Uber Cars No-Risk Scam Hurts All

Imagine the GUARDIAN giving Boise City a shoutout on New Year’s Day!

We have to give Team Dave an “attaboy” for telling the pushy folks at Uber Cars to stop playing taxi without proper insurance, license, inspection, etc.

While some folks like the “app” appeal of hiring unknown drivers and cars over the internet with automatic charges to their credit card, the GUARDIAN sees the Uber Car gimmick as a no-risk scam for the folks who sell the app. They don’t own any vehicles, have no employees, and act merely as a “matchmaker” for passengers and drivers…all the while taking a piece of the financial pie.

Uber has been banned, fined, and embraced worldwide. They are adept at LOBBYING local governments, and in Boise they are represented by the same PR agent who serves on the Boise School Board and represents Boise City’s Team Dave.

With the pitiful bus system, officialdom should look at adopting the Uber model, run it through City Hall, and do away with buses.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Wayne Hoffman is defending it.

  2. über dem Gesetz: “above the law”. Uber apologists give two defenses for Uber’s arrogant politics. One is, “Oh, the taxi companies are monopolies”. Hardly the case in Boise.

    Second excuse is “apps are awesome, dude”. Very true, but taxi licensing laws were written for good reasons. There could be an app developed that would hail a licensed cab from an existing company, and revenue could go to the developers in the form of a commission from drivers or companies.

    Ah, but Uber sees a much deeper revenue stream by simply buying the right people who let them operate above the law. The arrogance of well-funded companies…

  3. Not quite true Dave, Uber has a comprehensive insurance policy that covers all passengers during an Uber ride. Boise taxi companies are notoriously horrible at customer service and practice common taxi scams. Go ahead and tell a local taxi driver that you are from out of town and that you need to go to the mall from downtown. There is a good chance he will head south on Broadway to the 84 to get there, increasing the fare nearly 3x what it would have been if he would have jumped on the connector! And don’t dare tell one that you need to go to the airport and that you are running late for your flight, they will likely see that as an invitation to fleece you! I am not sure that Uber is the answer but if it forces taxi drivers to raise their game, that is good for us all!

    EDITOR NOTE–Agreed local taxis need to play fair and do a good job. We challenge Uber to provide us with info regarding ANY insurance company licensed in Idaho providing an insurance policy… name of insurer, limits of coverage, etc. We just cannot imagine ANY company underwriting strangers, or their cars to provide unregulated public transit, especially when insurance laws are different from state to state.

  4. I wonder if Boise requires the predatory LANDMEN to register with the city? These unlicensed / registered land agents methodically go door to door soliciting your mineral rights for a pittance of what they are worth. Typically these mineral rights are amassed and either sold or mortgaged to investors seeking a get rich quick scheme. Many are told they have no choice and “this is a quick way to get some spending $$$ into your pocket”, not realizing the fine print hiding the “open ended” access to your property… FOREVER.

    No county or jurisdiction in Idaho requires protection of the citizens from these deceitful lobbyists…

    No amount a permanent harm can be afflicted upon a person by an out of state unlicensed landman when comparing the few Uber may serve.

  5. Even a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile

  6. Frankenstein Government
    Jan 2, 2015, 1:34 am

    Competition and free enterprise used to be good for the consumer and inspired innovation.

    Now we punish innovation. Taxi outfits need to get competitive or lose. That’s exactly how our capitalist structure works…well before statism, fees, and bureaucracy intervene to get their slice and destroy innovation.

    According to some of the thought on here, we should have outlawed cell phones to protect our old, regulated telephone infrastructure.

    EDITOR NOTE–Based on some of the multi-million dollar settlements the Idaho A.G. has gotten from the cell companies for “cramming” and other scams, you may be correct suggesting increased regulation. How about the “plans” that call for payment for a set amount of minutes whether used or not?

  7. The gubmint tells you that licensing is for “public safety”, but it is really about getting their snout in the feeding trough. If govt cared about our safety they wouldn’t alow bottles full of poison, deadly foodlike substances, and the insanely dangerous personal automobile to be sold to anyone with a pulse, with no regard for anyone’s safety.

  8. I could use a lot less of the government looking out for my safety. I read about the cease and desist order and then signed up for Uber.

  9. The analogy between cell phone companies and taxi companies is actually a pretty good one.

    First, no one has spoken of this but cab companies are nothing without a good dispatcher. This is where Uber crushes the cab companies. Uber’s killer app is a better way to dispatch. Too bad Ada County Dispatch can’t learn a lesson or two while were at it.

    Anyway, the big 4 cellular companies have enjoyed a virtual monopoly for many years. The ability to lock phones to a carrier is anti competitive in the extreme. This is what cab companies do. Cab companies want to lock a fare to one of the officially sanctioned cab companies.

    Thankfully, Congress and the FCC stepped in and threatened regulation, only it’s good regulation. Long complicated story short—cell phone companies were going to be forced to unlock cell phones. One of the problems with phone locking, besides the monopolistic practice, was travelers to Canada or overseas couldn’t use their own phone on foreign networks. Ludicrous.

    Though off topic, I think it’s relevant. Cab companies want you locked into their carriers.

    Recent evolution on cell phone locking/unlocking:

  10. i+dont+know
    Jan 4, 2015, 10:05 am

    Fairly certain the cease and desist didn’t have anything with them being too ahead of the curve or even for the sake of existing cab companies ( I know everything’s a conspiracy the government is corrupt). Capitolism is fine and dandy but we as tax payers payed for the streets uber does business on, it’s out initial investment that even allows them to make this money. I’d also like to point out that they wouldn’t make money in the Boise community without the Boise community so it is only reasonable that they comply, put in their money and not shortchange us on safety.

    Great they have insurance, I’ll be able to afford wheel chairs the rest of my life.

    Also speaking of technological advancement, the government used to be the one funding a large portion of it before the deeply religious decided for us that being advanced isn’t so important.

  11. Perhaps we should have similar legal/regulatory structure in place for the World’s oldest profession. It’s alive and well and in every corner of America… and causing a lot more anonymous damage than an anonymous car ride.

    The economic size and number of very similar business models brings the Mayor’s “selective” attention into question in my opinion. It seems he’s taken sides in a turf war. Wonder why he does not wade into the price-fixing of airlines at BOI, or phone companies, or gasoline?

    Once the Uber laws are in place nation wide, I suspect they will be able to apply the same concept to online “dating”… which is a very large anonymous middle-agent business nearly identical to Uber.

    Bigger Picture: Black markets, gray markets, tax free, etc: As was briefly mentioned in your excellent book editor… A sudden currency exchange would flush out all kinds of dirty deeds.

  12. “we as tax payers payed for the streets uber does business on,”

    Uh, the drivers for Uber pay gas tax and registration fees. And presumably most live in Ada County and pay property taxes of which a share goes to ACHD.

    That’s not what the debate is about. It’s about insurance, cars being mechanically safe and drivers being criminally safe. But Uber claims it has a commercial insurance policy and does background checks. They also require the car to be less than 10 years old.

    So what’s the problem? I haven’t heard one single report of an Uber customer being inured, let alone being injured and unable to make a claim for damages.

  13. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that THE GUARDIAN has taken a position against a new concept like Uber without knowing much other than it’s new and different – Quick! Bury your heads!

    Uber is capitalism at work. Banning them is the product over-regulation and influence of powerful insurance companies.

    My experience nationwide is that Uber is a faster, cleaner, cheaper, better car, better driver. As far as your challenge to Uber to provide proof of insurance, a simple google search reveals: C’mon, GUARDIAN, not everything new is bad.

    EDITOR NOTE–We talked to a Fiesta Bowl fan who used to agree with you. He and a friend paid $16 for one ride via Uber and the next day the same ride cost them $130!!
    They were not notified until the ride ended. Regulating Uber is akin to regulating spam or robo calls. There isn’t really any place to go for redress and Uber will soon control ALL taxis by virtue of the well done app. Think Verizon, Microsoft, iPhone,
    Amazon. Not bad companies, but they CONTROL the market place.

  14. Dave, Your friend has only himself to blame. You see, every Uber ride give you an estimated cost before you even get in the car. If he ignored the notice, he has no one to blame but himself.

    Further, like I said, Uber is capitalism. If there is a high demand and a low supply, the value of the good costs more. I don’t see a problem with this.

    As far as your no-so-well-thought-out argument of control of the marketplace, there are competitors – Lyft, traditional taxis, buses, your own car, etc.

    Verizon has to compete with AT&T (bigger company, btw), Microsoft used to be king, but Apple took over that spot with the iPhone. And speaking of the iPhone, Google is doing ok with Android, no? Amazon has to compete with everyone.

    Boise’s decision has nothing to do preventing a potential monopoly (and you know it).

  15. “He and a friend paid $16 for one ride via Uber and the next day the same ride cost them $130!!”

    I thought the dispatch app accounts for that. If you know your pick-up location and destination then it’s a simple matter for the app to calculate the mileage.

  16. Guardian,

    This post typifies the problem with the stances you take on many issues – strongly against, but not for the best reasons. Here, it appears you are against Uber because it didn’t send you its insurance information (all available to anyone who can use google), and you friend had a bad experience when he went to the Fiesta Bowl (because he didn’t know how to use the app).

    I propose that you cease using the phrase “growthaphobe,” which you often take credit for creating, and start using the phrase prosophobe – for someone who is afraid of progress.

    EDITOR NOTE–I don’t think you are a very nice person and I don’t enjoy your tone.
    Rather than argue with you, I will ask you to seek your news and commentary at another website more to your liking. I can handle opposing views and even being wrong, but I don’t need to post your rude comments.

  17. Uber: If something is a ripoff it does not last long in America. It’s why the IRS needs guns to enforce the tax code. And why so many businesses use monopolies and price fixing to survive… let it “ride” and see what happens… I have no love for cabbies especially in big cities where so many of them act and sometimes verbalize their disdain for typical riders. I hope Uber allows me to select specific driver traits/reputation soon.


    BB, can you tell me what is the primary problem with smart people?

    I often don’t agree with the editor… or a lot of people for that matter, but our editor is an upstanding respectable person who is providing a valuable community service which the white-washed local media refuses to do. Personal attacks on him are likely the result of his effectiveness… and the ineffectiveness of attempts to control or quell his service.

    Your book has caused me to LOL several times editor!

    EDITOR NOTE–Thanks and thanks again.

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