabs drivers have avoided the breakup of their cartel. They tried to put whole city of London to halt by protesting Uber in September, which only showed only how replaceable and horrid they are. The massive fares they charge is one thing to consider before hailing a cab, but the divine belief in relevancy is becoming another thing. Not to be didactic, but I think Europe did enough hailing, plenty of that repulsive authoritarian hand gesture. It's about time to respond to it by taking phones out of our pockets and use them in the way nerds intended.