Seattle-area taxi association sues Uber for ‘unlawful and deceptive business practice’

Photo via Uber.

Photo via Uber.

The Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association is suing Uber, the app-based transportation company, for operating illegally in Seattle and King County.

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, claims that Uber’s service has violated city, county and state laws, and “engages in an unlawful and deceptive business practice which harms the economic interests of taxicab drivers.”

[Follow-up: Taxi drivers defend suit against Uber in Seattle, say they want level playing field]

The Seattle City Council voted earlier this month to regulate companies like Lyft, Sidecar and UberX, which is Uber’s low-cost offering that allows everyday drivers to shuttle people around town.

The association’s lawsuit is targeted primarily at UberX, but Uber has other, more expensive services like UberBlack where the company partners with professional drivers that are also referred to in the suit.

The complaint notes that the Operators Association’s members, which are made up of taxi drivers from the Seattle region, are forced to follow requirements enacted by the City of Seattle and King County while Uber’s drivers do not abide by the same laws.

uber2121

Photo via Uber.

“If the Operators Association’s members were to provide taxicab service without satisfying the City of Seattle and King County requirements, they would be subject to up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine,” reads the lawsuit. It also notes that taxi drivers, by law, must have security cameras, a GPS, a silent alarm, a fare meter and a fare list approved by the City and County, in addition to several insurance requirements.

The Operators Association also claims that “Uber exempts itself from any duty to provide fair and equal service,” while taxi drivers “satisfy every request for service so long as there are any operating taxicabs not in use.” In addition, the lawsuit alleges that Uber “harms the public interest by depriving the public of the rights and protections provided to passengers within those regulations, which include licensed, trained drivers and safe and properly insured vehicles, as well as the fees Uber would otherwise pay for the privilege of dispatching drivers on the public’s roads.”

There is another claim in the lawsuit pointing out a Washington state law that fines limousine services if they allow customers to make arrangements to immediately ask for a driver from their current location.

“Uber’s drivers similarly do not conform with Washington State law with regard to the operation of limousine transportation services, in that, among other actions, they permit customers to make arrangements to immediately engage their services,” the lawsuit reads.

Though deemed illegal by the state, the ability to immediately hail an Uber driver by pressing a few buttons on a smartphone is a feature lauded by Uber supporters.

The Operators Association is seeking compensation for damages equal to the fares and tips lost to Uber, in addition to “exemplary damages in an amount equal to three times the lost fares and tips caused by defendant Uber.” The association, which works closely with Teamsters Local 117, is represented by Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP, a Seattle-based law firm specializing in legal strategies for unions.

“It’s hard enough to run your own taxi business when the city and the county nickel and dime us every step of the way.  Now you have Uber coming in from out-of-state,” Parminder Cheema, a taxicab operator and elected member of the WWTCOA’s leadership council, said in this press release. “They’re funded by Silicon Valley and Wall Street, so they’ve got the resources, but they’re refusing to pay the price for doing business, and they’re refusing to follow the rules. It’s bad for our community, and it’s not safe.”

This is certainly not Uber’s first time dealing with legal claims against the San Francisco-based company. It is currently embroiled in lawsuits over driver harassment, tip-skimming, and the much-publicized incident of an Uber driver who struck and killed a 6-year-old girl. Meanwhile in Chicago, taxi drivers are suing the city for allowing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate.

Here’s a statement from Uber in regard to the lawsuit in Washington:

Uber remains focused on connecting people with the safest and most reliable transportation options in Seattle and protecting the thousands of small business jobs created by our technology platform. It is unfortunate that the taxi industry is not similarly focused on what really matters: safety of riders and opportunity for drivers.

Story developing…

Update: This story has been updated to clarify the details of the lawsuit.

Follow-up: Taxi drivers defend suit against Uber in Seattle, say they want level playing field

  • Charlie

    I won’t be riding in a Seattle taxi ever again.

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  • Sky Kelsey

    I don’t bother with taxis anymore. This is just the natural response from an organization in the throws of death.

    • guesty

      throes. it’s throes, dimwit.

      • Sky Kelsey

        Thanks for taking the time to anonymously tell me what a dummy I am. You sure showed me!

  • Zachary Cohn

    Really?

  • Bob

    Time to boycott taxis

    • ME

      I was already boycotting them anyway.

  • http://www.jrotech.com/ Jeff Rodenburg

    Shouldn’t their lawsuit be against the City of Seattle? It was the City who allowed the TNCs to operate.

    • Taylor Soper
      • http://www.jrotech.com/ Jeff Rodenburg

        That lawsuit makes more sense than this one, which seems tantamount to suing another driver for speeding but not getting a citation.

        • simon

          well, has the speeding driver bumped into your car? These “ridesharing” scams are going after taxi drivers money. So why waste time suing this city or that? So Seatle taxi drivers are right, Chicago taxi drivers are just wasting time.

          • Guest

            Most of the people I know who use ride sharing services stopped using cabs years ago. Cabs are simply to unreliable, dirty, and the general feel was that they were doing you a favor by taking your money.

            What’s been lost in this entire conversation is how terrible the taxi service is. This is why people have embraced Uber. It’s like Nordstrom vs. Value Village. While it is great to have Value Village there for the people that need it, you don’t exactly rave about the shopping experience. Nordstrom on the other hand is something to be enjoyed.

          • Bob

            What you choose to ignore is that every Uber and Lyft driver operating is committing insurance fraud.

  • http://www.korytegman.com/ Kory Tegman

    “engages in an unlawful and deceptive business practice which harms the economic interests of taxicab drivers.” Every Uber driver I have talked to, that has come from one of these taxi companies, says Uber has treats them far better and they end up making more money.

    • simon

      how? the driver destroys his/her car in a year driving for these “ridesharing” people. Those drivers you talked to are not very smart. They don’t feel the damage to their property now because they are driving newer car, but in a year when the car has piled up the mile, it will be different. Once they start visiting the dealer shops to diagnose those dashboard lights, then they will know who won. Dont you hate tools? i do.

      • http://www.puzzazz.com/ Roy Leban

        “destroys” is absolutely right. Those new cars won’t feel so new after they have a year or two worth of usage.

        I’ve asked a couple of taxi drivers how many miles they drive a year and I was told 100,000 miles. Turns out that is how many miles a taxi that is drive two shifts is driven a year. Turns out, the average taxi driver only drives 50,000 miles per year, four times the national average, and they are hard miles.

        I was curious so I went to KBB and did some comparisons. A 2013 Prius with 50K miles is worth $3K less than one with 12K miles; a 2012 Prius with 100K miles is worth $6K less than one with 24K miles. That is assuming the same condition, which would almost certainly not be the case. I looked at a Prius because many of the new vehicles are Priuses and they hold their value better. The difference would be greater with an average car.

        • ClaimsAdjuster

          Cash flow is not profit. TNC drivers certainly have cash flow but most of that comes from depreciation of their vehicles. The newer the automobile the more rapid the early devaluation of the car.

          Consider an airport trip from the Seattle Sheraton to Seatac airport. It runs 14.2 miles. At UberX’s current rates of $1.63/mi + $0.30/minute, the trip would run $29 for a 20 minute trip in a no traffic.

          Since the driver would deadhead back to downtown, total mileage for the cab would be 28.4 miles. The cut by Uber and the credit card company would come out to 10%, so the driver would gross $26.1. At the IRS rate of $0.56/ mi, vehicle cost would run $15.9. This leaves the driver with a gross profit of $10.2 on what is considered a good trip.

          Of course, if the driver was actually paying for commercial insurance and licensing, was not a mechanic and had a loan for his cab, that profit would shrink considerably. With an at fault accident, it could disappear entirely.

          After a while, a driver might realize that he is just spinning his wheels in the cab business and would get out. But the UberX/Lyft/Sidecar model of easy-in/easy-out means that there is a whole army of the unemployed and uninformed to quickly take his place.

      • Roger

        Passing laws shouldn’t be based on sustainability of the business, that is the what free enterprise provides, not government.

        I can also say that that I have had my share of cab rides in cars that sounded like they were luck to make it to my destination based on poor maintenance, wear and tear or general abuse.

        • simon

          These regulations came into their present maturation through decades of experience for the city, the taxi business and the consumer. They are not based on whether a business will work or not. They are based on knowledge, safety, and sustainability from experience. The cities are not saying “your business will not work”. They are saying operate legally. Get the taxi permit, get insurance and welcome to the business.
          The regulations for the pharmacy business should not be changed just because i want to sell drugs. or should they be?

          • TechManMike

            Well actually they aren’t from “decades of experience,” they are from decades of lobbying politicians to make it harder for new companies to come in and start, thereby creating a small oligopoly. If they were truly advocates for the cares of the citizens then there’s no way that the Seattle City Council votes to even limit the amount of ride share cars on the road at any given time. Because the voice of the people was pretty overwhelming in terms of supporting Uber-X. When does personal choice and responsibility ever play into things? If I know certain things about a company and still choose to do business with them then I assume that risk.

          • simon

            I have been driving taxi for more than a decade, and i dont remember lobbying any politician. I dont have the means nor the need to lobby politiicians. I renew my license, go for car inspections a number of times in a year and do my job. Saying this rules and regulations are from lobbying is a misinformation. Evey business has rules and regulations that they operate by. New comers adhere to those regulations when they come in to operate.
            These “ride sharing” people talk about “their technology” as if they invented flying cars and that the regulations in place are a stumbling block for their innovation. They did not invent flying cars, if they did we would understand. Their borrowed phone app technology will fit with no problem to the norms of the business easily. What will not fit with the norms of the business is their greed for quick buck.

          • TechManMike

            I never said YOU personally lobby, because with all due respect all you do is drive a taxi for your employer. You’re not the owner of the company that you work for, nor are you the head of the Western Washington Taxicab Operation Association, which is a union. Those two parties make much more than you do and because of that have much more interest to protect. That’s who lobbies. And as long as they can continue to feed you info that has you spouting off at the mouth and viewing things like you do, gives me all the info that I need.

            The mindset that you should have is for less overall regulation for everybody, including taxicab drivers…..not more laws that make it harder for everybody…including taxicab drivers.

          • simon

            all you are saying is lies. This is the problem with people like you. You think you know everything. You dont know the business. Its not complicated, but you dont know it. Its easy, if you want to know, work in the business for a while. Also there is neither conspiracy nor is it a multimillion dollar business for most if not any city. There is nothing that is hidden or conspiratorial.

            Rules are not there to make life hard for anybody just like they are not there to make life hard for players in a sports game. They are there to safeguard the safety and interest of ALL members of society.

            Here is another news for you. Unions speak for the workers. So yes they will visit public officials offices and they will speak on behalf of workers or business they represent. They did not come into existance in 2014 or 2013. They have also existed for decades. And lets say a certain union is bad or corrupt, so what? Investigate that particular union. How does that make Uber try to wipe out rules of the whole taxi industry? Uber is basing itself on lies, hype, and its own lobbying scamming schemes? Look at the infomercial crap its running every single day. Maybe you work for them. I will give you everything you need because, guess what, we have nothing to hide and most if not all are legal businesses. We have been serving the public well for DECADES, and we will continue to do so.
            The public will eventually laugh at them.

          • doug

            You arguments don’t make a lot of sense. Because they have a regulated monopoly, taxi’s have not had to compete to win business. Hence, the low quality of the taxi experience for consumers. I don’t know any Seattle consumers who wake up a say, “I’m so excited. I get to take a taxi today.” I do empathize with the regulatory burden of taxi drivers but if they provided a pleasant, customer-focused experience, Uber and it’s like would not stand a chance.

          • simon

            they shouldnt say “I’m so excited. I get to take a taxi today”. They should say ” I am glad there is a taxi service to take me to the airport, or to take me wherever when i don’t have my own transportation.” That’s all. We are not a luxury entertainment service. We are a transportation service. Is your car in the shop? do you need to go to the airport? Have you been drinking? etc etc. And ofcourse they have a right to be transported in clean well maintained cab. That’s how my customers take taxi.

          • TomEUS

            And this is where you are wrong! People are excited to use Ubr/Lyft / other ride sharing options – up to a point where they give up their own cars! I fear taxis to the point that I always use rental car when I travel (50+ trips each year) because you take people ways that make it more expensive have fixed meters etc. I pray for a day where there is another app that will allow pairing people arriving around the same time in an airport so we can start sharing rides home in each other cars being it our own or rental. And no city or rule will prohibit me from taking my newly met friend to a similar destination as mine. After that you will REALLY have to change your approach and it’s just matter of time….

          • TechManMike

            Exactly! I also empathize with the regulatory burdens on taxis, but they should take all the energy they apparently have to sue Uber, and take it to the City and fight for less regulations. But you and I both know that these regulations were created for and are being used as a line of defense. If they didn’t exist then taxi companies would actually have to compete.

          • TechManMike

            Like I said earlier, the PEOPLE of Seattle are already speaking with their pocketbook! If they don’t care about the things that you’re calling “safety” then how can anybody else to force them as a consenting adult to care??? The next logical step should then be for the taxicab companies and the union to work at lessening the restrictions put on taxicab companies. Not to extend the current restrictions to another company. But taxicab companies don’t want that because it will really cause them to have to compete.

          • jay

            Simon, You drive your taxi, I will drive my Uber car. I have no problem with you being out there, You serve the public the best you can and I will do the same. You can even pick up all the fares flagging a taxi because I am not allowed to do that, As I am not a taxi. Let the public decide who they call back. Is that a fare (lol) offer? If the public laughs at me, You sir have nothing to worry about.

          • simon

            “…And as long as they can continue to feed you info that has you spouting
            off at the mouth and viewing things like you do, gives me all the info
            that I need….”
            tell that to your mother, tool!

          • TechManMike

            Okay well I’ll take the fact that the highlighted portion of what I said is the only part that you chose to address to mean that I was correct about everything else. Furthermore you calling me a tool doesn’t change the fact that you actually have bought into the propaganda that your employer and the union is selling you. Not exactly sure why you’re so upset with me. If you really understood what I’m saying, you’d know that I’m actually advocating for everybody, including you! But your employer and unions are only advocating for themselves and want to make it hard for anybody else. I just think it should be easier for Taxicab services and Ridesharing services alike. Not mutually more restrictive.

          • ClaimsAdjuster

            Sorry, cab drivers are independent contractors and cannot be in an actual union. They do not have an employer, do not get a pay check or benefits. They are not subject to minimum wage laws. They are prohibited from collective bargaining by the National labor Relations Act.

            The unions that are involved are acting as industry lobbies before regulatory and legislative bodies.

          • Arnt Rune Flekstad

            Simon: have you ever heard of the gilded cage ? There are alot of workers that support organizations and politicians that in return work in their corporativistic way to ensure that noone can compete. This in return destroys the markets possibility to evolve, create new jobs, and also makes it very hard for smaller businesses to establish.

          • guest

            Bull Shit. The laws are almost entirely protectionist in nature. Next you’ll tell me that unions are there to protect consumers.

          • ClaimsAdjuster

            What unions? Cab drivers are independent contractors.

            Next you will tell us that Uber’s “surge pricing”, such as its $415 bill to Jessica Seinfeld, is there to protect consumers.

          • Jay

            Why should they get a taxi permit? They are not a taxi. They don’t run meters, They can’t pick up a fare flagging them down. They do carry better insurance then most taxi companies have, They have backround checks, They get rated by every person they give a ride to, So you know what kind of driver is picking you up. They offer little extra’s such as bottled water, a nice, clean well kept car. I have been in so many taxi’s that smell like smoke, body odor topped off with cologne. You get a driver that does not speak english, is on the phone, and usually seems upset you are bothering him.

          • Arnt Rune Flekstad

            Simon: its like saying “people dont know how to not rob and swindle other people – they are inherently evil beings. The solution is to put a small elite together of these evil beings that decides what all the others are allowed to do”.

            Logically….

  • Ed O

    It’s bad law and I hope that the law doesn’t have bad results here.

  • London Spears

    I’ve tried both UberX and Lyft several times and I definitely prefer Lyft. The drivers are much more fun; you don’t get a dry/cold driver. It’s actually a great experience with Lyft!

    And if you haven’t tried Lyft yet, download the app and enter code “PROMO1″ for a $25 credit.

  • Douglas Wilson

    Good for Seattle to stand up to the corporate vulture gypsy cab conglomerate. Uber’s entire business model is based upon operating illegally – no operating permits, no insurance, no driver background checks, no vehicle inspections, no service in poor areas, no service to the disabled (they don’t have a single wheelchair accessible vehicle in any market), routine price gouging and no payment of taxes or permit fees. Lyft is just as bad.

    • Uber Target

      As a customer I’d say there entire model is based on incredible customer service, super fast response times, reasonable prices, and a fantastic app. But that’s just me, a customer, with my wallet in hand. What do I really know?

    • Roger

      It seems to me that a company that is based on credit card transactions would be easier to collect accurate taxes from when compared to a company that is largely cash based.

      I would also argue that Uber (and others) found a “niche market” in transportation plus customer service. If there is another under served market (wheelchair accessible, poor areas, no price gouging, etc) then you, the taxi companies or anyone else are free to monetize that, it is called a free market.

      Don’t rail on Uber and others because they aren’t everything to everyone, demand the same customer service that they provide from the incumbent taxi companies and then we all win!!!

    • Ryan Bender

      Well, to be fair… Uber does have their own background checks and they claim to cover drivers while the app is open (still not yet released to the public, so skepticism is there). The issue to me is that Uber, while providing a great service, is still skirting all of the strict/expensive regulations that taxis must meet in order to operate. Loyal taxi drivers who have been driving for years do deserve better. Part of government is making sure the under-voiced are properly represented in a fair and just manner.

    • Michael

      From someone who uses the service I side with everyone here. It is absolutely awesome and the PROOF is the customer feedback. You very rarely hear so many people say they LOVE a product or service so much. LOVE as in LOVE it. If they didn’t love it, they wouldn’t use it and it wouldn’t exist. I say that with baited breath as I personally think Lyft and sidecar are better. :P

  • Kevin

    So, the taxi companies are suing Uber for every fare they’ve ever charged. That means the taxi companies have actually figured out how to cheaply and reliably provide transportation services!

    • Douglas Wilson

      Uber only stays price competitive because they don’t have insurance or adhere to the other regulations the taxi companies do. They cherry pick upscale white folks and leave the low paying service for seniors, the disabled and poor folks to the legal cabs.

      • Anthony

        Do you work for a PR service for the cab companies? Upscale white folks would rather walk or drive buzzed than give money to a Yellow Cab after this.

        • no skin in this game

          glad you are out there speaking for all the upscale white folk

      • Uber Target

        It’s called a target market, the same way a Kia is a different target market then a Buick. Duh.

      • TechManMike

        SO!! And if they do what’s your point!? If that’s the case then Taxi services should make a killing in the other 95% of the market that Uber doesn’t service then right??? Unlike you, Taxi companies see the writing on the wall. It’s only a matter of time before ride sharing becomes thee standard. You can start out doing everything.

  • Mike Hegge

    Well, I for one will be boycotting all taxis. Good job taxis, in your attempt to double tap a great solution to your poor excuse for a service, you have created one more bus rider (provided there is no rideshare available).

  • Roger

    The “app model” isn’t the issue here and as long as the taxi companies focus on tearing the alternatives down without lifting themselves up, they are fighting a losing battle. I haven’t personally used Uber-X, but prefer Uber over a taxi all day, everyday. I feel safer, more comfortable and it is easier to business with them. I appreciate the insurance factor, thus Uber over Uber-X, but I also feel less likely to get in an accident caused by my driver in an Uber over a crappy taxi driver. The point that taxi companies are missing is that people are choosing alternatives for a reason and they should be building those same go to market strategies or highlighting those that already exist within their business model (i.e. Flywheel), unfortunately they are just focused on bringing everyone down to their level of service, perceived or real.

    Competition will make you better if you rise to meet it!

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      Eastside For Hire uses Flywheel. Most taxi and For Hire fleets have been using Taxi Magic for five years now. So much for that argument.

      • Jay

        ClaimsAdjuster, If that’s all you got out of Rogers post, You are doomed to fail….

        • ClaimsAdjuster

          Roger said he doesn’t take UberX because he knows they are uninsured. Is that what you were referring to?

  • Kiara Ashanti

    punks

  • VinTanToo

    Fascinating stuff when you think about it.

    anonblitz.tk

  • Taxicab Drivers Bc

    The suit of WESTERN WASHINGTON TAXICAB OPERATORS ASSOCIATION Plaintiff will be dismissed on the simple ground that they have not challenged the lawful order of Seattle City Council and council is not a party to this suit.

    UBER’s simple defence will be that they are legally operating in the city. If any loss in business to other company or individual when someone is legally operating then they cannot claim damages it is already decided by one US court.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      The suit is for the period that UberX was operating illegally which is still the case.

  • http://blog.offbeatmammal.com Offbeatmammal

    Having used Uber (in a number of cities), and Taxis in Seattle (I work there, but live on the Eastside) I think the biggest problem is that the taxis themselves are to blame for any loss of business. I have yet to be in one where I’ve actually had a pleasant experience. From problems getting one to actually turn up, to trying to explain where you want to go, to actually getting there without feeling like the car is going to fall apart or the guy is going to run (another) red light while he yammers away on his cellphone… and then wanting to dryclean anything that might have touched the seats… it’s just not pleasant. I prefer cabs in NYC!
    How about you stop bitching about the service and leaning on politicians to protect your business model and let them write some regulations that benefit the passengers while you sort out your ideas of service?

  • PJ

    I love @Uber! Sign up with my promo code and get $20 off your first ride! uber.com/invite/v7l1e

  • JohnnyB4123

    It’s time Seattle changes the laws and gets rid of the regulations on taxi companies and allow them to compete with Uber. There is no reason Uber and Lyft should be playing by one set of rules while taxi companies have to play by another set. Just put them all in the same boat and let them fight it out from there.

  • tim

    In other news, Motorola Razor sues Apple for the development of the iPhone..

  • Gershon Mayer

    Again. If the ride sharers are so concerned with the public welfare, why are they being coy about the actual contents of their so called insurance policies? Not very reassuring, is it? What good will it do if the driver has a smile on his/ her face when an innocent third party ( like a child pedestrian in San Francisco) is killed by an improperly covered car ?

  • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy

    Seattle taxi commission and probably many of its drivers are classic luddites.

    I’ve been casually polling taxi drivers (who get dispatched to me via Uber app) in SF about their feelings for Uber. They love it but the SF taxi commission doesn’t.

    Instead of being victims to out-of-touch legacy organizations, SF taxi drivers have evolved by unbundling themselves from the taxi commission and and taxi companies.

    SF taxi drivers are getting more than 50% of their customers from doubling as Uber drivers.

    So they are either renting the medallian (at $140 per 10 hour shift) or they own it–and then they are running Uber-as-dispatch in addition to their cab companies.

    Uber takes 10%-15% and gives them tremendous business during late evenings, early mornings, etc.

    Uber disrupted the dispatch experience and rather than be luddites about it SF taxi drivers have adopted and are sometimes doubling their daily business.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      Uber/Lyft/Sidecar do not dispatch to taxis or for hires in Seattle.

      • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy
        • ClaimsAdjuster

          Uber/Lyft/Sidecar do not dispatch to taxi drivers or for hire drivers either in Seattle. The only vehicles that they want showing up for their fares are private cars in their fleet.

  • Steven

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    See what the cab companies are afraid of! Get a free $20 credit to use on your first ride!

    Step 1: Download the UBER app for Android/iPhone.

    Step 2: Enter the code “un14qh” into “PROMOTIONS”section.

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  • Michael

    So disruptive. I despise taking a taxi now that I have a better alternative. Seattle needs catch up to changing times. PEOPLE you must VOTE and let your voice be heard. CALL, EMAIL and write!

  • ClaimsAdjuster

    Taylor Soper – boy attorney

    Taylor: Your Honor, I will like to move that the court for summary dismiss this lawsuit. My client, Uber, has only “technically been operating in Seattle illegally.”

    Plaintiff’s attorney: Objection. Uber was putting unlicensed and uninsured cars on the road. This was a threat to public safety. In addition, this corner cutting allowed Uber to gain competitive advantage over my clients causing them to lose thousands of dollars in business. The harm specified in my clients’ complaint is all too real.

    Judge: Mr Soper, technical violation of the law, whatever that means, is not an actual defense in an American court. Motion denied.

  • Reality

    The problem with the Uber company/corporation is it operates outside of local and state laws. For instance, traditional taxi cab drivers must pass a criminal background check thus qualifying them for taxi work. Thereafter, they must pay annual fees to maintain their taxicab business permit and, possibly, even their taxicab driver license.
    Uber is NOT mandating criminal background checks prior to driver employment. Uber is not paying for county/city business permits. Uber is not paying for taxicab driver licenses. Uber IS avoiding taxation like most other American corporations. Uber IS being sued by some of its “drivers” for not coughing up the driver tips (revenue) owed the drivers (Uber tells their smartphone customers their trip price encompasses the driver’s tip yet Uber hasn’t been paying the driver their tips).
    Bring an end to Corporate welfare! Avoid vile corporations like Uber and save America… and The People!

  • Douglas Wilson

    By the way, they are not “Rideshare” companies. Anyone who uses that term has bought into the phone app public relations BS. Rideshare is you and your co-workers commuting to work together on a non-profit basis.

    The two most prominent companies, Uber and Lyft, although just a few years old, are multi-billion dollar, multinational corporations. To give you a glimpse of their financial backing, according to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, on April 16, Uber raised $258 million last year and is now valued at $3.5 billion from investors including Google Inc.’s venture arm. Another prominent investor in Uber, not mentioned in the Bloomberg article, is Goldman Sachs. Lyft raised $250 million just this month from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and others. Thus, they are not mom and pop companies from Main Street. Compared to your local taxicab and limousine companies, they are very large corporations emanating, at least financially, from Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

    Objectives

    Their objective in every market, including Seattle, is to operate without any regulation whatsoever and to never pay a dime in permit fees or taxes unless and until they are forced by local authorities to do so. Let me repeat
    that. This is key. They want to operate free of any and all
    regulations and to never pay any permit fees or taxes. They want to put as many vehicles as they can field out on the streets to work exactly where, how and when they want them to. Their entire business model is based
    upon avoiding regulation. And that, in fact, is precisely the basis for their price competitiveness with regulated taxis and limousines.

    What regulations do they avoid? First and foremost is insurance, as in they don’t have any. (Don’t believe me? Look up their legal battle with the family of six year old Sylvia Liu who was run over and killed by an Uber driver, with a reckless driving conviction, last New Year’s Eve in San Francisco. Uber refuses to take any responsibility or pay a dime to the family survivors.) In a nutshell, the parent corporation spends as little or nothing on insurance as they can get
    away with, placing liability on drivers and the public. In a state like Washington, where it costs as much as $6,000 a year to provide comprehensive commercial liability insurance for a single vehicle, spending virtually zilch on insurance is a tremendous competitive advantage in the vehicle-for-hire business.

    Other pesky regulations they avoid to save expenses include:

    Conducting comprehensive, fingerprint-based,driver criminal background checks

    Reviewing driver DMV records, including having them on a pull notice program to remove them from the system for driving violations

    Conducting vehicle inspections

    Adhering to established rates of fare and the use of calibrated and certified taximeters

    Providing service 24/7

    Providing service to all areas of town, not just the upscale areas.

    Providing wheelchair accessible vehicles and service (They don’t don’t have a single accessible vehicle in any market.)

    Equipping vehicles with driver and passenger security equipment (i.e., cameras or partitions)

    Fielding late model, fuel efficient, low emission green/hybrid vehicles – they may have a few, but its not their policy

    Resolving customer and public complaints

    Limiting the number of vehicles to established levels of public convenience and necessity

    Driver substance abuse testing

    Paying permitting, franchise or medallion fees and business taxes – including airport access and permit fees

    Providing service to the 42% of the population that do not own smartphones (including 82% of persons age 65 and older)

    Providing service to the 29% of the population that do not have credit cards

    Providing discounted service to seniors through locally subsidized programs

    Accommodating the blind and service animals

    Being held accountable to elected and appointed commissions, city councils and mayors

    Tactics

    In all jurisdictions, they just start operating. They do not come in through the front door of city hall asking to be permitted. A running joke in their executive offices is: “We ask for forgiveness, not permission, ha,ha.”

    If local authorities take notice of their unlicensed operations and call for regulation or enforcement, the phone app companies roll out their
    lobbyists, lawyers and public relations machine, often with the support of
    local media and elected officials. They unleash an army of online supporters.
    They publicly decry the supposed sorry state of the local taxi industry,
    claiming that any regulations aimed at them are an unfair, anti-competitive attempt to protect a corrupt taxi and/or limousine industry and stifle innovation. Regulators who speak out about them are demonized and ideally, silenced. Their attitude is: “Stop us if you can. If you can’t stop us, then we are entitled to operate freely.” If they are issued cease and desist letters, they ignore them and continue operating unless their drivers are cited or arrested. They are never the least bit encumbered by moral or ethical concerns.

    This is basically the template for every jurisdiction they go into, including Seattle. Locals rarely see them coming and often don’t understand what is happening before these corporate black market taxis have a very firm foothold. The discussions on whether to let them into the local market and how to regulate them creates what seems to be a unique conundrum for the community, while for phone apps it’s just another day at the office using their standard playbook.

    Keep in mind that the only customers they seek are the affluent (overwhelmingly white) and able bodied.

  • jesi

    How exactly is it not safe??? I will only support the free market. I won’t be riding in a stinky taxi anymore. They Rob you blind anyway.