Russia: Taxi company Russifies drivers' names

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A taxi at nightImage source, Thinkstock

A Russian taxi company has been changing the names of its drivers, because it says those with non-Slav names are being discriminated against.

Get Taxi says drivers with names originating in Asia or the Caucasus had been receiving lower ratings on its booking app, which allows passengers to review their experiences. As an "experiment", the company decided to Russify the drivers' identities, apparently with their permission, to see if it made a difference to people's reviews, the business news website reports. "We don't want one driver to get a lower rating than another, just because of his name," says Get Taxi's owner Shahar Waiser, adding that all drivers have the same training and knowledge. He says the aim was to "reduce nationalism", but acknowledges it may have backfired. Mr Waiser says the company will now review its policy.

Social media users are broadly unimpressed with the move. "This is precisely a case when the customer is not right," says Moscow State University ethnologist Dmitry Oparin on his Facebook page. "If the customer refuses a driver with an 'exotic' name, he should proceed on foot." But the company may not be alone in its controversial practices. According to prominent Russian blogger Rustem Adagamov, the smartphone app for a rival taxi firm offers a "Slav driver" option at no extra charge.

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