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Taxi wars: Uber fined €100k in France

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Taxi wars: Uber fined €100k in France
A Paris court said UberPOP is engaging in "fraudulent business practices." Photo: AFP
17:53 CEST+02:00
The French branch of American ride-sharing service Uber was hit with a €100,000 in Paris on Thursday after judges ruled it sold itself in a misleading way. It's the latest battle over the tech-driven service.

France’s cabbies got a bit of help on Thursday in their war against the private hire car services, which are known as VTCs (Voiture de Tourisme avec Chauffeur).

A Paris Criminal Court fined Uber €100,000 for "deceptive business practices" because the firm was selling its paid transportation service UberPOP as a carpooling service.

Uber launched UberPop in Paris in February this year, and billed it as a ridesharing service that allows almost any individual to become a part time taxi driver and pick up others in their own cars.

The  Paris Criminal Court also orderd Uber to put a notice on its website warning potential drivers, who provide their own vehicles for the service, they run the risk of a “criminal conviction” for taking part in the service.

In explaining their judgment, the justices noted UberPOP charges by either by distance or time and has a minimum charge which “absolutely does not amount to a sharing of costs, but more so payment for a ride.”

Thus the judges ruled the UberPOP service is “ illegal in the eyes of the French legislation regarding road transportation for private individuals.”

Uber’s attempts to say otherwise demonstrate a “manifest intention to get around French legislation.”

After the decision Uber said in a statement it would continue to operate UberPop while it appeals parts of the decision.

"This decision does not call into question the service," Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal told Reuters. "They just have to set the conditions in which we can do it."

Thus the judges ruled the UberPOP service is “ illegal in the eyes of the French legislation regarding road transportation for private individuals.”

Uber’s attempts to say otherwise demonstrate a “manifest intention to get around French legislation.”

Cabbies likely cheered the ruling as they have been fighting for months against services like Uber.

France suffered several episodes of traffic chaos when cabbies who’d spent hundreds of thousands of euros to meet government requirements unleashed wild cat strikes to show their outrage over the relatively minor restrictions applied to private hire operators.

One of the outcomes of a government deal to end the strikes is flat rate-pricing for the hundreds of thousands of trips taxis make to Paris’s two primary airports each year.

According to RTL radio, a trip from the northern half of Paris to Orly would cost €35, while it would be €50 to Charles de Gaulle.

For trips that leave from the southern half the capital it would be €55 to Charles de Gaulle and €30 to Orly.   

The idea is to both protect riders from shady drivers but also allow cabbies to compete with the fixed-rate services offered by private hire services and airport shuttles.

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