Severn Trent has used Uber drivers to take a look at water leaks in a new bid to cut costs.
The water company carried out a series of two-week trials to find more efficient ways to find and fix leaks.
This involved deploying drivers to record video footage of about 50 small leaks, who sent images to engineers back at base, who in turn dispatched appropriate staff to deal with the issue.
This was to test whether this was cheaper than sending technicians straight out to reported leaks.
Severn Trent notes the drivers didn’t deal with customers at any point in the process.
Stuart Fegan, GMB National Officer, said: “When I found out Severn Trent are using taxi drivers to investigate leaks I thought it must be a joke.
“But no one is laughing – this has got huge safety implications for customers, the drivers and the public at large. Water engineers are highly trained specialists – they can spot if water is contaminated and if water produces a risk to the public. I doubt most taxi drivers can.”
A spokesperson for Severn Trent said: “We’ve carried out a series of two-week trials as we look to find new, more efficient ways to find and fix leaks. This particular trial has looked at around 50 small leaks where we’ve used taxi drivers rather than technicians as a cheaper way to get live video footage of the leak so our engineers back at base can quickly assess the correct response and dispatch the most appropriate team to fix it.
“We’re now looking at all the trial results to see the best way to help our engineers spend more time doing what’s best for our customers by fixing leaks rather than simply assessing them.”