Yay, uber! or F. U., Uber!

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#1
In the interest of full disclosure, thanks to the WV legislature, Uber does not operate in this state. So that is one of multiple reasons I do not use it or the Avis to it's Hertz, Lyft.

The latest bit of news makes me glad it's not operating here. Uber knows when your battery is low and that you're more susceptible to surge pricing if it isn't a round number.

What's the attraction beyond "it's not a cab"? Doesn't the stampeding all over your privacy and slurping up all the data off your phone it can worry people? Sure they have a "privacy officer," but what does that really mean?

Discuss.
 
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#2
In popular culture we have the boiling frog thought experiment - as long as you only change things incrementally, you might get some grumbling, but over a long period of time you can lead people to a place where something they wouldn't have agreed to originally now seems like no big deal.

Data collection is one of those things. Here we are, the NSA collecting data, humongous companies like Google, Verizon, Ford collecting data, and while we moan and whine about each new invasion, we're reluctant to give up the possible benefits of the associated technology.

Yet if you go back two decades and ask people if they'd be willing to allow the government to collect all their phone records into a central database, and the majority of the citizens of the US would be carrying trackable transceivers on them at all times which would report vast quantities of data about them and their life to corporations and governments with no oversight, and allow the government and corporations to put up 24/7 recording and image processed (looking for faces and license plate numbers) cameras throughout major cities, I suspect they'd say, "Oh, we'd never allow that!"

Here we are folks.

Yet I'm not interested in giving up my iPhone 6...
 
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#3
In popular culture we have the boiling frog thought experiment - as long as you only change things incrementally, you might get some grumbling, but over a long period of time you can lead people to a place where something they wouldn't have agreed to originally now seems like no big deal.

Data collection is one of those things. Here we are, the NSA collecting data, humongous companies like Google, Verizon, Ford collecting data, and while we moan and whine about each new invasion, we're reluctant to give up the possible benefits of the associated technology.

Yet if you go back two decades and ask people if they'd be willing to allow the government to collect all their phone records into a central database, and the majority of the citizens of the US would be carrying trackable transceivers on them at all times which would report vast quantities of data about them and their life to corporations and governments with no oversight, and allow the government and corporations to put up 24/7 recording and image processed (looking for faces and license plate numbers) cameras throughout major cities, I suspect they'd say, "Oh, we'd never allow that!"

Here we are folks.

Yet I'm not interested in giving up my iPhone 6...
Aye, this.

Also uber is apparently cheaper (I don't know, I've never used it). But I think we also may tend to use it because it's a sort of rebellion against the tight controls of government. The two industry is heavily regulated, with pricing controls, mandatory cameras, and all sorts of little things that built up over time.

Your story is just an example of why those regulations came to exist. Uber will fall under controls eventually, too, but in the meantime, users get to enjoy the benefits and drawbacks of the taxi industry of the past.
 
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#4
Uber has a huge convenience bonus in areas where there are no/few cabs, cabs have limited hours, cab companies are sketchy, and/or cabs are just crazy $$$. Throw in that you don't need to spend a few minutes on the end to wait on the driver figuring out his credit card machine (a lot of non-NYC/San Fran cabs have this issue) and knowing you don't have to hand your card over to anyone matter a lot to people.

I prefer to use Lyft when I need ride-sharing, but either one is often cheaper than an NYC cab when the subway/bus won't get it done. And in the wilds of New Jersey when really sketchy cab companies operate a lot more on "buyer beware" than "riders' rights", Uber/Lyft are far superior.

Yet I'm not interested in giving up my iPhone 6...
If it makes you feel better, the iPhone 6 (and subsequent iPhones) and the Google Nexus phones share less than previous phones. :p
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#5
I don't have any particularly strong feelings about Uber/Lyft, personally, but I do have antipathy for the methods by which their opponents attempt to shut them down - it's usually based on government meddling, which is anathema to me. I always thought it was dumb to require a special, different, expensive license to be a taxi driver. I've read about Uber doing questionable-but-not-illegal things with pricing, but I feel like this is something that could be solved by increased competition. The amount of economic shenanigans a company gets away with is inversely proportional to the amount of competition it has. There's a technical hurdle in that each service right now wants you to install their app that only works for their service (a gripe I've had against mobile apps since forever, its tendency to make you install a separate application for everything instead of just one universal web browser), but I bet an enterprising individual could come up with a "cheaptickets for ride shares" type system that can comparison shop on the fly.

As for those people who stumble drunkenly out of the bar with 5% battery, THOSE MONSTERS DESERVE TO GO HOME IN A DILAPIDATED RICKSHAW. :mad: CHARGE YO PHONES.
 
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#6
There's a technical hurdle in that each service right now wants you to install their app that only works for their service (a gripe I've had against mobile apps since forever, its tendency to make you install a separate application for everything instead of just one universal web browser), but I bet an enterprising individual could come up with a "cheaptickets for ride shares" type system that can comparison shop on the fly.
If Uber/Lyft (and a whole ton of other apps) are smart, they'll jump into Android's Instant Apps.
 
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#7
What's the attraction beyond "it's not a cab"? Doesn't the stampeding all over your privacy and slurping up all the data off your phone it can worry people? Sure they have a "privacy officer," but what does that really mean.
I took an Uber with 3 friends for 25 minutes. It was seven dollars. Not each. Total. That should be all the reason you need.
 
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#8
I took an Uber with 3 friends for 25 minutes. It was seven dollars. Not each. Total. That should be all the reason you need.
I price checked Uber vs a cab from Penn Station to the Flushing HoJo's. The cheapest Uber was $20 more than a cab.

Is the savings really worth all the data you're sending to Uber? Can you trust them when they say they're not using it for evil?
 
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#10
I've long since given up on pretending there's any way I can keep companies from taking my data.
 
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#12
Verizon, sprint, tmobile, att, comcast, your local energy and gas supplier, Directtv, franchise and chain stores and restaurants, discover, mastercard, visa, american express, your bank, your employer, your healthcare provider, your insurance provider(s), the local police, state police, toll companies, parking garages, and any internet service you use.
 
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#13
Verizon, sprint, tmobile, att, comcast, your local energy and gas supplier, Directtv, franchise and chain stores and restaurants, discover, mastercard, visa, american express, your bank, your employer, your healthcare provider, your insurance provider(s), the local police, state police, toll companies, parking garages, and any internet service you use.
Not all of those have as much access as others, though. The toll booth company knows my car traveled on location X on date Y, nothing more - I pay cash. OTOH, my healthcare provider knows everything there is to know about me and more. I'm fairly sure they know my BMI better than I do :p
 
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#14
Not all of those have as much access as others, though. The toll booth company knows my car traveled on location X on date Y, nothing more - I pay cash. OTOH, my healthcare provider knows everything there is to know about me and more. I'm fairly sure they know my BMI better than I do :p
There's this lovely thing called data aggregation, though. Is your toll booth company allowed and/or inclined to sell/surrender your vehicle-toll-timestamp data?
 
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#15
Funny thing - this data is bought, sold and traded, and if you carefully read your contracts you may find that you give them unfettered permission to share personally identifiable information along with the data. They'll say "third parties who provide us certain services" but this is a two way street. Google has a lot of data from cell phone companies to gather traffic information, and in return they provide some data to the cell phone companies. It all looks like a closed, protected ecosystem, but it essentially means that your data is a product and they are exploiting the contract language that you may think limits what can be shared and to whom.

For instance, a privately owned toll road company in texas figured out who I am and where I live so they could bill me for a vehicle that just got license plates in the last year. They couldn't have done that unless they had a data sharing agreement with Michigan secretary of state, or with Texas who might have an arrangement with michigan.

So what is my contract with this toll company? I don't have one! They have data showing where I was and when, and there is absolutely nothing stopping them from selling it to whoever may want it.

Same thing with facial recognition security cameras. Your driver's license with picture is on file. What's to stop a similar company doing the same thing but with your face around town where they might have security cameras?
 
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#16
Nope, gotta love European privacy laws ;) Police/state has access, otherwise, not really.

On the topic of Uber, what irks me is their duplicitous behavior. For all intents and purposes, they're a big taxi company. However, they still try to weasel around labor laws, protection of their employees, safety laws, and what-have-you. They're a taxi company when it's time to make a profit, they're a carpool-ease-of-use-app when it comes to accountability. That's bullshit and unfair competition - and it gives the actual sharing economy a bad name.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#17
Wookiee is actually trying to become an Uber driver, but he's been having problems... because he's moved around so much, his background check took a month to process, and now for some other reason his app won't let him drive in this particular town. He has to go to the local office to get it sorted out, but the local office hasn't been open in weeks, apparently.
 
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#18
they still try to weasel around labor laws, protection of their employees, safety laws, and what-have-you.
So you're stating that the laws that regulate, through government force, the taxi system, are completely fair, just, and beneficial to society, and anyone that works around them is harming society?
 
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#19
No, I'm not, and that's a very weird way of parsing what I wrote. I am saying that abusing a system to avoid paying taxes, extort and abuse foreign drivers, pay below minimum wage, not pay sickness leave, and not allow leave to some people, abusing immigrants, is not ok. And yes, it's that sort of lovely things Uber is being accused of in some European cities.

The laws governing taxi services in some regions are very closed, very monopoly-inducing, and so on. The way to go about changing them isn't to go back to a free-for-all Wild West Big Companies Abuse the Individual, No Safety checks At All world. Our world is heading for dystopia quite fast enough, thank you. Fighting government overreach is one thing, destroying all protections in the name the Free market and Damn the Consequences is not the right answer.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#20
No, I'm not, and that's a very weird way of parsing what I wrote. I am saying that abusing a system to avoid paying taxes, extort and abuse foreign drivers, pay below minimum wage, not pay sickness leave, and not allow leave to some people, abusing immigrants, is not ok. And yes, it's that sort of lovely things Uber is being accused of in some European cities.

The laws governing taxi services in some regions are very closed, very monopoly-inducing, and so on. The way to go about changing them isn't to go back to a free-for-all Wild West Big Companies Abuse the Individual, No Safety checks At All world. Our world is heading for dystopia quite fast enough, thank you. Fighting government overreach is one thing, destroying all protections in the name the Free market and Damn the Consequences is not the right answer.
How does Uber extort and abuse immigrants/foreign drivers? I mean, it's not like you HAVE to work for Uber, nothing's stopping a driver from jumping through all the government hoops to become a regular taxi driver.

As for minimum wage/sick leave, wtf? Taxi drivers get paid by fares.. you drive people, you get paid. Do European drivers get paid to sit around NOT driving fares? That seems like a problem to me. Or rather, perhaps, an explanation/example of the root of some of Europe's problems.
 
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#21
*shrug* I'm not going to get into a debate about Brussels/Berlin/Paris/London cab unions and laws, they're all different, and they're all crap for different reasons. It's sometimes hard to impossible to become an official taxi driver without some serious up front cash investment and/or the right nationality, and/or literally years of formation. And yes, taxi drivers get paid for not driving around - just like waiters get paid when they don't wait a table, or a real estate agent gets paid for not selling a house. It's the point of a minimum wage, you know.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#22
And yes, taxi drivers get paid for not driving around - just like waiters get paid when they don't wait a table, or a real estate agent gets paid for not selling a house. It's the point of a minimum wage, you know.
Funny, the minimum wage for waiters in the US is $2.13/hr, well below the normal $7.25/hr "regular" minimum wage... and it's because even though it's almost entirely driven by tips, it's still one of the most lucrative low-skill positions available. Almost no point in having it, really.

Sounds to me like you've got too many taxi drivers, and artificial regulatory interference is screwing up the market. You need a serious free market capitalism injection!

For whatever other failings they have, Uber's labor model is excellent. You work when you want, you get paid when you work, and supply and demand set the price. Too few drivers? The price goes up, enticing more people to become drivers. Too many drivers? The price goes down, and if it goes too far down, some drivers decide to find another job, and parity is maintained.
 
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#23
The nice thing about Uber is that if the taxi market were filling the needs of society and the needs of its employees, then Uber would not survive in that market.

It's because the taxi market isn't adequately supporting society and workers that Uber, Lyft, and others even have an opening. They may not be perfect either, but if they fill a need, then why shut them down?
 
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#24
Again, because they don't follow labor and safety rules. I'm not saying the current closed system is perfect, it certainly isn't, but it's still illegal competition. Having friends dine over isn't illegal. Having them pay you a bit for the ingredients is fine. Using a "find a friend to eat" app to set up professional cooks who receive dozens of people every day, yet they still don't pay VAT or follow any health rules, claim they're not bound by food inspection, and so on, it'd still be unfair competition to restaurants.

Taxi drivers have a maximum number of hours they're allowed to drive; their cars are held to higher safety standards than regular car (technical control every 3 months, for example), their drivers are screened for security, and so on. Uber drivers and cars aren't.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#25
Again, because they don't follow labor and safety rules. I'm not saying the current closed system is perfect, it certainly isn't, but it's still illegal competition. Having friends dine over isn't illegal. Having them pay you a bit for the ingredients is fine. Using a "find a friend to eat" app to set up professional cooks who receive dozens of people every day, yet they still don't pay VAT or follow any health rules, claim they're not bound by food inspection, and so on, it'd still be unfair competition to restaurants.

Taxi drivers have a maximum number of hours they're allowed to drive; their cars are held to higher safety standards than regular car (technical control every 3 months, for example), their drivers are screened for security, and so on. Uber drivers and cars aren't.
Sounds to me like over-regulation.
 
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#27
Food carts aren't as strictly regulated as restaurants, and both exist just fine in the market. Further, chauffeur and limousine services also coexist with significantly fewer regulations. Uber and Lyft cannot put "taxi" signs on their vehicles and can't pick up customers that didn't specifically call for them.

I don't think they should be regulated the same. It's not necessarily an issue of libertarian vs socialist viewpoints. The Uber and Lyft workers are still bound by all the rules contract or part time workers and their employers have to follow. If the contract or part time employee laws need reworking, then maybe that's the place to look.
 
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#28
Verizon, sprint, tmobile, att, comcast, your local energy and gas supplier, Directtv, franchise and chain stores and restaurants, discover, mastercard, visa, american express, your bank, your employer, your healthcare provider, your insurance provider(s), the local police, state police, toll companies, parking garages, and any internet service you use.
Nope, gotta love European privacy laws ;) Police/state has access, otherwise, not really.
...but not the Middle East, it seems.
all-in-one LPR, speedometer, and facial recognition scanner [...] could come to US.


--Patrick
 
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#30
Billions of dollars in technology and dozens of cops tied up in what could have been taken care of by a pit maneuver in the first minute of the video :p
...at the cost of a McLaren and a pursuit vehicle, sure.

--Patrick
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#31
...at the cost of a McLaren and a pursuit vehicle, sure.

--Patrick
Probably just some fender/bumper damage to the police cruiser. The McLaren might take more if it skids off the road or into a barrier, but these jackholes just let a criminal going "200" (unclear if MPH or KPH) speed his way downtown, endangering countless people.

Besides, the criminal obviously had a spare :p

Also, Dubai PD apparently have impeccable midwest American accents!
 
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