Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Hello my lovely Sloggers!
August 27, 2014 6:15 AM   Subscribe

"Using contractors it calls "brand ambassadors," Uber requests rides from Lyft and other competitors, recruits their drivers, and takes multiple precautions to avoid detection. The effort, which Uber appears to be rolling out nationally, has already resulted in thousands of canceled Lyft rides and made it more difficult for its rival to gain a foothold in new markets. Uber calls the program "SLOG," and it’s a previously unreported aspect of the company’s ruthless efforts to undermine its competitors."
posted by Potomac Avenue (93 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Uber, Uber über alles
posted by Iridic at 6:25 AM on August 27 [12 favorites]


I love capitalism!
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:26 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


Ah, the sharing economy.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:31 AM on August 27 [25 favorites]


Two companies fighting over drivers seems like it will only benefit the drivers.
posted by COD at 6:34 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


RICO time!
posted by lalochezia at 6:36 AM on August 27 [6 favorites]


I don't have a problem with Uber trying to lure away Lyft's drivers. However, ordering and then cancelling Lyft rides is pretty scummy.
posted by Area Man at 6:37 AM on August 27 [22 favorites]


Two companies fighting over drivers seems like it will only benefit the drivers.

As long as the fight is active, yes. But how will drivers fare if Lyft goes out of business?
posted by rocket88 at 6:37 AM on August 27 [8 favorites]


I dunno, I can't see how ordering and then canceling rides to fuck with Lyft benefits drivers. Seems like a shitty anticompetitive thing that screws both drivers and passengers. Were I a patron of these services, I'd probably stop using Uber.
posted by Existential Dread at 6:41 AM on August 27 [7 favorites]


Two companies fighting over drivers seems like it will only benefit the drivers.

Depends on the tactics. Using burner phones to anonymously book and cancel rides is effectively a DDOS on the business model, and the kind of specific thing that - assuming it's not already criminal, which is a real possibility - we make new laws to prevent.
posted by mhoye at 6:41 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


Attempting to recruit drivers is fine. But if it's not clear from the post framing:

According to CNN Money, ridesharing service Lyft claims that 177 Uber employees have ordered and cancelled about 5,560 rides since October last year, thereafter cutting into profits and driver availability. One perpetrator allegedly went as far as to create 14 different accounts in order to perform 680 cancellations. Lyft drivers have also separately complained about being canvassed to join Uber.

If they can count them I assume they have enough information to get Uber charged with theft of services.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:43 AM on August 27


I have only heard people in Chicago talk up Lyft when they are drivers from Uber who have picked me up and given me their personalized Lyft offer code.

(I am not at all saying this is Lyft policy; just that as much as I like the convenience of the app, I also liked the idea of an Uber driver promoting himself with another service on company time.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:43 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


A company whose entire business revolves around breaking laws does something naughty? Who would have ever thought!
posted by Yowser at 6:43 AM on August 27 [21 favorites]


"On July 9th, a marketing manager emailed a subset of the company’s contractors in New York city with a new opportunity. "We have a special ongoing project that we’re going to be rolling out next week and I wanted to get about 8–10 of you to help out," he wrote. "This is going to be completely based on your own personal hustle, as it’s not a typical onsite event. We are going to have you working on your own time helping us sign up Uber drivers, and there is HUGE commission opportunity for everyone you signup."
ABS: Always Be Slogging! Always be slogging. ALWAYS BE SLOGGING. It's either fuck or walk at this taxi company!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:48 AM on August 27 [8 favorites]


I want to make a fake app and splash page for a service called CarBNB.

The pitch will be that it is basically AirBNB for your car.

If you're a cab driver who's now out of work because of Uber you can rent out however many carseats you're not sleeping in, to people who used to work in hotels.

CarBNB will take a small percentage of each transaction.

Sharing!
posted by gauche at 6:48 AM on August 27 [25 favorites]


I wonder, will any lawsuits come of this? Uber has deep deep pockets right now.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:49 AM on August 27


Two companies fighting over drivers seems like it will only benefit the drivers.

Eh, it's like two companies fighting over customers - good while they're fighting but if one company manages to send the other out of business, suddenly they have a monopoly and things are no longer great for the driver/customer as the remaining company can reduce wages/increase prices as it sees fit.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:50 AM on August 27


CarBNB will take a small percentage of each transaction.

Yeah, the fact that the biggest reason the "sharing economy" is taking off is because the regular economy is in the toilet hasn't gone unnoticed.
posted by mhoye at 6:51 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


Greetings and Felicitations. My name is Jangington Von Loftsborough, BRAND AMBASSADOR for the Disruption Realm of UBER. It is with great forethought and not at all any bullshit that I must request henceforth TWELVE THOUSAND transports from the realm of LYFT. I come in peace, and brand awareness
posted by cellphone at 6:51 AM on August 27 [30 favorites]


I find Uber's product to be pretty great (it is legal here). It's unfortunate that they can't seem to help themselves from acting like assholes instead of trying to compete with cabs on service and availability, which shouldn't be hard.
posted by ghharr at 6:53 AM on August 27 [6 favorites]


I can't wait for Walmart to direct its employees to abuse the return system at its competitors.
posted by borkencode at 6:56 AM on August 27 [15 favorites]


I guess short-term unregulated rental economy just doesn't have the same ring to it.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 7:06 AM on August 27


mhoye: "Two companies fighting over drivers seems like it will only benefit the drivers.

Depends on the tactics. Using burner phones to anonymously book and cancel rides is effectively a DDOS on the business model, and the kind of specific thing that - assuming it's not already criminal, which is a real possibility - we make new laws to prevent.
"

Thinking about a DDOS makes me think of a few years back in Madison, we had a locksmith company that made a shitton of entries in the yellow pages under false company names. This redirected to the main company. In the meantime, the long term established reputable locksmiths were drowned out by this other company, hurting their businesses. Looks like there was more shit they pulled and the state AG brought charges against them. But the flooding the directory with fake names is what made me think DDOS.
posted by symbioid at 7:11 AM on August 27 [11 favorites]


I can't wait for Walmart to direct its employees to abuse the return system at its competitors.

Another group that'd have to give out credit card numbers because their employees wouldn't have that kind of float in their budget.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 7:11 AM on August 27 [5 favorites]


The more I hear about all this alternacab business, the more I wonder why so many people need rides all the time. Isn't the thing of living in a city that you have subways and bus transit and walkable/bikable spaces? Who's the market for these things?
posted by sonascope at 7:12 AM on August 27 [4 favorites]


Probably the same people who are using the thousands of cabs which already exist in a city with decent (or not so decent) public transit. There are any number of reasons one might take a cab over public transit.
posted by codacorolla at 7:15 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


The most appalling thing about this is the grammar coming from the marketing folks. How long the driver "have drove", ending sentences with prepositions, ugh!
posted by Joe Chip at 7:18 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


sonascope: "The more I hear about all this alternacab business, the more I wonder why so many people need rides all the time. Isn't the thing of living in a city that you have subways and bus transit and walkable/bikable spaces? Who's the market for these things?"

That's works for about five cities in the US. The rest of us live in cites with crappy public transit that either doesn't go where you need to go or doesn't go when you want to. How are you supposed to get home from a bar at 2AM when the buses stop running at midnight?
posted by octothorpe at 7:19 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


"There are any number of reasons one might take a cab over public transit."

Snogging comes to mind.
posted by fordiebianco at 7:21 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


Isn't the thing of living in a city that you have subways and bus transit and walkable/bikable spaces? Who's the market for these things?

I live in NYC and ever since I got the disposable income to do it, I take cabs pretty often. Public transportation might be great and 24/7, but I also would rather pay money than wait in the heat or the rain or the snow. Also, getting from point A to point B isn't always as simple as hopping on a bus or a train and maybe making one transfer. Because of the way the lines are laid out, I can either pay $20 and take a 15-20 minute cab ride or have to transfer 2-3 times, waiting for the bus or train each time, each subject to their own service changes, each one possibly uncomfortably packed full of people and the trip ends up taking me an hour.
posted by griphus at 7:22 AM on August 27 [6 favorites]


"I know this service is anti-worker, economically destructive and downright corrupt, but cabs are for proles. I need someone desperate enough to pimp out their personal transportation to make sure I get the best consumer experience."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:23 AM on August 27 [4 favorites]


The more I hear about all this alternacab business, the more I wonder why so many people need rides all the time. Isn't the thing of living in a city that you have subways and bus transit and walkable/bikable spaces? Who's the market for these things?

I've wondered about this myself. I think the sensible market is visitors, people in a rush, people who don't want to get sweaty or wet or cold. (Certainly if I were in another town for a business meeting and it was 90F out I could see myself doing this over showing up to a sales meeting dripping with sweat.) Getting to the airport/train station before/after the subway hours. Transportation for those with mobility issues in areas where transit accessibility is poor, too. But all of those combined aren't a huge market.

A few months ago I was heading out from a meeting in Boston (a city with excellent transit) and mentioned that I wasn't looking forward to walking back to the T in the rain (all of three blocks, mind you). The person I'd been meeting with: "Oh, order an Uber! I order Uber all the time. I order Uber, like, because I don't want to walk up a hill."

So I think at least part of the market is "people who want to live in a city but want the convenience of having a car, and have the money to take Ubers all the time," or in other words, "lazy."
posted by pie ninja at 7:24 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


I'd argue less "lazy" and more "keenly aware of how much money their time is worth" but to-may-to, to-mah-to I guess.
posted by griphus at 7:27 AM on August 27 [8 favorites]


Silly Uber, dirty tricks are for kids!
posted by inturnaround at 7:28 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


Lazy r people 2
posted by AaronRaphael at 7:28 AM on August 27 [4 favorites]


Reasons I have taken Uber:

-Late to work
-Broke up with someone and wanted to cry without a busful of people looking at me
-Missed bus
-Hot date (on the way there, trying not to get crazy sweaty in summer heat)
-Hot date (on the way home, for makeout purposes)
-BART doesn't run late
-Walking to a bus/BART stop that will take me home means walking through sketchy neighborhoods at night as a young female person
-Got hella groceries, like an amount egregious to take on public transportation, and Uber is cheaper than carshare


Reasons I switched to Lyft/SideCar (but still wish Uber wasn't such an asshole, because the service is great and cheap and okay sometimes I still use Uber):
-Basically everything in that article
posted by c'mon sea legs at 7:30 AM on August 27 [11 favorites]


cabs are for proles

quizzicaldog.jpg
posted by yoink at 7:30 AM on August 27


The more I hear about all this alternacab business, the more I wonder why so many people need rides all the time. Isn't the thing of living in a city that you have subways and bus transit and walkable/bikable spaces? Who's the market for these things?

I live in a city with generally poor public transit. Almost all of the use of Uber/Lyft/Cabs by locals (that I know about) is to avoid drinking and driving. Just as an example: if I were to try to take the bus to a cool area with lots of bars and restaurants that's about 5 miles away it would take 45 minutes to an hour each way, including a transfer and some long walks.
posted by ghharr at 7:31 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


My wife takes Ubers home from work when she ends up working late because at that time of day the buses run so seldom and the ride involves a transfer so the seven mile trip can take over an hour. An Uber takes about twenty minutes.
posted by octothorpe at 7:32 AM on August 27


Thinking about a DDOS makes me think of a few years back in Madison, we had a locksmith company that made a shitton of entries in the yellow pages under false company names.

This is not limited to that city. It's practically nationwide.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:32 AM on August 27


I guess also if you have a car and live in a place where driving is normative, you can forget how *awesome* it is to just ride in a quiet private vehicle that's going exactly to your destination. It's not laziness, sometimes it's just a treat. That was another post-breakup thing for me, was getting Uber rides to work because I wanted a little luxury (which again, if you're used to having a car maybe riding in a car doesn't feel like luxury, but it totally is).

And why not cabs? Because in my experience they almost never showed up when I called for them. I used UberTaxi when it was a thing, and it was the best of both worlds: drivers who actually knew where they were going (which is a problem with Uber and other ridesharing things), but with the promise that they would actually come to my apartment.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 7:34 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


The 'how to recruit drivers' email quoted by the Verge describes Uber as having a 'more polished clientele' than Lyft, which I would love someone to ask Uber about.
posted by cjelli at 7:36 AM on August 27


> We are going to have you working on your own time helping us sign up Uber drivers

Hmm, the one thing I know about cabbies is that they're not keen on more competition: more drivers = fewer fares = lower wages. Are Uber targeting the driving-while-stupid sector?
posted by scruss at 7:40 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


Have you seen any Uber users lately? They're incredibly shiny.
posted by forgetful snow at 7:40 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


The person I'm talking about was suggesting an Uber instead of a three-block walk to the T station. Not instead of taking the T -- instead of walking the *three-block walk* to get there. Short blocks.

I dunno, I can't imagine paying money for that, but different strokes?
posted by pie ninja at 7:40 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


Two companies fighting over drivers seems like it will only benefit the drivers.

I have a friend who was an Uber driver. I just got an email from him two days ago asking for employment leads. Apparently Uber just implemented a new payment model that cut rates for customers, increased Uber's commission, and added a $10 weekly charge for renting a mandatory Uber phone. The result for my friend has been a 30% drop in take-home pay, making it so driving for Uber is no longer a way he can support himself. So, not seeing a benefit.
posted by misskaz at 7:43 AM on August 27 [10 favorites]


I think, because I live in a small town devoid of usable public transit (it's all rush-hour-only commuter feeders here), I tend to think of a place with any comprehensive transit as transit heaven. Heck, when I was living in Atlanta without a car, I did okay, and Atlanta actually had shitty transit at the time (the endless endless walk to the Dekalb Market, for one). I didn't know it was so bad out there. I'm probably a little turnip-trucky about it because when I'm in a city, I'm so giddy over being able to get around places without a damn car that maybe I just lose sight of the inconvenience in the wild grip of adventure.
posted by sonascope at 7:45 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


Fuck Uber. Everything I read and hear about that company makes me want to take a shower.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:45 AM on August 27 [6 favorites]


Dear America: Invest in some goddamn public transportation.
posted by gwint at 7:49 AM on August 27 [15 favorites]


Who's the market for these things?

Anyone not as able as you are?
posted by emilyw at 7:51 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


As far as that goes, cab companies are required (in some cities, not all) to have part of their fleet be accessible to disabled riders. Uber and Lyft aren't subject to that requirement (because they're not, legally, cab companies) and they pass the savings along to you. Unless you're disabled.
posted by escabeche at 7:53 AM on August 27 [15 favorites]


gwint: "Dear America: Invest in some goddamn public transportation."

That would be great but when your city is a spot of blue in an otherwise red state, your local bus system won't get a whole lot of love from the state legislature.
posted by octothorpe at 7:54 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


(That said, my understanding is that traditional cab companies haven't always been covering themselves in glory as regards accessibility for disabled passengers. There's a lawsuit right now in Texas on ADA grounds which names Uber and Lyft but a bunch of cab companies too.)
posted by escabeche at 7:54 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]



Two companies fighting over drivers seems like it will only benefit the drivers.


Ah, being young! Sure two companies will fight over a resource, but if the resource happens to be a plebeian, they will reach a more or less tacit agreement in which the plebeian's cut will never go above a certain amount, re: Appl'n'Google Wage Fixing, one way or the other.
posted by elpapacito at 7:54 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


All part of the pre-acquisition mating ritual.
posted by michaelh at 7:55 AM on August 27


Uber and Lyft aren't subject to that requirement (because they're not, legally, cab companies)...

Hopefully more jurisdictions will wise up and force Uber/Lyft/etc.to compete in the established space like they do in NYC, where all the drivers have to be registered with the TLC, and all the cars have to be registered with them as well.

Which, funny enough, probably means Uber complies with TLC regulations on a far stricter level than most livery cab companies I've ridden with.
posted by griphus at 7:57 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


We take a car service (not Uber, not Lyft) here in our public-transited city when we are going out all fancied up and don't want to take the bus/BART but also there will be drinking, so no driving. Sometimes we take it home from an evening out because we just missed that goddamn bus and there isn't one for another 40 minutes. Like that. We've also used Flywheel, which is an app that "flags" cabs whose drivers have signed up. That's worked pretty well, too, and it's regular cab companies.
posted by rtha at 7:59 AM on August 27


My husband uses Uber to get from his workplace to the courthouse when I have our one car. There are no buses from his part of town to the downtown where the courthouse is, and even if there were, the mid-day not-great schedule would waste a lot of his (billable) time. Cab companies here are pretty unreliable.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:00 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


There's a pretty wide spectrum of ability between "needs an adapted vehicle" and "is able and willing to negotiate public transit every time they go somewhere". I have arthritis and when it's bad I'd happily hobble my way into a regular cab, but would think twice about trying to walk all the way to the bus stop and then maybe having to stand on the bus and get jostled a lot and etc. etc.
posted by emilyw at 8:09 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


I really liked Uber when I recently visited NYC. But now, I will try Lyft the next time I use one of these services.
posted by malocchio at 8:14 AM on August 27


Disruptor!!!
Isn't that the battle cry of the brave new economy? Did anyone actually believe being a disruptor meant "not being an asshole?"
posted by Thorzdad at 8:25 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


I mostly use the subway in NYC, but sometimes will take a yellow cab. From my neighborhood (UWS), it's much faster to just grab a yellow taxi than wait for Uber or Lyft.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:29 AM on August 27


I think that one way Uber really got out ahead of cab companies is in their mobile app that's linked directly to a credit card. A friend of mine lives in a relatively new development just a little bit outside of Canton in Baltimore. It was a redeveloped industrial area, and the development company had to build their own street that isn't officially maintained by the city. The result is that this street not only has a similar name to another nearby street, but also that it doesn't seem to be registered on any GPS services.

This made it difficult to call a cab to this location before, since the dispatchers were nearly all uniformly in a hurry to get to their next call (I'd imagine they're working on some sort of commission system, or at least held to call volume standards) and wouldn't bother to actually confirm any details. In practice, this meant many, many cabs sent to the wrong place which never actually arrive.

With Uber everything is taken care of by a computer. Beyond that, you don't even have to have cash (Baltimore cabbies haven't switched over to CC systems yet), and tipping is handled automatically. We've never had a lost car with Uber.

Uber does a lot of stuff right, and I do enjoy the price and the service. I just wish they weren't such a terrible and exploitative company.
posted by codacorolla at 8:48 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


Dear America: Invest in some goddamn public transportation.

PS: While you're at it, check out the bridges, they probably need more upkeep than they've been getting

PSS: And the sewers, when was the last time you looked at them?

PSSS: Oh yeah, have we got anything that's less expensive and toxic to the environment for paving roads besides asphalt? And yeah, get to work on that smart-grid for unstable renewable energy. Before I forget, where are we with state-controlled networking (since it's becoming synonymous with first-amendment expression)?

How about we shorten it:

Dear America: Invest.
posted by eclectist at 9:06 AM on August 27 [8 favorites]


This tactic of Uber's smells terrible. The Verge article is strongly condemnatory, of course, but Uber's response and the founders tweetstorm don't really help. What it reminds me of is the illegal collusion between Apple, Google, etc about not poaching each others' employees. The effect here is the opposite, but both tactics sound terribly sleazy the moment you describe them.
posted by Nelson at 9:07 AM on August 27 [4 favorites]


I want to make a fake app and splash page for a service called CarBNB.

Too late. These already exist. We talked about them some in this thread.
posted by rtha at 9:09 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


ending sentences with prepositions

Pet peeve: this is a style convention derived from Latin grammar, not a codified rule of English grammar. Calling it out is hypercorrection.

posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:15 AM on August 27 [7 favorites]


Apparently Uber just implemented a new payment model that cut rates for customers, increased Uber's commission, and added a $10 weekly charge for renting a mandatory Uber phone.

Yes, rent seekers will seek rents.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:23 AM on August 27


I'm pretty sure the A-Team has been called in for less than this.
posted by ckape at 9:26 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


I use Uber most every Friday to get home from the bar. I'll walk/bus there but 2am and tipsy it is nice to have a quick ride home that I don't have to worry about. It sounds now though like I should switch to Lyft? are they better?
posted by Carillon at 9:27 AM on August 27


It sounds now though like I should switch to Lyft? are they better?

NPR did a piece about Uber and Lyft on Monday on ATC. It characterized the differences between the two services in ways that I thought were interesting.
posted by hippybear at 9:33 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


You can really Robert Siegel pronounce the Ümlaut in that piece hippybear. Thanks for linking though I appreciate it, it's a good piece.
posted by Carillon at 9:51 AM on August 27


I use Uber and have looked into Lyft, but Lyft just seems ... shadier and amateuresque, somehow, from the user's side of things. Calling payments "donations", requiring tipping rather than having everything built into one fee; it seems a lot less clear-cut than Uber.

Uber seems to be engaging in some really sharp practice at the corporate level, which is unfortunate because as a user, I don't think it's necessary. Uber is beating everyone — not that beating taxis was especially hard — on the merits. The skullduggery makes them seem insecure in the strength of their product.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of barriers to entry to an Uber-competitor service, though. So that ought to limit the amount of rent-seeking that they can do. If they take too big of a cut, their drivers will leave; if they charge too much, passengers will leave. Same if they let quality fall off. So they're balanced on a very fine point between those different factors.

I could easily see the day approaching when there might be multiple Uber-ish services, and you'll use some sort of aggregator app that queries all of them and determines which one is closest to you, or has the lowest rate, or the nicest / least malodorous cars, etc. and then arranges for that one to come pick you up.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:26 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


Dear America: Invest in some goddamn public transportation.

Seattle has pretty good bus system. However, it shuts down for the most part after 1 or 2 am. If you're out late, it's more than likely the bus route you want is done for the night,
or on a "night owl" schedule where the buses arrive at 3:15 or 4-ish. Downtown Seattle is not a hospitable place at those hours - and good luck if you're out someplace like Ballard at that hour.
Taxi service in Seattle is sub-par to say the least. Uber and Lyft fill in that transportation gap.

Reports of Uber's tactics? I'm not surprised. Unfortunately Seattle also has a sub-par city government. The city council can't decide whether to shit or go blind with regard to regulating these new services.
They have the power to regulate bad practices out of existence and craft regulations that operate in the consumers best interests. As usual, they're sitting on their hands in the name of "consensus".
Which is the Seattle-speak for "we're waiting for the highest bidder."
posted by Pudhoho at 10:55 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


Just figured it out--Uber is the Mitt Romney of companies.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:55 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


I don't want Mitt Romney running the federal government, but I would trust him to safely drive me home from the bar.
posted by Area Man at 10:59 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


The $10 weekly phone rent is for drivers who don't want to start using their own phones. In the past, using the Uber phone was mandatory, but they are rolling out an app instead.

source: Uber driver who took me to the airport yesterday.
posted by sideshow at 11:27 AM on August 27


The $10 weekly phone rent is for drivers who don't want to start using their own phones. In the past, using the Uber phone was mandatory, but they are rolling out an app instead.

So, like the ongoing issues Uber has with insurance coverage (most recently in Germany), it's a case of trying to further shift costs and liabilities onto drivers and away from Uber proper?
posted by cjelli at 11:38 AM on August 27


Dear America: Invest in some goddamn public transportation.

Our state is currently building a $570M 10 mile busway to go between two towns which I will never use.

I can't wait for us to get Uber or Lyft.
posted by smackfu at 12:29 PM on August 27


I don't want Mitt Romney running the federal government, but I would trust him to safely drive me home from the bar.

Are you sure about that?
posted by me & my monkey at 12:30 PM on August 27


sonascope: "The more I hear about all this alternacab business, the more I wonder why so many people need rides all the time. Isn't the thing of living in a city that you have subways and bus transit and walkable/bikable spaces?"

A few other people have said it, but (1) drunkenness, (2) late at night after BART has closed, (3) running late for something, (4) have too much to carry. I just took a trip to Target with my new roommate to pick up a bunch of household necessities and there was no way we were BARTing with all that stuff.

In my experience Uber is more pleasant, more convenient and less expensive than regular cabs. This SLOG business is some bullshit, though.
posted by brundlefly at 12:57 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]


the founders tweetstorm don't really help
Ug, he calls himself a "Serial entrepreneur".
posted by thewalledcity at 1:04 PM on August 27


"Oh, what do you do?"
- "I'm a serial entrepreneur! Let me tell you about my..."
"...so, do you mean like Lucky Charms?"

Mission Accomplished.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:26 PM on August 27 [3 favorites]


On a more serious note, I have used TaxiMagic (now called Curb, apparently?) for a few years and am always surprised when it doesn't really come up in these conversations. Maybe my perception is wrong but I thought it was growing and doing so while working with existing services rather than against them. In my experience with them a regular yellow cab was as timely as Uber has been, since they also used in-car GPS tracking.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:34 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]


Well that didn't take long.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:09 PM on August 27


So, like the ongoing issues Uber has with insurance coverage (most recently in Germany), it's a case of trying to further shift costs and liabilities onto drivers and away from Uber proper?

My driver considered it a huge step forward, because now he didn't have to deal with an extra locked down iPhone 4 that didn't do anything but his Uber stuff.
posted by sideshow at 3:09 PM on August 27


Here's some sadly obvious Uber apologia posted as a news article on the Verge's sister publication, Vox.

So Uber did the obvious thing: they hailed Lyft cars and used the rides as an excuse to make their recruitment pitch, paying the Lyft drivers for their time like any other customer. This is not only completely legal, it's also good for drivers, who benefit from having employers fight over them....The internal Uber document released by the Verge offers a more likely explanation for these cancellations: Uber reps were trying not to waste drivers' time.

Oh, well that's a relief! Way to butter your bread on both sides, Vox media.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:05 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]


Uber's defense didn't really seem to be clear on the cancelling Lyft rides booked with burner phones bit. They said they didn't intentionally cancel rides but contextually it seemed like they were talking about Uber rides, that is they're nice to their drivers and don't intentionally mess with them. Honestly if I hadn't read the bit about cancelled Lyft, Sidecar, etc. rides I never would have thought they might have been talking about that.

Encouraging your staff/drivers/friends to call and cancel rides with your competition is far shittier than hiring your competition to try and recruit them (though that is also shady).
posted by mountmccabe at 9:42 PM on August 27


> NPR did a piece about Uber and Lyft on Monday on ATC.

That brings up a good point. Why doesn't anyone carpool? I get that in the cities it's ridiculous to expect people to have a car and in rural areas it's ridiculous to expect people to be going to the same place, but it should work in suburbia.
posted by Monochrome at 3:39 PM on August 28


Why doesn't anyone carpool?

Cause there's no rent to seek?
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:25 AM on August 29


For most people, their commute isn't bad enough to put up with the pain of carpooling.
posted by smackfu at 11:14 AM on August 29


Carpooling worked back when everyone worked 9 to 5 but now no one knows each day when their day will end so it's hard to co-ordinate with someone else.
posted by octothorpe at 11:59 AM on August 29


Do Uber and carpooling address the same problem/need? I would never think of using it (or a cab) to get to work, but I do live in a place with a good public transportation system.

I know there are people in the Bay Area who do a ridesharing thing for their commute, but it's something I never could bring myself to do. BARTing has always seemed (weirdly) more private.
posted by brundlefly at 12:28 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


It's only really relevant if you get rid of your car, carpool, and then need some kind of Plan B for a day or two every couple of months. Uber/Lyft is great for that.
posted by smackfu at 12:44 PM on August 29


« Older Brave and afraid and heading down the longest road...  |  How rural poverty is changing:... Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.