It was just about a month ago when we learned that Uber’s license had been revoked in London. Uber has been going through a rough patch of controversy, much of it self-inflicted. Their CEO resigned under pressure recently and Uber has been trying to make things better on all fronts, including offering tipping in their app to help appease their drivers.
Uber has been blamed for pretty much everything, and a lot of it’s legitimate. Given, the guy who sued Uber because he cheated on his wife doesn’t rise to that level, but there are plenty other stories of other bad deeds. One of the most prevalent issues is drivers monkeying around with the system to get you to cancel your ride. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest problems Uber faces in alienating their customers.
When we first learned of the decision in London to revoke Uber’s license to operate, it seemed like the appeals process would be a relatively quick one. Now that Uber has officially filed their appeal, we’re learning it’s going to be much longer:
The company provided no indication of how long the appeal process is expected to take. A first hearing is likely to happen on 11 December and a person with knowledge of the matter said that the whole process could take several months and “perhaps longer”.
I’m actually glad to hear it’s going to be a long process. I’m generally pro-Uber and anti-taxi (cue the flame wars from the Uber and Lyft drivers that show up here from time-to-time). This really should be a long discussion as opposed to a flip decision. I understand my London officials were frustrated with Uber to some degree. But, I was disheartened to hear that the behavior of the CEO affected their decision. Not only is he gone, but decisions like this shouldn’t be made based on the actions of one person. Uber provides a valuable service for plenty of folks like me who want an alternative to taxi cabs. That’s especially true in markets where the taxi cab industry is lightly regulated.
The Final Two Pennies
This WSJ article claims that London accounts for 5% of Uber’s active global user base. That makes the London decision a huge one strategically for the company. Uber is still privately held but I can imagine how big a hit the stock would take in the public markets by losing that big a chunk of their customers. Losing London after effectively having to wave the white flag in China would be another monumental setback for the company.
Uber is a textbook example of a new-age company trying to apply technology to an industry that could desperately use some innovation. I don’t know if the behavioral science and gamification are working in their favor or not. I do know things like free ice cream, free Uber rides and helicopter tours excite me as a customer. Oddly, I’ve never gotten any of those from a taxi. I have had plenty of sullen taxi drivers, beat-up cabs with no air conditioning and other special treatment options.
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