Boston taxi rival and bar-hopper godsend Uber has been issued a cease and desist letter by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts due to lack of proper standards put in place by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Confused? It’s all redundant legal jargon, it’s hard to understand.
Uber, a company that provides transportation via smartphone and real time tracking, revealed on their blog that they received the letter from the Division of Standards, which stated that the company was not allowed to provide the application to the public until the appropriate standards for GPS usage were put into place.
According to the Division of Standards, confusion began because Uber is the first company to use GPS in “commercial applications for accessing transportation services.”
Does the company break any rules?
“As we did extensive legal research prior to entering the city of Boston, it is our strong belief that the technology and service we offer does not violate existing law and regulations,” a blog post on Uber’s website said.
Back in May, an Uber driver was pulled over by Cambridge police after a Cambridge Consumer Division member used the service, and led the car to police. The driver was issued a citation for operating an unlicensed livery service and “for using a measuring device not conforming to standards.” Uber issued an appeal, which led to a hearing back in July.
More importantly, should Uber be punished for rules that may not exist? The company is hoping that they can engage in talks with the Division in order to come to an agreement, and keep the service running.
However, Uber’s loyal customer and fan base disagree with the Commonwealth’s decision, saying that it is “stifling innovation,” according to an online petition.
“Consumers want Uber -- the C&D doesn’t cite consumer complaints that they were overcharged or concerned about the GPS technology as the reason to cease operations,” the petition continues.
“Further, if Boston is to continue to be a hot bed of start ups and innovation, we need to provide an environment where new ideas and business models can take root.”
Uber provides a threat to traditional city taxis with services that appeal to the late-night crowd. Uber makes payment easy by allowing you to pay by credit card through the smartphone app, and is safer for many people. The petition is filled with comments that list a seemingly infinite number of complaints for cabs.
“Why doesn’t the Commonwealth spend its time trying to better its current fleet of taxis instead of attacking Uber, who is clearly head and shoulders above the rest?” says one poster.
In this humble writer’s opinion, the company itself should not be stifled by a lack of appropriate standards, but instead should be engaged in passive talks with the Division of Standards.
Being fined for not actually breaking any rules seems a bit extreme, and it brings down the company before a real decision could be reached.
Since Boston seeks to become the next Silicon Valley, it also seems counter productive to not provide the correct outlets for said companies, especially the ones with great ideas, like Uber.
Whatever the outcome, Uber will not be torn down. The company exists in several other cities including New York, Chicago, and Paris. Boston is not its only outlet.
It just happens to be one with a problem.