Uh-Oh, Scary News for Uber Riders, But it Comes from the Company’s Competition

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*As a regular Uber rider, the revelation that serious criminal convictions on some of its drivers have been revealed scares the crap out of me. And it should scare you too. But more than being fearful, I hope it will prompt us all to take action and contact Uber to insist they do better screenings on their drivers.

And though this doesn’t mean to diminish that demand, as is the case with all things, we must consider the source, along with a potentially hidden agenda.

It is no surprise that app-based, low-cost taxi services like Uber and Lyft have caused contention with traditional taxi services. There is no way that yellow cab and independent taxi services can compete with the low prices these new rider services offer. And from where many of us sit, they are not even trying.

Case in point: Just the other day this writer was forced to take a traditional taxi. Not only did the fare box show $2.85 as soon as I jumped into the car – rising to $3.10 only seconds later– but by the time I reached my close-by destination, a ride that Uber would have charged me $4.00 for, was slightly over $10.00.

Not to mention the $1.00 tip (along with some sage advice to pass on) I gave the driver.

Like I said, they are not even trying to compete.

But now with the war being waged on these app-based companies aiming to broaden their services to those arriving at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX); traditional taxi companies have found a new way to fight: by digging up dirt on the competition.

The criminal convictions mentioned above were brought to the attention of officials by a representative from the taxi industry.

According to the L. A. Times, a city official was given a binder that contained citations and records on eight Uber drivers. The records, which were obtained and confirmed by the L. A. Times, showed minor traffic violations of the drivers at LAX over the past 18 months.  Four drivers mentioned in the files had incidents labeled minor or misdemeanor, that happened more than seven years ago, and would not preclude them from applying for a city permit.

But then this popped up…

Another Uber driver who was ticketed at LAX was convicted on 14 counts of felony identity theft in 2012. Under the terms of his five-year probation, he cannot have access to any personal identifying information, including credit cards and debit cards, according to court records. All Uber passengers are required to pay with a credit or debit card, but drivers don’t handle payments; the app does.

And still another driver was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1998 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Parole records show that he was released last year. Scary, though that conviction doesn’t necessarily bar him from driving for Uber, though it may make it difficult, if not impossible, to get a taxi permit.

The taxi industry continues its fight to keep Uber and similar ride-hailing services from operating at LAX, saying that they create unfair competition because their drivers are held to a lower standard than licensed taxi drivers.

These are horrible facts. But unfortunately, will not result in an all-out-win for the traditional taxi industry. People are struggling financially and will probably continue to take their chances with the app-based service.

Especially since, in this case, the good most likely outweighs the bad.

Read the full story here.

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