Uber Hits Roadblock In Germany

Frankfurt court bans service. Somewhat ironically, the German legal machine has final caught up with Uber and banned the service as ...

Frankfurt court bans service.

Somewhat ironically, the German legal machine has final caught up with Uber and banned the service as the firm lacked the necessary legal permits to operate in Germany. The ruling, which was apparently made over a week ago, has told UberPop, the low-cost service, that it can no longer take passengers and will be fined if they continue.

UberPop was launched earlier this year in Germany and utilises private drivers using their private cars; passengers ‘hail’ a taxi using a smartphone app, which also acts as the taxi meter and payment portal. Under German law, which is similar in a lot of European countries, there are very specific and tightly enforced regulations on taxi operations, which are arguably designed to protect the public from errant operators. Uber seems to be unperturbed though and had decided not to suspend the service as ordered by the court, despite the claim that they could be liable for fines in excess of US$300,000 for each trip whilst the ban is on. According to Taxi Deutschland, a cooperative of taxi companies, described their competitor as a “form of Locust share-economy” that indulges in “anarchy capitalism” that could leave passengers exposed in the event of an accident.

“In Germany there is insurance that applies to Private Drivers, but if your insurers learn that you are driving for an app and you want to make money on that, well, then they say that is multiple risks and refuse to pay any insurance claim on that. Uber doesn’t care because security cost money and they do not have the interests of Drivers and citizens at heart,” a spokesperson for Taxi Deutschland said.

Uber’s spokesperson, Fabien Nestmann, had previously stated that one of his firm’s chief concerns is safety, adding that “all rides, and thus all travellers, are insured by Uber”.

Uber believe that the ban cannot be enforced while they are appealing the ruling and thus are continuing to operate.

“Germany is one of the fastest growing markets for Uber in Europe. We will continue to operate here and will appeal the recent lawsuit that was filed by Taxi Deutschland,” Nestmann said. ”You cannot put the brakes on progress. Uber will continue its operation and will offer UberPop ridesharing services via its app throughout Germany.”

The San Francisco-based company is often cheaper than local regulated rivals and local licensed operators around the world are objecting to the service, often staging street-clogging demos, as we have previously written about, citing unfair competition, although much of it looks like protectionism. However, in many other countries and cities such as London, the local authorities have decided to not pursue legal action. In a way, private taxi hire is a bit of a problem child for many cities which are trying valiantly to restrict the number of vehicles on their roads and encourage mass-public transit services, such as buses, trains and trams. One of the problems of taking a taxi has always been the randomness of being able to find one. App-based services (and there are in fact many) take the guess work out of hailing a cab and therefore should encourage more people to abandon their own city-based vehicle in favour of an easily and readily available cab, and thus are encouraged. The only question is can it be done without putting the fare-paying public at undue risk.

Not many people know this...

‘Uber’ is in fact a German preposition, the meaning of which depends very much on the context in which it is used. Generally, it is roughly translated to ‘about’ in English, but it can also mean ‘over’, ‘above’ or ‘across’. However, the word has entered the English lexicon, particularly in American ‘punk’ culture, in which the meaning has been altered to mean an extreme type of person (better, larger or greater). The fact that the Uber service is being banned in German, where the root word originates, seems to be somewhat ironic to this writer.

image: nbcnew.com


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