More like "booooooooo"ber.

The car-service app/business/plot known as Uber has been in the news a lot lately, more than its newer rival Lyft, even though that just started. Uber's news coverage mainly revolves around debates over whether its service is good for making rides easier to order and purchase, or whether it's replacing high-quality driving jobs with low-quality ones while simultaneously charging exorbitant rates during rush hour or in bad weather.

Lyft is much like Uber in that it relies on a vast network of freelance drivers who receive ratings from passengers. In fact, it's so much like Uber that I'm not sure how they're different. Maybe that's why Uber has decided that, much like traditional taxi companies, it should kill Lyft. That's what Lyft is accusing Uber of attempting after they cross-referenced the phone numbers of known Uber recruiters (people who try to get traditional livery drivers to become Uber drivers) with lists of cancelled Lyft requests.

They found that Uber employees called for Lyft rides and then cancelled them at the last second over 5,500 times. This is a real form of harassment, since that means drivers have to spend time and gas traveling to a spot where no one is waiting—time that the driver is not making money, which is probably doubled by the time it takes him or her to drive back. In addition, individual Uber phone numbers were used to create hundreds of accounts so they could repeat this process.

On the rare occasions that the Uber employees did get picked up, they generally took rides that were so short as to be unprofitable, and they spent their time trying to convince the drivers to join Uber

Now, there are plenty of reasons to like Uber—some say that Uber may be an unspoken factor in improving the chances that L.A. may change the law to let bars stay open later—but if they're seeking to avoid a reputation of being heartless exploiters who don't care if they're actually hurting the incomes of ordinary drivers in order to provide a return for Palo Alto investors...maybe they should consider another form of competition.

(by Johnny McNulty)

Sources: CNN Money | Ars Technica