German cabbies put the brakes on Uber

In an attempt to stop San Francisco-based Uber from cutting into their taxi territory, German cabbies have persuaded a judge to prohibit their rival from picking up passengers, alleging the ride-sharing startup was an example of a “locust share-economy” indulging in “anarchy capitalism.”


From the BBC:

A court in Frankfurt ruled that the firm lacked the necessary legal permits to operate under German law.

It has emerged that the firm was told last week that its “low-cost” UberPop service could no longer take passengers and faced a fine if it continued.

But an Uber spokesman said it had decided not to suspend the service, adding that the ban was not enforceable while an appeal process was ongoing.

“Germany is one of the fastest growing markets for Uber in Europe,” he said.

“We will continue to operate in Germany and will appeal the recent lawsuit filed by Taxi Deutschland in Frankfurt.


The New York Times pointed out that the ban is the latest legal woe for the San Francisco company: “Uber could face fines in Germany of up to 250,000 euros, or about $330,000, or its local employees could be jailed for up to six months if the company violates the temporary injunction, which was made last week but came to public light only on Tuesday.”

Uber remains defiant. As an Uber spokesman told the BBC, “You cannot put the brakes on progress. Uber will continue its operations and will offer UberPop ridesharing services via its app throughout Germany.”

A judicial spokesman in Frankfurt said the court, according to the Times,  “found that Uber posed unfair competition to the local taxi industry. It noted that Uber failed to have the necessary licenses and insurance for some drivers and that it could be selective in providing rides, while taxi drivers are required by law to accept anyone needing a ride.

“Our main concern is that, while competition is healthy, everyone has to be playing by the same rules,” said Arne Hasse, spokesman for the Frankfurt state court.

The court’s ruling applies to Uber’s low-cost “UberPop” program, which hooks up its drivers with passengers. The ruling does not apply to Uber’s high-end product, called Uber Black. That service comes with luxury rides and professional chauffeurs.

Valued at $17 billion, the privately held Uber has been on a global roll, offering its services in more than 100 cities in 45 countries. If heavy fines are imposed in Germany, the startup’s rumored IPO could be impacted.

But observers say a huge financial hit is a long shot. As the New York Times pointed out:

Because the court has no enforcement capacity, however, the taxi group that brought the case to court would have to file a separate complaint with the court over any violation of the injunction, case by case, and then the court would ask the police to act.


Credit: Associated Press


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  • Dumbo

    I used Uber for the 1st time yesterday. I was looking into a real
    estate investment opportunity deep in Bushwick, Brooklyn. When I was dropped off
    by the broker, there were no cabs in sight. Thought to myself maybe
    this Uber thing might come in handy. Within 2 minutes a car showed up
    and drove me to my destination. Without Uber, I would have been sitting
    there for many more minutes and would have to argue with a cabbie about
    the merit of my destination. If you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it.

    This $30 promo made my entire ride free too: BernardK21

    So try it out. If you hate it, then ok. But if you haven’t tried it,
    don’t judge, just yet.

  • PoogieBell955

    Dumbo is probably an Uber employee using social media to allay doubt about the merit of this company. Ask yourself this when you read the last comment. Why didn’t the guy call another cab company to pick him/her up? I’m sure if he/she did, the cab company probably would have come as quickly. Oh…now I see…the dude had a first ride promo coupon. The whole problem with Uber is the lack of certification and insurance liability for the drivers. Go online and check out all the complaints Uber and Lyft and other ride shares are hearing from cities who don’t want these hacks to operate under what is an appropriate standard of safety and training. I don’t use these companies for that reason — I don’t want to get hurt sitting in a cab driven by some guy with no insurance. From what I can tell, Uber drivers have to get it themselves (and only get a modicum of coverage) and Uber is under no obligation to cover these guys. Someone, please, tell me this is not the case.