Free Now is set to introduce a new €1 booking fee for taxi customers.
Customers received an email notification today from the company which said the new “technology fee” will come into effect from the start of next month, August 1.
The company said its updated terms and conditions include the following changes: “To allow for the introduction of new mobility services such as eBikes and eScooters, provided by our mobility partners through the Free Now app.
“A technology fee of €1 will apply to all taxi trips booked and successfully completed via the Free Now app.”
The company added: “These updates will allow us to continue to invest in improving Free Now’s technology and app quality.”
In 2019 Mytaxi formally rebranded itself as Free Now and introduced a number of new features, however, it also brought in a €5 cancellation fee for passengers but not for drivers.
The company’s website states: "In order to improve the efficiency of our service, we introduced a €5 passenger cancellation fee. You can still cancel your trip at any time, but please note you may be charged a fee in line with the preconditions set out below: You may be charged a cancellation fee when your driver has spent over two minutes driving to you or you didn't show up and your driver waited longer than five minutes.”
In a statement issued to Independent.ie a spokesperson for the National Transport Authority (NTA) said booking service providers can charge people for use of their platform.
"The driver may charge no more than is calculated on the taximeter. The booking service provider, however, may charge whatever it likes to its contracted customers for using its technological platform to book a journey,” the spokesperson said.
"It is up to the customer to decide whether they want to use the FreeNow App to book an SPSV with the extra €1 it will cost compared to other booking service providers who do not charge this technology fee. It is up to the customer to change to another booking service provider. The cost of the trip remains as calculated on the taximeter as the maximum fare.”
It comes as the NTA announced that taxi fares will increase by 12pc from September 1, while drivers must also provide cashless payment options for customers.
Passengers across the country have voiced their frustration at the lack taxis available during peak times since the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions at the start of this year.
In June, Free Now Ireland general manager, Niall Carson, said the fare increase will help drivers with rising costs and increase the national fleet.
"The proposed increase of fares by 12pc will help taxi drivers manage rising operating costs and earn a more reasonable living while they continue providing essential public transport throughout the country,” he said.
"An overwhelming majority of our driver partners surveyed last month stated that their ability to stay working as a taxi driver would be compromised if the NTA’s fare increase hadn’t come into effect.
"We hope the new rates will not only support existing taxi drivers in maintaining their careers in the sector, but will also help aspiring drivers to consider joining the licensed taxi driver fleet.
"With our national taxi fleet diminishing over the past 10 years by 30pc and further depletion since the pandemic, it’s crucial that we retain the great drivers we already have on our roads, while also exploring ways to bring new drivers on board.”