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Uber Travis goes ballistic shouting is atrocious

Dahlings, somewhat bored with writing about high flying chief executives getting in air rage incidents, I have decided to write about something else.

My next topic is something completely different : it is one about a high flying chief executive in a road rage incident!

The attached video is the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, having an argument with one of his drivers who accused him of ‘ruining his life’ over Uber’s ever changing fare policy. In terms of ‘rage’ (Believe me I’ve seen worse in my previous gig) it was extremely tame but once Bloomberg gets hold of the video taking by the driver, it went viral.

After the bad headlines go around, Travis being the brave man that he is, defended his actions and stood by his words.

Oh wait, I’ve just been informed by my fellow emperor, Julius C, that I made a mistake in the last sentence. What I should have said is the OPPOSITE as a few hours after the video being posted on Bloomberg, Travis issued a trite email [source : npr]

My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away..It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up.

What a complete and utter wuss ! Continue reading..

Uber convert

You say you want a revolution. Well, there’s an app for that.

Since I’ve talked about AirBnb in my previous post, I should amention that I’ve been a user of another ‘sharing economy’ darling in the past few months : Uber.

I used Uber to drop me home after getting rid of the MB leased car.

I used them to take me to the airport where I was going to Milwaukee for thanksgiving and to avoid the parking nightmare. By co-incidence, the driver was from Wisconsin so I got a few tips from him of what to see etc. As a side note, the officials at Hobby Airport pounced on him for documentation as soon as I got dropped off and even after I’d checked in my luggage about 10 minutes later, I could see out the window he was still being questioned. Not sure what that was about.

I used Uber in Milwaukee to get to / from downtown. The ability to send the driver a text – when the GPS address for your restaurant is nonsense – worked great. On the app map showing the driver, you could see them driving to you, then obviously overshooting and going the other way.

One feature I liked was the quote before hand to do a ‘what if’. I wanted to know the price of an Uber from Milwaukee to Midway airport  – around ~$120. I compared it to AVIS one way where the car rental gave me ( with a very good AWD#) and it was around $55. Obviously with this, I went to AVIS. When I checked the car in, I was dismayed to find out that they’d charged me per mileage charge where bill came to $108. Bloomin’ bunch of Sock cutter$. If I add in tolls, gas and CDW then Uber would have been cheaper.  Even if it had been cost neutral, I would have not had the hassle of driving for 90 minutes and getting to the MKE airport to pick up the car.

As for AVIS and the discrepancy, I later I checked out why I had not flagged this earlier as I darn well knew about the potential for one way add ons. I looked and the AVIS booking site was blank about mileage but when I looked at the confirmation email, it calls it out as $0.40 per mile. Buggers.  Today, I just looked at the same AVIS website today, and it does now call it out (@ $0.28 per mile). So Caveat Emptor (or Emperor..) and all that with my miscalculation on the 1 way rental but it still illustrates why bother with that option : Just get an freakin’ Uber assuming their prices stay where they are. I mention this as they continually monkey with fare structures.

The thought of getting a regular taxi driver when Uber is an option, does not appeal any more. I’ve had my fair share of rides with filthy cars overflowing with cigarette butts going to a destination with no idea what the final charge will be and they’ll only take cash at the end. The days of taxi’s are done in areas legally serviced by Uber, Lyft or their counterparts.

Long like the revolution !

PS: I am not ready to give a full thumbs up to Uber as I don’t trust Mr Kalanick past the future IPO.

Two Texas Cities give Uber and Lyft the finger

Prop minus one

Latest news from Texas is that two most liberal cities of Texas – Houston and Austin – have demanded that Uber / Lyft, conduct more stringent security  background checks above what the companies are currently willing to do.

  • May 7th Austin: Prop 1 was voted DOWN so that potential drivers MUST do finger print based criminal checks.
    • Both Uber and Lyft are now saying they will shut down. Temporarily of course.
    • Uber and Lyft argues that their own background checks were stringent enough and that finger-printed checks by Austin city was an overkill.
    • From the Austin Statesman: The Voting populace didn’t agree and in Austin’s case, the vote was a backlash against the Uber/Lyft campaign who had spent $8m versus anti-prop 1 spend of $0.1m

In Houston, the City push back is bigger where City Hall requires finger-printing, drug testing and a physical which is far more than what Austin requires. Lyft has already had previously balked while finger printing requirement existed. Uber is threatening to follow.

Meanwhile the Texas legislature may come up with a State wide direction. That will be interesting considering Austin’s rhetoric about Big Government over-riding local voters.

Somewhere uber the rainbow

Uber-logos-582x292

Left: Rider Uber icon. Right: Partner Uber icon

Dahlings, Back on 2nd February, those sharing revolutionaries Uber changed their  flag logo. From a “U”, it is now a square-dot-plus-squiggle that communicates the meaning of Uber.

What the heck – this looks almost like the hieroglyphics I used a few centuries before texting was invented. It is a clear as their fare policy.

From a complete puff piece by wired:

The company updated its logo, and new rider- and partner-app icons reflect the individuality of Uber’s local markets. In place of black, gray, and blue, Uber is embracing bright colors, and lots of them. Each of 65 launch countries will receive a toolbox of new brand assets that include tailored colors and patterns, new midcentury modern illustrations, and guidelines for photography. Uber hopes to develop a more flexible brand that can grow with the company as it develops new products and attracts new customers.

The story of how Kalanick and his design team came to replace the ubiquitous “U” logo is about more than a corporate re-branding effort. It’s a coming-of-age tale. It’s about Uber’s attempt to transform its purpose and cement a new reputation—to change not only how it is perceived throughout the world, but how it perceives itself.

Ok, Travis. Really- A coming of Age tale? When I think of ‘coming of Age’ tales I think more about movies like “Dazed and Confused” but that is a good way to summarize these logos. And there’s more to this story. Continue reading..

Seattle gives the needle to Uber and Lyft

The Revolutionary Che'ring economy.

The Revolutionary Che’ring economy.

Uber and Lyft are like good friends and black sheep family members, just because we are not talking about them directly, doesn’t mean we are not thinking about them.

Their business model is one where you call a ride from an app on your phone. The app matches you with one of their drivers and they pick you up/drop you off and you settle with credit card on file. Most people like the service where they consider them better looking and presented that the traditional taxi companies which was overdue for competitive overhaul.

However, the devil is in the detail and much of this comes down to the laws of how they do business. Each country, state, city jealously protects the terms and conditions on doing business. If you look at a map, how Uber and Lyft operates there is piecemeal. Some have welcomed them with open arms, some have banned them outright.

A major issue is one of Licencing: Traditionally in the US, cities have strictly controlled the capacity of the taxi industry with the ‘medallion’ system. Only taxis with the medallions are allowed to operate. After forking out large sums of money for such tokens, the taxi barons are not happy with the upstarts threatening their monopoly. The taxi system regulated the fares within their jurisdiction but also who could be a taxi driver. Most require an in depth criminal background check that may go above what Uber/Lyft are prepared to carry out on the ground that this is costly.

The business model assumes the drivers are ‘independent contractors’ and this is of importance as there is class-action lawsuit filed by a number of its drivers in California. They contend that they’ve been wrongly classified as contractors, instead of full employees, and that Uber has withheld some of their tips. [see Atlantic for more details]. Up to 160,000 drivers from 2009, could join this in California. A similar class action case is going on in Oregon.

So what does Uber, the company who railed against monopolistic practices do? It updated their driver agreement so that drivers must sign before being able to accept any new rides to require private arbitrators. Except that they tried something like this in 2014 where the updated driver agreement included an arbitration clause that stripped drivers of their right to sue the company in regular court. A federal judge in San Francisco recently threw out that agreement.

Another interesting development was in Seattle: the city council voted to allow the drivers to organize a Union. From NPR:

 Seattle on Monday became the first U.S. city to vote to allow Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize and negotiate issues such as pay and working conditions.

The National Labor Relations Act regulates the right to unionize, but it doesn’t guarantee that right for independent contractors like the Uber and Lyft drivers.

The Seattle measure directs companies like Uber and Lyft “that hire or contract with drivers of taxis, for-hire transportation companies and app-based ride-hailing services to bargain with their drivers, if a majority show they want to be represented,” the Associated Press reports.

It passed the City Council 8-0.

So what does the brave Mayor do? He bravely decides to do nothing.

Mayor Ed Murray says he will not sign the bill because of the potential cost to the city, but he won’t veto it so the measure will become law without his signature.

And what is Uber’s reaction. They don’t like it one bit.

“Uber is opposed to Seattle enacting O’Brien’s ordinance and has ramped up its engagement in the city in advance of the council’s vote. David Plouffe, a former political strategist for President Obama now serving as Uber’s chief adviser, visited Seattle earlier this month to promote the company and criticize the ordinance.”

Ah we wondered before what Mr Plouffe would be doing. Being a good Democrat and fighting for the workers rights and social justice or being a good government insider fighting to influence the laws against the proletariat.  Guess which path he seems to have chosen.

Pesky things those laws. Funny thing you can be all for changing them one day but the next week, you are the ones being changed.


 

Further reading

 

Lyft leaves Houston / Uber stays for now

The Revolutionary Che'ring economy.

The Revolutionary Che’ring economy.

It’s been a while since I looked at taxi revolution / war of backseat independence but in Houston, there have been some changes recently.

The first being that Houston council announced rules about regulating drivers that involve potential drivers presenting their vehicle for inspection and submitting a warrant check and personal information to the city and undergo drug screening. [Houston chronicle 10/29/14]

Both Lyft and Uber say they already take many of these steps, but their procedures differ. Although they use online background checks, City of Houston will require applicants to use the Texas’ fingerprint-based background check company. Lyft have balked at this and claimed “We have found a more efficient way to do these things” according to said David Mack, Lyft’s director of public affairs. Lyft further add that the procedures are onerous especially for people who wish to do this as a hobby job and the drug tests and permits would be expensive. The cost for this would be $62.

The kicker is that Lyft have threatened to exit from the Houston market unless the rules get relaxed or as they describe it, “pause operations”.

The second is that Houston is going to allow ride sharing at the airports where they will be allowed to get an airport permit. [Houston chronicle 11/12/14].  I am not sure how that will work in practice especially if Uber (sole survivor) then charged surge pricing.

So, is this the next stage ie/a counter revolution where other cities follow Houston’s lead and define higher driver and automobile standards if they wish to do business in that city? If so, it will not be the ‘laissez-faire’ environment that Lyft and Uber want.

Ah, C’est la guerre. (Look at moi: I’m showing off my french tonight ! )

Barack Ubera

There is something different about President Obama: A new time perhaps?

There is something different about President Obama: A new hair style?

Since it was announced the other day that President Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe, has gone to work for Uber, I have wondered what he was going to do exactly.

NPR asked same question today.” Why does Uber need one of the best political strategists in the country?”

It JUST occured to me.

David Plouffe is the ideal man for the job where he has a track record of taking us on one big ride in 2008. A veteran with hands on driving experience for promising one thing but delivering something else.

 

 

That Giant Sucking Sound : Surge pricing on Uber

Some Giant sour suckers: Coming to a town near you.

Some Giant sour suckers: Coming to a town near you.

As we said before on the ‘sharing’ economy, careful what you wish for. Houston is allowing the likes of Uber and Lyft into it’s market but it will also liberalize it’s standard fares to allow surge prices.

To see what surge prices may look like, read the Marketwatch article titled “Uber car service twists sharing economy into ‘sucker’s economy’. It’s main piece is about riders at a San Francisco festival being charged anything from $290 to $470 to go a few miles.

The story originates in Scallywag which shows screen dump of such a trip where the driver took a 11 mile trip instead of a 4 mile trip and in the meanwhile, the fare came to $391.

Ouch.

 

 

 

Now, Play nice and Share : Uber dirty tricks on it’s competitor, Lyft

A well known board game.

A well known board game but we do not remember it’s name.

After reading a news article in CNN Money, it seems like the Uber and Lyft are not getting along where Lyft is accusing Uber of dirty tactics by calling in rides, then canceling them last minute.

According to data provided by Lyft, 5560 rides were ordered by Uber affiliates then cancelled. The smoking gun is the telephone numbers from which the rides were ordered, cross-reference back to known Uber recruiters. One account in LA had 49 cancellations from October to May.

CNN also reports that Uber were busted doing something similar in a NY rival taxi App, called “Gett” and after that Uber agreed to “”tone down their sales tactics.”

So much for the sharing economy where CNN quote an earlier interview with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick by Laurie Segall

“The taxi industry [is] trying to protect a monopoly that has been granted them by local officials, so they’re trying to slow down competition.”

Oh the hypocrisy.

Meet the new Taxi boss. Same as the old Taxi boss.

Vive La Revolution : Houston allows Uber and Lyft to operate with conditions

The Revolutionary Che'ring economy. [1]

The revolutionary Che’ring economy[1].

In the war against the old style Taxi and municipal regulation, Houston City council came down on the side of Uber and Lyft and voted to allow them to operate in Houston City limits.

Click2Houston.com says:

“After months of discussions, City Council has approved the operation of ride-sharing services in Houston.

Taxi cab drivers have been fighting it, but on Wednesday Houston city leaders gave the green light to companies like Uber and Lyft.

For months Uber and Lyft have been asking to operate within city limits, but city leaders have been slow to say yes because there were questions about how to regulate the new mobile app-based services.

City Council members discussed the topic for more than five hours Wednesday and focused on insurance, accessibility for the disabled and how to make sure there weren’t any gaps in regulation that could lead to lawsuits down the road.”

And this is where Mr. Devil meets Ms. Details as there are different models under the Uber and Lyft banner. Continue reading..

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