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France Puts A Spoke In The Wheel Of Uber And Le Cab

Dec 29 2013, 12:06pm CST | by

 
 
 

Yes, I know I’m an Englishman and thus not unbiased on the subject of what the French get up to but this is just typical. The French have just rushed into law something that makes life worse for consumers, hinders competition from the upstarts and protects the incumbents in an industry. As I say, this is not all that surprising given the French approach to regulating the economy.

What they’ve actually done is insisted that limo and alternative cab apps and services, like Uber and Le Cab, must not pick up a customer any earlier than 15 minutes after the customer has contacted them. This is clearly and obviously something intended to help the incumbent cab companies.

Depending upon how good your French is you might want to read this in the original:

«Ce délai permet de mieux distinguer l’activité de ces véhicules de celle des taxis, seuls habilités à circuler en quête de clients sur la voie publique», fait valoir le décret signé par les ministres Sylvia Pinel (Artisanat, Commerce, Tourisme) et Manuel Valls (Intérieur), malgré des critiques de l’Autorité de la concurrence la semaine dernière.

Or, if your French is only as good as mine, Google Translate helps out:

“This delay helps to distinguish the activity of these vehicles that taxis only entitled to travel in search of customers on the street,” argues the decree signed by the Ministers Sylvia Pinel (Craft, Trade, Tourism) and Manuel Valls (Indoor), despite criticism from the competition Authority last week.

Or, we can put this another way. Taxis have the right to cruise the streets looking for customers. So therefore people have to stand out in the rain and try to hail one (actually, one good definition of futility is trying to hail a Paris cab in the rain). Technology changes so that Uber and so on, some of the services of which (although not all) are really just electronic methods of hailing a ride, can make the consumer experience a great deal more pleasant. This is an advance in human civilisation.

So, what does the French government do? Ban the use of this new technology in its appropriate form so as to maintain the protections for the incumbent operators.

We have, of course, seen similar attempts at obstruction in the US from the various taxi and limo commissions and companies as the similar technology flows across the country. But in those cases it was indeed those local commissions and most of them backed down when it became obvious that all they were trying to do was protect the incumbents at the expense of the consumer. Here, it being France, this is the central government doing it and far from their being embarrassed at such protection that’s the very justification they are giving for the ruling.

There is actually a reason the French economy is stuck in a rut you know.

Source: Forbes

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