Uber fined €800k in France over its UberPOP service

Taxi service giant Uber has been hit with a €800,000 fine in France over its controversial UberPOP service.

Uber fined €800k in France over its UberPOP service
The boss of Uber France Thibaud Simphal was also fined €20,000. Photo: AFP

The judgement was announced on Thursday, with Uber escaping the top fine of €1.5 million. Half of the €800,000 has been suspended.

Uber had faced a string of charges relating to its UberPOP service, which enabled ordinary drivers to become taxi drivers using their own cars.

The charges included running deceptive commercial practices, complicity in operating an illegal transport service and illegally organizing taxi services. They also faced a charge of illegally gathering and storing data on clients.

Thibaud Simphal, the head of Uber France and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, former general manager for Western Europe, had also faced a string of charges relating to UberPOP.

Simphal was hit with a €20,000 fine while Gore-Coty, was fined €30,000, half of which was suspended, the court announced on Thursday.

The UberPOP service was pulled by Uber last year after it provoked the ire of taxi drivers and the government alike. The move followed violent protests by taxi drivers in which Uber cars were attacked (see below).

The UberPOP service, which the company said had 500,000 users before it was taken off the road, had already been banned by the government but it was allowed to continue before a final decision was made by France's top court. 

Uber continues to have the support of users in France but the Socialist government had vowed to crack down on the firm under pressure from taxi unions who accuse of it creating unfair competition.

The company, based in California has appealed to European courts to force the government to allow a service it says can create thousands of jobs.

“We are disappointed by this decision,” a spokesman Uber France said after Thursday's court ruling.

He said the company would appeal the decision “immediately”.

The company said it hopes to capitalize on the more lenient attitude of the European Commission that “has published guidelines that encourage innovation in the industry,”.

It’s not the first time Uber has been in trouble with French courts.

In January this year a court ordered it to pay €1.2 million to a French taxi group.

The payment followed a complaint that Uber drivers were acting as traditional taxis — waiting in the street in the hopes of picking up passengers.

And in December last year Uber was fined €150,000 for “misleading commercial practices” linked to its UberPOP services.

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Uber launches ‘Jump’ electric bikes and scooters in Paris

US ride-hailing group Uber said Wednesday that it would start deploying electric bikes and scooters for rent on Paris streets as soon as this week, joining a crowded market which city officials have vowed to rein in.

Uber launches 'Jump' electric bikes and scooters in Paris
Uber is set to launch its fleet of electric bikes and scooters in Paris as soon as this week. Photo: AFP
Initially 500 of its Jump bikes and 500 scooters will be rolled out, before Uber extends the programme to Paris suburbs and other French cities.
They will be so-called “dockless” rentals that can be picked up and left anywhere, a system that has proved a headache for residents who often find them blocking pavements or strewn across the city's picturesque squares.
An estimated 15,000 scooters operated by several companies have flooded the French capital since their introduction last year, a number projected to surge 
to 40,000 by the end of this year.
This month Paris said it would start imposing fines of 135 euros ($150) for riding scooters on pavements, and 35 euros for improper parking.


Like the other nine scooter operators in the city, Uber will also have to pay an annual licensing fee of 50 to 65 euros per scooter, depending on the size of its fleet.
And Uber said it had already signed the code of good conduct unveiled by Paris officials last week.
Rental prices for both the bikes and scooters will be the same: a one-euro unlocking fee and then 15 cents per minute.
The bikes will have a top speed of 25 km/h (15 mph), while the scooters can reach 20 km/h.
Uber bought Jump, a fellow San Francisco-based start-up, last year. Its bright-red bikes are already present in several US cities as well as in Lisbon and Berlin.
Uber had already announced Tuesday its plans to develop scooter offerings across Europe, beginning with Madrid.