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New Scooter Removal Service Appears (scootscoop.com)
62 points by themark 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments

This has been a thing with cars in the US for a long time.

If you leave your car for days in some business's parking lot, then they will call a tow service who will pick up the car at no charge to the business owner, then charge the car's actual owner an exorbitant set of fees for towing and storage.

You can read the California laws on "Removal of Parked and Abandoned Vehicles" here:


Long time? Days?? If you park in an unauthorized zone with "no-parking" signs it can literally take minutes (believe me I've had this happen). I've heard some towing companies actively patrol lots where there's likely to be plenty of infractions - they make money doing this you know. In fact this new service is an accurate reflection of the mindset of these companies. I bet we're going to be seeing a lot of this soon.

> If you park in an unauthorized zone with "no-parking" signs it can literally take minutes (believe me I've had this happen)

And that’s exactly what should happen if you’re in an unauthorized space. The need for convenience does not suddenly grant short-term authorization.

No one's disputing that.

Apologies. It read as if you were a bit indignant about that.

Yeah, California law has no delay if the right sign is posted. I don’t think that’s uniform across the US though.

Assuming the property is appropriately posted. And assuming these are, in fact, considered "vehicles" which the law may or may not intend. Not really opposed to these being impounded but I'd be willing to guess that doing so is legally uncertain.

Reading their website I am surprised an enterprising scooter picker-upper that the companies hire didn't start something like this himself. Charge a small fee to the business for removal and collect the finders commission from the scooter company...

The difference being that these scooters are typically if not always left on sidewalks which are public property, not land the business has paved over for a parking lot.

Public property does not mean you can obstruct it and use how you want. You have to be respectful to other public property owners, people

Right. But that's a city issue. Private businesses can't have legal stuff removed from public city sidewalks just because they don't like it. In this case, the city of San Diego has chosen to not regulate this issue. Contrast this with San Francisco which was clear and unambiguous in rejecting this type of sidewalk litter.

> Private businesses can't have legal stuff removed from public city sidewalks just because they don't like it.

Yes, they can, if they are impeding the use of a public right of way. When someone parks a car on the (public) street outside of your driveway, blocking you in, you can call a tow company to have it removed, and they would be legally justified in removing it and charging the owner for the impound.

I think this is an interesting comparison.

It's kinda established that if you park like an asshole, someone might call a towing company, and they'll charge you a fee to release your car. In that case you've got a potentially shady towing company and their legal people lined up against an individual who owns a vehicle that was parked somewhere problematic enough that the tow company was prepared to risk towing it.

There's a different power dynamic when it's small local shady towing company versus VC backed "growth hacking" disruptive startup, who potentially have some fairly high powered legal services if not on retainer themselves, quite like available to them via their investors or stop accelerator...

I read recently Uber were talking about getting into the bike/scooter rental space? Pretty sure I'd advise against local small business towing company/franchise from risking getting into a lawyer fight with Uber...

> For Property Owners/Managers in San Diego

The actual photos on the actual website linked in this post show scooters on a public sidewalk. The text says "For Property Owners" because that is who they are advertising to. The fact of the matter is that this company is advertising a service to take scooters off public property.

Right, but you also can't steal someone's stuff just because they left it unattended.

So if I leave my piano on a sidewalk, which will obstruct it for pedestrians, you won’t be able to hire a company who will remove it? It’s not like they’re stealing it, they are just relocating it

Correct! You must contact your city to deal with it, though if you are just relocating it by a few feet no one is really going to complain. And really, why not let the city accept any liability for any damage if they are willing to?

Are you certain of this? At least in many places, the sidewalk is owned by the adjacent property owner, the city merely has an easement. But it is still the property owner's responsibility to keep the sidewalk clear of, for example, snow and ice. You don't call the city to clear off the snow, as the property owner it's your job. Maybe Californian cities don't get enough snow so people don't realize this.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that the property owner is also responsible for keeping the sidewalk negotiable when somebody illegally dumps a piano on it. From my experience formerly owning property in Philadelphia, it was my impression that keeping the sidewalk clear of anything was my responsibility.

I couldn't find anything about trash on sidewalks in San Diego, but their government page on sidewalks suggest that property owners are partially responsible for maintenance costs of sidewalks:

> Normal sidewalk wear and tear or age damage is the responsibility of the homeowner who can take advantage of the City's 50/50 Cost Sharing Program to help offset the cost of repairs.


This suggests to me that responsibility for clearing out crap dumped on the sidewalk on your property is probably also the responsibility of the property owner. And if some freak weather caused a blizzard in San Diego, I'd expect property owners would be obligated to clear the snow as well (or pay somebody else to do it.)

This exactly. I own a house and a sidewalk, though the township has a requirement that I clear snow and ice off of it within 24 hours of the end of the storm. I am almost certain that there is a requirement to keep it unobstructed (though I'd have to look the wording up).

I've never had to think about it, but I'm now trying to figure out my options if people left large objects on my sidewalk. I throw away litter. But if there was a bunch of bicycles or scooters, I'd probably ignore them for a bit and hope the owner came back to retrieve them. If it was blocking my driveway or causing a problem, I'd move them off the sidewalk and onto the adjoining grass. If they are left there long enough, I might put a sign to the affect of "this litter will be picked up on __" for the next trash day.

But if I lived in a scooter rental place and this was an ongoing issue, I would definitely be fine with using a service like this.

If they leave their property on your property, you're well within your rights to have it removed.

But public places aren't your property.

They're everyones' property.

> Free Scooter Removal Service For Property Owners/Managers in San Diego

This subthread is specifically about scooters left in public places:

> Public property does not mean you can obstruct it and use how you want.

This immediate subthread is explicitly about private property:

>If they leave their property on your property, you're well within your rights to have it removed.

sidewalks which are public property

In most cities sidewalks are private property. As one of the conditions of being allowed to build on the property, the developer granted an easement to the city for the sidewalk.

This is why a homeowner is required to remove snow from their sidewalk. It's their sidewalk.

Well, another major difference is it's usually the car's owner who parks it and later has to pay the towing company, not some random member of the public leaving it there that the owner has no control over.

Car rental is nothing new.

But the majority of towed cars aren't rentals.

Also I assume if your rental car gets towed, the rental company will try to charge the cost back to you if they have to collect it, or you'll have to pay to get it yourself. You've already agreed to bring the car back to them on x day at y time. Could the scooter companies charge riders the towing fee?

> But the majority of towed cars aren't rentals.

Surely some of them are, so this is already a resolved matter.

> Could the scooter companies charge riders the towing fee?

Why not? They knew who last rode it, and they know were it was parked. If they believe it was parked legally, they can sue the towing company. If they believe the towing company was in the right, they could demand payment from the customer who fucked up. Is that not reasonable?

Hmm, it's tricky though. They know who rode it last but they don't necessarily know who last moved it. If I hated Lime I could grab a bunch of scooters and throw them into private property, then call scooter removal.

Does lime know when you exited the scooter? Is there an end of trip sign out?

This company is evolution of that. They're an auto towing company that's moving into this space.

Yeah my guess is that this is a regular tow company looking into potential "growth markets"

It definitely looks that way, based on some of the text on the page and looking up the phone number.

This is like the circle of life for startups, I swear. Next up will be "legal services for someone interfering with your disruptive business model as a service".

The world is an ecosystem of stuff eating other stuff, so it's not surprising human enterprise is no different

We were talking about this exact problem in a HN thread about Bird scooters several weeks ago. Some people legitimately thought these scooters could never be a problem for businesses, and that businesses should be "happy to have scooters left on their property" without their consent. How this ridiculous sentiment emerged, I have no idea, but finally there's a service out that realizes the issue.

If anything, I hope Bird learns from this service and starts implementing hubs/waypoints in their business model. In addition to chargers and riders, there should be hub owners, who get a payment for signing their property up as a hub for scooters to be safely parked at. Hubs are a piece of the puzzle I think Bird desperately needs if they want to avoid this gray area stuff.

Bird learns from this issue? They’re just going to go out of business. They have no tech and a bunch of depreciating Chinese scooters. No one needs to buy that company.

Doesnt surprise me, I was in San Diego last week and it was funny seeing all these scooters littered around every street corner. In some instances they clogged up sidewalks. I could see how it might spark the ire of some business owners.

Scooter companies could offer incentives to normalize the distribution of scooters around the city (for example, a discount or credit for taking a scooter from a densely covered area to a sparse one).

The idea of them is they pay regular people to pick them up at night, charge them, and drop them off in the morning - and they can use this process to direct the scooters each day to the most appropriate location.

For those not living in San Diego, scooter pollution is real. I have seen several times 20-60 scooters in piles littering parking lots / outside businesses / blocking sidewalks at intersections. It seems to happen frequently in the area surrounding UCSD, in Pacific Beach, and in Old Town.

Yeah it's pretty bad... But I also LOVE using the scooters. Hopefully a solution is found so that we can keep the scooters.

This is amusing and not at all surprising. If they only remove from private property & not public right-of-ways, everything will be fine - but you know it won't.

Most importantly "Scoot Scoop" for a name? I imagine they will be get getting a C&D for the use of the "Scoot" name in very, very, very short order.

Tow truck drivers often photograph the vehicles they are going to tow, before towing. This is to document the exterior condition of the vehicle, and to show that there were signs in place.

The web site says that they are an existing towing business, and so they'll likely do the same thing.

Source: See recent videos from http://youtube.com/gtoger, who works at a company in Dallas.

Unlike a car, scooters are much easier to move prior to towing.

How is "Scoot" problematic? "Scooter" has been a generic term for, uh, scooters for decades.

There’s nothing preventing someone from trademarking a common word. Apple, for example. In fact multiple orgs can trademark the same word in different fields. In Apples case they were sued by “Apple Corp” the Beatles publishing arm and we’re okay (for the most part - they paid 80k initially) until they started making larger forays into the music space and suddenly they had to pay 24M for use of the name.


GP seemed a bit more certain than "someone somewhere might have trademarked the word 'scoot' at some time"?

Scoot's slang for "motorcycle" in some crowds too. I agree it's quite generic from the get-go.

Why, what’s wrong with scoot? It introduces brand confusion somehow? Someone has it exclusively trademarked?

I doubt it.

Ones a computer game, the second is the scooter service. There might be enough difference there for the separate marks.

Yes Scoot is trademarked.

Isn't descriptive or nominative use an allowed fair use case under trademark law?

I think you're allowed to say your business is "iPhone Repairs" even though Apple have trademarked iPhone (and have an army of lawyers who'd love to slap you down if they thought they'd win in court).

You can say your business does “iPhone repairs” but calling your business (descriptive use) “IPhone Repairs” is not permitted.

If it is, I don’t see any i fringement. Who are they infringing upon?

There is no trademark claim at that link. If they ever had a trademark, they haven't taken very good care of it.

IANAL, but is it really anyone's responsibility to consult that database? I would have expected the firm to designate its own trademarks whenever it uses them. Besides, the firm under discussion in TFA is not a competitor of this firm and couldn't really be confused with them.

Getting sued by the scooter company they're targeting could be good marketing.

  Companies notified and Invoiced to pick up at our facility
So, picking up scooters sitting on public sidewalks and then sending Bird/Lyme bills to pick them up.

Seems a little bit like stealing. Not unexpected from a tow company.

Are Scooters Cluttering Your Property?

What if someone trips over a Scooter on your Property?

No More Obstructions Blocking Customer Access

It seems pretty clear the removal service is targeting property owners, not public spaces.

etxm 26 days ago [flagged]

Leaving their trash on street corners and door steps seems like littering.

Calling scooters "trash" and then using that extreme hyperbole to stretch meaning to "littering" contributes nothing to a discussion. This is not reddit.

I'm in Oxford, UK (not GP poster).

We have half a dozen smartphone-operated bike schemes on the go. The bikes do literally litter the pavement sometimes. On occasion you have to climb over them (or carry them out of the way). They end up in the river and chucked into hedges. They end up mangled by the side of the road after people try to remove the locks. Some of them do objectively end up as 'trash'.

Yes, the blame lies squarely at the door of inconsiderate cyclists. But I can't help but think that the vendors (and licensing authorities) should have seen this coming. Is it stealing to personally take that rusy Ofo bike from the side of the road and re-use the materials? I think the answer is yes. What would the local authority do if I took it to the recycling station. They probably wouldn't want to touch it. So it's up to to the vendor to clean up their refuse.

I haven't seen scooters first hand, but if they're like the bikes, then I don't think that's a hyperbolic stretch to use the word 'littering'.


Ohhh, so close. Scooters are not "discarded matter", nor is it "rubbish". You really should look up the definitions of words before you use them. You should also read up on descriptive grammar. It's pretty obvious that Bird scooters don't meet those definitions as commonly used. So not only do you not understand the literal definitions, you also seemingly lack social awareness on how people communicate.

Here's a tip: When you have to try and quote literal definitions to make a point, and then get it wrong, you're over simplifying and being dumb. Nuance isn't a vice. Embrace understanding on multiple levels. See the differences and let your mind explore them.


etxm 26 days ago [flagged]

Well actually, trash is a subjective word. So there’s that.

Also, if you leave it somewhere, it’s discarded. I’m not using that word in the literary sense, so that should make you extra happy.

It was OP that was pissing and moaning about hyperbole, so I was pointing out that it could also be a literal statement.

You seem really bent out of shape about it. You should embrace trying not to be a dickhead.

Sure, if you lack the nuance gene, it would seem like that.

I suppose "move fast and break things" cuts both ways.

haven't even changed the links on their social media buttons from strikingly

How often is the sidewalk publicly-owned versus privately owned with a right-of-way?

Depends on the city I guess, but I'm pretty sure privately owned is the norm. Someone owns the building and land including the sidewalk. Most cities and towns have rules regarding the sidewalk that applies to the property owner. These would be rules for things like snow and ice removal, proper maintenance, and even keeping it clean.

Now.. one company may own the building + sidewalk and the businesses inside the building are just leasing space. In that case, they would probably need the building owner to call the towing company, or have some sort of agreement to do so. For instance, the owner may delegate some sidewalk responsibilities to the round-level tenant in the lease. I have a rental property and I delegate snow removal and lawn maintenance to the tenants. (Though legally, if the tenants don't keep up with it, it would ultimately come back on me).

How is it legal for them to take scooters then charge scooter owners for them?

"24/7 Free Removal of Unwanted Scooters or Bikes on your Property"

Looks like they only remove scooters that are being left on private property. I would think its completely legal for the land owner to remove the scooter, therefore having another service remove them for you and charge for storage would be fine as long as the rate is not extortionate.


Because anybody can use and park the scooters, I would think it's in somebody's incentive to move scooters from pubic sidewalk onto patrolled private property to get scooped up.

I don't know how often scooters ping back to HQ, but it may be often enough for them to log the move from public property to private property.

TBH, I'd also trust an established towing business to handle scooter pickup, because scooter pickup would not be their only line of business, and they presumably wouldn't want scooter shenanigans to affect their towing business.

Same way it's legal to do it to cars, obviously.

There's nothing new here.

Tow trucks work that way too.

Third parties are used to collect and return shopping carts. I wonder how their model works.

The third party picks up the shopping carts, and the store pays for their return. It's cheaper for the store to do that, vs. the cost of purchasing new carts.

Stores have several alternatives to this:

• They can send employees off-property to pick up carts they find. I used to see this in the past; not really as much anymore.

• They can install an "invisible fence"-type system, which causes one of a cart's wheels to lock up when taken outside of the permitted area. If you walk to/from the store, you'll have seen signs warning about this; otherwise you can check the carts to see if one wheel looks different from the others. The Safeway near where I live does this.

• They can require that customers pay a refundable deposit to use the cart. See the "Why do I need a quarter?" question at https://www.aldi.us/en/about-aldi/faqs/about-aldi/ for an example of this. This doesn't happen in the US much.

In a gold rush, sell shovels... or... a service to move earth.

Scooter bubble bubble?


This is not "homeless removal". This is biohazard decontamination for homeless encampments once the authorities have removed them. The property owner doesn't want to be sued for people getting pricked with needles and catching HIV or hepatitis.

Normally this service is provided by some dude with a compact pickup overloaded with old washing machines and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

I guess this service is targeting people with scrap removal needs but are too high class to call a "traditional" scrapper.

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