Uber's French operations are clashing with taxi drivers and defying the government
UberPOP, the cheapest service Uber offers, which connects passengers with unprofessional drivers, was made available in Marseille, Nantes and Strasbourg despite a law essentially making the service illegal.
UberPOP drivers from all over France have reported incidents with taxi drivers.A video showing a group of taxi drivers circling an UberPOP car in Marseille, after tricking the driver with a fake booking has surfaced on Facebook. The driver is insulted, forced out of his car and has eggs thrown at him.
The taxi drivers themselves filmed and posted the video online. "Danny Taxi," the user who posted the video, commented underneath to say that he was "the first one" and that they "got" three Uber drivers in total. He also wrote that their attacks on Monday were still "nice" and that they would get worse from there, as the taxi drivers plan to continue lashing out against Uber drivers.
An Uber spokesperson who spoke to VentureBeat said that the driver went to the police to lodge a complaint. He also added that Uber "will always stand by our partners."
This attempt to intimidate Uber drivers was not isolated. In Nantes, one Uber driver told French newspaper Ouest France about being booked for a ride from the train station to the airport. When he got there he was approached by a group of seven or eight men. The taxi drivers then reportedly started insulting him and one got into the car while the others scratched his car.
"They pressured me," he said. "They said, 'How are we going to feed our families? You are taking our jobs.'" When they left he realized they had also slashed three of his tires. Shaken but not hurt after his first day on the job, the man said Uber promised they would pay for the damages to his car.
Local taxi drivers are also protesting near Uber driver recruiting and training centers. They perceive Uber's service as unfair competition. The Thévendoud law rendered UberPOP illegal on January 1st and the government has been cracking down on those unprofessional drivers.In an article published on Sunday, the New York Times Magazine described how the Boers, a part of the French police dedicated to the taxi industry, is cracking down on UberPOP drivers. The unit is specialized in spotting the UberPOP vehicles - they then question the drivers and often fine them. Uber is fighting back, and encourages its drivers to continue working and assures that it will pay their fines.
Last October, Uber was fined 100,000 euros by a Paris court for its UberPOP service, but the San Fransisco-based company is appealing the decision.