First, the understandable misfortune of the naming conflict, which appears to go beyond just the calling issue (for example the listed suing of the wrong party).
Second, it uses this as a strange segue way to criticize Uber for not having phone support. Now if you believe that Uber should have phone support that's fine -- but its kind of unrelated to this person's troubles. By that I mean, had she happened to not name her company uber, then this wouldn't all of a sudden make their lack of phone support OK right? So if what you want to do is say Uber should have phone support, then this seems like a really strange primary point.
As an aside -- their email support has always been stellar to me, and I actually have the opposite complaint of other companies: I'd PAY to be able to get a prompt < 1 hour email reply from comcast vs. the "intimate interaction" of wanting to break my table when I'm on the phone with a real life person from their team.
If Uber actually got big enough that it became one of the only transportation options, then they might have some kind of moral obligation to setup a phone tree to help people who don't have any other options. But I don't think they're anywhere close to that.
It compares two companies of different eras with the same name, who ran into their doppelgängers because companies founded 15 years ago had telephone numbers and companies founded 6 years ago don't. I think it's gorgeous.
Clearly some of Uber's customers (and want-to-be customers) want to contact Uber this way. Instead, Uber enjoys having them deflected to some other business to deal with and rationalizes it as 'not in our business model'.
Obviously this is not surprising given the other parts of Uber's 'business model', whereby they attempt to absolve themselves of all kinds of liability by 'contracting' with their workforce (I mean employees) [I mean drivers].
I don't know if Uber has published its 'business model', but I wouldn't be surprised if it was short and to the point: 'Externalize all costs. Internalize all profits.'
Massive infringement lawsuit with actual + punitive damages is probably in order. Would likely be poetic justice, at least.
Normal, human-sized companies can't go up against venture-backed empires run by people with egos the size of football stadiums because the costs and risks of legal action is so massively stacked in favour of the rich and powerful.
You file your trademark for a particular type of business - it does not give you the right to practice that business elsewhere.
For example, McDonalds Hardware, a fairly popular Hardware business, does not have the right to open up a McDonalds FastFood restaurant.
A tangent: I think you meant "segue" instead of "segue way". I just learned that a few weeks ago.
I do appreciate companies that take a stand for "their way" of doing things, especially when it narrows their focus. You don't have to do everything conventional in order to be successful.
This is a very shortsighted view. Today's angry or confused customer is potentially tomorrow's evangelist.
What if these ladies started pushing customers elsewhere?
I imagine no-umlaut-Uber would retaliate in some kind of distasteful, barely-within-the-bounds-of-the-law way and HN would have its anti-Uber story for next week.
Given that it makes some sense to try to brand a particular presence in NY. A bit like how a fashion store might want to have a strong presence in Paris. And given NYC alone has a runrate of more than $300m alone, it's not strange to approach this as its own market, just like a company might have a US, UK, JP, DE etc domain for those country markets. Only Uber is more city-segmented than country-segmented right now, each city has its own taxi ecosystem and legislation.
In any case, it'd be an easy redirect and for a company worth tens of billions, outspending a $3k bid to get a branded domain for your company's largest market makes sense. Even if you don't use it, grabbing it and redirecting may be useful. Who knows if its worth much in the future.
So I wouldn't say that grabbing a uber.nyc domain name is the best move ever but it's not strange given the context. I'd have done it.
Uber should work with this woman to take action to avoid an externality of their business model: the harm of her getting spammed by Uber customers. But that has nothing to do with implementing phone support.
(Maybe a number for Uber support that leads to an automated prompt, "We don't have phone support, please email us?")
Every so often it'd ring: "Hi, you're supposed to pick me up from the airport?" or similar.
I ended up not needing that particular Google Voice number as I had thought, so... to whoever has that phone number now, I've been there.
If the author personally wants to phone support, he can stick to companies which provide it. Let the market decide (hint: phone support won't win).
"you'll find many people who disagree"
It almost is an opinion piece because you will find many people who disagree. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/opinion...:
"Opinion piece: An article in which the writer expresses their personal opinion, typically one which is controversial or provocative, about a particular issue or item of news"
"How would you like to contact us?" and gives me 3 options:
If you choose phone, you can have them call you, or you can call their number. It may seem convoluted, but since you are able to choose your order and issue you would like to discuss, the amazon representative calling you doesn't have to go through all the verification nonsense and looking up orders and such silly steps.
You are right that these are advantages, and I'm OK with it; but notice that you have to be logged in (or enter your password) to see these options. It seems to me that requiring you to be logged in to find the phone number is still at least a bit ridiculous.
If a market is ripe for disruption, we shouldn't believe that the first company that comes along is efficient and running well. Quite the opposite, since it has so much room not to be and still be successful.
Chattering classes may yap all day about how Uber is bad - while millions of customers are extremely happy with the service they receive.
However our level of motivation is starkly different. I am happy using the service - and don't really care enough to write letters / articles defending them. Journalists / taxi lobbyists are vastly more motivated to push a different narrative.
If it were Uber, he'd get one star and a complaint and probably would never get any more riders.
But since it's Yellow Cab, he just pockets the money and laughs all the way to the bank.
Yeah, there's plenty of need for competition in this overly regulated racket of a business.
I wish airplanes were as cheap as cars, and then maybe we could have an Air Uber as well, to give the airline racket a run for their money!
Lucky a $40 billion company has some hack at the NYT to give them advice.
Pet hate: When a company specifically doesn't want people X as customers, X thinks it's because said company is dumb. A great example of 'unconscious incompetence'.
Anyway, because of those associations, my view of Uber the company is that it has chosen to market itself for those better than the unwashed masses, the rabble, the hoi polloi. This may of course have not been their intent with their marketing, but that, FWIW, is where I go unconsciously when I hear the name.
Nevertheless the first verse describes the old borders, and the second mentions German women along with wine and singing, and would therefor today be killed by gender activists anyway :D
And that's on you, not people who use German words.
>The term Übermensch was used frequently by Hitler and the Nazi regime to describe their idea of a biologically superior Aryan or Germanic master race; a form of Nietzsche's Übermensch became a philosophical foundation for the National Socialist ideas. Their conception of the Übermensch, however, was racial in nature. The Nazi notion of the master race also spawned the idea of "inferior humans" (Untermenschen) which could be dominated and enslaved; this term does not originate with Nietzsche.
I speak German and travel around the world quite a bit, German is probably the language I use the least, by far.
I use Spanish and English a lot, in Africa with English and French you can get by. In Asia you find written Chinese a lot(common to China, Japan, and Korea), English in India(so many languages there).
I don't find that the preposition über has such an association for me -- maybe because I've used it in day-to-day contexts when speaking German as a foreign language, like "nach Hamburg über Zürich fliegen" -- but someone upthread pointed out that it may remind some people of Nietzsche's Übermensch, an idea that the Nazis associated with their concept of the Herrenvolk.
It's possible for some people to perceive a connotation that others don't perceive at all. I was working with some Brazilians on a document that used the term "solução final" as a non-Nazi reference, to mean something like 'definitive solution' or 'complete solution'. I strongly urged them to change the term to avoid the unintended Holocaust reference, but they assured me that Brazilians in their circles used that term completely neutrally, and that readers wouldn't take any reference to the Holocaust at all.
If say Uber I sound like an idiot that can't pronounce the ü.
Just.. don't. Occasional German references in English contexts are usually cringeworthy. Uber is ridiculous from this particular point of view, just because their name is absolutely useless. Unless you're trying to make the xth Nazi reference and think that German sounding bull.,.. might so the trick, please reconsider. The shop in this article at least knew then spelling and had a decent explanation. The other (HN loved) company is just... sad. I would suport the real über if they offer a way. Uber? Ridiculous, even before this article. But hey, who cares about the language you steal your laughable name from, right?
I'm pretty sure I've seen "uber" (with either spelling but pronounced in English) on the web and on IRC as early as the 1990s. It likely spread beyond the online use when the web became mainstream.
Disclaimer: German native speaker who used to spend way too much time around linguists.
And you can't mention the German "super" in 2014 without pointing out this viral marketing campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxVcgDMBU94 (explanation: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/02/24/supergeil_ede... )
I mean, you wouldn't catch anyone on German television pronounce Zuckerberg's name as /ʦʊkɐbɛɐk/, even if it may be of German (Jewish, I presume?) origin.
PS: I think the Duden and Wiktionary are full of shit -- I've never heard anyone in Germany pronounce "Berg" with an actual "r". Maybe I'm missing some subtleties of German phonetic transcription here, but that's an /ɛɐ/ diphthong if I've ever seen one.
Similarly, as I'm currently living in Latin America, I got used to pronounce english words and names in a spanish way. At first it feels very stupid, but locals will understand you better and you don't have to suddenly switch language flow and phonology in the middle of a sentence.
As a native English speaker who can speak decent Spanish, this was a very interesting experience for me as well. Getting used to saying your own language's words with another language's accent is very instructive. Also hearing English words with a thick Spanish accent was a bit of a head trip for me - at first you don't even recognize them when spoken to you, then after a while you sort of "get" the phonetics enough that you can think of the words as sounding like that.
All in all one of the more interesting aspects of learning to speak a language competently, or alternatively, something that makes the difference between sounding like some American kid in a Spanish class and making a real effort.
I always encourage other travelers to focus on pronunciation and getting rid of ones native language accent right from the start. Not to sound more skilled than you are or to hide your origin, but it is necessary to get into the flow and rhythm of a language, which will in turn improve your listening skills and ability to adapt to different accents of that language immensely.
And in geographically widespread languages like spanish or english you have to adapt a lot. As long as you pronounce things in one major regions accent natives have few problems understanding you, even if you make a lot of grammar mistakes. On the other hand, you can have perfect grammar, but with a really thick e.g. english accent, you're sort of limited to talk to people who also speak english and are able to do that head trip.
In my opinion beeing understood is more important than beeing correct and whatever people adapt to is ok in my book. I even learned to tolerate the horrid ways north americans pronounce places in latin america. Languages change and mix all the time. For the good and the bad. I just don't care enough about uber, and I'll just stick to the way people pronounce it once I'm back to Switzerland.
I'm not saying the word shouldn't be adapted at all, quite the opposite. I'm saying "correcting" the pronunciation to the one of the original German word it is historically based on is a bit silly because the English meaning of "uber" -- while the word itself may be derived from German "über" -- is actually quite specific and entirely different.
Now that I think about it, your "Müesli" example actually backfires. In (German) German, where "Müsli" has become a generic description for nearly any mix containing oats and milk (basically what you'll find on the German Wikipedia), the original Swiss word Müesli is often used with a much narrower and more specific meaning (equivalent with the original meaning of Birchermüesli, I think).
But anyway, for consistency I demand that you refer to Apple as Apfel (or Apful, if you want to stick with the original Old High German) and Microsoft as Mikrosanft (or -sacht? Etymology is a bit harder with this one) in spoken German, too.
If you're a troll, congratulations.