Taxi Drivers In Europe 'Protest' Uber, Creating Astounding Media Attention, Massive Jump In Signups

from the best-promotion-uber-could-get dept

As you may have heard, cab drivers across Europe did the European-thing to protest the rise of disruptive services like Uber: they went on strike, snarling traffic in many European cities. Uber long ago learned that every attack on its service is a fantastic promotional opportunity, but this “strike” may have been the best by far. In other words, it appears to have completely backfired on the strikers, with Uber signups in London jumping an astounding 850%. Basically, the “protests” have pissed off people at cab drivers and made them more aware of Uber. I don’t see how that benefits the cab drivers.

In fact, Uber had been hovering around the 100th most popular app in the UK over the past few weeks, but it has suddenly jumped to number 3.

This may be the least successful mass protest in history. Not only does it fail to accomplish any of its goals, it appears to have massively helped those it was targeted against. As the EU’s Neelie Kroes points out, this is really part of a debate about the wider sharing economy, and the recognition that innovators are building new and disruptive services that are, quite frequently, much better for the public, even if they may be disruptive to existing businesses and employees.

But denying reality and trying to break the machines doesn’t work. Ever. And, as in this case, sometimes it actually benefits those they’re fighting against.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,
Companies: uber

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Taxi Drivers In Europe 'Protest' Uber, Creating Astounding Media Attention, Massive Jump In Signups”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Beta (profile) says:

Re: Didn't think this through

This wasn’t a strike in the conventional sense of refusing to work, it was daylight sabotage. The surface messages, “Apply the law equally!”, “Don’t destroy our livelihood!” was for public consumption (and for the less intelligent cabbies to believe). The real message was to government: “Suppress this new competitor, protect the monopoly you sold us, or we’ll damage the economy.”

It doesn’t matter how much business they send Uber’s way, if they succeed in getting Uber banned.

And I’ll bet the smarter cabbies are talking very quietly to people in city government: “You know all those big, fat license fees we pay you? Who’s going to pay you if Uber forces us out of business?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Didn't think this through

They could have done that without this. The fact that there was no catastrophe due to the fact that Uber picked up the slack meant that their threat really didn’t have any teeth. And simply because they attempted it, the government might be more inclined simply to give Uber what they want just to spite them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Those stopping traffic to protest competition should be arrested and taken to jail for breaking (traffic and/or other) laws. It’s perfectly OK for govt. established monopolists to hold secretive meetings with govt. officials and to break laws to get what they want and get away with it but when normal people protest government corruption they get water cannoned, arrested, etc…

The irony here is that govt. established monopolists complain when people break laws (the laws they wrote), proclaiming the virtues of following the laws, but then it’s perfectly OK for them to break laws to get what they want whenever it’s convenient to them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

As far as I understand it is a little more complicated. As far as I know the rules for running a “car for hire” is pretty strict. Since Uber use ordinary people it is unfair competition.

But here is the catch: Trying to demonstrate against it is abysmal and propably strenghtens Uber in the short term. Cabbies has gotten Uber illegalized in some places by appealing to a law on taximeters, but that seems more vindictive than a real concern. It is obvious that some deregulation is the only somewhat reasonable solution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

But you’re still missing the point. The laws are explicitly designed to limit competition by limiting the number of people that can drive taxicabs. The laws are written and intended to be unevenly applied. You need a taxicab medallion to drive a taxicab and the laws explicitly limit the number of taxicab medallions available.

It’s not a issue of ‘you must meet this safety requirement to get such a license’ it’s an issue of the laws expressly saying ‘there will be no more than xxx number of taxicab medallions”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Laws are written to assure a minimum standard of service. Unfair competition is a result of laws not getting evenly applied.”

Except you are being dishonest here. The laws here are not written to assure a minimum standard of service. They are intended to limit the number of taxicab drivers. So it is not a case of unfair competition it’s a case of unfair laws and they are not the same thing.

Ed (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

And a lot of “stupid shills” ignore the fact that the ordinances concerning taxi medallions and fees were instituted at the behest of the taxi companies themselves in order to limit competition. Now, they’re whining about the very idea they asked for. Wait… what’s that I hear?… could that tiny little sound be the world’s smallest violin playing a mournful tune?

Anonymous Coward says:

There is a reason postal service has monopoly. If you apply “free market” price of postage between NYC and DC will go down to 2c, but price to sent a letter from Nome Alaska to Ponce Perto Rico will cost $150.

If uber guys want to do business, let them do. Including all the crappy costs at a loss, just like regular cabies.

So far, Uber and airbnb business model is to scoop the cream, and screw everybody else.

Call me Al says:

Re: Re:

Wait what? When do regular cabbies do crappy jobs at a loss?

The typical thing you hear in London is someone hails a taxi, says where they want to go and the cabbie responds “No I’m not going that way” as if they were asking for a lift.

They aren’t required to offer their service to you so they are quite different to the postal system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Wow, when you don’t know what’s going on just make things up. No, taxicabs are not required to offer service to anyone.

and, really, the mailbox delivery monopolies should also be abolished. The claim that UPS charges a whole lot more to serve some distant location that USPS charges much less for is a lie you made up and UPS doesn’t even benefit from the economies of scale that the USPS benefits from.

and you know what else should be abolished? Govt. established cableco and broadcasting monopolies. Because the arguments there are equally as stupid made by equally ignorant, stupid, bought and dishonest shills like yourself and they have no evidence in their support.

How do you like being a dishonest shill?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In fact, that probably won’t be a bad thing to research. Lets put on a map all the locations that USPS serves that are either

A: Not served by either USPS or Fedex or

B: UPS and Fedex charge substantially more than USPS for the exact same package being delivered in the same amount of time.

I suspect we will find little difference between the price that USPS charges and their competitors in just about all locations and while USPS and Fedex do generally charge a little more that can easily be explained by the fact that they don’t benefit from the economies of scale that the USPS benefits from due to their govt. established mailbox delivery monopoly position.

Stuart Colley says:

taxi protests

Neelie Kroes is wrong if she thinks this is about the sharing economy. Taxi operators are already using digital innovation to offer more convenience and better services to customers. This is about taxis being subjected to regulation by politicians and then politicians allowing others to operate without regulation and then blaming the taxi industry when it objects.
Neelie Kroes is not calling for unregulated use of radio frequencies or unregulated mobile phone operators so why taxis?
I want my taxi to be insured, safe, with a driver that has not been convicted of any sexual offences, and at a price that is regulated.

Beta (profile) says:

Re: taxi protests

“I want my taxi to be insured, safe, with a driver that has not been convicted of any sexual offences, and at a price that is regulated. [emphasis added]

I want all that plus leather upholstery and Dom P?rignon on ice, and I want you to pay for it all.

You can describe the service you’re willing to buy at a free market price, or you can say that you want Someone Else to pay for your ride.

nasch (profile) says:


As the EU’s Neelie Kroes points out, this is really part of a debate about the wider sharing economy,

How is this part of a sharing economy? People are getting paid to perform a service. Is selling stuff I no longer need on Craigslist “sharing” too? I really don’t understand the application of that word to ordinary transactions involving money for services.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Sharing?

I think it’s being considered part of the ‘sharing economy’ because it’s not people creating businesses taxi-ing people around, they’re not forming companies with a set list of execs and employees, but instead it’s just a bunch of people who are using their everyday cars to taxi people around, and get some side cash because of it.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...