Uber’s aggressive expansion and some questionable elements of its corporate culture have come back to bite it in the U.K., where London’s transport agency told the company today it will not renew its operating license – which expires September 30.
However, Uber’s app-based car hire service can continue to operate in the British capital during the appeals process, which the company said it will vigorously pursue. That process could take weeks or months. So you can still get your Uber over there for the time being. But maybe not for long. BBC reports that Uber has 21 days to appeal against the agency’s decision. Some 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers use the Uber app in London.
Transport for London, which regulates car hire and taxi services in the city, said that Uber London “is not fit” to hold an operating license. It said Uber’s “approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.”
In a memo to employees obtained by AP, Uber’s new CEO said the decision was based on past behavior, “The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation…It really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours.”
The agency cited Uber’s alleged failure to report crimes committed by its drivers, and questioned the adequacy of its driver background checks. The agency also cited Uber’s use of “software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.”
I’m a big user of Uber and Lyft, but when in London, I tend to use cabs more often than in other cities, mostly because of their ease and ubiquity, so this won’t affect my travel habits much. I’m also a fan of the local Addison Lee app-based car service, beloved my many locals.
However, for many Uber devotees, this could be a big hit.
The company denied all of Transport for London’s allegations, claiming that it uses the same background check standards as the city’s traditional black cab operators and that it has always reported serious incidents involving its drivers. Uber also says hat its technology enhances passenger safety by tracking and recording every trip, and that it has never used the software cited by the agency.
Uber has a history of winning in cases like this… what do you think will happen? Please leave your comments below.