European Taxi Drivers Lose Their Collective Mind Over Uber

from the yeah,-like-that's-going-to-help dept

Okay, there are some legitimate gripes one can have about driver-on-demand services like Uber even if I think many are overstated. You can complain that you don’t like the way the company runs its business. You can question the company’s commitment to privacy. You can question the company’s hardball tactics with politicians and journalists. You can even question the impact that the company has had on the market. These are all legitimate areas to explore, though the deeper you go, the more you’re likely to realize that most of the complaints are exaggerated. However, the really crazy kneejerk anti-Uber sentiment tends to be ridiculous, and frequently driven by cab companies that just don’t like the competition. For those who use Uber, the service is almost always significantly better, more convenient (and these days, often cheaper) than traditional cab service. That’s what happens when you’re enabling competition in a previously limited market.

But some folks still are going absolutely nuts over Uber, and France appears to be ground zero for the craziest of the crazy anti-Uber folks. We’d already mentioned that French officials had raided Uber’s offices not too long ago, but today cab drivers decided to “protest” Uber by… showing that they’re a bunch of violent hooligans. At least that seems to be the message cab drivers are sending with today’s violent anti-Uber protests.

French taxi drivers blocked the entrances to Paris?s major airports and train stations, while disruptions were also reported in other cities, including Marseille and Aix-en-Provence in the South.

In Grenoble, near the border with Italy, taxi associations burned tires on the highway, while in Paris, police officers in riot gear used tear gas to disrupt the protests.

The anger from French taxi drivers is the latest in a series of challenges confronting Uber, which has been accused by taxi associations and some policy makers of breaking national transportation laws and of creating unfair competition to traditional taxis. The ride-booking service faces regulatory scrutiny in many of the countries in which it operates.

If the fire situation didn’t already give you a clue, these protests quickly went beyond mere protests, to true modern Luddism, with taxi drivers starting to flip cars and setting more fires.

Of all people, Courtney Love was in Paris and found herself held hostage because of the violent attacks:

Originally, this morning I was just going to write a post about London’s silly move to make Uber drivers pass a special test akin to the infamous “The Knowledge,” but then France cabbies went and did this sort of overreaction.

So here’s the question: what do these cabbies think they’re accomplishing here? If Uber wasn’t a service that people wanted to use, then there wouldn’t be a problem. But it is something they want to use, and it’s a service they like. Getting violent, flipping cars, setting fires and terrorizing passengers is going to do what exactly? Suddenly get everyone to think “why, yes, I’d rather pay extra money and take a ride with these sociopaths?” Yes, Uber can be a bit brash in how it carries itself, but the way to deal with that is to provide a better service. Flipping cars and setting fires does not appear to be doing anything related to that.

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Companies: uber

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Comments on “European Taxi Drivers Lose Their Collective Mind Over Uber”

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57 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That. Have my insightful vote. Instead of spending that much energy in pointless actions like these they should be working to improve regular cab services so people will want to use them even if the competition offers lower prices.

Suddenly get everyone to think “why, yes, I’d rather pay extra money and take a ride with these sociopaths?”

I dunno in France but here the taxi drivers could start by maintaining their cars in better conditions and being less of lunatics while driving (ie: driving more safely).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, Ninja
In france they think they are owed all the respect and the adoration of pretty little princesses while giving nothing back. There was recently a post by a parisian saying that he had to pay over 100 euros for a ride that wouldve cost him 2euros if the subway was still going at that hour and the reason was that the taximan just drove in circles because he fell asleep. Some of them expect to just be able to profit from tourists by charging exorbiting rates at the exits of the trainstations.

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: Re: Damn collectivists

Yep. I’ve never seen any group of people so intent on enforcing conformity via shaming and name-calling. The identity groups are the worst. So much for individualism.

I know I’ve mentioned this before but local minicab firms over here have taken an “If you can’t beat them, join them” approach and many of their drivers also do Uber. It’s the smart thing to do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The problem is that the taxi cab cartels seek to limit the number of available taxi cab drivers through a limited license. It’s not like anyone can simply take a test proving their knowledge, attain a medallion, and become an independent driver. No, the corrupt government artificially limits the number of drivers altogether. The taxi cab cartels don’t like Uber because it offers competition that wasn’t previously available thanks to government restrictions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I wish you were correct but, no. Inner-city London is utterly mad. GPS units aren’t enough.
You’ve got to be thinking about your lane placement and traffic density several turns ahead. GPS units don’t monitor traffic effectively enough, nor give directions in an effective enough manner to navigate that madhouse. I’m not saying they can’t progress to that level, but they don’t give good enough directions today to replace The Knowledge as a navigation aid for a cross-city taxi driver.
Other cities, sure, throw a GPS unit into the car and go pick someone up. London, no.

JustShutUpAndObey says:

Recent Uber user experience

I’ve been using Uber and Lyft for the last two weeks due to car trouble and love it for these reasons:
1. Drivers (and passengers) have both been pre-vetted by Uber. If either of us tries to rob the other, we WILL be caught.
2. No money changes hands (cash or credit)- Uber already has my credit card (the driver doesn’t) and will charge me. The driver doesn’t have to worry about me dashing without paying, and I don’t have to worry about being charged a “funny” last minute amount.
3. Drivers are rated by passengers and I can decline a ride if the driver has a lower rating.
4. Passengers are also rated, and drivers can decline them too. There is an incentive for both parties to be polite.
5. The App: This is a much bigger advantage than is usually noted: I can see how far away the driver is, I can see his car moving on the map, along with the estimate of how many minutes. Once picked up, I can continuously monitor our progress.
6. Because Uber and Lyft use similar apps, I can check both to see who is closest BEFORE I request a pickup.

In addition to those points, all drivers (about a dozen so far) have been prompt, had very clean cars, and have known and taken the most efficient route. In contrast, last time I called for a cab, they took an hour and a half to arrive, despite telling me numerous times they were 5 minutes away.

Feeling sorry for taxi drivers is like feeling sorry for telemarketers: I do, but only a very little bit.

Ninja (profile) says:

A little off-topic (or not), one of the criticisms directed towards Uber and greatly trumpeted by cab drivers is that Uber drivers don’t have that innate knowledge about roads and places and often rely on GPS for reaching their destinations. I personally find this point rather amusing given there are plenty of stories of cab drivers taking longer routes or wrong ways just to increase the price of the run. I guess that phrase summarizes what most people think of this quite well:

“why, yes, I’d rather pay extra money and take a ride with these sociopaths?”

Eli says:

Uber is a pretty gross company. Most of the Lyft drivers I have said they stopped doing Uber because they were getting screwed on pay and tips. That being said the traditional taxi market is just like any protected market, horrible for users great for providers. Hopefully more moral companies can rise up and replace traditional taxis as well as Uber.

Also how have taxi companies not just banded together to develop their own app? Are they that stuck in their ways.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Also how have taxi companies not just banded together to develop their own app?

Because they are lazy. They have been in an environment that couldn’t be disrupted till recently. Instead of trying to compete, they want the government to step in and shut down the competition. It still boggles my mind that taxi companies haven’t released an app yet. Just seems like the similar app would help taxi companies cut costs and increase profitability.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Nothing Unusual

France is a country where bossnappings – strikers kidnapping their bosses and holding them hostage – is a time-honored negotiating tactic. Protests by truckers, farmers, students make the Uber one look like a strongly worded memo.

Come back in five or ten years. The Uber drivers will be flipping and burning the self-driving cars that replace them.

Things that make you go HMM. says:

How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

(For noobs, fanboys will PAY Techdirt to get comments placed above others, total snobbery.) Some attempt at promoting “insightful” that I missed? Or is it just Masnick astroturfing again (either with real comment or flat out phony), as SO HAPPENS that the comment is gushing praise of Uber?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

Uh huh. No explanation at all. It’s not like this site isn’t already filled with examples of your pandering to corporations or anything.

Oh, wait. You do it every day you show your face here!

JustShutUpAndObey says:

Re: Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

In My Humble Opinion, the identity of any poster, and whether or not that poster has a profile or not, should be irrelevant.

Posts (again IMHO) ought to rise or fall strictly based on their content. To operate otherwise is to (potentially) judge them (as you say) based on relationship to the established authority. I don’t think you really want that.

JustShutUpAndObey has no intention of establishing a profile now or in the future.

RD says:

Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

Reported, and having all the people in my office and my multiple devices report as well, because you are a complete low-grade moronic idiot if you really think people here pay (on the “pirate support site”? REALLY??) to have their comments upped and insightful.

What a sad life you must live, to be so paranoid and filled with irrational hate of someone in life who is more successful at what they do than you are.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

I rated the comment as insightful. Obviously others agreed. And yet I’m not getting my parking validated by Techdirt.

It’s possible to appreciate and praise a new business model with being a paid astroturfer. If you disagree, then the obvious response is to question whether you yourself are astroturfing for the traditional taxi services.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

I think that feature has been in techdirt for quite a while, couple years maybe. I believe that if enough people hit insightful with a certain time period it is posted that way. I don’t believe yours will ever make that list. Your comments only ever attack and don’t promote discussion. The couple times I have seen you post something that I thought had good discussion points but was worded in ways that still made me hit the report button.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

No, I think the commenter is correct. I think Techdirt allows (certain?) insiders to place certain comments in the highlights section. I don’t see a problem with it. If the commenter wants to have that choice s/he is free to become an insider. Or he can start his own blog and run it how he sees fit.

“Or is it just Masnick astroturfing again”

I don’t remember Techdirt ever proclaiming the highlights section to be organically produced. Now, if it did, that would be misleading. but it never did. In fact it was somewhere on Techdirt that I remember it explaining what the highlight section is and how it gets selected. I’m sure you read it from the same place I did. So the blog is being transparent about it.

But you, as usual, are being misleading. You are attempting to pretend that Techdirt is intentionally misleading people into believing the highlights section is organically produced when they never did any such thing. You are also changing the subject and attempting to derail the conversation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

(sorry, the part below the quotes should be directed at the quote’s author).

I can’t find the Techdirt page that explains the highlights section, perhaps someone else can link to it.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

Techdirt Insiders get First/Last Word credits with purchases. Some packages include monthly replenishes of credits. They can be used on any comment from anybody, including non-registered AC’s and even their own comments if they wish. It’s all laid out here in plain English for anyone to read:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120815/01490520058/first-word-last-word-letting-our-biggest-fans-help-shape-conversation-our-comments.shtml

That Blue considers anything he doesn’t understand (or doesn’t bother to research) as a conspiracy is very telling.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

One of the perks of a Techdirt insider subscription is that “Any user with credits can elect any comment by themselves or another user to be permanently featured in the First Word or Last Word position, provided someone else hasn’t beat them to it on the post in question. […] First Word/Last Word credits are included with most purchases in the Insider Shop.”

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

I don’t remember Techdirt ever proclaiming the highlights section to be organically produced. Now, if it did, that would be misleading. but it never did. In fact it was somewhere on Techdirt that I remember it explaining what the highlight section is and how it gets selected. I’m sure you read it from the same place I did. So the blog is being transparent about it.

It’s explained in lots of places INCLUDING if you click on the little question mark in the upper right hand corner of the highlighted comment itself.

And also here: https://rtb.techdirt.com/features/#fwlw-credits

and also here: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120815/01274520057/announcing-new-techdirt-insider-shop.shtml

If you’re a Techdirt Insider you get a certain number of “first word/last word” credits each month that you can allocate to any comment you want. I don’t even get to see who uses the credits, so I have no clue how that one was chosen, but someone with credits chose to highlight it.

mischab1 says:

Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

Are you really trying to argue that comments should only be allowed to be marked as First Word or Last Word if the person making the comment signed in and created a profile first? Talk about snobbery.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

I don’t think the person making the comment has to be the person marking it as a highlight. IIRC, someone else can mark any random AC’s comment as first or last as well.

I don’t see the issue here. Why is “Things that make you go HMM., Jun 25th, 2015 @ 11:36am” making this into such a big deal. It’s really not and I think we have much more important things to discuss, like the OP.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

“I don’t think the person making the comment has to be the person marking it as a highlight. IIRC, someone else can mark any random AC’s comment as first or last as well.”

That’s right. I subscribe, and I get first/last word credits. And I use a couple of them a month on average. I’ve never used them on any of my own comments, and I think about half of the time I’ve used them on comments made by anonymous cowards.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: How EXACTLY does the comment by " JustShutUpAndObey" get the "First Word" linkage above when that person has no visible profile?

Just so you know, I placed the comment there before it was marked insightful because I (as in, it is my own opinion) think that the comment summarizes pretty well the Uber experience. So, contrary to your lunatic need of seeing conspiracies everywhere, Mike has absolutely nothing to do with it nor I’m some ominous commercial entity with ulterior motives. Incidentally it seems some people agreed with me as it was marked insightful afterwards.

Anonymous Coward says:

Reminds me...

Reminds me of the time we took a vacation on a small East Indies island. One of the attractions was a trip up an overgrown rainforest river with a local river-man who would paddle the small canoe. When we drove into town, we were swamped by potential guides who proceeded to chase us down the street shouting at us and pounding on the windows to sell their tour. Another couple told us that two potential guides got into a knife fight to see who would take them up the dark, remote river. “Uh, thanks anyway…”. We passed…

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The problem with that approach is it only help for those first few shifts and even then not really. You can total your taxi in an at-fault accident and not get fired. Once your employed, its really hard to be not employed. The vetting process in many areas is a joke, and after it you still have no idea how good a driver is.

Case says:

So that's what you call competition?

(and these days, often cheaper) than traditional cab service. That’s what happens when you’re enabling competition in a previously limited market.

No, that’s what happens when other market players pay license fees as they are required to, while you simply ignore those laws.
Uber’s business model relies on being able to provide a cheaper service because everybody else in the market is being burdened by costly fees required to run their business. The only difference from your average protectionism scheme is that they don’t create such a scenario by greasing politicians, they’re creating it by going “lalala, I can’t hear you” over any legal requirement which might cost them extra.

E H A says:

Uber Cab

Uber is a pretty gross company. Most of the Lyft drivers I have said they stopped doing Uber because they were getting screwed on pay and tips. That being said the traditional taxi market is just like any protected market, horrible for users great for providers. Hopefully more moral companies can rise up and replace traditional taxis as well as Uber.

Also how have taxi companies not just banded together to develop their own app? Are they that stuck in their ways.

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