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Uber ordered to halt transportation services in Germany (dw.de)
258 points by sschueller on Sept 2, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 425 comments

I know I won't be popular with this comment and most likely downvoted, because Uber is so beloved (especially in Bay Area circles). But here it comes: Why do people support a single company (like in this case Uber) taking over the business of thousands and thousands of existing companies and hence monopolizing an industry?

In most European cities, taxi companies are small, almost mom-and-pop entities with anywhere between one and say twenty taxis. In fact where I am living now I can call 4-5 different ones all in my vicinity. If there was an app that consolidated the booking process for those - awesome!

But why would there have to be a company that owns the market globally - from Karachi to Karlsruhe, from Amsterdam to New York, taking 20%, killing competition by it's pure überstrong market presence, brand and financial backing.

The same people that hate Comcast for oligolopolizing it's market (and hence using it's almost-monopoly powers for their benefit) yet somehow wish Uber would succeed and take over the market around the world. Why? Because it's a hip SF 'startup' (if you can still call an entity with $1,500,000,000 in funding a startup)?

> Why do people support a single company (like in this case Uber) taking over the business of thousands and thousands of existing companies and hence monopolizing an industry?

In many cases (in USA at least) the industry is already a monopoly as it is. Uber is coming in and offering an alternative which is way better than the current yellow cab system. In many cities in America, getting a cab at 2am after the bars get out is nearly impossible due to demand, so you end up walking a few miles home because it's quicker than waiting around for a cab. Uber and Lyft have largely changed that. Furthermore, I don't think that there is some strong allegiance to Uber or anything, it's just the largest company of it's type now. I quite enjoy and use Lyft as well, and would definitely be open to anybody else who wants to enter the market.

Taxi companies may be small mom and pop businesses in some areas, but in most large cities in the USA, they are breaking the monopoly, not creating it.

I'm shocked at how often a "bar rush" is the primary example used to define it's utility. Keep it up and people will hate insular millennial techies even more. :/

Also note, even in the bay area, that once you leave the Big City limits the cab companies quickly become small business and not the monopolies we easily blame things on. It's those companies that are getting murdered and shit poured on them unfairly.

You really think "insular millennial techies" are most of the people who go to bars? Even in San Francisco I'm sure that's not true. And you really think it's true in Baltimore, or Cincinatti, or Omaha (all Uber cities)?

To the extent people "hate insular millennial techies", it is mostly because certain segments of the media tell them to. See eg. http://pando.com/2013/12/26/look-whos-gawking-inside-nick-de....

Regardless of whether or not the cab companies are monopolies or are small mom-and-pop shops, they provide a vastly inferior experience to Uber/Lyft/etc., whether due to availability at peak times, or just the general experience of hailing, payment, etc. That's why people are rooting for the new alternatives.

Whether or not Uber is "more" of a monopoly in some regions than the incumbent(s) is irrelevant.

   whether due to availability at peak times,
Just like we are going to see a lack of availability in slow times with Uber.

Perhaps it's just a function of where I live (SF), but I never see lack of availability at slow times, either. The most I've ever had to wait for an Uber has been ~10 mins. (Average is more like 4 or 5.)

Or, what it already has shown to be given the free market, fare multipliers. For better or for worse...

Very true. You don't even have to leave California to see there's tons of smaller taxis companies besides Yellow Cab. I used to live in Santa Monica and a quick Google Search shows dozens of independent taxis firms (about 3-4 of which I have used to get to LAX). Furthermore - who says that during 'bar rush' prices might not 'surge' so high that a simple 'black cab' ride across town ends up costing you more than your whole evening of pub crawling? It's not like there aren't numerous stories of those around: http://valleywag.gawker.com/470-uber-ride-cost-more-than-a-t...

Well... taxis are normally so expensive that people don't use them day-to-day except when they have no other choice.

> Keep it up and people will hate insular millennial techies even more.

In New York, it's not just techies using this.

It's also a pretty great alternative to driving drunk, which people end up resorting to when there is a lack of cabs and public transportation in an area. (Obviously not New York, but Uber would be great in a place like Dallas.)

"Unfairly?" How is it at all unfair? Uber and Lyft provide service that is more convenient than what their existing competition can, and if those businesses don't adapt, they will slowly lose market share to the newcomers. That's how business works!

The 'shit' here being Internet Rage on places like HN.

People on HN are "murdering" taxi companies by complaining about them?

If something can be "murdered" by mere criticism, then it deserves to be "murdered".

What if I old you it's possible to be influenced by considerations other than emotional appeals to help "the little guy"?

It's a good example because it could reduce drunk driving.

I wonder how long this extra availability will last. Meaning, cab companies are not in the business to lose money and probably staff appropriately. With Uber/Lyft being recent to the scene your bound to have a lot of new drivers who are trying to make a go at it. How many will be around in a year, let alone covering those "bar outings" that could benefit from service but don't have it.

Taxis are nearly worthless in SF. I've called them many times and they only show up half the time, and that's if they are open and serving your area. There's no penalty for them if they pickup someone else on the way to pick you up. I had to call 4 different numbers on a trip to Redwood city once. Sometimes they don't answer and sometimes they have no one in the area. I've never managed to hail one off the street as I do in NYC.

I'm happy if all the Taxi companies die because they aren't providing good service. Uber and clones let you tap a couple times on an app, know instantly without asking anyone if there are cars in the area because you see them on the map, and then watch the cab come to you on the map. If the driver has trouble finding you they call you. Then at the end payment is all automatic, you just get out.

I very much agree - having lived in SF for years myself. But you contradict your own point a bit by admitting that in NYC you easily can hail a cab off the street. So it's really not a global problem (as we are discussing Germany here) at all. It's a problem in some localities, especially in San Francisco.

And Uber solved that problem. For it's local market. The thing is - why would it have to 'disrupt' markets that don't really need disruption or solve problems in markets where those don't really exist? Yet with it's enormous funding and hence market power it can take over markets around the globe, where the dude trying to make a living with his 5-cab taxi company or the student driving his one cab on his own can never even remotely compete.

You can only street hail a cab in NYC if you are in certain select portions of manhattan, and it isn't cab rush hour or cab switch over hour. Good luck hailing a cab in the middle of queens at any time of the day.

I've hailed cabs in Queens. I live in Greenpoint and there are times that hailing a cab is quicker than waiting for an UberX, especially now that the green cabs are becoming ubiquitous.

Cab switch over hour sucks, but I've also been in a busy parts of Manhattan with plenty of Uber cars showing on the app yet can't get an Uber car to my location.

I've also noticed a drastic decline in the state of UberX vehicles in the past few months (I assumer from their aggressive recruiting effort). Used to be every UberX that picked me up was very clean and typically nicer cars (occasionally getting picked up by Range Rovers or Town Cars). Now quite a few of the cars are messier/dirtier than any cab I've ever been in.

I'll continue to use Uber and UberX when convenient, but I've cut back quite a bit because the drop in quality.

Also key point: some groups of people--namely, white people and rich-looking people--are much more likely to be able to hail a cab. That isn't an issue with Uber/Lyft, so far as I can tell.

So why can't we let Uber disrupt the SF market while still sticking to regulations in germany. The market and the problems of the market are obviously different. The most annoying thing about Uber for me is that they try to shoehorn a solution that fits large US cities on a market that's a bad fit. There's an app that does the same as Uber just for regular cabs. It's such a better market fit, Uber could have done the same, but no, that would be boring, they need to DISRUPT!

That app doesn't do the same thing as Uber, though. Uber's variable pricing model and liquid supply(that is, drivers who are encouraged or discouraged to participate based on current demand) encourages fleet sizes that will correctly meet usage. Really, it's an attempt to algorithmically reach an optimal solution for the given marketplace.

Ubers attempt may or may not be a good attempt at solving the problem of maximizing market efficiency, however it operates under the assumption that we want to optimize for market efficiency. The current system treats cabs like a utility and ensures fair access for everyone, a property that Ubers algorithm does not account for. It maximizes availability and access for the wealthier among us, a property that's at least in germany not as important as in the US. Bad market fit, as I said. MyTaxi operates whithin the framework of the current system and retains its properties while adding value and efficiency. It's obviously not as efficient from a market perspective, but that's a feature.

Now a system that combines the desired properties of the old system with better efficiency is certainly thinkable and desirable, but Uber is not that system, at least not in it's current incarnation.

Well it mostly maximizes financial returns (for the drivers and the company) by enabling up to 5x higher prices at 'surge' times.

How would you feel if your taxi driver told you: "oh sorry Sir - you want to drive home? Today that'll be 5 times as much as usual. We are kinda busy, ya know". Unthinkable for taxis. Accepting for the 'disruptor'. All but very rich people would rather wait a few minutes longer to get a taxi than to pay up to 5x as much as usual.

Those same people can wait a few minutes longer for the surge pricing to go down.

And in Germany it's absolutely nothing like that. The cars are nice (usually Mercedes or BMW), the drivers are always friendly, for years and years we've been able to use an app to get a car in minutes. This is in large part because the city enforces it. So what's to disrupt ?

Exactly. A week ago I was having lunch at Munich airport waiting for my flight out. It was right where the taxi queue is - so I had a good view on what kind of vehicle is coming to pick people up. The VAST majority were nice, new, clean-looking E-Class Mercedes. Well. It they weren't black. So I guess that's the only difference. And the price.

at 7am outside the club there are 12 taxis waiting for people to come out.

Das sollte reichen

You're completely missing that Comcast is a "monopoly" because its customers have no choice while Uber is becoming a "monopoly" precisely because people do now have a choice.

Uber is taking a huge injection of investment cash and spending it on technology, to a scale that these small mom and pop companies could never replicate. I still don't see that as a good thing in the long term - once Uber has cornered the market there is no choice left.

Uber is mostly present in major markets where Taxi companies are more of some sort of mafia than a mom and pop business. The truth is that these very same companies are present in smaller cities as well and asking a driver what he thinks of who's working for quickly shows that they share their hatred with their customers towards the terrible service they have to provide for very little money in return. These companies keep most profit, while Uber, Lyft, Sidecar etc... only take ~20%

By "mostly present in major markets" you mean SF? Or where?

Because frankly there are tons of cities around the world where the 'mafia' sort of business you describe is NOT who owns taxi companies. I haven't seen a statistic outlining in which parts of the globe taxi 'mafias' own the majority of a market vs small-business owners. Have you? Please share.

A few years ago, I tried to launch a service back in France similar to all these ride sharing companies that work with taxis rather than private drivers ( I guess the most comparable in the US market would be FlyWheel ). Things went downhill for us pretty quickly but I learned a lot about the taxi industry, how universally bad it is and why. In most countries you go, you'll notice that getting a cab is not a great experience. Small cities ( very roughly less than ~100k inhabitants ) have local companies. They're ran by local businesses that mostly depend on the quality of their service to survive. They also need to provide an ok job for their taxi drivers. This is why the service is usually more reliable and the quality of your rides is typically higher. Larger markets are much more interesting and suffer from monopoly, which often leads to what can be called mafia companies. The taxi industry is old. Very old. Small taxi companies grew from a few cabs to often controlling a third of the city they're operating in ( sometimes even more ). Laws restricted smaller guys to get into business over the past decades which we can probably put on lobbying. The lobbying part is always difficult to prove but simply looking at the stats talk by itself. Medallion are universally so expensive that taxis are forced to go through these companies that already control the market. This is a quote from wikipedia regarding NYC medallions : "Because of their high prices, medallions (and most cabs) are owned by investment companies and are leased to drivers (“hacks”)" : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxicabs_of_the_United_States#... . This is more representative of the US and a few european markets but it points out why many of these companies have been running without any competitors for half a century. Where it gets interesting is that many cities have just as many medallions today available for purchase as there were 50 years ago when the market was half the size. So why can we define these companies as Mafia ? Well it depends. Sometimes it is actual Mafia ( in South Africa you might feel safer in a township rather than in a taxicab, no joke. ). On more developed countries, these companies simply have control on our local governments. Las Vegas is the perfect example : taxi drivers are pissed because they're not getting paid crap and are even being taken a percentage of their tip ( either they get one or not ) based on their fare... When it comes down to introduce competitors ( Uber, Lyft, Sidecar etc... ), it usually is a lengthy battle since these companies refuse to match what the taxi companies pay our local governments. I could go on and on but every market has their own things going on and iterating over old legislation rather than keeping up with modernity put the taxi industry in a very bad place.

Anyway, sorry for the long answer. I currently work to one of the major ride sharing companies (I won't mention which one but this time I'm working with private drivers instead of actual taxis), and I'd love to share some of the stats we often have access to but it's obviously confidential...

Actually - thanks a lot for your answer. I'm always glad to learn more about markets and/or an industry I don't know much about myself. Much appreciated!

Taking cash and spending it doesn't provide you success on its own. I am all for the mom and pop companies, but in this case Uber provides a way better service. People are choosing it not because Uber has spent its money, rather because it provides a great service for their customer's money.

You're completely missing that Uber would probably love to eventually become that sort of "only option in town" monopoly.

He isn't missing anything. Your point is invalid until Uber actually uses the state to enforce a monopoly a la Comcast.

Preventing monopoly creation is an important regulatory task. Fighting them after they are powerful takes years, often dozens of years.

I'd generally prefer things not get to the "too late!" stage.

in the US, we generally believe in "innocent until proven guilty" - especially before banning an industry

They are obviously in violation of German law. What exactly is it you're arguing here?

miss? so would almost any company, it's moot.

Two remarks to your comment:

They haven't only closed the doors for Uber, they have prohibited Uber and any other potential competition. Thus, perpetuating a cartel with huge entry costs.

Uber's prices are competitive and they are allowing potentially anybody to become a driver, hugely increasing supply. The service they offer is much better than that of a Taxi; no Uber driver has ever tried to trick me or gotten lost. On top of that, if the 20% cut that they take is too much, don't worry, competition will show up.

Really, Uber's "monopoly" is a momentary phase and any regulator should be able to see this.

> Thus, perpetuating a cartel with huge entry costs.

The key difference being that in germany at least, there is no such thing as a cartel with huge entry costs. You'll need a properly licensed car, commercial insurance and a special drivers license that costs about 250 EUR plus a few weeks learning. (my uncle got his license in a week while at the same time going to university). Then you can be a regular limo-for-hire driver. If you want a step up and become a cab owner, you need to paint you car white and spend a few hundred euros for the license (don't have the exact numbers ready) and fill in some forms. Then you're a cab company. Everyone who wants to in Berlin can be a cab driver. Used to be a typical student job and there's still a lot. There's no lack of supply. It's not like in NY where you pay a million USD for a medallion.

Exactly this! And that's exactly why a global 'disruptor' doesn't really make sense, because there isn't so much to disrupt. Uber grew out of a very local need (in San Francisco), which ended up translating quite well into other US markets as well as some international ones.

Frankly it didn't translate so well in many other international markets. The Germany example is a great one where tons of small taxi cos co-exist peacefully. Many other markets like Turkey are the same.

But even if you have large established companies, that isn't always such a bad thing that needs 'disruption'. I had a 50SGD coupon to try Uber (Black) in Singapore last year when I was at a conference. I took a Comfort Taxi to the conference (booked via app, taxi arrival 3-4 mins, took me straight to the right hall of the conference center in 20 mins. Cost about 18SGD) and then took Uber back to downtown. Uber ended up costing me over 70 SGD (i.e. even with the 50SGD coupon it was more expensive than the taxi). I had to wait 15 mins for it to show up (the app showed 5 mins away, but the driver drove in circles and couldn't find my location even with GPS, driver barely spoke English, driver didn't know one of the main streets downtown that I was going to, so I had to direct him). You can book taxis via phone, SMS, web or app. They are cheaper than Uber. Taxis are clean, regulated, always use meters, accept NETS and Credit Cards and if you want a nicer one you can get a Chrysler or Daimler for a little extra fee. Nationally regulated 'surge pricing' exists too.

To be fair, counties or cities can limit demand, but they're limiting demand to "these current 200 tiny companies because with 10 more, no one can make a living anymore", not to "that big juggernaut and nothing else". The law actually demands it (both limiting for economical reasons and spreading the load).

And the reason for why they interfere in such a way is that taxis are considered a mode of public transportation, which was declared at some point a county issue.

Thanks to that we also don't have that mess of three different types of uncoordinated local railway and bus systems that the bay area "enjoys".

(not Xylakant but in general:) Please don't assume your third world style problems also apply to everyone else. (like Uber and their fans do with that endless "taxi mafia" nonsense)

I don't think that's the whole truth. Berlin is still special in Germany and has a high cab density.

Actually you need a cab license to drive a cab in most german cities. And the number of these licenses is limited by the city. While the German taxi system is in dire need of a reform most people believe Uber is not the answer.

UberBlack is operating legally as "Mietwagen mit Fahrer" which is less regulated (doesn't need the taxi license), but UberPop doesn't even fulfill those lower requirements.

I'm rather skeptical of your claims - the courts decided against Uber because Uber drivers didn't have taxi licenses. If licenses were so easy to come by, I can't think why Uber would even bother going to court, they'd just get licenses! There's obviously a significant barrier there.

edit: Just to be clear, the service in dispute is UberPop.

Anyone can get a taxi license as long as they fulfil some (basic, really) conditions.

To get the taxi license you have to show that you and your car are fit to drive and that you probably will not cause too much damage in the process. That means taking exams, regularly having your car checked (there is a difference between checks for commercial and non-commercial vehicles here) and having insurance that lives up to German standards (an insurance that pays 1 000 000 $ per accident like the one shown on that certificate of Uber's is a joke).

Not that significant a barrier but it keeps out the duds and the crazy. The whole process is easy enough so that supply well meets or exceeds demand in most German cities, even at strange times of day. Maybe Uber is too stupid? I don't think so...

Uber does not want any of that. They only want to have a clear path for the race to the bottom. They do not care about safe transportation, just about their bottom line (I would, too, if I had raised that amount of capital for what is basically a phone app). That's ok, they are for-profit, this is what they're here for. The Frankfurt court has done what it is there for. It has told them that, while rules are in place, they need to be followed. Uber had plenty of time to prove to authorities that they are OK guys. They didn't. They are not "disruptors". By not following regulations, they are, most probably, simply breaking the law and competing unfairly.

Of course you can be cheaper if you skip the background check, driving test and reliable insurance.

Well, Uber Black is the properly licensed service with professional drivers and properly licensed and insured cars. It's in operation and not affected by this injunction. There's some nitpick about whether they should or should not be allowed to pick up people from the street, but that's minor.

The service affected here is UberPop that allows any private person to use their private car with domestic insurance to pick up people and transport them commercially. Uber has decided that this is the market they want, but that's just not legal in germany. Private persons that want to just earn a little on the side won't spend the time and money to pass the test and get commercial insurance. Since UberPop targets private persons it's also an invitation to tax evasion, but that's a different issue.

Uber could restrict themselves to the legal business model but have chosen not to.

There is a barrier here and it separates the people that want to be professional drivers from the non-professionals. The professionals are allowed to transport people for commercial motives, the non-professionals are not. This separation exists in a lot of areas, for example when producing and selling food, construction work etc. If I want to provide a professional service that has an associated risk, I must pass some certification that shows I at least roughly know what I'm doing.

Ahhh, right, my bad. They weren't terribly clear in the article as to which entity they were talking about, and I'm used to seeing "Uber" by itself to refer to the original "professional" service.

It's a common confusion, even in the news. Avoiding the confusion is a good litmus test on how good the article about Uber is.

Why would Uber start actually following taxi law at this point?

Don't let facts get in the way of a good story.

Comcast has a monopoly because regulations and high costs of infrastructure make it difficult for competitors to emerge. Somehow you think they deregulation of the taxi industry will recreate this situation. Cost of a car and the regulations gone? You've already called a uber monopoly?

Uber has taken $1.5 billion in funding, which they're using to lock up as many drivers as they can to create those sorts of barriers to entry. No one wants to use competing apps with a small handful of drivers - they want the one with a car right around the corner.

The tough thing is that while they can provide a better service (let's qualify that - cheaper, faster, easier to book) they don't do what taxis need to do to be useful - objective model for when they can and cannot refuse a ride, effectively guaranteeing service by some provider.

If they run taxis out of business by stealing the cash cow of inner city rides but don't replace that somehow then that'd be the worst kind of disruption - disrupting the customer in a horrible way.

And if you're in the inner city and get the better service from Uber nobody can blame you for using it. But I can definitely see why regulators have genuine concerns around the people served by taxis who won't be worth ubers time.

> But why would there have to be a company that owns the market globally - from Karachi to Karlsruhe, from Amsterdam to New York, taking 20%, killing competition by it's pure überstrong market presence, brand and financial backing.

So you would like to increase competition by preventing Uber from competing?

They can still compete - but just like everyone else, they have to do so in accord with local law.

If their business model is illegal in Germany, tough luck - consulting a lawyer before launching a large-scale business operation is generally considered a good idea.

> If there was an app that consolidated the booking process for those - awesome!


Mytaxi works pretty well in Germany. They basically offer the same kind of functionality like Uber while making use off the existing drivers.

I came here to say that, MyTaxi is great, and most of the drivers love it too.

MyTaxi just got bought by Daimler!

I haven't seen anyone supporting the elimination of existing taxi companies, other than what might happen through market competition. Most people who welcome Uber don't think that only Uber should be allowed to do ridesharing, but Uber makes most of the headlines because it's the largest player. Sometimes, I will carelessly use "Uber" to refer to the entire ridesharing-via-cell-phone industry, because it gets verbose to say Uber/Lyft/Sidecar/etc. every time.

You compare two different types of monopoly. It may be true that Uber will "monopolize" the market regarding the amount of suppliers, but: You always can use potential future alternatives.

Those small taxi organisations who are defending their market share in Germany right now do that not by better service or lower prices but by lobbying through their state protected cartells.

This causes German taxis to be awful. Often they want to talk to you, are dirty, expensive and play poor people pop on interrupting volume.

Well your argument doesn't just apply to Uber. Why do people support any large businesses if they are all necessarily monopolies that kill small competition?

Very true. And people later often come to regret it once monopolistic tendencies start to settle in. Having healthy competition is rarely a bad thing.

You hit the nail on the head. Even here in Bolivia I can call up about 30 different cab services to pick me up.

Monopolies are monopolies only when the State supports them.

Against my better judgement I'm going to attempt to contribute to this thread. There are good arguments on both sides but most people are talking past one another. As I see it, it comes down to this:

Uber says there is a surplus, people driving cars with empty seats, and they attempt to capture that surplus. From an economic point-of-view that is a good argument. The surplus undeniably exists, and it would be beneficial to reduce it.

The argument on the other side is that this is an issue of public policy. Various countries have decided it is beneficial to legislate people driving strangers in exchange for money. The general arguments are ones of safety, but quality of service also comes into it. Again this is a reasonable argument. There is an information asymmetry when hiring a taxi (I don't know what kind of driver I'm going to get) so legislation reduces that.

The main point seems to be who gets to decide public policy? Uber and "Silicon Valley" types believe that private individuals and companies should be allowed to set public policy. Most others reject this.

The next argument is whether current legislation is appropriate and whether Uber has sufficient features to make existing legislation unnecessary. E.g. are ratings and ubiquitous GPS sufficient to reduce information asymmetry. If Uber wants to engage in this argument it should use the usual methods of setting public policy. I don't know if Uber has started any court cases but I expect they will be involved in some soon if not already, and this is one way to effect public policy.

In that case they should claim that UberPool is not a taxi business, since they don't intend to do it full-time (requirement as of PBefG §13(5)1), and as such they want a temporary license (up to 4 years) as per PBefG §2(7) for this new mode of transportation. (IANAL, no legal advice, yada yada)

What doesn't work is to pretend that laws don't exist, and pissing off regulators. That will also make hacks like the above much less likely to work for Uber because that requires some minimum amount of goodwill (given that it is a hack)...

We have laws for everything (as Xylakant succintly stated), but they usually also come with way to thread in new ideas. However, screaming "DISRUPTION!!!1" all the time just isn't good enough here.

>What doesn't work is to pretend that laws don't exist, and pissing off regulators

That actually seems to have worked OK to a large extent for the likes of Uber and Airbnb. If they had complied with every existing regulation out there they never would have got off the ground. Whereas going ahead and just launching it is hard for regulators to stop the whole thing if it has wide spread adoption and is popular.

Both Uber and Airbnb are currently in the process of being killed of in Germany. If they started here, they definitely wouldn't have gotten of the ground.

Yeah, Germany may be a bit unusual in terms of sticking to their regulations.

As a foreigner living here in Germany, I have been continually surprised by the level of regulation that is in place here.

I am often doubly surprised when I realise that nearly every single piece of legislation I've come across actually seems to make sense, when someone takes the time to explain it to me.

I personally think that the regulation of public transport is a good thing. The fact that people are insured when they transport me around in a 1 tonne potential deathtrap is a good thing.

The last thing I want to hear when I wake up in hospital gravely injured is "sorry sir, you'll have to sign here to accept liability because the driver of your unlicensed taxi wasn't insured to transport paying passengers".

This isn't a black and white picture though. Couch surfing is very popular in Germany, and the recent rail deregulation allowed for a whole industry of long distance buses to create. But Germans put the law above everything else, as to keep politics, power and everything from derailing like they did in the 20th century.

I agree they are way better off asking for forgiveness than asking for permission. But then Uber (or it's supporters) cannot get all butthurt when some regulator puts them in their place.

I dunno, it might easily be a working strategy. Changing the law is basically the New Guy against any entrenched interests (taxi lobbies or whatever) plus Momentum -- either of which makes a formidable foe. The two in concert? Ow.

People who use some Uber service and appreciate it are more likely to speak out to their leaders asking why the law is preventing this useful thing that they have seen, used, and appreciated. Does this help more than it annoys the people who would change things?

Uber's problem: we have no "taxi lobbies" in Germany.

Taxi companies exist on a county level in Germany, Uber is global. That's also reflected in cash and revenue and will at some point reflect in lobbying capability.

If anyone in this game is a bully, it's Uber.

I've heard this train of argument before from some Germans. There is no corruption in German politics. Our politicians don't listen to special interests. I find this interesting. I think that some of the people who've told me this even believe it.

Your parent post didn't claim there was no corruption in German politics. They said that taxi companies were small and disunited, while Uber is large and powerful.

local lobbies are the most powerful at writing local regulations.

Local lobbies? Most taxi companies are _tiny_. Yeah, in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne you might have bigger ones, but they're still local.

The law in question is on a _federal_ level. It's not a law in Berlin the city, Berlin the state, it's a law in Germany.

Your condescending comments ("Haha, they don't believe in political corruption") are neither on topic nor relevant to the issue at hand. I advice you to stop and rethink your approach here, and maybe gather more facts first. You're just trolling at this point.

Sure. Just that that the "regulations" Uber is violating are a federal law. Just about nothing local here.

Corruption definitely exists in Germany and nobody seriously doubts that politicians listen to special interests.

However the taxi lobby has argued for years now that the fees they are allowed to charge are too low without gaining any ground. They quite obviously lack any notable influence.

Except when they can align them selves with protectionist forces.

What are those "protectionist forces" supposed to be?

> Uber says there is a surplus, people driving cars with empty seats, and they attempt to capture that surplus.

That's not what got Uber in trouble. Ride-sharing is extremely well-developed in Germany (it's called mitfahrgelegenheit, extremely popular, mostly for longer trips between cities), and it's probably not illegal. Uber, however, was/is operating a taxi company (admittedly, ride-sharing is much less useful within cities, because there is a much lower chance of someone going exactly where you need to go, exactly when you want to go).

Ride sharing is specifically exempt from the regulations as long as the total fare is below the actual costs for the trip (fuel, tire wear, etc.). So yes, it's legal.

Makes sense, because the idea of ride-sharing is that you're making the trip anyways, and you're just lowering the actual and ecological/wear-and-tear/wasted time costs if you're taking other people with you. Uber is very obviously not doing that.

I heard from another German startup that drives for tips. The idea is the App suggests a "fair" tip amount. And you probably wont be getting a taxi in the future, if you pay less. I am sceptical that this will fly with regulators, but who knows.

You're talking about Wundercar. The had a run-in with the regulators but adapted their business model accordingly, so at the moment, they're in the green. If the whole business model flies, that's a different question though.

> Uber says there is a surplus, people driving cars with empty seats, and they attempt to capture that surplus. From an economic point-of-view that is a good argument. The surplus undeniably exists, and it would be beneficial to reduce it.

This is actually not what Uber says. Ride-Sharing would be fully valid as long as the fee paid is lower than the cost for the car owner. It's specifically exempt from the law. However, the fee that Uber proposes is far above the accepted costs per kilometer (it's roughly 1 EUR, while the accepted costs are roughly 30cent), so they don't qualify. There's a german startup (Wundercar) that tries to capture specifically that market and they just reduced their prices in response to a similar injunction.

I didn't know Germany had laws about this case.

I meant in the general sense that their business model is based on exploiting this surplus. It is their value proposition, if you like.

> I didn't know Germany had laws about this case.

We have laws for everything.

The wp page says it got repealed.

It was replaced, can't let a good law go to waste [1]. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with it's highest mountain of 179 m above sea level (49m above the surrounding area) even has a law about cable cars, though that's a EU thing. We're really well equipped with laws.

[1] though not by a law, but some administrative process

This Act shall not be subject to... 1. Passenger cars when they are free of charge or the total price does not exceed the operating cost of the trip


take $20 bucks from a friend for a ride to the airport? FELON!

now thats a sensible policy...

German laws (being structures after the civil code) are intent based, which differs from the british common law derivatives which work by the letter.

Hence the important question resulting from that quote is: Does the driver derive taxable income from the activity of driving the car?

Getting $20 for the one-off trip won't get you there, not by a long shot.

Getting $20 for every time you're driving people to the airport 20 times a day, 200 days a year is a different matter (assuming a short trip where $20 work out).

and yet again, people act like the law of supply and demand doesn't exist, and price-fixing hasn't been proven to be detrimental in every instance in history, ever.

This is not about price fixing. Uber can (and in UberBlack does) legally operate a car-for-hire operation that is cheaper than cabs. This is about not complying with safety and other operating regulations, which makes it easy for UberPop to significantly undercut the competitions prices. So the competition sued for unfair business practices (since complying with safety regulation costs them money) and the case is so clear that the court granted without any oral arguments a preliminary, enforceable injunction.

Theoretically, your are right.

But there is no surplus in UberBlack, UberPop, UberX.

The surplus, ride sharing, exists only in UberPool.

Why? Because the surplus, as you argue, is: there is a driver who wants to go from A to B. I need a trip from C to D and it happens, that C and D is along the ride of A to B, or even match with A and B. That is called ride sharing. That is nothing new. This kind of business exists in Germany for years. There are also nice Apps that integrate with your navigations system, like http://flinc.org

But what Uber offers with Uber{Black|Pop|X} is not a ride sharing. I still want to go from C to D. But there is no driver who wants to go from A to B. There is only a driver who wants to make some money. So the driver may come from A to pick me up at C. But after D, the driver is either going back to A or will pick up another client. This no ride sharing. Without me as the client, the drive would not have taken place in the first place. So there is no surplus.

That is the distinguishing element between business and ride sharing.

> But there is no surplus in UberBlack, UberPop, UberX.

Not true. A lot of UberX drivers use cars that would otherwise be sitting in a garage. It may not be ride sharing, but it's still a type of car sharing.

That surplus was not intended to address the surplus of cars in general. By your argument any parking lot is a surplus that could be used for transportation.

Such surpluses are typically addressed in other ways (greenwheels for instance).

What about the taxi driver driving around with an empty car looking for passengers? Couldn't that count as a surplus?

> the usual methods of setting public policy

But what are the usual methods of setting public policy? It's only very rarely running for political office and making carefully thought out arguments and finally winning a vote.

Civil disobedience and activism have a long and proud tradition of pushing the rules, bending them and sometimes breaking them. Famously, Rosa Parks was a private individual who sought to be allowed to set public policy, rather away from the "the usual methods".

Obviously, Uber isn't even in the same league as the civil rights battle, but your expectations of what the "usual methods" are is wrong.

Also, on the other hand, taxis are already conveniences for the relatively well off and trying to tie in the regulations of the taxi industry with high-brow "public policy" like clean air policies or even "regular" public transport etc. is equally not in the same league.

>> "Civil disobedience and activism have a long and proud tradition of pushing the rules, bending them and sometimes breaking them. Famously, Rosa Parks was a private individual who sought to be allowed to set public policy, rather away from the "the usual methods".

Obviously, Uber isn't even in the same league as the civil rights battle, but your expectations of what the "usual methods" are is wrong."

Come on. Even with your line attempting to clarify your first statement it's one of the most idiotic things I've seen today. Uber is a private company. They aren't activists. They aren't citizens of the country trying to get a fair shake. And they certainly aren't anything like Rosa Parks. They don't like the rules that are in place. The people of Germany should be the ones that get to decide whether or not the rules should be changed, not Uber.

Well, I'm glad I could help you vent some righteous indignation by holding me responsible for an interpretation of a statement that I explicitly explained wasn't what I was trying to say.

You don't get to decide who are activists based on whether you agree with them. Activism literally just means "doing something". And the drivers and passengers that use Uber/want to use Uber are very much citizens trying to get a fair shake. The people of Germany will be the one deciding, but - and here comes the actual point: such decisions are never made in a vacuum. Rules and regulations are made in response to circumstances in the real world changing, not the other way around. The emergence of Uber (and Lyft and plenty more) is the real world changing.

So they're activists. For what cause? Simple: for maximizing their own profit.

They have no interest in making it easy for Lyft (as they have repeatedly shown), or for licensed taxi drivers that are required by their license to cover the whole county, or for the people living in somewhat remote (but affordable) areas that won't benefit because no Uber driver wants to drive there without a surging incentive.

As soon as they can, they'll use their war chest to lobby harder than German taxi companies could ever do. And they won't do it for the general public's benefit and they won't do it "for the taxi drivers".

Lobbying is not a déformation professionnelle of taxi company bosses, but of people with money. In this case this means: Uber, not the taxis.

We don't need to import every flawed idea from overseas, and establishing a new monopoly where there's now a certain amount of (regulated) competition certainly belongs in that category.

Here in the Netherlands, your second argument is invalid. Taxi drivers are often a-holes. In Utrecht it happens often that try to fool you and give back too little money (same trick you see in very poor countries where they count the money for you). Or they simply refuse to give you change and become mad when you don't leave the taxi. We really need competition for the regular taxi system. I for one avoid taxis here.

I think it's a tad misleading to suggest user or silicon valley are setting policy. When the government "sets policy" that's really just making things illegal. Silicon valley can offer a service and the government can decide it's so bad that it's worth spending tax dollars to prevent it as a crime or they can not. People are so quick to defend the status quo. Right now consensual sex is unregulated if no money changes hands. We could require std inspection and maternity insurance for accidental pregnancy. Sounds ridiculous but if it existed already people would defend it just because it sounds like a reasonable reason. If people saw policy as what it is in criminalization they might trad more lightly but uber isn't setting policy because they can't.

The thing is in a democracy that respects the rule of law, if you don't like an existing law, then you work to change it, which has never been Uber's strategy. Instead they just put out PR releases about how they're going to ignore some local law or regulation _again._

Civil disobedience is an avenue for changing laws. You may no like it, many people prefer the institutional ways for changing laws, but the fact that it is a valid tool is undeniable. I'm not vouching for Uber's strategy. Just pointing out that their strategy is not insane, not idiotic and is perfectly valid.

Personally, I place civil disobedience as a last resort method. The most prominent recent case of civil disobedience is, of course, Snowden. He did something illegal in the hope of changing the current legal status quo.

Although in general I agree with you about civil disobedience, I don't think Ubers strategy qualifies. Civil disobedience is usually for something that is perceived as a greater good at the expense of ones personal costs, often freedom. Snowden personally did not win anything at all. Ubers disobedience is mostly aimed at increasing their operating profits: They could comply fairly easily, but they choose not to because of the costs. That's like calling bank robbery "civil disobedience against property laws".

Civil disobedience is a form of political pressure that consists in the disobedience to laws considered unjust. Uber obviously considers taxi laws unjust. It obviously, unlike back robbers, aims at changing the laws. Their actions are civil disobedience.

Whether civil disobedience is unwarranted here is another discussion entirely. I happen to consider they are jumping the gun, but I understand the fear of getting their business entangled in lawmaking, unable to make a profit.

I haven't read or heard a single argument from Uber why they consider the german laws unjust apart from "It costs us too much money" and "We need to disrupt". They're also not lobbying to change the requirements for all taxi drivers, they are lobbying to be exempt. That's lining their own pockets, not political pressure aimed at changing unjust laws.

It's a tough argument to claim your behaviour as civil disobedience when you have a billion and a half in cash and a profit motive.

Ah, the demonization of profit that is all to common in Europe.

Believe it or not, civil disobedience has a definition you and don't get to change it because you don't like how successful someone - or a group of people - is.

How exactly am I demonizing profit?

I'm just saying you can't really paint yourself as speaking truth to power when you are orders of magnitude more powerful than the ordinary citizen, especially when you're working to destroy the protections voted for by said ordinary citizens.

Taking the rhetoric of civil rights, resistance against tyranny, protection of ones neighbors, and using that to defend a corporation's right to increase their margins at any cost is pretty disingenuous.

It's a valid viewpoint to think that corporations have that right, but if you really believe it, why do you need to employ the semiotics of ghandi-style asymmetric struggle?

How are you demonizing profit? to paraphrase: "they aren't practicing civil disobedience because they have a profit motive"

Truth to power is exactly what it is. You brought up the 1.5 B that Uber got. What is the guaranteed revenue of the German government no matter how inept they are?

Again, you don't get to set the numbers.

Bypassing security for profit is not the definition for civil disobedience.

They're not bypassing security.

I knew that someone was going to pull out "civil disobedience" when I was writing my comment and I am a huge fan of civil disobedience... when it involves civil rights.

A billion dollar company funded by Wall Street trying to gobble up and lock down an entire global market through unethical fraud and shirking their tax and legal liability is a repulsive invocation of civil disobedience. I hope you will think about what you've posted and feel suitably shamed.

How about the concept of freedom?

Am I, as a human being on this planet free?

In that context, shouldn't I be able to exercise my option to make choices such as whether I want to use a government-sanctioned transportation service or pay an equally free individual for transportation services.

Both kinds of services get to make me an offer and I chose, not government, I. If the government-sanctioned service is so good surely I will chose that service over anything else that might be offered.

I am sick and tired of government restricting my options because they think they know what is good for me. More often than not government has the opposite effect, on that can be highly destructive over the long term and one filled with individuals making decisions out of utter ignorance and a need to control, not serve.


Oh if only this sentiment would grow in popularity... As a fellow freedom-lover and capable critical thinker, this thread left me in disgust =(

The sad thing is that the obsession with control has real, measurable, and detrimental results. Uber lowers the DUI rates in every city its been introduced? but it doesn't have licenses that are limited by the state, ban them!

every city? I haven't seen this claimed before, only for about four US cities.

> There is an information asymmetry when hiring a taxi (I don't know what kind of driver I'm going to get) so legislation reduces that.

Why is this about information asymmetry? The driver also doesn't know what kind of passenger they get.

Taxis qualify as public utility in germany, free to use just like a bus, train, whether you're an asshole or not. The cab drivers duty is to deliver me safely at a regulated price, if he does that, his job has been fulfilled. If he has an entertaining story to tell, all the better, but seriously, I don't really need that.

I think it's possible to look at this without getting dragged into the puritan free market vs regulation paradigm.

I think that regulation of taxi & public transport and/or the survival of these regulations post 1980s is a product of problems in that industry. The Taxi market often develops pathologies. Safety issues. Ripoffs (specially tourists). Congestion. etc. Those problems are real.

But… Uber solves or can love many of those problem just as well as regulation. Safety is improved because there is a record of everything. The ripoff/bad service caused by lack of repeat business is mitigated by the reputation system. They specialize in solving congestion problems with their supply-demand stuff.

The regulations just aren't needed to regulate what is sometimes called 'black cabs.' The fact that they compete with flag down taxis is irrelevant. These problems are not acute for this kind of service and forcing Uber to comply is not helpful.

Insurance, licensing, permuting & such are unsolved problems. Uber might be able to work out the insurance at some point. But.. these are more artificial problems, artifacts of the regulation as much as they are regulations there to solve a problem. Regulatory authorities should work to fix these themselves, to enable new kinds of services.

Uber puts more power into the hands of consumers. If this removes some of the need for industry regulation, industry regulation needs to adapt.

The court order is here:


It's (obviously) in German.

The fines are 250K per violation, Uber has already announced they will fight this.

Uber is looking for a communications lead in Germany: https://www.uber.com/jobs/18835 , they'll definitely be needing that and more.

Deutsche Welle has it here (in English):


edit: thanks!

I live in Germany and i am happy that some things are more regulated here.

I like that Taxi companies need to have extra insurance and the cars and drivers are checked on a regular basis. Just like the TÜV (a mandatory checkup every two years for every vehicle) makes sure all vehicles have functioning lights, brakes, proper tires etc.

This ruling only makes sure Uber follows those same rules other transportation businesses follow as well. There is competition in the transportation business here but there is no room for people sidestepping completely sane rules everybody should agree on.

I am in no way affiliated with the taxi business and i like lower fares too. But not at the cost of safety and less checks for cars and drivers.

Once Uber agrees to comply i am happy to use their app and their drivers. I doubt they will be able to operate much cheaper though - i am fine with that.

Genuine question: Is Uber really cheaper than taxi? Honestly: in Italy it's not. It's hell expensive, probably a bit more expensive than usual cabs - which are incredibly expensive by definition. So yeah, this "We are a startup", "Silicon Valley" thing is just a horrible excuse to avoid complying with regulations.

If regulations in Silicon Valley (or wherever else) allow Uber business model to be sustainable, good for them. This isn't something obvious when you go international and it is part of the challenge. Simply not giving a fuck is just mediocre and you deserve to cease operations. Period.

In Zürich/Switzerland, the cost is about the same and so is the convenience of ordering a car as all the Taxi companies serving Zürich have their own app that works like the Uber app does.

Me personally, I think I would rather prefer purchasing a regular Taxi ride by an official Taxi company. Even if it did cost more (which, again, it doesn't really), for that money I pay extra, I get some of the additional guarantees like maintained cars, garanteed-insured drivers and quicker travel (official taxis are allowed to use special lanes reserved for buses and taxis, something Uber would never get away with).

In a country that's not as price-sensitive and where regulations already provide some clear additional benefits for official Taxis, I think there's potential for both Uber (fewer guarantees, no permission to use special lanes, but cheaper) and official Taxis.

According to press reports, Uber is currently subsidizing every ride with a $20 incentive to the driver (which seems a pretty clear cut instance of predatory pricing to me, but Swiss anti-trust enforcement is fairly lax). Once that subsidy goes away, either Uber pricing or driver income will take a turn for the worse.

Not complying with regulations is pretty popular here in Italy, too! Indeed, there are so many regulations, that being able to get away with not complying with them is a distinct competitive advantage, and the market has, in many places, selected for companies and individuals whose skills mostly lie in that direction, rather than actually creating value.

See: Berlusconi

In Berlin it's very close to the cost of a taxi anyway (you can check it on the Uber app, it's pretty funny).

I really don't see what the fuss is about, in this context. If it were actually much cheaper then yeah sure, but as it stands they're not really much competition for cabs. Especially considering their attempts to circumvent safety regulations.

In Manchester, UK they absolutely are. Especially at night: what would be a £20 ride in a hackney and a £15 fare for a pre-booked company is about £10 with Uber. That's for 5 miles in 20 minutes.

Add onto that the ease-of-use and some level of assurance that if your cabbie takes you round the houses you can get a refund and it's a no brainer round here.

Wow, that's a lot. In Bristol UK I can get a taxi from a taxi rank to home, which is just over 5 miles and takes about 20 mins, at 4am, for £10 max. Not tried Uber

While the plural of anecdote is not data, I've seen pretty much these exact same figures. The Uber's here look identical to our normal private hire taxi's though, so I'm assuming their drivers are in fact legally compliant?

For the record, all the drivers I've spoken to have worked for a local company beforehand and, while earning about the same amount, are far happier now.

In London, UK... it depends.

Late at night when the roads are relatively empty, the black cab is still damn efficient at moving you from A-B cheaply. The key is to be moving fast and not get stuck in traffic.

When there is traffic, then the minicab that doesn't meter the fare depending on time... solely distance... proves to be the cheapest. These are nearly all small, local firms, so your mileage on price may vary.

Uber do work out cheaper for the non-perfect conditions that tend to exist most of the time... some traffic, some speed.

What would be good is an app that polls Hailo, Uber, Lyft and some local firms and gives you the cheaper of all options.

But then, you know this is a race to the bottom, and service will eventually suffer if people buy purely because of price.

London has the well known taxi test you have to take. Can Uber drivers manage this? Can you navigate London by car successfully via GPS?

Uber is competing with the minicabs in London. The black cabs are in a different, heavily regulated market; more knowledge (roads and traffic patterns), reserved lanes, and availability catered to central London.

I've spoken with Uber drivers that used to be minicab drivers. They used to pay weekly rent on the GPS/meter/radio they are required to use. 200£/week + petrol + insurance + maintenance really adds up.

Black cab drivers come from the pool of minicab (and now Uber) drivers. To become a black cab driver requires passing the knowledge and to learn it you need a lot of practice. Only practical as a minicab or hired driver.

Only black cab drivers take The Knowledge. Minicab (pre-booked private hire) drivers in London mostly use GPS.

The GPSs work OK in London. The black cabbies are probably a bit better at knowing which routes will be quickest but there's not much in it. Black cabs have an advantage in that they can use taxi only lanes / roads such as Oxford Street while Uber can't.

In Berlin, the last time I've been there (beginning of this year), Uber was priced just slightly below the normal taxi. There was no UberX, so you did get the extra quality.

> Genuine question: Is Uber really cheaper than taxi? Honestly: in Italy it's not. It's hell expensive, probably a bit more expensive than usual cabs

There are different Uber products that come with varying prices. In Sydney, I can make a trip with UberX (regular ride sharing) that's $10, or with UberBlack (licensed hire car operators) which would be $30 to $40.

UberX is definitely about 20% cheaper than taxis here in Sydney.

Depends a bit if you are talking Uber (the luxury service) or UberX (the cheap one). In London I'd say UberX is about 30% less than black cabs. Uber proper is more expensive.

Is there any evidence Uber is actually less safe? I mean beyond the fact that a man blessed by state aegis checks taxi's breaks while regular plebeian mechanics do the same for Uber, what is the evidence Uber is sidestepping completely sane rules and not just red tape made to look like sane rules?

Not anecdotes like "Uber driver did X" - I'm sure for each such anecdote one can find "taxi driver did X" but real data on the scale of Germany - or any other scale like this?

Well, Uber will never have an accident. It will always be some guy who happened to have a friend on board. That's the beauty of it, you are offering a professional service but the moment there is any kind of trouble you can fall back on being a private individual driving his car.

Yep! Or, say, "some guy" who just happened to be driving his personal car when he decided take a drunk female passenger from a nightclub to, instead of home, say maybe a motel room...


this; afaik Uber takes no responsibility for the drivers themselves, they just offer a service to link freelance drivers to people in need of a ride.

As for the service quality etc, with Uber I guess people will have to have experienced a poor driver and leave a poor rating. I think it's a matter of time before people with crappy cars start driving for Uber, get into accidents or create generally unpleasant experiences for some users, and drop Uber's reputation downwards.

this; afaik Uber takes no responsibility for the drivers themselves

Not exactly true, they provide insurance for when drivers are between rides: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2454988,00.asp

Super, someone should contact this family then:


What exactly is the issue here? How is this different from her being struck by any other car/driver?

I'm not sure what the laws in the US are like, but in Germany that would already be covered by the mandatory insurance every car needs to have, before being allowed onto the streets.

Commercial drivers need commercial insurance.

In Germany the driver would have regular insurance, unless they're working for a cab company when they'd have commercial insurance.

The US situation is a bit more complicated because of liability - is the driver liable? Or the driver's employers?

I see. Thanks!

One of the problems with UberPop is that people use their regular private insurance that does not cover commercial activities. I'm a bit uncertain on what the result would be - I think the victim would still get paid, but the insurance would recover the costs from the insurance owner. Still, that's not legal.

It is covered by the driver's insurance. According to the victim's attorney, they offered $15000.

I'm not aware of any insurance policy that pays retroactively.

Yes, silly family to cross the street in front of an uber car between rides before they got insured for that. They should have known better.

You seem to assume I think Uber shouldn't pay. I don't. I meant what I said, and nothing else.

actually every time you dont leave a good feedback, uber will contact you back to clear it up and contact the driver (will not say who left the feedback) and ensure this was legitimate or otherwise reimburse your trip (on top of making sure the driver's star score is severely affected)

if you're a customer with 4-5 stars rating you'll get 4-5 stars drivers, always, all the time.

This makes the probability of bad services very low (and in fact null in my experience so far - i'm pretty sure they select 5 stars by default for your 5 first ever rides too)

You realize you are avoiding the question. It would be very easy to assemble such statistics as Uber drivers are clearly identified and any court could easily request data about all Uber driving requests (anonymized if there are privacy concerns) and correlate them with reports of traffic incidents. I suspect, however, that there is no such data, and nobody even ever cared about gathering such data - local cartels screamed to local politicians for help, and politicians obliged by protecting the cartel from competition. All talks about "safety" is just as smokescreen as nobody actually did any safety studies and has any data. Otherwise we'd seen that data plastered everywhere, taxi cartels wouldn't miss that chance if they had it.

> You realize you are avoiding the question.

No, you're entirely missing my point. Uber does not exist as such, it is just an app. It does not have drivers on its payroll, it does not have a fleet of cars, it does not have - nor does it likely want - to collect accident statistics.

And as for that cartel, there is as far as I can see no such thing. All there is are a bunch of laws that Uber could choose to honour but has chosen not to.

If they comply with those rules and they are still banned then you could argue about cartels and such, until then that is premature.

It may not collect the statistics - but people claiming it is unsafe should. Note that none of the Uber drivers is actually required to stop driving - they still can drive as much as they wish, however unsafe and dangerous they are. The only thing they can't do is to earn money. Is the money the thing that makes them unsafe?

>>> If they comply with those rules and they are still banned then you could argue about cartels and such, until then that is premature.

Sorry, that makes no sense. That's like saying "we're not banning blogging, we just require every blog would have an editor, a corrector, a staff of minimum five reporters, an HR department, a building and a printed paper copy, since the newspapers do it just fine, so we're just for responsible reporting". Of course the regulations protect the cartels - that's why these regulations exist in the first place, and saying "we just require them to follow regulations" is completely disingenuous - because following regulations is possible only by becoming part of the cartel.

You keep using the word 'cartel', taxi companies in Germany are not normally considered to be a cartel, merely a professional association. Just like there is no hotel cartel against AirBnb there is no taxi cartel against Uber.

Those are simply industries that have become regulated to some degree over time and now newcomers have decided that these regulations do not apply to them because they can get away with it, leaving their operators (drivers, airbnb hosts) to deal with the consequences.

That trick works, to some extent and in countries where there really are cartels in the hotel business and taxi services I welcome such developments. Millions of $ for a medallion are ridiculous, and rules solely created to keep competitors out are so too.

But the German taxi situation is not accurately described in that way.

> But the German taxi situation is not accurately described in that way.

In fact PBefG §13(5) explicitly states that new applicants for taxi licenses are to be taken into account.

My main argument is insurance.

It doesn't matter whether Uber rides are more dangerous or not. If something happens, the victim is left in the rain when it was an Uber ride.

"Private ride-sharing" is insured. "Uber ride-sharing" isn't.

And that's not because of old laws or lobbyism. That's because of all the standard insurance contracts that state clearly that they don't cover businesses, only private driving.

> It would be very easy to assemble such statistics as Uber drivers are clearly identified and any court could easily request data

Let me explain a little about the german law system (IANAL, so take it with a grain of salt). This is a preliminary injunction granted by request of a competitor. So what happens is that the court decides on the base of written arguments from the side requesting (this case roughly the union of german cab companies) and a "Schutzschrift" (written counter) from the accused (Uber). The court does not request anything. Uber could have provided such statistics if it wanted to, but since they have no bearing on this case I doubt it would have helped. The cited violations are all from the Personenbeförderungsgesetz and the court has preliminary decided that UberPop constitutes an illegal and unlicensed Taxi service. This is not about safety, it's about blatantly breaking a federal law.

Uber can appeal and the case will go to a regular court hearing where more arguments can be exchanged. Until then, the injunction can be enforced which is a severe blow for UberPop.

Now we can argue whether or not those regulations are sensible, but that's not for you, me or Uber to decide, it's a thing that gets decided in the Bundestag. Or Uber could restructure its service to comply with the law, but then it would not be as financially interesting as before.

The previous 'Uber in Germany' discussions were about insurance coverage, something that most (all?) Uber drivers would lack supposedly.

So yes, there's evidence that Uber is less safe. Not in the 'drivers are reckless' or 'vehicles are crashing a lot' sense, but in the 'someone covers your .. behind' sense.

So Uber themselves cover insurance for drivers and their passengers. Is that not enough?


See the excellent answer here [1]. Next up on that list for me would be the 'license'. I have a license that allows me to drive every (street legal) truck, up to 40t. I'm also allowed to drive busses (they fall under the same category), IF they're mostly empty (I think up to 8 people are okay) and it's not a commercial ride (i.e. 8 friends, not 8 paying passengers).

If I want to do something like that, I need an additional license. Like every cab driver does. This isn't something that Uber can cover. The might be able to require their users to have this license (and prove it), but .. that's part of what the court is trying to say here, for all I understand.

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8256398

8 is correct, the actual rule is '9 including the driver', so you're spot on.

I understand the requirement for drivers to be licensed for what they're doing (accepting fares, just like how UberBlack drivers are required to be licensed hire car operators), but that's not what I was talking about.

In that case I'm confused. What _are_ you talking about?

This thread is about the reasons why Uber isn't legal and needs to start following the law. One requirement for that is the insurance, one completely different requirement is the license for commercial transport for each driver that .. well .. operates a cab. Whatever the company is called.

(Deep within my soul I really dislike this 'Hah, your laws are outdated and wrong, we will liberate you' type of services from abroad and I snicker every time German media talks about 'Uber' - a term that is usually connected to the German language, to über - being fined for being utterly careless (or reckless) about their operation in Germany. It's quite ironic in my little world)

I was replying to your comment where you said, paraphrased "Uber is unsafe because most, if not all, Uber drivers aren't insured.

And then I said 'Uber provides insurance. Is this not enough?'

I'm sorry. At this point I might need to pull the 'English as a foreign language' excuse card.

So.. 'Uber provides insurance. Is this not enough?' - 'No, because even IF (see the discussion elsewhere about whether that is actually the case. I'd trust the non-believers for now) they do, that is not enough to be safe. There are more regulations that are targeting safety. Like the license [1] for commercial transport, which requires a healthy driver (medical checkup), is limited to 5 years and needs to be renewed, makes sure that the driver has a clean record (both w/ the police and the relevant institute for traffic violations) etc. etc."

I'm unsure how that was NOT what you were talking about. "Is this, providing an insurance IF THAT IS REAL, not enough (to operate in Germany, to be 'safe')"? "No."

(I'd be glad to understand where we're not aligned. If this is a failure based on my reading comprehension skills I'd like you to point out what I missed so that I can improve here)

1: Maybe Google Translate might give more insight: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Führerschein_zur_Fahrgastbeförd...

Do they?

And if they do, what exactly is insured and how high is the coverage?

Can you point out to a credible source for this assertion of yours (which I find hard to believe), which is not an Uber blog entry, or some astroturfing organization?

They have published the insurance certificate:


Good luck using that in Germany.

Oh, fair enough. As far as I can tell, they haven't published anything on that regard.

Interesting comment on that page too, a driver was ticketed for not having a valid commercial insurance (ticket copy linked to imgurl).

Example: http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/02/should-car-services-provide...

Such an accident may could happen, but then according to the German requirements it would be properly insured.

Although not a fan of Über, I'm glad taxis are being disrupted in Australia!

Taxis are a joke, there are regular complaints about credit card skimming (including myself!) and reports of unsafe driving, sexual harassment and refusals to accept rides if not in the driver's best interest.

but, the state gave them a sticker and collected fees so...

100% agree.

One thing that confuses me a bit - isn't Uber in Europe focusing on professional limousine drivers? Shouldn't they be checked&regulated anyhow?

It's understandable that something like UberX wouldn't work in countries like in the SW/A/G area. We have those regulations in place for good reasons. I am sure they will find ways to comply.

ps: sorry for writing sw/a/g for switzerland/austria/germany - instead of the german d/a/ch - as soon as it's in your head you can't get it out there anymore. ;)

Yesterday, I tried uber in berlin for the first time. It was a professional limousine driver, with insurance and a permit to work as a driver. So, for uber black that's true, while it's not for uberpop. i guess uberpop is really the problem.

Correct, this only affects Uber Pop as far as I can see.

Which is exactly the reason they got sued by the association.

UberBlack is not affected by this injunction, so yes.

+1. Exactly. Not all legislation is bad.

i lived in germany for several years - and taxi drivers werent even nearly as good or making me feel nearly as safe as uber drivers.

its like 30% of the taxi drivers are pure assholes in berlin/hamburg. (heck its not so different in other big international cities).

I had hundred of uber drives and not a single bad or even sub-optimal ride.

Thus I very strongly disagree with your statement.

On a side note, taxi stuff works like a mafia - a "legal" version of it. The regulations enforces that - not the safety of anybody.

Yup, agreed, yet customer satisfaction doesn't cover for you in case of an accident. And since cab companies comply with the regulations what Uber is trying is to create an unfair competition by ignoring them.

So the way to do it is to follow regulations first and then find a way to 'disrupt'. Yes, that might slow down the growth. Thats probably why they chose to ignore it and that's why now the state is hitting them back.

Actually this is business as usual. Uber will continue to fight the decision, a compromise will be found and the prices will go down, which is good for the customer.

I am in no way affiliated with Uber and I like safery and checks for car and drivers too. But not at the cost of restrictive government-granted monopolies and crony capitalism.

> I like that Taxi companies need to have extra insurance and the cars and drivers are checked on a regular basis. Just like the TÜV (a mandatory checkup every two years for every vehicle) makes sure all vehicles have functioning lights, brakes, proper tires etc.

Maybe it makes you happy, but is it necessary? I doubt that it is. It seems like regulation for very little purpose. Accidents due to brake failure are exceedingly rare, and police will see if your lights are out (more frequently than once every two years).

Shouldn't regulation should be about more than warm fuzzy feelings?

> I doubt that it is.

I worked on cars a lot, old ones, newer ones and everything in between (oldest: 1961 Mini, newest, my VW bus from 2007).

Cars that are used more frequently and that do lots of stops/starts wear faster and tend to fail more frequently than cars that are used infrequently (within limits, letting a car sit for years and then using it is also not good).

Typical wear items: boots, joints, brakes (pads/discs), clutch, handbrake, steering housing and associated items (tie rod ends!), all consumables (including fluids, filters), lights (police telling you your lights are out is too late), safety belts, structural elements (rust, badly repaired accident damage) and on and on.

Having those inspected more frequently when you operate a car (many taxis are operated in shifts and I don't see any reason why uberpop drivers could not share a car for maximum profits) for the purpose of transporting passengers is in my opinion not a luxury.

On occasion I go by cab here in Romania and I'm always very happy to be alive at my destination, the number and severity of accidents involving cabs here is simply scary.

Give me German regulated cabs any time over the cabs here, possibly Uber could improve on that but I'm sceptical about what Uber pop would look like here.

There're A LOT of checks your car has to pass in germany. The "TÜV" (the "institute" that checks cars) are pretty hard on every car to make sure that the car is secure and safe.

But not only that, if you have holes in your exhaust and it makes awful noises, you need to fix it. If the rubbers on your windshield wipers is in a bad condition, you need to fix them. If certain parts of your suspension or the steering mechanics wiggle and wobble, you need to fix them.

After each 2-year check you have a certain time to get your car fixed. After everything is fixed, you'll get some kind of license plate sticker with the next TÜV-expiration date (very hard to copy). The Police will check those stickers regulary (if they see your car) and if it's invalid they'll stop you and you have to pay a big fee.

IMHO this is a good thing. Sure there are some stupid rules in place, but overall it makes the streets safer. And if you look at german roads, most cars are in perfect condition, even the older ones.

And as someone mentioned before, those rules are even harder enforeced on transportation companies or taxi drivers.

screw people that can't afford to fix their windshield wiper at the moment... fine them.

If they can't afford to fix their windshield wipers (15 EUR at most for new rubber blades), then there's no way they can afford to drive in Germany on a regular basis. 12 gallons of gasoline is around 75 EUR, or $100.

And TÜV costs about 70 or 80 EUR - not to mention the annual car registration fees.

So, yes, if you cannot manage to fix your windshield wipers, your car should not be on the road. Take the bus.

I agree. Owning a car in germany is pretty expensive. I pay 1200-1300 euros per year (insurance + tax) + money for gas.

That may be true and I'm glad that (at least some of us) in the US we strive to make driving accessible to everyone, lower their cost of living, and allowing them to take that money and feed their kids - all by allowing personal responsibility. Not wasting their time and money by fining them when they very well might not need the windshield wiper at that very moment.

Do you have any numbers to suggest the cost is worth the benefit - or that there is any benefit what-so-ever?

  Shouldn't regulation should be about more than warm fuzzy feelings?

In this case the regulation determines streetworthyness of a vehicle, which is considered part of public transport infrastructure.

I, for one, rather get a cab, which is regularly checked and safe to be driven.

Would you suggest that Ryan Air, since they are the cheapest airline far and wide, should flout regulation, which aims at ensuring the airworthyness of their fleet, so that they can offer cheap tickets?

The mandatory vehicle checkup (TÜV) does more than check the lights. They also check whether the car is structurally sound -- any broken beams or similar. I'm happy that they exist.

Thanks for the English-language url. We changed to that (from http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/uber-gericht-st...).

nitpick: dw is "Deutsche Welle".

imho not really a nitpick, it's just plain wrong. As 'Die Welle' refers to a completely different thing ;-)

So yes it is 'Deutsche Welle'

250K€ is about 328K in USD, in case the currency wasn't clear.

Uber are lying liars who lie in many markets.

This is demonstrated by the fact that in London, they simply went out and got the PHV license, and made sure the vehicles comply (checks every 6 months, public liability insurance, etc.) - if they did this in every other market, no problem.

The issue is that isn't a very sexy business. It's not "disruptive" like car pooling.

And in some markets, the cost of complying with the regulations is extremely high.

Even in London, it's been argued that the app in the car is a meter, and therefore breaches legislation relating to metered trips: only black cab drivers are allowed to meter, and the regulation bar there is much, much higher in part because those drivers are free to just pick people up off the street without pre-booking.

It seems to me that they should either focus on ride-sharing and get out of the private hire business, or they should focus on the private hire business and do it properly.

The regulations around private hire are not some idiot state actors nannying around: in London they have evolved over centuries. Literally. They are constantly reviewed, and London has an incredibly diverse and active PHV market with many innovators (Addison Lee, Hailo, Kabbee, etc.) improving things in regards to customer choice.

I use Taxis several times a week (in Germany). A lot of the drivers are already complaining about their income. Most of them are below the minimum wage, which will come in 2015. And a lot expect their company to shut down business. When I ask them about their opinion about Uber, many of the drivers speak positively about such an alternative. It would allow them to work without the need of a concession and to keep more money of the margin. But they also demand the same standards for such an alternative.

I prefer the Taxi (and my employer would not allow Uber in the first place), because of insurance and other minimum standards demanded by regulation (federal, country and town (via concessions)).

So I see a conflict, that is not just about Uber, but about the working conditions and the income in general. If Uber is allowed to work at lower limitations than the Taxi businesses, it will be a distortion of competition. It would make more Taxi companies to go out of business, which already struggle to keep their business and to pay their employes wages above the minimum (today and 2015).

So yes! Uber drivers must maintain the same standards as Taxi businesses, if they offer a commercial service.

> If Uber is allowed to work at lower limitations than the Taxi businesses, it will be a distortion of competition.

Let's stop talking about "competition". The issue here is "the regulations". Are they too broad? Or too narrow? Or ineffective? Or inadequate? Or just fine?

It Uber is allowed to work at lower limitations than the Taxi businesses, then either the Taxi business is too regulated (then some regulations should be dropped) or Uber is taking shortcuts somewhere damaging the costumers or the workers (the reason why the regulations exist in the first place).

I think that, if the current regulations are justified (and this is to be seen place by place), then there is no other outcome other than Uber becoming simply yet another Taxi company, maybe the one with the nicest website.

Its both - competition and regulation. If one company does not follow them, but others do, then you have a distortion of competition. The difficulty is in to tell whether Uber is operating like a Taxi company or not. They certainly operate on a different model than the usual Taxi business. So that's why Uber ignored the laws until someone cried foul.

Btw. I think the business is regulated fairly. The income is not. Most difficulties are with the concessions and the natural oligopols around them.

> It would make more Taxi companies to go out of business

Ignoring the rest of the debate, there's nothing that says that the current taxi companies should always be around. Competition means companies go out of business too. Sometimes things change and what was once an optimal number of taxi companies is now too many.

One of the nice things about some countries in Europe is that there are systems in place to protect workers when that happens. That's as it should be: protect the people, but not the company. Italy gets this completely backward in a lot of cases - they'll try and keep a company afloat to "protect jobs", and it just makes things worse and worse.

Come on, you just cherry-picked the one part of his argument that didn't conflict with what you had to say. I'll grant you that you started by admitting that...

He's not just talking about protecting existing jobs, he's talking about an existing regulated market that bends to meet standards that are dictated for financial and safety. Uber came in and ignored those regulations.

Those companies have insurance, which means he can use them in his business, and Uber he cannot use because they are not operating within the legal framework. If the taxi companies all go out of business, where will the law abiding business customers that need to work with insured vendors all go? There is a reason for the legal framework to exist, and it's not only to protect existing entrenched business interests.

> cherry-picked

There are a lot to both sides - it's a big, complex debate. I wanted to focus on one thing I felt was not a good argument at all.

> Uber plans to appeal the decision and said it would continue offering its services until a final ruling has been made.

I'm curious how they'll do that. They already said that in the Hamburg and Berlin case, but those were administrative decisions where an appeal blocks the injunction until a court decides. This time it's a preliminary injunction from a court, where an appeal has no delaying effect. The injunction can be enforced. The fines are also much much higher - in Hamburg it was a measly 1000 EUR per violation, this time it's 250 kEUR per violation or up to 6 month in prison for the CEO.

The irony of this, with regards to their brand name, is delicious.

Deutschland: Uber 0, Alles 1

Not sure if you intended that, but I'm reasonably sure you did: I found your comment offensive.

Not a reference I like to see and not related to the topic at hand. Certainly not funny.

Yay, downvotes. For the people that "Don't Get It": That funny guy is basically referring to the first line of the 'Deutschlandlied' - the source of the German national anthem. Thing is, while we kept the third (and just the third) verse as our national anthem, the reference above and the complete first verse, is really just associated with Nazi idiots (it was the only verse used THEN and is still part of their propaganda, plus it's the most silly line ever - even without that heritage it would be something utterly ridiculous to say, write, sing or whatnot). While it's use is not illegal over here, singing (or using) that line makes you a potentially dangerous moron and is generally considered highly offensive.

For this particular German he's basically singing a Nazi song.

are you also offended by the phrase "grammar nazis"?

do you believe that all "Hitler cat" memes should be removed from the internet?

maybe we should just ban all references to anything related to nazis. maybe burn all copies of "mein kampf" so no one gets offended?

or maybe we should round up everyone who posts a joke on the Internet and throw them in concentration camp because their beliefs are different than yours.

calm down buddy.

> generally considered highly offensive

It would be considered too boring for Titanic magazine. Good job holding up the stereotype of the humor-impaired German.

Interesting, took an uber in Berlin about 3 days ago. The options here are much more limited (its UberPop, instead of UberX), and the driver coverage is smaller (my friend recognized the driver as being the same one he had seen a month ago). Cabs are relatively easy to get here and so cheap, haven't felt the need to really fire up Uber much at all for the most part - ie, it was raining last night, and found a cab in 1 min.

"Violations of the injunction will result in a fine against Uber of 250,000 euros ($328,108) per ride. Uber plans to appeal the decision and said it would continue offering its services until a final ruling has been made."

Is that an error in judgement on Uber's part? Perhaps they'll settle or get the fine reduced if they remain unsuccessful, but with a fine like that per ride, there is a slim possibility that defying the order could send them out of business, isn't there?

Not sure about German laws, but in many places a court order is not put into effect before the appeals have been dealt with. If and when the appeals are declined, I'm sure they have to shut down business with that kind of fines.

In this case, since it's a court-granted injunction ("Einstweilige Verfügung") an appeal has no delaying effect. The preliminary injunction gets only granted if the court feels that the risk associated with the action in question is sufficiently high to warrant immediate action. IANAL, but from what I know this injunction can be enforced until it's overturned in an appeal.

That's different from the last two bans (Hamburg and Berlin) where Uber was banned by administrative action (Verwaltungsakt). In that case, an appeal has delaying effect until the case gets heard in court.

Has someone looked at the scope of the German law?


>Diesem Gesetz unterliegen nicht Beförderungen 1. mit Personenkraftwagen, wenn diese unentgeltlich sind oder das Gesamtentgelt die Betriebskosten der Fahrt nicht übersteigt;

=> As long as the total fare is below the actual costs the law is not applicable.

It seems if Uber operates at a loss they are fine. ;-)

I think the drivers themself would have to operate at a loss. But they also have an exemption for ambulances. Maybe they can offer medical services for their clients. ;)

I really wonder how much of this is protectionism for Taxis, and how much of it is protectionism against foreign companies. I don't have any particular love for Uber (the way they waste Lyft resources makes them d-bags in my book), but I don't buy the 'safety' excuse being given.

It reminds me of the bullshit safety concerns used to continue Oregon's ban on pumping your own gas at gas stations: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/06/its_for_...

The reality is, it's a form of protectionism for gas station attendant jobs, just as this German decision smells like regulatory capture. My guess is that if Uber changed policy to actually meet whatever requirements safety they're asking, they'd devise a new set of excuses for the ban, because this is ultimately about preserving the status quo.

The "excuse" is the Personenbeförderungsgesetz (law on [commercially] transporting people). Taxis have to implement it (and they do), and so they can complain in court about competitors who don't (as a remedy to state intervention: regulation has to apply to everyone). That's what happened here, nothing more, nothing less.

If the court hadn't stopped Uber, we'd actually see some special treatment (that is, protectionism) in Uber's favor.

Banning Uber (or upholding laws that restrict market-entrants such as Uber) is just another example of banning "Walmart Scotch."

Recommended: http://theumlaut.com/2014/04/30/how-net-neutrality-hurts-the...

This is a safety thing, not a competition thing.

Sorry I'm not getting it. Feel free to correct me at any stage if I'm wrong.

1) You can drive a car in Germany if you meet some basic legislative requirements (Führerschein etc.)

2) You can carry a friend as a passenger - perfectly legal.

3) You could carry a stranger who asked you for a ride - perfectly legal.

4) That stranger could give you gas money - perfectly legal.

5) But if you use your smartphone to find strangers willing to pay you for a ride at this point your activity becomes so unsafe that you need to jump through a whole bucketload of extra hoops? Why is that exactly?

Up until 5 you have two people making free decisions.

When you get to number 5 you have a commercial company and an individual, and that changes the relationship.

Here's a US example.

I can drive a car, but if my employer asks me to take a parcel from work to the post office to be posted I need to make sure my insurance covers that commercial activity or I am uninsured.

Well Uber provides insurance during the ride, but anyways...

Why are people in favor of using tax dollars preemptively to defend extremely-profitable insurance companies? If their customers aren't following their contracts, the burden is on them - and I don't see a problem with that. Its not Uber's fault.

In the meantime, Germany is banning a company that has shown they lower DUIs upon introduction.

5) The difference is that if you're doing it for profit, there are laws that govern that activities and you must follow them. It is really simple.

I think you all missed his point. Yes he knows there are laws. He's questioning why the laws exist. There's clearly a lot of confusion about this because up thread we have people saying it's not about safety, and then we have lots of other people saying it is about safety.

To me having insurance valid for commercial use seems reasonable, but you don't need special licenses or laws to enforce that. Just have a law that says "you must have insurance valid for the kind of driving you do" (which I suspect Germany already has).

The basic point being made here is there is no technical or medical reason why the amount of money being charged suddenly makes driving fundamentally different. You're driving the same car on the same roads with the same driver. So why have governments made it so complicated?

There is a difference: Regular insurances do NOT cover commercial activities – so if you want to drive for uber, you need to get a commercial insurance.

This is everything the court asked for: Appropriate insurance and regular checkups (yearly instead of biyearly).

> you don't need special licenses or laws to enforce that. Just have a law that says "you must have insurance valid for the kind of driving you do"

Licenses provide the proper checks and balances proving that the driver has complied with their legal requirements. The license is typically shown somewhere in the taxi, so the fare can see that they are covered if anything bad were to happen.

That's of course assuming the fare knows about this, which for foreigners isn't always the case.

The commercial motive makes no moral difference, only a jurisdictional difference.

And that jurisdictional difference exists because it is profitable for cities. The consumer does not benefit at all.

While there have been a lot of replied I think the main reason 5) is not legal is because it is much more likely that a driver will do this 12h a day for 6-7 days a week.

So he will spend more hours on the road which is more demanding for him as well as his car, which is why it requires more regulation.

5) is still allowed as long as the driver is not doing it for profit. (Wundercar does that).

The moment you're driving people around for profit you're entering a regulated market. Deal with it.

1-4 correct.

5 is not about safety. You enter a regulated market once in case 4 the money you give to the stranger exceeds the cost attached to the ride, smartphone or not. On top, you have no insurance coverage anymore.

Except we all know it's not about safety.

I live in Berlin and this is extremely disappointing. I'm beginning to doubt European cities in general have any clue what makes startups in US work. Here's what pg tweeted when there were protests in London:

Lots of cities say they want to be the Silicon Valley of Europe. Uber tests whether they mean it. (https://twitter.com/paulg/status/477428094530121728)

Talk all you want about Uber being evil, predatory and not really the One True Sharing Economy - this right here is why Europe won't catch up to US in terms of startups, despite all the nice talk about being friendly to them.

I live in Berlin and this is extremely satisfying. I'm beginning to doubt that Silicon Valley startups have any clue how European cities work. We germans in general are weary of evil, predatory enterprises that start a spiral to the bottom.

Jest aside: This is just not how things work here, for good or bad. I think there's also not that much room for disruption in the Uber case, at least in Germany. The market for cabs is very much unlike the market in the US - there's not a single huge company owning all the cabs in Berlin and a medallion does not cost a million EUR. Service has been pretty ok for me so far and I use a lot of cabs, so I actually don't see much of an upside but I do see a lot of potential downsides, not that much for me who could easily afford a surge pricing but for people that maybe can't and have to rely on regular cabs.

The taxis here in Berlin even have an app that is quite similar to how you order an Uber. Though of course you still have to pay at the end of the ride with cash or card.

You can pay your taxi ride in app as well. [1]

[1] https://de.mytaxi.com/en/fahrgast.html

>>> I think there's also not that much room for disruption in the Uber case, at least in Germany

I suspect there is, otherwise there would be no need to ban it.

They haven't banned Uber, just required that they follow the laws and regulations that everybody else has to follow. Once Uber does that then they're free to operate in Germany.

"A court in Frankfurt has ordered the smartphone application 'Uber' to stop its transportation services in Germany"

Is this not a ban? Are you saying Uber drivers weren't following the regulations every other driver in Germany has to follow - they were not obeying traffic laws, not holding driving licenses, etc.? No, they didn't follow additional regulations that not everybody has to follow.

Ride sharing is completely legal in Germany, the court order makes the difference between ride sharing (which is unregulated) and ride sharing FOR PROFIT, which, in Germany, is a regulated market.

So no, it's not a ban. It's the requirement to make business akin to getting your business registered.

Wait, so it's OK for one person to give a ride to another person, on the same vehicle, on the same road, at the same time, but it's not OK to give the same ride if after the ride one person gives money to another person - and the reason is that is the second case the driver and the vehicle (the same driver and the same vehicle!) is less safe? How that even makes any sense?

This case is not about safety. It's an unfair competition case.

Transporting people for money is heavily regulated in Germany on various grounds, one being safety, others are that Taxis count as public transport in germany and must fulfill certain obligations ranging from mandatory service for anyone at the same rate to transporting disabled people to the doctor (yes, that's done by Taxis as long as those people can still enter a Taxi). Uber is avoiding the regulations in an attempt to save money and be more profitable. This has been judged as an unfair business practice and so Uber faces two options: Stop offering UberPop or comply with the regulations.

The fact that private insurances don't cover commercial rides has a multitude of reasons, one of them is that statistically speaking it's more likely that a commercial driver has an accident since he's more likely to get a significantly higher mileage and more likely to drive at night. But that's a deal between the insurance company and the driver, the law only cares that you own a valid insurance, not about the exact terms.

Giving money is not the same as making profit as there are cost attached to driving a vehicle. It's OK if you reimburse the driver for his cost but once you start making profit things are different, then it becomes a business and as Xylakant said, the insurance doesn't cover that.

Since it's mandatory in Germany to be insured when you drive a car, that becomes Ubers's culprit, that they chose to ignore, potentially at the cost of leaving someone without insurance coverage in case of an accident.

That is unacceptable by the German rules and that's why the decision has been made in an express decision by the court.

In America:

1) take a parcel from your home to the post office. Have an accident on the way.

2) take a parcel from your employer to the post office. Have an accident on the way.

In 1) you're probably insured. In 2) you're probably not insured.

This small amount of extra regulation covers every commercial operator.

They are being stopped from operating without taxi permits and licensed vehicles. So that's not a blanket ban as far as I can see.

That's like saying "we're not banning drugs, we're just banning drugs unless you're a surgeon that needs drugs to sedate a patient". Effectively, that's banning what they're doing, if they wanted to open a taxi company that'd be completely different business.

There is a difference between banning and regulating. If a certain culture finds that certain businesses better be regulated for whatever reason (and your exsmple is actually a good one) that's OK and must be followed.

Take for instance the FDA that heavily heavily regulates the US market. I could argue that I as a customer should be able to choose myself what I eat and drink, yet that's not the case.

You may call that cartel, mafia, whatever you want but it's how administrations work..

It's not a blanket ban – UberBlack can still operate, because UberBlack follows the regulations. UberPool isn't banned either.

It's only UberPop, which tries to operate without a license as a for-profit service.

And imagine a UberPop driver hits you with his car – he would be not insured (regular insurance doesn't cover commercial activity), so you would have to pay your own medical treatment (getting broken bones together, etc) on your own, because the driver had no license.

> if they wanted to open a taxi company that'd be completely different business.

The German courts disagree with you on that one. You can like it or not but they get to have the last say in this.

It sounds more like "we're not banning drugs, just that if you make a business that involves sedating people then you need to follow certain rules. If you do surgery below cost then you are free to use the drugs."

By that argument I could say that the drug market in the US is in dire need of disruption, since otherwise there'd be no need to ban the sale of cocaine at Walmart.

War on Drugs is the worst thing that happened in US politics in 20th century, but discussing this topic would take us too far aside. In this case, the ban was clearly initiated by competitors (while in Walmart's case it has nothing to do with banning drugs) - the article itself says "The preliminary injunction comes in response to a lawsuit by the national association of taxi drivers." Nobody claims driving is bad - they just claim the other guy can't be allowed to do it.

No, the claim is that by skirting the Personenbeförderungsgesetz (Law on transporting people), Uber is violating the the law about unfair competition. Any competitor in germany can sue any competitor on those grounds: If you engage in unfair business practices you'll be fined.

Nobody claimed (at least in this case) that Uber itself should be banned - UberBlack is unaffected by this injunction. Ubers unfair business practices have been banned.

It is not banned, they are being told to ensure they meet the minimum legal requirements such as car safety and driver safety checks.

These requirements are not "minimum" - as there are thousands of drivers in Germany that are not required to meet those requirements. I myself was driving in Germany, more than once, without meeting any such requirements. However, somehow the same drivers which were completely safe a minute ago flooding all German roads without any "minimum requirements" become critically unsafe - so unsafe that they must be banned - as soon as they try to earn money. Though the same unsafe drivers are allowed to continue driving freely - as long as they do not take money. The only thing that changes is if the same drivers take money or not - and you're saying it is about safety?

Taxis operate under very different conditions than normal cars.

Most peoples cars are parked at least 20h a day. Taxis on the other hand are often operated in shifts and are in operation 24/7. This has significant effects on how much maintenance is required, how likely an accident is etc. this in turn results in potentially higher costs for insurance, requires more frequent checkups.

In addition a driver's license in Germany never expires, unless you violate any laws you can never lose it. That may or may not be reasonable for people driving a private car, it's a lot less reasonable for people operating a car commercially and potentially with passengers. Passengers who have the reasonable expectation of having a driver who's healthy enough to drive.

Let's assume you drive in Germany and take an Uber passenger and get involved in an accident fatal for the pax, after you fail to reanimate him and your tires are slightly overdue for a change. The family sues you for reckless driving and causing the death of your pax, in the first instance the court finds you guilty.

Now how do you argue that the requirements are not minimum? How do you pay for the damage? Do you expect legal protection from Uber? Do you think they would provide you with that, in Germany?

Do you actually know about the legal system in Germany or how can you make a statement about the level of requirements?

It is obviously for the passenger's safety and convenience, not for the driver's.

These rquirements are the minimum for commercial drivers.

I think there is a misconception in what "startup disruption" means. One thing is to remove entrenched interests and "trimming the fat" of inefficient or predatory practices; another is to race to the bottom.

I could create a "supermarket startup" tomorrow, by using 0-hour contracts for the whole workforce, forcing farmers to earn less, stocking food of dubious safety coming from China etc etc, all thanks to some wonderful app that will calculate and manage all this for me. That's not disruption, that's robber-baron race to the bottom.

On the opposite, if I create a fully-automated supermarket that does not require any workforce but still provides exactly the same level of quality to consumers and producers, that's real disruption.

The startup ecosystem should not take their clues from Walmart and Ryanair. Before Uber can righteously challenge European legislation, they should prove that they have ways to address the issues that generated that legislation in the first place: are all drivers insured? Are their vehicles safe? Etc etc.

0-hour contracts for the whole workforce, forcing farmers to earn less, stocking food of dubious safety

If you can find people freely willing to provide labour services at the price you offer, I see no problem. As far as "forcing" farmers to earn less, how are you going to achieve that? Coercive appropriation of goods is a practise strongly restricted in modern capitalist societies. Finally I highly doubt there is a good market for unsafe food products, though I am sure for some people it would be an acceptable risk - if you are discovered faking the quality of your food products though I imagine you would go out of business pretty quickly through the standard feedback mechanisms of capitalist society (the media, consumer outrage).

Doesn't sound like a very strong business model to me unfortunately.

Before Uber can righteously challenge European legislation, they should prove that they have ways to address the issues that generated that legislation in the first place: are all drivers insured? Are their vehicles safe? Etc etc.

Why can't we simply let people decide for themselves whether they want to ride in insured vehicles or not? Are people too stupid to calculate probable risks and rewards and make their own economic decisions?

> If you can find people freely willing to provide labour services at the price you offer, I see no problem.

That thought right there is straight from the XIX century. There is no such thing as "freely willing", in the real world people provide labour in exchange for money in order to survive in a society that forces them to do it or perish.

> As far as "forcing" farmers to earn less, how are you going to achieve that?


> Finally I highly doubt there is a good market for unsafe food products



The food supply chain is much more opaque than you would think, even in Europe where regulation is much stricter than anywhere else. A lot of food producers will skimp on everything they can, short of killing tasters on their first sip.

> Are people too stupid to calculate probable risks and rewards

Not everyone has the education (or the inclination) to make such calculations, every minute of every day. This is why we have regulations in place: because predatory behaviour exists and can result in very bad outcomes, up to and including loss of life. I personally don't want to go back to "the XIX century plus iPhones".

People have to work because they have no capital. They are drowning. A job is a life preserver. The solution is to demand a bigger life preserver from he business man (minimum wage) the solution is to remove the pool (citizens divided guaranteed income negative income tax. One helps the poor the other fucks them.

> Why can't we simply let people decide for themselves whether they want to ride in insured vehicles or not?

People don't get to decide for themselves whether vehicles are insured or not anywhere in the world that you'd care to want to live. Liability insurance is mandatory, typically taxis carry passengers so they have mandatory insurance for their passengers as well.

Since you don't exactly get to check the state of the vehicle and/or the insurance situation of the driver before you get in this is something that is - rightly, in my opinion - regulated. It makes sure that as a consumer your rights are somewhat safe, rather than a gamble.

Sorry, what? I actually come from a country where vehicle insurance - even third-party - is completely optional. It's called New Zealand, pretty decent place to live all things considered.

Anyway, why can't we just let Uber drivers state the degree of insurance coverage they offer and explain how often they check their vehicles and who does the checks etc? Then let people decide who they want to ride with. No gambling required. We can even expect Uber drivers to freely offer this information themselves, because it will make their services more attractive.

Remember we are talking about interactions between free individuals here. No one is forced to take an Uber ride.

> I actually come from a country where vehicle insurance - even third-party is completely optional. It's called New Zealand, pretty decent place to live all things considered.

Beautiful country, nice people! I assume you are familiar with the ACC and that that is why you don't need such insurance? Effectively you already have it.

As for why we can't let Uber drivers state the degree of insurance etc, that's not how taxis work, and Uber competes head-on with taxis.

So if you want transportation using a car from point 'a' to point 'b' then there are certain levels of expectation to be met and because people are - surprise - crafty, so in order to make sure these expectations are actually honored the government in Germany chose to license such operators.

Just because 'we're free individuals here' does not give you license to ignore the law.

Thanks Jacques, I do understand that we are talking about laws here. I don't personally endorse Uber's business practise of breaking local laws to force the debate.

I'm arguing about the rationality of these particular laws. In essence, laws which mandate a minimum standard of a given good. I think these laws should be repealed because they restrict individual liberty and do not produce more optimal outcomes than an unhindered free market for transportation services. Just my two cents.

How do you cope with getting injured by a driver who cannot pay for your medical treatment?

I'd be very surprised if there was not some mechanism in place. Maybe taypayer money, the state paying for it and trying to get reimbursed by the driver?

Something else?

In Germany we handle this issue with mandatory insurance.

I'm pretty sure that you're comparing apples and oranges.

To paraphrase: Why can't we just let surgeons state the degree of medical training they have and explain how often they get training and who does the training etc? Then let people decide who they want to have surgery from. No gambling required. We can even expect surgeons to freely offer this information themselves, because it will make their services more attractive.

Remember we are talking about interactions between free individuals here. No one is forced after a critical, life-threatening accident to go to the nearest location such as Bob's Discount Surgery, "Where sterilization is for sissies. Check out our 50% off amputation special."

  Why can't we simply let people decide for themselves whether they want to ride in insured vehicles or not?
Maybe because society would bear the costs for those people?

Who will pay when those people wind up in hospital, racking up bills of hundreds of thousands Euro, and there's no insurer to cover the cost?

Sorry, but the price for living in a society is that you don't get to pick and chose, which laws are appropriate for you.

If you don't like them, you're free to try to change them.

You are not free, however, to just ignore them at a cost to everybody else.

> Who will pay when those people wind up in hospital, racking up bills of hundreds of thousands Euro, and there's no insurer to cover the cost?

Health insurance. I'm not aware of them not paying for obvious things like accidents, etc. They do avoid paying for things that are not strictly medically necessary, e.g. cosmetic surgery in many cases. But if you get a ride with someone and they get into an accident where you are injured, the question of hospital bills should not arise. At least not for the victim.

The victims insurance will for sure claim damages from the driver. As the driver most probably will not be able to pay the victims insurance has to cover the loss. This on the other hand means that the insurance needs to raise the prices for all their customers in order to cover for those kind of cases. To prevent that it is mandatory that all people are properly insured and pay their fair amount in respect to the risk - so a commercial driver has much higher insurance costs than a private driver.

  Health insurance.  
Ahh, exactly as I said: society at large pays for the profits of a private company.

And actually (at least in the case of Switzerland) you're wrong.

Health insurance does never pay for accidents, period.

In Germany health insurance does not cover medical procedures if they were caused by someone else (or at least they try to get their money back with lawsuits).

And the insurance of the driver wouldn't cover commercial activities, so he'd have to pay everything on his own.

Good luck finding a single driver for Uber then, because just one accident could bring a driver 300k$ into debt.

The insurance requirement protects people who do not get to decide whether to interact with a properly insured driver (those hit by said driver).

You can't decide whether or not to be hit by an uninsured vehicle.

Sorry, how is your point relevant to the rights of individuals to freely choose the seller and nature of transportation services they purchase?

Because insurance typically affects all victims of a potential accident, and this includes people on crosswalks, in other vehicles and riding bicycles along the road.

If the insurance company deems you 'uninsured' this will result in society picking up the bill.

So the rights of individuals to choose to pick a seller who in that case is uninsured can have consequences for parties other than the two involved in the transaction.

jacquesm's comment is correct. Someone operating a taxi on domestic insurance may find that they are not covered if they collide with someone while they have an Uber passenger. The uninsured uber driver is then unable to pay for the damage to the other driver's car. That damage may be covered by their own insurer (increasing everyone's premiums) or they may be left out of pocket.

Because accidents are too violent and too infrequent for post-hoc enforcement to work. By making it illegal to drive without insurance police can do enforcement continuously, creating an incentive for insurance enrollment before you get hit by a car.

If you have to wait for peoples' lives to be ruined for you to have an opportunity to create your incentives, it's already too late.

> Why can't we simply let people decide for themselves whether they want to ride in insured vehicles or not? Are people too stupid to calculate probable risks and rewards and make their own economic decisions?

Yes, they are.

People are hopeless at calculating risk, especially for things like this.

because externalities and tragedy of the commons.

What Uber does has nothing to do with Silicon Valley and startups.

It's the same exploitation through evading labor and safety laws dozens of shady companies have done for decades.

If a transportation company exploits East-European truck drivers, or a building company exploits construction workers it's disgraceful, but because an American company does it by using a phone app it's suddenly cool and "disruptive"?

I'm glad that we have a level of protection in terms of privacy, consumer and worker rights.

Uber is not innovative. Uber is the same old scam all over again. But with an app.

What's traffic safety got to do with being the Silicon Valley of Europe? Uber is outlawed not because of their technology, disruption or innovations, but because of hiring untrained drivers and potentially unsafe cars.

Germany's culture = safety first. So get TÜV certified cars and licensed drivers.

I wonder how Germans tolerate thousands of regular "unlicensed" (I mean beyond regular driving license - I don't think Uber is hiring drivers that don't have regular driving license?) drivers flooding the German streets every day. It is so unsafe. When finally German citizenry understands that and bans private driving by unsafe drivers in potentially unsafe cars? Safety first! So I'm not getting how it is still allowed. If you want to get somewhere - just take a bus or call a taxi or even better, just bike - it's more ecologically friendly. I think private car ownership in Germany should be banned immediately - for the safety, of course.

I take it that you don't think it should be legal for businesses to lie about their products, but you think it should be legal for normal people to tell lies.

There is quite a bit of difference in regulating what businesses are and are not allowed to do, and regulating what people are and are not allowed to do.

It is completely legal for businesses to lie, and they do it every day, just as every other people do, at least in countries where freedom of speech is respected. What is not legal is to enter a contract under false pretenses - i.e. lie to me about the contract I am about to enter, defraud me, misrepresent your offering or details of the goods, etc. Same holds for a person too - if I defraud you, I would break the law, even though I am not a business.

"Business" is just a common name for people (or just one person) doings things in exchange for money, it doesn't change who the people are. So why exactly the difference? Where does it come from?

In the US, commercial free speech has less protection under the First Amendment than noncommerical speech. Eg, Nike v. Kasky established that in California commercial free speech is (at least currently) subordinate to false advertising laws, in that information in Nike press releases is not immediately protected under the First Amendment.

In reading your posting, it appears that you have merged two meanings of "business." The first use is "legal for businesses to lie" as different from "every other people." This implies that you are talking about a specific legal entity, eg, a limited liability corporation, as something different than a human being.

The second is '"Business" is just a common name for people', which implies that don't see a business as anything other than a non-empty set of human beings.

You should be more clear about what you mean, but in this case it doesn't make a difference. The courts haven't made a distinction between a corporation and a human being making the commercial speech, so the point is moot.

See http://hstlj.org/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-commercial-... for a brief history of commercial speech doctrine which is relatively readable. (Most of the ones I came across were much denser reading.)

You should note that the lesser protection of commercial speech includes the ability of government to prohibit the advertisement of illegal transactions, even if there is no misrepresentation. Eg, it is illegal to advertise cigarettes to children, even though it is legal for you, under free speech, to carry a sign saying "children should smoke Virginia Slims". The distinction is the goal - is it to sell a product, or an expression of your political, religious, or other beliefs? Should this go to court, the court would look at various factors, like if you're being paid to carry the sign.

Similarly, and to get away from a vice-related topic, it's illegal to sell your vote or to offer to buy or sell votes (see http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/net_election... ), but if you were at an oil industry protest with a sign saying "I'll sell my vote to ExxonMobil for $6 million" (that being the amount they spent on lobbying last year), then that's clearly political speech.

> It is completely legal for businesses to lie

To whom ? To its customers ? no , it's called fraud and it's illegal.Just because some companies get away with it doesnt make it legal. And contractual obligations dont have to be written black and white somewhere or you dont understand what a contract is.

> "Business" is just a common name for people (or just one person) doings things in exchange for money, it doesn't change who the people are. So why exactly the difference? Where does it come from?

You are playing with semantics.You wouldnt put this kind of stupid argument in a real world debate where people would actually know who are. You are stating an opinion not a fact. What people call Business is a legal entity.And legal means regulated by laws ,and laws are issued by states. You are probably right know typing on a computer that has, by law, to respect to power safety measures so you dont get an electrical shock that would kill you when you plug it.

> at least in countries where freedom of speech is respected

What does it have to do with anything ?

Really? A company can just make a TV ad where they say "We are the most environmentally friendly company in this country" when they aren't?

Can TCBY say they are "The Country's Best Yogurt"? Can an cider mill ask " How do we Make the Best Apple Cider in West Michigan?" (Quoting from http://www.klackleorchards.com/make-best-apple-cider-west-mi... ). Team Razer says they "make the best gaming peripherals in the world" (http://www.razerzone.com/team/join ) and Surefoot makes "the best fitting, best performing ski boots in the world" (http://www.surefoot.com/news.php ).

The answer is "yes." Under US law, these are "harmless puffery."

A search, btw, finds that SUNOCO is "the most environmentally-friendly company in the entire [petroleum] industry" http://prezi.com/2m6blwsr9u9c/geo-greenwash-ad/ and Sediment Removal Solutions is "the most environmentally friendly company around" http://www.sedimentremovalsolutions.com/franchise.html .

At some point there may be problems, but as there's no standard for 'environmentally friendly', the claim is rather vague in the first place. Still, see Kasky v. Nike (http://reclaimdemocracy.org/nike/ ) for the question of if a company's press statements, in this case about Nike's non-use of sweat shop labor, counts a protected free speech.

It's illegal to not follow legislation in the country you're operating in.

I guess that's one part of "the Silicon Valley" that I don't want to catch up with.

Compared to the US, Europe has a lot of consumer protection laws. Just, the other day it was highlighted here on HN, how good European laws are, that in Online Retails a company is not allowed to sneak in additional stuff without your consent.

Those consumer protection laws we have also in Germany for transporting passengers. Some details may have to be revised, but in general I consider them as good.

The consumer protection law for German requires, that a people who provide transportation as a service are required to have an according permit (Personenbeförderungsschein). This permit includes, basic checks, that you can drive and that you obey the law in terms of driving, which means you have clean driving record. This permit also includes additional requirements in terms of emergency first respond, before the First Responder arrive.

In addition the company (or you, if you self are employed) has to take care, that the car is in proper condition in terms of car safety (brakes and such). Proper condition for cars used for transportation business has be checked regular, meaning every year. Normal cars have to be checked only every other year. Also, the company has to have an according insurance for this use case. Regular insurance does not cover it. Finally, the company has to have also an registered business with the tax office, which is also understandable.

All these requirements are easy to obtain, but of course, have costs associated with.

According to this preliminary judgment, Uber is either required to validate, that all those requirements are fulfilled or they are punished with a 250.000 EUR fine, for every ride that does not follow the rule.

From that sense, Uber is not denied market access. It is only, that they have to follow the rule.

The problem is, that Uber says itself, they don't want to check those details. They just don't care. They explicitly say, they don't care. Because Uber argues, that they provide only "Ride sharing".

But that is wrong. If they would provide only Ride Sharing, than they would only offer UberPool. Uber is contradicting its own arguments, by explicitly having and marketing one service a Ride Sharing, while not offering this one service.

BTW: this ruling is only for UberPop. Because with UberBlack Uber shows, that it is able to follow the rules.

EDIT: Uber is not required to have a Taxi license. A Taxi license would of course give them additional benefits, like they are allowed to park in Taxi zones, drive in bus driveways and such. But there are also other obligations, like the price for the ride is set by the city and alike (no surge pricing). They have to take every ride, it cannot be denied for whatsoever reason, beside personal safety of the driver. The price is calculated by a certified taxameter. And may be other rules, I am not aware of.

Thank you for your elaborate response. Even if some of those requirements seem a bit anachronistic and overly bureaucratic, it does make more sense why Germany thinks it's a good idea. If it is that simple it shouldn't be that difficult for Uber to find a compromise and go legal.

This comment is the most well written response in this whole debate for all I can see. Thanks a lot.

It's a shame that it currently buried about 10 pages deep at the time of this writing, because it's a reply and not a top-level comment.

The protests in London were just an amusing summer diversion from vested interests. The thing is we already have a much greater degree of taxi deregulation in most of Europe than the US. Eg in London minicabs just need safety and non criminality checks. While the US has far more restrictive practices. But we do like safety checks. Uber is in a different environment and is not really such a disruption here.

I think in Berlin the problem are the people, not the regulations. The german start-up scene is all about copying US ideas. And this is also what gets funded. Stuff that already has proven itself somewhere else.

There won't come much disruption from Berlin, soon.

I could argue the same, if I want to found a cocaine business in Berlin.

(I live in Berlin, too. And I prefer a Taxi.)

What do you find disappointing about it?

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