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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 1:08pm

    Uber-Fail

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 1:16pm

    Didn't think this through

    They chose exactly the wrong circumstance to strike, perhaps out of reflex for striking to get what they want. What did they think would happen when people need transportation and they aren't available? That everything would just shut down? Hell no.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 1:17pm

    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.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 1:20pm

    Wow, the intelligence level of that stunt rivals the that of something the RIAA or MPAA would try. WTF did they think was going to happen?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 1:47pm

    Logic Fail

    1. Taxi drivers afraid of competition
    2. Taxi Drivers go on strike
    3. Taxi users flock to the competition

    So, who feels safe riding with Taxi drivers who are a few cards short of a full deck?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Logic Fail

    1. Taxi drivers start to carry guns.
    2. Taxi drivers pull out said guns and point at their own feet.
    3. Taxi drivers pull trigger.

     

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  7.  
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    Beta (profile), Jun 11th, 2014 @ 2:35pm

    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?"

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    T. Bickell, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Logic Fail

    You talking to me?
    You talking to me?

    There's no one else here so, wait, sorry? You're talking to Uber? Oh, okay.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 2:53pm

    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.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Jake, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    So... Uber are definitely serious about the "compliant with local law" part, right? Background checks, insurance, clearly-identified vehicles and so on? Because that's the only reason I have concerns about them.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 3:15pm

    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.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Re:

    "Since Uber use ordinary people it is unfair competition."

    Since the laws are written to serve the interests of incumbent taxicab companies and to restrict competition then it's not a matter of 'unfair competition'. It's more a matter of 'unfair laws'.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 6:42pm

    Barbara rides again!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 6:45pm

    Re:

    No, the real problem is that Uber hasn't paid the ($200,000) medallion fee for each driver. That's the ONLY reason the cabbies are raising a fuss.

     

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  15.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 11th, 2014 @ 7:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    When you buy the laws to make sure no company can come in and disrupt the gravy train, any competition is 'unfair competition'.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 7:53pm

    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.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    tom merle, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 8:30pm

    Re: strike

    What the hell are you talking about? Government is the only monopoly and the only unions left standing are public employees who are always going out on strike.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2014 @ 8:34pm

    Re:

    No.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 12:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    To some degree those are the same thing.

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

    As much as you can buy laws, the enforcement of them has to be even to avoid 'unfair competition'.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Call me Al, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:15am

    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.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Jake, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:50am

    Re: Re:

    What the hell is a medallion fee?

     

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  22.  
    icon
    textibule (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 2:22am

    Uber in Europe

    I need clarity here. Is Uber another one of those multi-billion California startups that don't pay taxes anywhere and have made their founders rich from the 'sharing' economy? Or not?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 2:58am

    Re: Re: Re: 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".

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 3:00am

    Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 3:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Most state governments require that you own a medallion to operate a taxicab and they expressly limit the number of medallions available. Apparently many of the stupid shills around here are lost and clueless and keep missing this point.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    Ed (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 5:51am

    Re: Re: Re: 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?

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 5:58am

    They used traffic jams in London as a means of protest? I'm surprised anyone noticed in the first place.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Stuart Colley, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 7:18am

    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.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 7:20am

    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?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 7:35am

    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.

     

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  31.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 7:54am

    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.


    Why would you not want market pricing?

     

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  32.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    Sharing?

    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.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 9:17am

    even if they may be disruptive to existing businesses and employees.


    Don't you mean exploitative to employees? Most of these big "sharing" companies exploit their workers. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Case, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Did it ever occur to you that this "Europe" place might not be a US state?

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I read the article and am aware that it is in reference to Europe. But many similar medallion laws that limit competition exist there too so the comment is still relevant.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    (but feel free to actually address the comment instead of just changing the subject like the rest of the shills around here)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    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.

     

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  38.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Sharing?

    Seems like "informal economy" would be a much better term for that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    Beta (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 7:42pm

    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 Pérignon 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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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