While about 3,000 angry taxi drivers protested against the "wild competition" of Uber, specifically the low-cost UberPop service available via mobile app, many of blockades and protests staged last Thursday in Paris turned into violent riots. Protesters smashed windows, slashed tires, flipped and burned cars, and attacked drivers.
Courtney Love was in one such vehicle, claiming she would be safer in Baghdad than Paris, France. She later added that they "paid some guys on motorcycles to sneak us out" after "being held hostage for an hour."
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Paris police to issue a decree banning UberPop and to seize any cars defying the order, reported Reuters. He claimed that Uber was "inciting public disobedience, which is 'a criminal offense'."
In return, Uber spokesman Thomas Meister said it was up to the courts to decide whether something is legal or not. "There's 50,000 taxis in France, only roughly 1,000 are demonstrating today and the violence is just unacceptable," he told CNN. "We're talking about a small minority, totally reluctant to (accept) any sort of change."
Uber seems to constantly be the root cause of someone's ire, but who do you think pays for car damages caused by the riots? Insurance? Uber? Nope; according to Pando's Dan Raile, "Passengers might be held responsible for damage done to cars by third parties." That may or may not be true in France, but if such protests occur in the U.S., you'd better bail out, cut and run, because Uber's legal terms and conditions mention "repair or cleaning fees" if cleaning or repair exceeds "normal 'wear and tear'."
You shall be responsible for the cost of repair for damage to, or necessary cleaning of, Third Party Provider vehicles and property resulting from use of the Services under your Account in excess of normal "wear and tear" damages and necessary cleaning ("Repair or Cleaning"). In the event that a Third Party Provider reports the need for Repair or Cleaning, and such Repair or Cleaning request is verified by Uber in Uber's reasonable discretion, Uber reserves the right to facilitate payment for the reasonable cost of such Repair or Cleaning on behalf of the Third Party Provider using your payment method designated in your Account. Such amounts will be transferred by Uber to the applicable Third Party Provider and are non-refundable.
Raile shares a Pando reader's experience of Uber enforcing those terms and conditions, but the passenger was not involved in France's anti-Uber protests; instead he was in the U.S. when an Uber driver was "rushing" him out of the Uber X "before a traffic light changed." A cyclist then hit the open door.
The passenger received the following email from Uber Support:
Thanks for getting back to me. Your driver, [redacted], has gotten back to us with an estimate of damage of over $1,600. We're reaching out in hopes that you be would able to incur some of the cost. He is going through insurance, but with the deductible, [redacted] will be responsible for a majority of the charges.
We're asking that we can charge $250 to the card we have on file for you, which will go directly to [redacted].
We understand that accidents happen, but most drivers on the Uber platform, many of whom rely on driving for their livelihood, own their own vehicles and depend on maintaining the quality of the vehicle to deliver the experience that riders expect.
We really appreciate your cooperation, and I look forward to hearing back.
If you snorted and thought no way I'd pay, then you might appreciate the passenger's following reply sent to Uber Support.
Seriously? Uber raised $5.9 Billion dollars in funding, not to mention the revenue they make, and they're going to charge a customer $250 for an incident? I'm honestly shocked that Uber would not cover that, it was my understanding that Uber had insurance on their drivers...
I'd like more information on this before moving forward to accepting that charge. Specifically so I can spread the word about these policies, because it's ridiculous.
So Uber sent photos of the damage to the door, the repair estimate and the following explanation:
Like I mentioned in the previous email, this is being processed through our insurance. There is a standard amount of $250 (only if the damage exceeds that amount) that is the rider's responsibility. You can reference the Damage Policy under Section 4 of the Rider Terms and Conditions here.
The passenger was given 48 hours to dispute the claim or else his card on file would be billed for the damage. It would seem like the passenger's first response was a claim dispute, but Uber went ahead and billed him for both his fare and the $250 damages.
In Dan Kaminsky's words, Uber is "where goodwill goes to die."
It sure seems like that is true.