Uber in Kyiv: history of scandals of the popular service

Author : Vasylisa Ehorova

Source : 112 Ukraine

Kyiv has been waiting for a long time to see the Uber cars on the streets
18:03, 3 July 2016

Uber seems to be the most expensive startup in the world. In 2015, the company's value was estimated at $ 50 billion. In 2009, the creators of the service, Travis Kalanick and Garrat Camp have changed the market of individual passenger transport realizing that the functions of a modern smartphone are more than enough to make it easier to call a taxi just by tapping the screen few times. This is how UberCab application appeared; later the second part of its name was lost, and people started to call it just Uber. Everything was very simple: the customer pressed the call button, geo-location service determined his location, and the nearest driver came to take the customer. Money for the trip was taken from the credit card, attached to the phone number of the customer. No negotiations with the dispatcher, no errant drivers, no problems with the lack of cash.

Uber gives an opportunity to order a car of any class (from economy to a deluxe), an electric car, a motorcycle or find a companion to the driver, who is not a taxi driver, but does not mind giving someone a ride. For example, in Istanbul, Marine UberBOAT lets cross Bosporus. Brazil is about to launch avia-Uber. And these are not all the company's plans.

Uber is not a full-fledged taxi service. The application works like an aggregator, gathering information about free cars and the orders. The driver gets the lion's share of the cost of the trip, and a small portion goes to the company. Popularity of Uber rose with its convenience. But not all the users find it convenient.

The first attempt to ban Uber occurred in 2010 in the company's native city of San Francisco. Local authorities discovered that the drivers were working without a license. In May 2011, the service reached the overcrowded streets of New York, and then expanded to the other US metropolitan areas and other countries.

Related: Uber taxi service starts working in Ukraine

Uber drivers have faced the problems with the licenses worldwide. For example, the owner of one of Berlin's taxi companies went to court because his staff had an “illegal” part time cooperation with Uber. The court then took the side of the entrepreneur and prohibited using the service in the city. Bogota, Rio de Janeiro, and Vietnam refused to use Uber service for the same reason. Kyiv authorities welcome the company's entry into the Ukrainian market.

But the capital's taxi drivers are not excited with appearance of a strong international competitor. Back in February, they held a rally under the walls of the Kyiv city administration and burned several buses to ban access of Uber to Kyiv transport market. The taxi drivers say that the service will understate prices and negatively affect the entire market of taxi services. By the way, this requirement did not arise from nowhere - Uber services are actually cheaper than traditional taxi services. According to some estimates, the gap in the cost is up to 20%.

Related: Why there is no Ikea outlet in Ukraine?

Kyiv taxi drivers are not the first who came to fight with Uber. For example, the Paris drivers’ rallies have become a real problem for the city - protests escalated into blocking of roads, riots, and clashes with police. The protestors were dispersed with tear gas, and the police arrested more than 20 taxi drivers.

Related: The long-awaited Uber: what does it mean for Ukrainian taxi service?

Periodically there are problems with the Uber passenger’s safety. For example, an incident with rape in India led to banning of all the taxi services that work via smartphone. In September 2014 in San Francisco, Uber user quarreled with the driver and was hit on the head with a hammer. At the beginning of the same year, one of the Uber drivers killed a six-year girl at a crosswalk. Company had to decide on the ultimate responsibility for such cases.

In general, passenger security policy initially was one of the key tasks of Uber. In many ways, it depends on driver’s ranking. If the driver has bad reviews, he can be blocked in the system. By the way, Uber drivers might also complain of passengers and block them too. In case of car damage, the car owners obtain compensation.

Related: Uber responded to taxi drivers' protests in Kyiv

Another scandal with Uber happened in October 2012, when Hurricane Sandy occurred in New York. The city underground stopped working, and drivers refused to take the customers. The cost of Uber services have suddenly doubled. By the conviction of management, this was done in order to force drivers to bring their cars to the roads. Customers and the press considered it as an attempt to cash in on someone else's grief.

Lyft service accused Uber in unfair methods of competition. Uber employees were given phones and bank cards, so that they could create and then cancel the orders (to be fair, Lyft used the same methods).

Related: Kyiv taxi drivers protest against Uber service

Anyway, Kyiv has been waiting for a long time to see the Uber cars on the city streets. According to the expectations, it will help to solve several key problems with Kyiv taxi service. Firstly, the system of estimates might affect the situation of mutual behavior of taxi drivers and passengers. Second, the policy of tariffs formation should withdraw complaints about the cost of travel. And thirdly, the increased competition will prevent the taxi drivers from demanding extra money in addition to the declared rate.

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