When your company’s goal is to disrupt the entire livery industry, current taxi and other car-for-hire operators and livery regulators are not going to like you very much. The idea of a car-sharing service that connects non-professional drivers with strangers in need of rides horrifies regulators and existing professional drivers, and now UberPop (similar to UberX elsewhere) has been banned in Germany under penalty of a €250,000 ($328,225) fine.
Why does the government want to impose the ultimate surge pricing fee? Last week, a court in Frankfurt ruled that the UberPop service is illegal. Previously, a court in the city of Hamburg had ruled that while the service was “likely illegal,” but allowed it to keep running anyway, because what the heck.
It’s actually worse than that: while Uber drivers themselves wouldn’t be charged with any crime, the head of Uber Germany could also face a 6-month prison sentence if his company dares to give anyone a lift.
The company’s Uberblack service, which allows anyone to summon a limousine with a few taps of a smartphone (and a credit card, of course) is still allowed to operate in Germany. However, the company knew that the more economical UberPop service would be popular in Germany, a nation that stereotypes and statistics tell us is filled with sensible and frugal people. It’s not just popular with competing taxi services, or with the government entities that regulate those services.
The service is also banned entirely in Belgium. This structure is similar to that of Uber in New York City, where the service is allowed to do business, but only with already-licensed livery drivers.