French police have raided the Paris offices of the taxi app firm Uber as part of ongoing investigations into its UberPOP peer-to-peer ride-sharing service.
The investigation, at the behest of Paris’ prosecutors office, comes after France’s interior ministry vowed to ban the app from 1 January 2015.
The UberPOP service, unlike other models of service on the app, connects non-professional drivers with users at a lower price. In France, the base rate (minimum fare) is set at just 1€ (72p).
The service uses non-professional drivers who may not be licensed or insured, raising safety concerns. Some have poor local knowledge so potentially offer a poor customer experience.
Uber France boss Thibaud Simphal called the raid a “disproportionate action carried out on a very fragile legal basis” in comments to L’Orbs magazine.
Uber says the firm is creating jobs (founder Travis Kalanick has pledged to create 50,000 in Europe, and 1 million jobs for women by 2020) and that competition is good for the industry.
Uber defines UberPOP as a ride-sharing service – similar to rival app Lyft – but the fact that money changes hands and the user sets the destination rather undermines that definition.
In October 2014 the firm was fined €100,000 (£72,000) by a Paris court for “deceptive practices” in relation to its advertising and promotion.
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SOURCE: The Guardian, Hannah Jane Parkinson