TestimonialsBetween 2014 and 2016, the American company VTC plays with the law in France to establish its dominance in the sector. In spite of themselves, the drivers bear the weight of permanent insecurity.
“I started driving in my own car, without any state or passenger insurance. “ In 2014, Nadir – the name was changed, as with all the pilots who agreed to testify in this article – launch fleur au fusil in UberPop. Uber has just created this service presented as urban carpooling in France. The novice pilot, in his forties, already has a salaried job in aircraft maintenance. The Lyonnais is seduced by the idea of amortizing his trips to and from the airport, although he suspects that “it’s not all in the nails”. “I knew that in carpooling it is the driver who determines the destination, not the passenger …admits. But that didn’t make me feel like an outlaw. “
For the first few months, demand and enthusiasm from UberPop customers silenced motorists’ fears. “It was going very well, insists Thierry, who starts in Lille after a spell of unemployment. There were 10-15 vehicles ending up in the parking lots, not half an hour went by without it ringing. Customers were serious, respectful. “ However, the paint of “carpooling” comes off quickly. In Lyon, at the exit of the Eurexpo exhibition center, “Many customers called taxis, others Ubersays Nadir. There were a lot of people and the taxis had a hard time finding their customers. Aided by geolocation, we could chain three times more races than them “.
In November 2014, in Lyon, an evening “degenerates”. The “UberPop” flock to the exit of an electronic festival. Taxis react violently. “Flat tires, broken mirrors, intimidation …”says Nadir. In other cities, accidents are also on the rise, forcing drivers to parade to ensure their safety. Nadir and his counterparts “report the places where taxis gather on WhatsApp”. At the same time, Thierry, “one day blocked by a taxi” blocking his way, he gets into the habit of asking customers to stand in front. Drivers undock their smartphones from the dashboard to go unnoticed. “He was tense in party places, completes Abdel, who has been driving for UberPop since the summer of 2014. There are places I have never gone to. “
“Uber Files”, an international investigation
“Uber Files” is an investigation based on thousands of internal Uber documents sent from an anonymous source to the British newspaper The Guardianand forwarded to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and 42 media partners, including The world.
Emails, presentations, minutes of meetings… These 124,000 documents, dated from 2013 to 2017, offer a rare dive into the mysteries of a start-up that was then trying to establish itself in cities around the world despite an unfavorable regulatory environment. They detail how Uber has used all the lobbying tricks in France as elsewhere to try to change the law for its own benefit.
The “Uber Files” also reveal how the Californian group, determined to impose itself on a fait accompli and, if necessary, by operating illegally, has put in place practices that voluntarily play with the limits of the law, or that may constitute a judicial obstacle to the investigations of which was the subject.
Find all our articles from the “Uber Files” survey.
“We had to manage”
In early 2015, Thierry complained to Uber about the growing difficulties, from taxis, but also from “UberPop drivers who do a bit of everything, show up with a different car to the one they claim and pass the bills”. The complaints remained a dead letter, he assures: “The people at Uber explained to us that it was complicated at the moment and that we basically had to make do. “ The driver ends up throwing in the towel after nine months behind the wheel. “Complaining was like pissing on a violin, Nadir abounds. We came across people with ready-made answers: “We guarantee that you have the right to lead”, “A company like ours would not be outlawed” … “
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