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Yesterday, we shared the news that ride-sharing service Uber had been banned in Germany. The company’s service that lets people summon a limo with a smartphone was fine, but the peer-to-peer, lower-cost UberPop service had to stop accepting passengers under a temporary injunction. A strange thing happened when this story hit the news, though: people in Germany thought that this UberPop thing sounded like a great idea, and started hailing rides.
Yes, apparently there is no such thing as bad publicity, even when the government is threatening to put your European employees in jail. Here’s the thing: the court that decided UberPop was illegal can’t actually enforce its rulings. If the taxi companies that oppose the expansion of Uber want the rides to stop, they have to file their own complaints that Uber is violating the ban. (That would be easy enough: taxi drivers could just download the app themselves.) With those reports in hand, the court could have local police enforce the ban.
However, Uber is thriving with all of this publicity: business is up almost threefold in the city of Berlin.
“Business has been good. If people want to use Uber, why should it be banned?” one Berlin driver asked a New York Times reporter. That driver may have answered his own question when he also refused to have his full name published, since he’s afraid of “reprisals” from taxi drivers.
Uber Continues to Operate in Germany, Despite Court Ruling [New York Times]
by Laura Northrup via Consumerist