Berlin car sharing startup Miles is demanding thousands of Euros from customers whose car was stolen, claiming that damages caused by thieves while driving the vehicles should be covered by their users.
Turns out, Miles has always been leasing their entire car fleet, while renting it through a white-label platform they had no control over at least until recently. As a result, they failed to implement basic industry-standard safety mechanism, such as an immobilizer, that all of their competitors have been using for years. This, despite their telematics providers all offer the immobilizer as a feature.
In one case they're threatening to sue a customer for 13,000€, during a pandemic. The customer is a bar owner, and faces bankruptcy as a result. In that specific case, Miles Mobility admitted that the car could be opened and turned on hours after the user had ended the rent.
Edit, to add some elements:
- don't miss the part about how customer support suggested not to call the police. Twice.
- it's totally unclear how they are not covered by their insurance, and how can their investors be fine with all this (lead investor is Lukasz Gadowski of Delivery Hero fame, and TeamEurope Ventures founder).
So he can at least ignore them until they actually sue.
You forgot the very first lesson: pick a usable, recognisable name. "Miles" for a business like this is a terrible choice.
* leaving aside the fact that the english usage of the term changed meaning, away from being a literal translation
It has a couple of meanings in Latin, one of which coincides with Kalanick's expressed interests.
Supposedly I broke my contract by not following protocol after the accident and therefore my insurance was nil.
Suffice to say I did. I had four witnesses, date & time & incident number of the police report, yadayadayada.
I got a lawyer. The whole thing went nowhere. I.e. I didn't pay, except for the lawyer who wrote exactly one letter to them.
But I was blocked to use their vehicles until that company and another joined into a new enterprise.
Upon which my record was magically wiped clean – I could use the part of the new fleet belonging to the vendor whose car I had had the accident with again.
Ah, the merits of database mergers ...
The issue all these car sharing companies have is their insurance.
When these businesses started they needed insurance. What happened was that all the car insurance companies declined. Because how do you calculate the insurance if the driver changes all the time?
So what these companies did was open their own insurance companies. While these are separate business entities it boils down to any damages coming out of their pockets. They have a vested interest in finding you in breach of their TOS so you are not covered by (their) insurance any more.
How do I know? The lawyer I got was an expert in those cases. I was not the first of his clients with this issue.
I can suggest him to anyone in Berlin who runs into such an issue.
P.S.: A Canadian friend of mine had exactly the same happen to them there. Accident with car2go. Car2go purports breach of contract and demands full damages. He gets a lawyer. The thing goes nowhere. But he is since blocked from using car2go. Go figure.
The lesson I learned here is to use my Credit Cards CDW and deny the rentals insurance always.
Tbh, I feel that most car rental agencies make their profits through these crazy insurance schemes.
However, the bike computer didn’t think it was rented anymore, so it didn’t let me attempt to lock it again.
I had to spend half an hour on the phone with their support, until they redirected me to somebody who could login to the parking thingy remotely and manually control it.
Cherry on top: I found out later that their tech support phone number is taxed. The call cost me something like 5x the ride cost.
That’s when I decided to buy a bike and be done with these crappy services.
... 10 minutes later...
10 minutes time!
... 50 minutes later...
...10 minutes later...
Pavel has declined your order/ride, looking for a new rider/driver/CEO.
<contact support> Hey! Fuck off in this endless menu!
If innovation is crap customer service, these guys are the most innovative companies in the world.
It's a good thing actually, reverting a SEPA debit takes two clicks. But indeed, cancelling payments is definitely not a way to get out of a contract.
If you don't pay your electricity or water bill then that's a different story because utilities are not allowed to just stop service for things people's lives depend on. But utilities are more heavily regulated than normal subscriptions. For the most part, if a company tries to keep you from terminating a subscription and you say, "well, I'm not paying anymore. Do you still want to keep providing the service for free?" it's an effective way to get them to terminate service.
There are things called debt collection agencies. They are widely used by service providers.
Pretty dumb on their part if you ask me considering now I'm telling everyone not to use them because of their screwup and the fact that they would sell it to a collections agency over 1 months worth of payments.
Unless the company values their public image and return customers more than a small payment, which thankfully is the case for many. I just wouldn't count on it, ever.
I assure you that an insurance or telco will send unpaid bills to collection agencies. Especially if we are talking about one or two years of service.
Edit: obviously only if the company is geared that way. They could just end the subscription too, but wouldn't count on it.
Step 1: Ok, click here.
Step 2: Ok, just to make sure, you want to cancel your service?
* NO, TAKE ME BACK
Step 3 + 4 +5: Ok, we don't want anyone except you (even though you're logged in) accidentally cancelling your service for you by accident. We will send you a confirmation email, click on the link there, and then confirm on the confirmation page.
Me and two other chaps formed a start up in 2000 - bog standard IT services/consultancy. Still trundling along, we won't set the world on fire but doing OK.
One of our employees is Polish, in Poland. We pay him the same as everyone else. OK he's actually now self-employed for tax purposes and Brexit but his rate is the same as our other techies. He was working remote six months before anyone had heard of SARS-CoV-2.
When we started out our first two employees were enticed away with twice their previous pay. lol. Travel shops don't pay much here in the UK. They stayed for 10 and 15 years.
One month in 20 years we had a cash flow problem. We like to keep a decent float in the bank rather than drive fast cars. I do like to sleep at night. The Directors didn't get paid that month but all staff were paid. The next few months we caught up OK. Anyone who's run a small business will know that's not bad going for cash flow. I should point out that we have never, ever had an overdraft. We do have a mortgage but that costs less than the rent we used to pay for less than half the size of building.
I could go on (sorry). Not all startups strive for the stars. A famous French bloke once memorably described Britain as a nation of shopkeepers (ie boring as fuck): I take that as a compliment.
Afaik, flixbus was founded by former BCG consultants, sounds unusual for a Startup.
Your only way to get justice was to take them to court, which would cost you more than the fees and since Germany doesn't have a class action lawsuits framework, each member would have to sue the gym separately.
On the weird and semi-related flip side, our gym voluntarily cancelled ours (I planned to keep it going because it's a family business and I wasn't suffering financially) because it was cheaper for them to cancel their SaaS that they had used to track & bill members.
Start-ups across ~50 countries? Always doing the same thing? I think you may be generalising quite a bit... It's not like an SV company would ever shift blame on the customer, right? :-)
Criminals will find your weak spots & exploit them until closed.
I would have expected it to be most closely associated with the roman mile, which is around 1.5 km.
Given that this is the very first time I've heard about the German mile, I would assume that <1% of the population knows about it, and they'd probably consider a "mile" either the US thing if they are familiar with it due to travel, or most likely with "some archaic unit that's somewhere around 1.5 or 2 kilometers long, no idea, why would you use that".
The first association that I (as a native German speaker) when I read "Miles" in the German context wasn't distance units - I interpreted it as a given name of English origin.
At least in my circle of fellow native speakers, we know US culture somewhat and I think most would therefore think of the US mile. This is actually the first time I'm hearing about the German mile, as well ;)
I'm nearing the end of reverse engineering one of their clients android apps.
Lots of weak obfuscation, like calling certain endpoints multiple times (2-5x), which is totally useless against a MITM that can decrypt the traffic. Didn't even slow me down.
Oh, and if you miss a certain header, it will respond with invalid JSON prefixed with "".
Now I'm curious if they have immobilizers. The keys are kept in the car, so they must.
Not that I want to do anything shady, I just want to use the service without being spied on. Decompiling the app found a bunch of baidu libs, Facebook and retargeting shite. The state of commercial software, yikes.
This is a common security measure against some ancient trick that could be used to get outdated browsers to divulge the content of the JSON contrary to the same origin policy.
What drove the founders in this market? Too stupid, lazy or incompetent to implement basic safety measures, but want to play in the ride sharing market, that is already saturated by bigger and better providers? What did they bring to the table in the first place?
I have yet to encounter a German startup that really amazes me. This isn't it.
- As a Customer you need to make sure that your “Park” request goes through to the car and wait for the doors to lock. This might take a couple of seconds, but you can’t just press the button and run inside of a building where you might not have cell coverage at all. It’s not a RF key fob. I thing legally this would constitute negligence (Fahrlässigkeit).
- Immobilizing the car once the phone is not close to the car seems like a bad idea. It’s a privacy nightmare, b/c you’re constantly being tracked. What about tunnels or parking garages? What if the battery dies? Seems like a whole lot of problems if they were to implement this. Do any of their competitors really do this (Share Now, Sixt Share, etc.)?
- If you're closing a rental car with a key fob you check the doors twice? The app said closed, it's closed.
Even if this was the case, how could you possibly ask for the entire damages caused by a third party? The ToS only talk about the user letting someone else drive the car for negligence, but how can that encompass thieves? They're not asking for a negligence fee or a deductible, they want customers to pay for damages caused by thieves.
- Nope, an immobilizer is an industry-standard for keyfobs and digital keys alike. All competitors have it. They don't track anything. They only check the idle state of the car. I you are driving, turn off the engine on a Share Now and We Share, then open a door, the immobilizer kicks in. That means that you need to open the app and "unlock the engine" to keep driving. Simple, extremely effective.
In two cases reported, Miles said the cars were stolen up to 4hrs after the users left them. Even if they forgot to close them (which users deny, with witnesses) they're admitting that the car was open and available to anyone for hours.
How is that not a public safety issue and a farlässigkeit of the company?
They also support a physical RFID card so you can still get in/lock up if your phone dies.
The person in charge of this should really go on Facebook every once in a while to see what can happen...
They would know if the cars are insured or not before making a claim.