International

More Trouble For Uber Overseas–And In The U.S.

Uber is facing more heat around the world, as well as in the U.S.

Some of Uber’s business approach has been ruled illegal in Thailand, the Wall Street Journal reported. Teerapong Rodprasert, director-general of the Southeast Asian nation’s Land Transport department, said on Tuesday (Dec. 10) that officials met with operators of several taxi booking apps to discuss their compliance with Thai laws and that some of Uber’s operations are illegal because the company uses private cars rather than licensed taxis.

“Thailand does not ban the use of applications in calling taxi services,” Teerapong told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s the use of vehicles that are not properly registered that we do not allow.”

An Uber spokesman told the paper that it was unclear why the service might allegedly be in violation of Thai laws given that it contracts its services through rental car and limousine companies.

Uber also issued a statement, according to The Next Web: “Our goal is simple – we want to keep Thailand moving forward in a way that increases safety and reduces congestion. Uber gives consumers more choice and drivers greater income potential, while providing the city with a more efficient transportation system as it strides towards becoming a digital economy. Uber respects the Department of Land Transportation (DLT) and its important role as the key regulator on vehicle-for-hire transport in Thailand. We look forward to continued conversations with the DLT to bring our innovative transportation solutions within the appropriate regulatory framework in Thailand.”

In addition to resistance in Thailand, Vietnamese authorities have said Uber is illegal because it isn’t authorized to operate as a taxi service, though the country’s transport minister last week said the government will study ways to legalize it. Singapore authorities last month said new regulations planned for 2015 will require third-party taxi-booking companies to use only licensed drivers and vehicles and specify fares up front, the Journal noted.

On Monday (Dec. 8), a Dutch appeals court upheld a ban on the UberPop ride-sharing service, agreeing with a lower court that said UberPop drivers must have a valid taxi license, TechCrunch reported.

The Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal in The Hague ruled that UberPop drivers face a possible fine of up to €10,000 ($12,300), and Uber itself could face fines of up to €100,000 ($123,000) per violation. However, Uber’s premium UberBlack and UberLux services will continue to operate in Amsterdam, and the company said it will appeal the ruling again.

UberPop has run into similar problems in Germany and Belgium, where to keep the services running, the company currently offers UberPop at a no-profit rate where the fee charged covers the cost of running a car. Uber usually takes a 20 percent cut of the fee for the ride.

And in India, Uber was banned in the capital, Delhi, on Monday after an Uber driver was arrested for allegedly raping a passenger last Friday, the BBC reported. The driver was was reportedly not licensed and also turned off the GPS service that permits Uber to track their drivers.

Uber, which last week reached a valuation of $41 billion, could also be banned in Toronto and has already ceased operations in Las Vegas in the face of a state lawsuit. In Portland, Ore., where Uber started operating last Friday, city officials sued the company on Monday and said drivers who lacked taxi licenses, inspections and background checks would be fined $2,250 for the first offense, with another $1,500 fine for Uber, with additional violations carrying fines up to $5,000.

Back in the U.S., the District Attorneys for Los Angeles and San Francisco on Tuesday (Dec. 9) are making good on their threat to sue Uber, while adding that they have reached a settlement with rival Lyft, reported Engadget. According to the civil filing, the litigation is based on “false and misleading statements to consumers.”

“Specifically (the DAs) take issue with the quality of the background checks Uber claims it uses on drivers and its $1 Safe Rides fee, a failure to have authorization to work at airports, and a practice of collecting but not passing on a $4 airport fee toll at SFO. SF DA George Gascón and LA DA Jackie Lacey are looking for an injunction to shut Uber’s service, penalties and restitution. For its part, Lyft agreed to stop making misleading statements about its background checks, seek authorization from any airports where it offers service and pay $500k in civil penalties.”

 

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