Priorities: Germany bans Uber, ride-sharing services

posted at 10:11 pm on September 2, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

Imagine this line in a German accent: “[T]he driver has to play by the German rules.” Shudder.

The online car-sharing service Uber has vowed to continue operating across Germany after its mobile app was banned by a Frankfurt regional court.

The ruling that the app violates the country’s Passenger Transportation Act applies nationwide, according to legal experts. The temporary ban remains in place until a full hearing takes place, and Uber could face a €250,000 (£198,000) fine per ride.

But Uber vowed to keep the app online regardless. “You cannot put the brakes on progress,” the company said. “Uber will continue its operations and will offer Uberpop ride-sharing services via its app throughout Germany.” It promised to appeal against the decision and would, if necessary, “exhaust all the legal possibilities”.

The case against Uber was brought by the Taxi Deutschland Servicegesellschaft company, which offers a rival app that links users to registered taxi drivers. The company argued that Uber was not operating a legitimate service because its drivers did not have the correct permits, were not properly insured, and were not subject to checks. German law allows drivers without a commercial licence to pick up passengers only if they charge no more than the operating cost of the trip.

“We are very happy with the decision,” TDS spokeswoman Anja Floetenmeyer said. “The law says there are safety regulations for drivers and safety regulations for users, and these also apply to neo-liberal firms like Uber.”

Describing the sharing economy as a “locust”, TDS chairman Dieter Schlenker said: “Uber operates with billions in cash from Goldman Sachs and Google, wraps itself in a start-up look and sells itself as a new economy saviour.”

All over Europe (and a couple places in the U.S., including Washington), unions have gone about their campaigns in the usual, charming union way, blocking streets, ruining commutes, and sending Uber’s app downloads through the roof.

I use and like Uber, but that’s not the reason I write about them often. I write about them because at this stage in their development as a company—and they’re pretty big and rich—they still seem pretty determined to fight entrenched interests head-on instead of getting into bed with them. Now, I must say recent reports and the hiring of David Plouffe make me wonder if they’ll quickly become another kind of company, but if they do, here’s hoping the vibrant free-market spirit of tech start-ups inspires another company to take them and their new tactics down a peg. In the meantime, they offer a demonstrably better product, and they fight like hell to be able to legally offer it because people should be able to choose a better product without the government interfering. I like that, and the company’s success in this vein should be an inspiration to others who are deciding whether to fight or get in bed with bureaucrats.

Update: Hmmm. Certainly in D.C., where they issue seven parking tickets a minute costing people hundreds and thousands, you could make a solid financial argument for Uber over car ownership.

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Kick ass Uber.

CW on September 2, 2014 at 10:26 PM

Germany thinks Uber is a greater threat than Putin.

From Prussification to Pussification in a century.

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Sie müssen über die Genehmigungen!

Ha!

J.B. Say on September 2, 2014 at 10:29 PM

fascist

weedisgood on September 2, 2014 at 10:29 PM

From Prussification to Pussification in a century.

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Heh. You must be feeling better. :)

Doc Holliday on September 2, 2014 at 10:31 PM

If you thought things couldn’t get stupider than this, then you obviously have never visited California. The Germans are mere piker’s compared to the Darwin Award candidates running California.

oscarwilde on September 2, 2014 at 10:33 PM

Heh. You must be feeling better. :)

Doc Holliday on September 2, 2014 at 10:31 PM

A bit. Going to Dr in the AM. :-)

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:34 PM

I thought Germany’s national motto was “Deutschland Uber Alles”?? ANd now they want to take the “Uber” out of that? What would be left?

In any event, why would Europe need taxis when they are zooming ahead on driverless cars, anyway? And they’ve got all those nifty high speed trains, too. “Eurorail, dude …” And bicycles and mopeds all over …

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 2, 2014 at 10:34 PM

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Heh. You must be feeling better. :)

Doc Holliday on September 2, 2014 at 10:31 PM

Must be the Cigar she stuck in her ear…

oscarwilde on September 2, 2014 at 10:35 PM

Must be the Cigar she stuck in her ear…

oscarwilde on September 2, 2014 at 10:35 PM

But, I soaked it in Jim Beam first.

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:36 PM

A bit. Going to Dr in the AM. :-)

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:34 PM

Excellent. You’ve been cracking me up all day with your merciless troll slaying. :)

Doc Holliday on September 2, 2014 at 10:36 PM

Excellent. You’ve been cracking me up all day with your merciless troll slaying. :)

Doc Holliday on September 2, 2014 at 10:36 PM

TYVM. It IS my favourite sport.

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:38 PM

Is Uber a Trojan Horse for Google’s driverless cars?

They would be less costly than taxis and Uber drivers.

Never trust Google.

faraway on September 2, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Freedom!? Vee cannot have all dis Freedom! Ban Uber, ban Zem!

Doc Holliday on September 2, 2014 at 10:43 PM

If you thought things couldn’t get stupider than this, then you obviously have never visited California. The Germans are mere piker’s compared to the Darwin Award candidates running California.

oscarwilde on September 2, 2014 at 10:33 PM

True, so very true.

31giddyup on September 2, 2014 at 10:43 PM

Lyft (similar to Uber, or affiliated with Uber) is going on in the S.F right now. Union temper tantrums soon to follow.

31giddyup on September 2, 2014 at 10:47 PM

Germany bans Uber…

Allow me to translate…German politicians have not yet found a way to tax and regulate uber to fund their pet projects and reelection campaigns. Once uber becomes a reliable vehicle for laundering political donations, opposition will evaporate.

Doc Holliday on September 2, 2014 at 10:49 PM

Vee haf vays of makeeng you hail heil a cab.

FIFY MKH

parke on September 2, 2014 at 10:51 PM

O T :
.

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:27 PM

.
Heh. You must be feeling better. :)

Doc Holliday on September 2, 2014 at 10:31 PM
.

Must be the Cigar she stuck in her ear…

oscarwilde on September 2, 2014 at 10:35 PM

.
But, I soaked it in Jim Beam first.

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:36 PM

.
Alright … that’ll be enough talk about sticking cigars into bodily orifices . . . . . . saying it was soaked in Jim Beam doesn’t make it any better.

listens2glenn on September 3, 2014 at 12:04 AM

Germany thinks Uber is a greater threat than Putin.

From Prussification to Pussification in a century.

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:27 PM

.
Uber is a “greater threat” to some of the friends of the political elites, as some of them own Taxi Services.

listens2glenn on September 3, 2014 at 12:31 AM

Uber and Lyft deserve to die.

Cutting corners on safety and financial responsibility endangers both the drivers and the public at large.

In our area, drivers who stop at a light are occasionally invaded by passengers who think they are getting into an Uber car: this is DANGEROUS.

I predict the end will come quickly when a few Uber and/or Lyft drivers get robbed and/or murdered, or when lawsuits are filed by relatives of people who are kidnapped/raped/robbed/killed by drivers operating fake or fraudulent taxi services.

All transportation services should play by the same set of rules. If the rules need changing, they should change for EVERYBODY: no exceptions, no carve-outs, no back room deals…and no special treatment just ’cause you think you’re smarter than everyone else and can use an I-Phone.

landlines on September 3, 2014 at 12:46 AM

Who needs Uber when you can have a cabbie take you from the Empire State Building to Macy’s (practically next door) by way of New Jersey?

viking01 on September 3, 2014 at 12:47 AM

“Your papers, please.”

“Zeese papers are not in order!”

trigon on September 3, 2014 at 1:16 AM

“Vaaaayreee interestink… but schtupid.”

———–Arte Johnson on Laugh In

viking01 on September 3, 2014 at 1:30 AM

Germans like things done properly. I have never been in a German cab so I can not comment on the quality of their service. I can comment on UK cabbies who are exceptional and certified as knowing the streets they work on. I can understand why professionals in an finite and regulated industry which requires professional knowledge would object to Uber (a firm I regularly consult for btw.).

The test for Uber is… can it work efficiently alongside regulated competitors. I would say yes in many cases and no in some. Sopme of the push back is professional and some is not. I would urge HotAir readers to discern between the two rather than see this as free enterprise vs the government conflict which it is some cases and not in others.

lexhamfox on September 3, 2014 at 4:07 AM

Is Uber a Trojan Horse for Google’s driverless cars?

They would be less costly than taxis and Uber drivers.

Never trust Google.

faraway on September 2, 2014 at 10:40 PM

yes it is. Google Ventures (google’s vc arm) is an early stage investor in uber.

I’ve worked with uber – they biggest issues uber local offices have that takes up a bulk of their time is managing drivers. Cutting out the driver would be uber’s dream.

uatu1878 on September 3, 2014 at 5:02 AM

I couldn’t help but notice this phrase “

TDS chairman Dieter Schlenker said: “Uber operates with billions in cash from Goldman Sachs and Google, wraps itself in a start-up look and sells itself as a new economy saviour.”

Once again leave it to the krautheads to blame the “Jewish Bankers” rather than just say “bankers”, etc. Nothing like bringing Germany back to the 1930′s, eh komerads?

TKindred on September 3, 2014 at 7:11 AM

From Prussification to Pussification in a century.

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 10:27 PM

From melting pot to toilet pot in 50 short years.

petefrt on September 3, 2014 at 8:32 AM

“The law says there are safety regulations for drivers and safety regulations for users, and these also apply to neo-liberal firms like Uber.”

So, no one is concerned with Uber not abiding by these regulations? Or is this a case of “all regulations must go!”? Or, is there more to it than Germany just being a bunch of sticks in the mud? The Uber-love here smells a bit fetishist to me.

Cutting corners on safety and financial responsibility endangers both the drivers and the public at large.

landlines on September 3, 2014 at 12:46 AM

Based on some of the stories, I don’t think “cutting corners” is really accurate. But, yes, one set of rules across the board is correct – that’s the conservative mindset: equality under the law.

lexhamfox on September 3, 2014 at 4:07 AM

Yes.

GWB on September 3, 2014 at 9:43 AM

I only have one question: Does Uber require its drivers to carry insurance that covers their passengers?

earlgrey on September 3, 2014 at 11:31 AM

So if Uber is banned, is there an App that helps you order a cab that is reasonably clean, with a driver that doesn’t smell like week-old kitchen scraps?

s1im on September 3, 2014 at 2:20 PM

The German work ethic has long been subsumed by union mentality.

Meanwhile across the border in Eastern Europe, ride sharing has been going on for a long time and didn’t need an app to develop. Western Europe will regulate itself out of relevance, give them a few more years.

evergreen on September 3, 2014 at 3:43 PM