How To Be A Douche: Arrest Uber Drivers

As much as I’m a fan of Uber, there’s no denying that at times the methods they use to enter new markets are questionable at best. To some degree I don’t really think they can be blamed. The taxi mafias are corrupt as could be, and clearly there are some shady dealings between them and the relevant regulatory authorities.

So by using questionable methods to enter markets and then being shut down, Uber is at least starting the conversation and forcing themselves to be heard in court.

Regardless of how you feel about Uber, though, I think this guy deserves an award for being the world’s biggest douchewaffle, as he has performed citizen’s arrests on eight UberX drivers in Sydney:

I totally get if you have a problem with the way Uber operates in markets, but to take it out on individual drivers like this? Seriously?

(Tip of the hat to Toqueville)


  1. The guy’s sounds like an idiot, but the issue is more complex than Uber’s “questionable” tactics. I am agnostic on Uber’s business model, but the company is putting its drivers in an extremely precarious position, and the guy’s argument holds up. The service is illegal and provides almost no protection to its passengers or drivers.

    And while I am no supporter of the taxi industry, replacing one cartel with another isn’t my idea of progress.

  2. I use uberPOP in Amsterdam, but it’s the same situation vis-a-vis insurance. The drivers are not insured to take (paying) passengers. I still do it, because I feel the risk is rather low; but there are legitimate concerns. In many circumstances, it’s a decision between uberPOP or public transportation since Uber black and regular taxis for many (long, outside of the city area) trips are wildly expensive (in Amsterdam).

  3. ppl need to understand uber is not uberx and uberpop most of uber is uber black which are licensed limo services.

  4. I agree with the commenter above. Taxis suck, but I don’t see how it is OK to replace a *legal* corrupt monopoly with an *illegal* corrupt monopoly.

    It’s amazing how a company that blatantly breaks the law all over the country is able to stay in business. Let’s say I started a business that stole cable TV and sold it to everyone in the city. Of course, I would be shut down immediately. But Uber’s violations are ignored.

    There are regulations for a reason; just because Uber is a hot (overvalued) tech company, people let it flaunt the laws. In the end, that won’t be good for anyone.

  5. I am completely against all cabs and their “regulatory” agencies. Personally, I feel more safe in Uber than I do a taxi. I trust user’s ratings of the driver and Uber’s vetting process much more than a seal of approval from a shady regulatory agency. This guy making citizen’s arrest is a complete tool with nothing better to do.

  6. I don’t know about Australia, but in Canada, you can only place someone under citizen’s arrest if you’ve witnessed them commit an indictable offence (a severe offence). To do so otherwise would open oneself up to the tort of unlawful confinement.

  7. I personally have no beef with the way that this blog and others like it make money (delivering customers to credit card companies), but it’s a bit disconcerting to see the following published: “The taxi mafias are corrupt as could be, and clearly there are some shady dealings between them and the relevant regulatory authorities.”

    “Clearly” there are shady dealings? What “clear” shady dealings are there, other than the general practice that industry is allowed to attempt to affect government policy regarding their industry? Every industry does that — none more so than the industry that this blog belongs to (the financial industry).

    What CAN be described as genuinely shady (in the sense of occurring out of sight) are the mechanisms by which the credit card companies reward travel bloggers for delivering customers — the per-application payments, short-term incentives, and gag orders under which bloggers are not free to reveal information or required to hide information.

    Again, I personally have no beef with the compensation mechanism for travel blogs — I get free content that interests me and (hopefully) am able to separate the useful information from the biased. But you know, glass houses and all.

  8. @ Tocqueville – “The mind of a slave asks, “is it legal?” The mind of a free man asks, “is it right?””

    It is not right at all if you are driving a car with no insurance for your passengers.

    And I agree with LarryInNYC: the taxi “mafia” is no different from any other industry which requires the government to license you before you drive, sell stocks, sell real estate, get a haircut, drive a truck, fly a plane, or start an airline for that matter. Generalizations about the taxi industry smacks of ignorance; it’s no more corrupt than any other industry for which there are some barriers to entry.

  9. @LarryinNYC and Dave – google “washington post taxi corruption” and you will get a long list of articles that makes the DC taxi system seem pretty much like an orginized crime syndicate. Maybe not as violent but very corrupt – i.e. undercover FBI stings, involved people consistently going to jail, bribery etc… You may not like it but what has happened in Washington over the past 20 years involving the taxi commision goes far beyond incompetence and monoply pricing (prices actually arent that bad).

    Then whether it is Boston, NY, Philly, DC etc., how much do you trust the government. The safety of a taxi ride is only backed up but the government agency regulating and investigating taxi drivers. I just dont have that much faith in these city governments to really know much about a driver who maybe has only been in the country for a few years and doesnt have much of a record in America yet. I feel safer with Uber knowing the driver I am with, even if that driver hasnt been checked as much, versus being with a cabbie who has been investigated but no one knows I am in the car.

  10. @Joe

    In a free society if a person wants to get a ride from someone with insurance, without insurance, with some insurance, whatever the situation they are naturally free to as long as the transaction is voluntary between both parties.

    If a carrier is uninsured and getting in accidents then surely their reputation would be tarnished immediately and they would go out of business while reputable carriers eat their lunch.

    Uber is not an “illegal mafia” in Melbourne. It is certainly illegal by the local statues but as noted above but that doesn’t make it “wrong”. It is not a mafia – Lyft, other rideshare services, buses, taxis, hire cars, whoever wants to play ball can show up and provide car sharing services.

    We are so conditioned to live in a society that is not free, contrary to our natural human state, where we grovel to government for permission in almost all aspects of life.

    The Constitution of the United States at least, guarantees liberty. Not safety. That is very intentional.

  11. @Tokeville (amirite?)

    While your 30 minute pop-philosophy degree is kinda funny, you’re only telling half the story. What about the free rider? This is not just between “both parties” but it affects everyone, because guess what? When cars crash, THEY CRASH INTO OTHER CARS! And we all wind up “paying” for uninsured motorists.

    (Not to mention your “Lochner right to contract between private parties” has, as a matter of case law, been dead for > 70 years).

    All I know is that I took an UberX to ORD last week and the guy had no idea how to drive. Like, none. I mean he didn’t know that he could turn right on red. And he didn’t know how to get to ORD, so on the Kennedy he slams on the brakes at the 90 / 94 split and cuts across four lanes of traffic. Nice guy though.

  12. @Secretary Toaster:

    Where are all the reports worldwide of unlicensed, uninsured Uber drivers causing accidents and costing the general public the carnage you are describing? Please point them out to me.

    The fact is, to the detriment of the taxi cartel, is that Uber is cheaper and safer than the existing taxi infrastructure even though it is not licensed through the bozos at the State or National capitol. The reason is because transparency and reputation matter.

    It’s funny you bring up ORD. I actually had a terrible UberX driver out of there myself. He couldn’t even find me and couldn’t reply in English to my texts on pick-up location. He got 1 star from me. I hope you gave your poor driver 1 star. If he falls below a certain threshold, he cannot participate as an Uber driver. And a customer can decline a ride with him if he is 4 or 5 star.

    Reputation matters.

  13. “What CAN be described as genuinely shady (in the sense of occurring out of sight) are the mechanisms by which the credit card companies reward travel bloggers for delivering customers — the per-application payments, short-term incentives, and gag orders under which bloggers are not free to reveal information or required to hide information.”

    This diatribe is clearly irrelevant to the discussion regarding Uber and the so-called taxi-cab mafia. Why do I or anyone else need a full-disclosure from Lucky on what he earns per click-through or short-term promotions or the like? If you don’t like the content, then don’t read it? Let’s not engage in fallacies of logic, ad hominem in this case, and imply that Lucky or his behavior is not trustworthy (“generally shady”) just because you don’t like his opinion or think it is unsubstantiated.

    Perhaps Lucky or anyone else would like to provide some links to articles discussing the tactics used by taxi industry that might demonstrate their behavior that is contrary to the public interest. On a personal level, I and my friends and associates are extremely appreciative that Uber is around. Taxis here are unreliable when you need them, the drivers aren’t nearly as friendly and courteous as the Uber drivers, and frankly we are paying less for better service. I have missed flights do to very unreliable drivers and dispatchers and have had little recourse in these situations.

    In California anyway, the government has legislated that Uber drivers have much more insurance than the typical driver. I don’t agree with this as I don’t see why they should have to carry any more insurance than anyone else I get a ride with, friend or otherwise. Uber is a wonderful mechanism that connects me with drivers who give me a ride at a low cost. I’m glad they are around.

  14. @Dave: I’ll grant you that the situation in DC as it existed before it was broken up qualifies for the term “mafia”. The difference, of course, is that that was a criminal enterprise for which all of the participants have been sent to jail. The correct solution seems to me to be to put the mafia folks in jail. Replacing them with a system in which the same practices are simply made legal doesn’t seem to me to be the solution.

  15. One principle surrounding the supposedly “corrupt” taxi regulations is the need to limit entry and control traffic. Take NYC as an example – because of the limited quantities, the taxi medallions are bid up to unreasonable prices… for a very good reason – the city streets simple cannot handle more cars running through them. If the regulatory bodies can manage how many taxis there are, it indirectly helps manage the traffic flow and CO emissions. If every other person with a driver’s license can now get paid to shuttle people around in that city, those goals can be destroyed rather quickly.

    I’m no fan of the taxi industry, but for reasons like this I don’t see Uber as being constructive at all.

  16. Uber is here to break the monopoly. Outdated regulations must be changed!! Imagine the time when there’s only ATT. Oh how about now when I can’t buy a Tesla in TX, WTH.

  17. @ Tocqueville – Your argument is the standard, libertarian one with which I agree on some points, mostly social issues (that is, the prohibition marijuana and other drugs, which are a victimless crime; the legalization of all sexual activity; the abolition of marriage, which perpetuates a privileged two-party relationship to the detriment of all others; etc).

    But this is not a social issue. Your government, for example, which you’d prefer to diminish, creates safety standards for aircraft. Would you rather customers rate the safety of a 747 through an app that focuses on the pilot, or have an expert oversee the standards of the aircraft and crew before you board? Would you rather the airline be insured, or would you prefer to pick up a random, unlicensed Cessna at the side of the tarmac?

    Moreover, Uber is not always safer, and not always cheaper than taxis and their brethren. Here in New York, you can use one of dozens of livery cab operators using a similar app system as Uber. Those companies have been around for years, their drivers are licensed and insured, and they provide some measure of recourse should things go belly up. Often for less than a taxi. And if your app freaks out, you can use that really innovative technology called a telephone.

  18. @Peter:

    To be fair, I think it’s pretty clear that lobbying by existing medallion owners to prevent dilution of the value of those medallions is a significant — if not the most significant — factor in preventing the issuance of more yellow cab medallions in NYC.

  19. LarryInNYC – I’m not sure what “Replacing them with a system in which the same practices are simply made legal doesn’t seem to me to be the solution” means.

    uber is a company that has designed and operates a valuable app that connects drivers who provide rides to people and has the mechanism to pass the proceeds to the driver less their cut. They are essentially a middle-man, a very powerful one, sure, but not at all with the same business model as the cab industry.

    On a local level, they lack the hierarchy and admin that leads to poor service, lack of dependability, corruption and other issues that occur with local taxi services and their regulatory agencies. The medallion system for example, though started possibly for good reason, has been so manipulated that the ones who really benefit are the owners of the cab companies. We, the consumers, get poor service at a higher price to their benefit.

    That one DC situation is hardly isolated.

  20. You’d think from some of these comments that taxis have been a cause of endless trauma, terrible service, great danger, constant frustration, and emblematic of everything that is wrong with the world.

    When did taxis become the problem? And is Uber really the solution? Monopolies are bad, and this anti-taxi, pro-Uber nonsense is just going to create another one. Except just a handful of people are going to get really rich from this one – worldwide.

  21. @Secretary Toaster

    Then I guess you should complain and give a negative review to your ORD “horror story”. Too many negatives and the guy won’t be working with Uber any longer and everyone is better off / safer. That said, try to do the same complaining about a cabbie and you get dead silence or laughter on the other end of the phone…and the cabbie will still driving years later. At least with Uber I don’t have to put up w/ the CONSTANT sob story about expenses, bill, whatever to guilt you into a higher tip. It’s annoying and would say I’m at 70% for how often I get some b.s. story.

    At least with Uber I feel safer and my comments can actually be for the better of the service instead of talking to a wall.

    Also, if there is “surge pricing” that must mean that, even with Uber present, there aren’t enough cabbies AND Uber drivers to meet demand, yet still willing people to pay the higher pricing to get where they want to go. I.e. Let economics drive demand/supply not backdoor/under the table deals limiting how many medallions they FEEL should be on the streets.

    I live around ORD, so I know full-well the “quality” of cabbies and Uber drivers

  22. Jon (other Jon) – “trauma, great danger and emblematic of everything that is wrong with the world” – that is a bit of hyperbole.

    as to terrible service and frequent, if not constant frustration, along with high pricing supported by an antiquated system, I and many I know are in full agreement with that!!

    the great thing about Uber and similar apps, is that the barriers to entry are quite limited. if pricing goes up, other app operated can offer competitive pricing to keep the prices down. the drivers are also professional with Uber because their ratings and job security depend on it…taxi drivers don’t have these concerns.

  23. Disruptive technology always faces initial headwinds, and Uber is no different – but rest assured, the traditional Taxi model is already a goner, we just don’t realize it yet.

  24. @dean: “At least with Uber I feel safer and my comments can actually be for the better of the service instead of talking to a wall.”

    You must not be a journalist.

  25. @Ben: “I totally get if you have a problem with the way Uber operates in markets, but to take it out on individual drivers like this?”

    Setting aside Uber’s behavior not only toward competitors but also other parties, Uber can only function because there are people willing to drive for them. Without drivers, there is no Uber to speak of. And all things considered, man in the video was CONSIDERABLY more polite than Uber’s employees have been to drivers of other companies.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

  26. This is a perfect example of how anyone with an internet connection can be a blogger. What are these “methods” Uber uses? Seems like a detail missing from the content of your blogger piece. Also note, the video is about Uber in another country. Here in the US, Uber carries good insurance coverage for its drivers. Wouldn’t it be easier to just take a cab, rather than mounting a blogger attack on Uber?

  27. What we call one-night stands, Uber calls “rides of glory.” And it isn’t necessarily creepy, until you realize that Uber knows exactly who its riders are and keeps detailed accounts of every ride. GROSS. They stalk women, threaten them and take their drivers CIVIL RIGHTS AWAY through forced arbitration

  28. Hi guys.. one important thing to remember is this was filmed in Sydney, Australia.

    A couple things to keep in mind about us are the terms and conditions of our insurance policies. As a senior insurance broker with over 15yrs of experience i can confirm there is not a single policy in the land that would be null and voided in the circumstance of an event giving rise to a claim that occured whilst the vehicle was engaged in activities for Uber.
    Not only are the passengers at risk of the Greenslip not being honoured, leaving them to sue the driver and Uber, but the driver would not be able to get his car fixed as the motor policy would not respond.

    And before any dickheads get on a band wagon, there are specific policies issued For limousines and taxis which cover them whilst conveying passengers.

  29. Hi. I am the “douche” yeah Thx. It is 100% illegal. I have the power to effect the arrest. 8/8 all good. I don’t want the drivers to suffer – Uber pays their fines & if I don’t succeed many more will suffer & long term Uber just cares about Uber. Love tech & improvements but Uber is NOT above the law – does anyone really think Uber is or should be? Beat conversation on an article yet I’ve read. Most seem genuine. All I want is debate & awareness. Some very good points in comments. Thx

  30. If it’s ok for Uber to have no insurance then its ok for me as a regular car driver, right.

    Where does this stop?

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