Yesterday saw Uber launch its ride-sharing “UberPop” service in Marseille, Nantes, and Strasbourg, France, leading to a number of local protests from taxi drivers. But things are getting uglier, as one UberPop driver in Marseille discovered.
In this video uploaded to Facebook, it appears that a handful of local taxi drivers booked an UberPop car and hijacked it, letting the air down in its tires and holding the driver under temporary “arrest” while issuing threats. As French tech website Rude Baguette reported, one of the hijackers says at one point: “We’ve paid €100,000 to be taxi drivers,” a reference to the fact that UberPop effectively lets anyone be a taxi driver with their own vehicle, with no real expenditure. More serious threats are issued too, including “If we catch you again we’ll split your head in two.”
An Uber spokesperson tells VentureBeat: “The car had to be towed away by the Marseille Services Municipaux. The driver went to the local police to lodge a complaint.”
Though UberPop is active in a number of other French cities, including Paris, it has been subject to a range of challenges in courts across the country. But the e-taxi company has continued to offer UberPop regardless, as it pursues as many legal recourses as it can.
“No court of justice has judged that the service [UberPop] contravenes French law,” the Uber spokesperson added. “We therefore hope that the rule of law still prevails in France, which means that vigilante-style self justice cannot be tolerated. We will always stand by our partners, and that violence is despicable.”
Uber has raised the ire of taxi drivers in countless cities around the world, and as its global rollout continues, it seems plausible that we’ll see more self-administered justice as local authorities struggle to appease the incumbents and keep up with the new technologies.