Conservatives in Action: or how I learned to love Uber


#21

The reason is to keep companies from just summarily eliminating people from consideration for a minor criminal conviction 20-30 years ago.


#22

But how does that work if the city does the background check? Do they not report those minor criminal convictions? If they report them, what’s to stop the company from eliminating the applicant?

I don’t see how changing the person doing the background check eliminates this issue.

Also, I read somewhere that one of the big issues Uber and Lyft objected to was having to disclose their pricing policies (as in, having to reveal how they calculate prices). Isn’t their pricing somewhat of a mystery to the average person? if they consider that part of their secret sauce, I can see why they wouldn’t want to document it (of course, as a consumer, them having an opaque pricing structure would bug me if I used Uber/Lyft).


#23

Many companies and cities will disqualify for any criminal conviction no matter what- which makes it hard for ex-cons with something on their record 30 yrs ago to find work.


#24

Right, I get that, and it’s definitely not cool.

But I must be not clear on how the process changes if the government is doing the check. I guess I figured whoever wanted the check would get a listing - like a transcript - of the applicant’s background, which would list infractions. The only thing I can think of is if the result of the check is more of a up/down vote (they’re good/they’re no good). If all the querying company sees is a binary determination, then I suppose I do understand why the governmental agencies want to provide the service instead of leaving it to every employer.


#25

Fair enough. As I said, I don’t like cabs per se, and I’ve never used Uber. I’m just saying I’m not likely to, either, probably due to inertia, though given the fact that around here the cab companies seem to be evaporating, perhaps if I need a lift I’ll have to give Uber a try.


#26

Austin and the ride sharing companies have been trying to work this out for a while, with multiple possible resolutions along the way, but both companies have pretty much said ‘it’s our way or the highway’, and even though we are liberal here in austin, we said ‘see ya’. Being given ultimatums by corporations doesn’t sit well with lots of people, even liberal texans.


#27

Understandable.

From what I’ve read, Uber and Lyft have really high rates of new drivers added and they need a relatively low barrier to entry that don’t slow the process down by a month or more to sustain that. They see the Austin fingerprint requirement as a fatal threat to their ability to add new drivers at the rate that they need. More than likely, they see Austin as a risk of contagion—if they continue to do business in a city with these type of regulations, they’re worried that other cities will adopt similar measures.

That’s why jp’s comment misses the point, I think. It isn’t about the cost of fingerprinting, even multiplied across the nation/world. That’s a drop in the bucket to them. It’s the risk to their fundamental business model.


#28

If a company needs to grow so fast that it “can’t” comply with regulations, that’s usually a very bad sign indeed. And it doesn’t exactly dispel the notion that Uber’s key innovation is regulatory and tax arbitrage.


#29

It’s a new regulation passed in 2015, directly in response to those companies. I don’t think it is either a good or bad sign, as a blanket rule, that a company choses not to operate under certain new regulations. You have to look at the particular regulations and the particular company. No company is immune to having their business model disrupted by new regulations.

Regulatory and tax maneuvers are, without a doubt, a key part of their business models. That too is true for any major corporation though it is more important for companies that are creating new business and revenue models.


#30

They had a terrible campaign. I’d like to know the logic and research behind sending 3 pieces of junk mail everyday, then calling numbers, then having your employees text people. At least on my feed, it seemed to turn people off of them.


#31

It’s a new regulation passed in 2015, directly in response to those companies.

Exactly, in many of these cases, the regulations are sponsored by existing corporate entities who control market segments, who push their political lackeys to create these regulations as a defensive measure against the new companies who are threatening to take some of their market share.

Often, they are managing to fool people into thinking that it’s a case of the new companies going up against “the people”, but in reality it’s the new companies going up against the old companies… it’s just that the old, established corporations already have the weight to control the government in a crony capitalist environment.


#32

When it comes to Uber vs. taxi companies, I have no sympathy for taxi companies what-so-ever. They had decades to make their customer experience even palatable, but instead chose to ride the regulatory wave and encourage the creation of systems that make barrier to entry nearly impossible for competitors.

Anyone who rides taxis regularly and then uses Uber knows immediately why Uber is successful. Riding taxis is terrible, almost all the time. Riding Uber is awesome, almost all the time. The car is fresh and clean and the driver cares so much about your experience that he/she will often run an aux line to the back seat so you can play your own music. Then you get to your destination and hop out. No haggling over using a credit card, tips, etc.

The only downside of Uber is that the drivers are often so new that they don’t know where anything is. Most of the time that’s fine, because they all use GPS, but in cases where you want to use a specific entrance to a hotel (like many in Las Vegas), it can be challenging.

All of this would have been easy for every taxi company to implement years ago. Uber would not have needed to exist if the taxi companies had an app you could use to hail and pay for cabs. The fact that most still do not is insane. If I were an elected official in a city where the taxi companies were complaining about Uber, I’d tell them to show me their app and then we’ll talk.


#33

More likely you would ask for a campaign check (or cash, if it’s a “private” donation) and protect the existing business from competion by the newcomers, because that’s what they almost always do.


#34

Yeah, this.

I’m a little conflicted in that I tend to think that regulations often exist for reasons, and things like background checks and fingerprinting for drivers seems on the face of it to be a reasonable public good that I have no issue with regulating it (aka paying a little more for the service to have the gov’t perform some risk mitigation).

But man, the experience end-to-end for me has been 1000% better on Uber than via cab. And often half or less the price. It’s truly astonishing. And leveraging slack capacity (aka peoples’ cars that are sitting parked) is an overall efficiency gain for society versus creating new specific capacity (building dedicated taxicabs), which is cool.

But then again, companies bullying local gov’t by saying they couldn’t possibly do business somewhere with [regulation] is almost always total bullshit, and feeds the race to the bottom that has accelerated and abetted the continued looting of the country for the benefit of the rentier class, which is fucked.


#35

Not only that, but I don’t get taxi companies complaining about competition such as Uber instead of complaining about the outrageous ‘medallion’ costs.


#36

Why would any established medallion holder complain about medallion costs? The medallions are their main competition control mechanism. Moreover (at least prior to Uber) they only gain in value over time and were therefore an appreciating asset, not a cost. I’ve heard taxi drivers trying to get in on their own medallion complaining about the cost, but that’s because they’re on the other end of the competition control.


#37

As I see it, any requirements that taxi companies have should be applied to everyone equally, including Uber. Background checks don’t seem particular horrible.


#38

But they already do their own background checks.

Why not just leave it to consumers? If you don’t trust their process , then you don’t need to use their services. You can use regular taxis, or use other forms of transportation.

Wouldn’t it be better for adults to just be able to make their own choice about the services they want to buy?

Also, bear in mind that the fingerprint background checks for taxis is a new thing. It was put in place about a year ago. It wasn’t necessary before that, but was then put in place as part of a campaign to implement regulations which are more cumbersome to a company with a business model like Uber.


#39

Well, New York and Houston require it, and before this rule was enacted, finger printing was required by the taxi companies. This was the first time it was required for drive sharing, but it has been the rule for taxi companies for a while. Otherwise, you are asking companies to regulate themselves, which sounds foolish to say the very very least.

Anyway, Get Me is available in Austin, so it’s not like consumers don’t have an option.


#40

Well, New York and Houston require it, and before this rule was enacted, finger printing was required by the taxi companies.

But again, the law, even applying to taxis, only went into effect a year ago. Up until then, they didn’t require fingerprinting for anyone.

So it’s not like this is some long-standing policy. It was originally put in place as part of a process to try and harm ride sharing companies.