[Video] UberPop driver taken hostage in Marseille within 24 hours of launch

[Video] UberPop driver taken hostage in Marseille within 24 hours of launch

Uber rolled out in even more cities in France this week – among those cities, Marseille, where gang violence is common due to drug trafficking. Within 24 hours of Uber’s launch, a video has surfaced on Facebook showing an UberPop driver being stopped by a group of men – we learn later in the video that the passenger in the car was a taxi-driver, the pickup a setup, and the plan was to make an example of him.
The first few minutes go as you’d expect – the driver tries to continue driving but the men ultimately position themselves around the car, and begin speaking with him. As the video continues, more drivers – male & female – turn up, some of whom begin opening doors to climb in and taking the air out of the tires. Their plans switch quickly as they board the vehicle and drive ahead a few hundred meters, where Taxi’s have blocked all roadways and what appears to be just under 100 drivers are waiting.
The video is filmed by taxi-drivers, “So that you can’t claim that we did anything wrong,” says the video’s recorder repeatedly – and yet, the video shows a man taken hostage against his will, shows his car being searched through by others, and even shows him getting egged by one taxi-driver.
The complaints of the drivers range from “we’ve paid 100K€ to be taxi drivers” to more threatening “we’ve got your photo. If we ever see you driving again…” Interestingly enough, in the last minute of the video, you see the driver explaining how the system works: “no, it’s easy: you download the application and then you’re set.” The video ends with the arrival of a police officer, although it’s unclear whether he’s there to fine the driver or to help him.

Growing pains?

The move seems to be on par with Uber’s previous rollouts; however, in cities where mafias and gangs have much more power and support from authority, fear may play a large factor. What if being an Uber driver means risking your life?

10 Responses

  1. Alexis

    No one will risk his or her life but there will definitely be a fear factor that will be used, manipulated and enhanced by the taxi drivers.
    Other cities have faced the same problems but only Marseille will have so many journalists and social media coverage.
    I hope that launching Marseille will help UberPop clarify what they does and finally set up a REAL limit for their drivers’ income!

  2. Start

    WTF. These taxi drivers are a disgrace and need to be sued and fined exemplarily. They take a guy hostage, tell him “we have your picture and your licence plate” for starters and then the guy is made to drive somewhere under duress. Thugs, the lot of them.

  3. Anonymous

    These taxi drivers are completely right though. UberPop is completely illegal as it currently works in France. No one can just decide to work without declaring anything. There are laws in place that all workers have to respect, declare all their earnings so they pay the right taxes. Also government must ensure that people working for Uber aren’t already receiving Welfare money or additional financial aids for unemployed people.
    Becoming an independent Taxi in France means starting your “career” with 100K€ in debts. Something that none of the Uber drivers have to pay. It’s literally unfair competition. Easy to have <1€/km fare when neither of Uber or the driver is paying the right taxes.
    The whole UberPop system is also a threat for insurances companies. When My insurance is covering me, they do so knowing I'd use my car maybe couple hours a day to go to work or something. Not to drive around the whole day carrying strangers. What if I have an accident, who's paying? My insurance? Insurance fees aren't the same for a Taxi drivers and the average Joe.
    While their action can be seen as extreme, it actually worked well because we're both reading this now. Sometime extreme measures are necessary to call out the society on these subjects.
    I'm all for Uber, but they need to play fair, pay the right amount of taxes, all drivers should be considered "employees" and thus declare and pay the right taxes as well. The employment market isn't free-for-all. Technology is just evolving way faster that laws. It took a little while to regulate the business made online, it will take some time to regulate something like Uber.

    • Liam Boogar

      Great comment, Anonymous. I really wish you’d share who you are, though. Anonymous comments are too easy.

    • Anonymous

      Apologies if I value anonymity online 🙂 Who I am is not really relevant. I’m just a random French person from Paris, but I live in the UK now (and been there for 6 years). I also travel often to Los Angeles where Uber is all the rage there.
      There are lot of problems with Taxis in France don’t get me wrong, they’re not the good guys and Uber aren’t the bad guys. Taxis in France are suffering from corporatism, dictating their rules, refusing any modernization to their business because up to recently the market was completely on lock down. You know like phone companies back then where all you had was the official national carrier. Why improve since I’m guaranteed to get customers right? Service quality of Taxis in France has been going downhill in the past 15 years.
      On the other hand, Uber is enslaving desperate people who are seeking to make extra money while promising customers lower fares. They don’t tell any of their drivers that they won’t have any pension nor social protection because… they’re not considered as employees. The “Sole proprietorship” status in France is currently being misused by multinational companies (like Uber) in order not to pay taxes.
      What if Uber was actually “hiring” all these drivers? They would have to pay millions to the state in taxes. Taxes that fund our healthcare system, our schools, our unemployment funds and so on. Also because all these drivers aren’t employees, they have 0 rights. Uber don’t need you anymore? That’s it, no more income. They don’t even have to provide any justification to you, you’re not an employee remember, no rights. You cannot go on strike, you cannot fight against any potential abuse from Uber, you’re on your own.
      Reducing fare yes, having a better service yes, but with it needs to be fair for both the state and workers. I’m pretty certain however that with all the taxes added up, Uber wouldn’t be that attractive anymore and wouldn’t be able to succeed with UberPop.
      Finally, customers need to realize as well that what they don’t pay in their fare will be paid through taxes at some point or the quality of our social system will go down. Everyone just think about their own wallet and want to pay the least possible, but they sure are happy to send their kids to free school, getting decent healthcare and so on. That has a cost, and we finance that by playing by the rules.

    • Liam Boogar

      Again: great points.
      However, who you are is the context behind your opinions. Anonymity is just a mask people hide behind when they are afraid of the repercussions of their actions.
      I’m not calling you to reveal yourself – I’m saying that I won’t react to the core points of someone I can’t put a face to.

    • Anon

      Just because the new restaurant across town doesn’t pay the mafia protection money, doesn’t mean you should go and reck their things. The taxi’s have long been regulated with little benefit to customers. Spending 100K€ to be a taxi driver is insane and needs to change. Sure those who have spent that much will be upset, but that’s not a good enough reason to for the system to not change.

  4. Elgatin

    Marseille deadlyest city in France.
    If I have the choice choosing a Uber or a taxi, i’ll never call for a Taxi, those people are crazy.

  5. Francois Coquemont (@KroazDu)

    Regardless of how they feel about Uber, these taxi drivers behavior is a disgrace (besides being illegal). Mob mentality has never achieved anything.
    If taxi drivers wanted to compete with Uber, they should start by having a unique reservation system, on an app. Their business model is clearly not adapted to the 21st century.

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