What happens when you become really good at what you do? You get banned!
Surprised? Well, so was Uber.
Uber’s super-success as the global leader in the taxi industry, has simplified millions of lives, provided employment to hundreds of thousands of others and revolutionised public transport along the way.
Now, in this thankless, intertwined world, they face new challenges every day for precisely this reason.
The latest in a series of lawsuits against Uber was filed in December 2016, in Italy, by a union of the traditional taxis, stating that they were at a competitive disadvantage against the American ride-summoning service.
Surprisingly, an Italian court, in all it’s intellectual propriety, has ruled in favor of the taxi unions and prohibited the operations of Uber completely in the entire country!
Uber is not allowed to ply any automobiles, make any promotions or advertisements, nor can it continue using its phone applications.
Ever so graciously, the court has granted Uber a grace period of 10 (full) days to observe its ruling and pull out of the country. If they fail to do so, they will have to pay a penalty of 10,000 Euros for each day that they remain active in the nation.
This ban, however, is not applicable to its Eats food delivery service, which is active in many cities in Italy.
All sarcasm aside, not all of us fully grasp how traditional taxis really do face oblivion thanks to disruptive services like Uber. The biggest cause of the inability is the tradition.
Traditionally-regulated taxis report to a nerve center after each ride, while Uber drivers are free from this particular string.
Uber also makes use of a beguiling simple smartphone application to ease communication between part-time drivers and the customers. Conventional taxi systems do not make use of this technology as yet.
They are also heavily regulated in Italy as they need to have operating licenses that are quite expensive. Uber drivers, on the other hand, have the advantage of being able to get those licenses in small towns at a lesser cost.
Their international structure also allows them to override a lot of the regulations and taxes that traditional taxis are subject to.
There is no way that old-fashioned car services can contend with their prices. Considering all of this, it’s not that hard to understand why the customary taxi drivers everywhere are so bent out of shape with Uber’s rise.
Apart from losing various legal battles in Taiwan, Germany, France, Brazil and many other nations, Uber is also facing legal action in its parent country from Alphabet’s Waymo. On top of that, a number of sexual harassment claims have been filed against Uber drivers over the years – an issue they need to take seriously.
Though all this seems like the build-up to hopelessness and frustration, Uber is determined not to give up. A spokesperson said that they “are shocked by the Italian court’s decision and will appeal. Thousands of professional, licensed drivers use the Uber app to make money and provide reliable transportation at the push of a button for Italians”.
Keeping aside competition, it is actually a battle between the old and the new, the customary and the modern, the long-established rules and the upcoming technology. Conventional taxi drivers have no way out of the nexus of taxes and regulations, whereas Uber has circumvented all that from the very beginning. A lot of governments are not ready to accept that, and Uber is paying for that. Not to mention, we the customers also have a stake in this, though there’s not a lot we can do to help.
Also published on Medium.