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Uber's Boston T party – and T is for taxi: City's cabbies sue app maker

Pot, meet kettle

I have no desire to defend Uber, but the Boston taxi industry makes them look like saints.

We have, hands down, the worst taxis of anywhere in the world that I've travelled -- from cars where you can see the road through the floor, to extensive scenic detours, to "broken" credit card readers that magically work when you don't have cash, to drivers being required much lower insurance than everyday folks, and shell corporations to prevent payouts to those hit or killed by taxis.

The Boston industry is a shining pinnacle of corruption in a city with a long history of petty corruption. This is largely driven by being one of the few cities that has capped, transferable licenses which became very valuable indeed.

Our local publication did an expose on the situation in 2013; it hasn't gotten much better: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/specials/taxi

So, Uber may have awful leadership, but I love being able to get a modern car that doesn't smell like a smoke-filled brothel, on a predictable schedule, with consistent payment methods, a driver who won't talk on the phone the entire ride, the opportunity for feedback, and insurance. And there's plenty of other TNCs here if you don't like Uber.

Boston Taxi Medallion owners, rot in hell. Or, preferably, jail.

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Re: Pot, meet kettle

No need to be polite and hold back, to tell us how you really feel.

I took a Boston cab once and after that I learned to schedule my flights around bus service and if I can't there's the T or I rent a car. Between the T, Logan Express, and P&B I'll never have to take a Boston cab again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pot, meet kettle

Can confirm both of the above comments are 100% true.

I have ridden in taxis all over the word included Malaysia, Thailand, China, Morocco, Argentina, and other countries. The most scared I have ever been in a cab was in Boston - as the driver took us at speeds well over 80 mph weaving through traffic in the tunnels from the airport. This in a minivan that had no seatbelts and (apparently) working rear suspension and was apparently last cleaned the day it left the factory. I truly feared for my life in a way that I never even felt in a tuktuk barreling down the wrong side of the road in a monsoon downpour in Bangkok.

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Yes, well

"In adopting this approach, Uber has deflated fares of UberX to prices below cost in an effort to drive competitors of UberX (all taxis) from the market in the hope of recouping its losses once Uber's competition has been destroyed," the complaint says.

It has become pretty obvious that this is the only way Uber can survive, and those taxi companies had better die before the VC's run out of money, or will have all been for nought.

I am left wondering it if is actually something a court would frown on though. I would have thought selling at a loss is not actually illegal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes, well

"In adopting this approach, Uber has deflated fares of UberX to prices below cost in an effort to drive competitors of UberX (all taxis) from the market in the hope of recouping its losses once Uber's competition has been destroyed," . This is modern ( or not so modern) capitalism. Tell me what is different with Amazon or AirBnB or Uber or a host of "disruptors". The model is to lose money like crazy to drive the competitors out of the market. Incumbents with high cost structures can't keep up and go out of business. The strategy is primarily dependent on cheap labor and a society that doesn't care that it is being screwed in the name of progress. Humanity is at very critical decision points around genetics, robotics, big data and economic models. Let's just hope it isn't a perfect storm that creates massive amounts of unemployed that are very bored and violent with access to guns and explosives and facebook. Oh, sorry, that's right, Farcebook is going to be the humanity-saving solution not part of the problem. Silly me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes, well

Half the taxi companies are either run by the mob or contribute to the mob's security fund and the other half has paid for certain favors in and around the local government establishment1 so it's unlikely they're going anywhere for quite some time.

1. There is often quite a bit of overlap between the local government and the local mob so in those instances it's a more a distinction without a difference.

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Re: Yes, well

The problems with corruption and limited supplies of taxi licenses don't apply where I live.

There are licensing requirements to become a taxi driver, but they are not too diffucult or expensive, and there is no limit placed on taxi numbers.

This has meant there is a glut on the market, and based on my limited interactions with Uber, it means they can't compete, because they don't pay the drivers enough to make it worthwhile.

The last Uber driver I spoke to was driving his last shift, then was going back to work for his brother-in-law's taxi company, because it paid better.

The fare I paid him was about the same amount I would have paid for a taxi.

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Re: Yes, well

@AC Not to defend Amazon or that, but they dont sell below cost which is really the case here. Amazon can sell cheaper because they dont have store fronts and everything is in one giant warehouse (or a couple spread around the Country depending on where you live) and so its super easy and cost efficient to fill orders. I dont know enough about AirBnB to really comment there, but I've never heard anything about them subsidising property owners, so I dont think its a particularly relevant example.

Über are delibrately selling at below cost in order to try driving out the competition, so that they can pump their Prices later, in commodites trading its called Dumping and its illegal under WTO rules, countries tend to frown on it. Just because it's happening locally, doesnt mean its not illegal.

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Re: Yes, well

Yes the courts do frown on it its illegal and called predatory pricing.

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Re: Yes, well

Not to defend Amazon or that, but they dont sell below cost which is really the case here. Amazon can sell cheaper because they dont have store fronts and everything is in one giant warehouse

Amazon sell all of their hardware and some ebooks below cost. Mainly popular ebooks, so that you choose a Kindle over another e-reader.

I'm totally fine with taking Uber rides at the moment. Their VC backers are subsidizing my fare, excellent. When they stop doing that, I'll go back to taking the night bus.

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It's about the IPO maybe?

Once Uber goes for the IPO, they'll probably have a massive sell-off of C-Suit stock then they'll disappear. Their lawyers must be getting pretty wealthy from all the lawsuits and that must eat up a lot of VC money.

No Ouija board here or anything like that, just pure speculation.

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The app maker they should sue...

... is their own.

I've ranted here before how all 6 or so "independent" Orlando taxi companies all use the same ultra-shitty app that can't be trusted to tell the company your actual pickup location, no matter how hard you try.

As a result, I'm forced to use Uber, as I'm now on the taxi's "no show" blacklist.

(And I've also ranted about having taxi "drivers" READ A PAPERBACK BOOK while "driving")

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Meh

Tough choice

It's hard to say who is less sympathetic in this case. On the one hand, Uber appear to be scum for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, as pointed out up-thread, the taxi companies are not a heel of a lot better. For the moment, I've taken my business to Lyft, which is more expensive than Uber but provides a better quality of experience than taking a taxi, by and large. It's interesting to me that Lyft seems to have flown under the radar so far in this conflict; I wonder what the difference is.

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Anonymous Coward

If more proof was needed that the Uber fish rots from the head, enjoy.

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F! Uber! I disliked mosr of my Taxi experiences but Uber should be forced to play by the same rules.

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