France, is known worldwide as the number one country for tourists, due its old architecture, museums, its gastronomy, oh LaLa! The French food! As well is famous for it’s the most emblematic piece, the Eiffel tower. While is it the most emblematic country for tourists and romantics couples, the services that are used to mobilize the tourist across the country are currently facing some issues and complaints with the government, affecting the tourist satisfaction. Although French are known for their hard personality that is something that tourists can accept, because they understand that they are visiting a country with a different culture, and they have to deal with it. However, there is something in where many tourists expressed different opinions, about the taxi services. This topic is a bit difficult to explain, due the different points of view and opinions both positives and negatives for the customers.
Nowadays, the current situation of Parisian taxis drivers is a bit complex. But let´s explain it in parts, beginning with the tourists. France is a country that has not been able to take advantage of its potential as a tourist country, due the personality of its citizens, which in many cases they can be something cold and direct, when are dealing with tourists from warmer countries and open minds. Even so, the French seem to be bothered by the fact that their streets are constantly full of tourists who, besides not knowing how to speak French, are constantly asking thousands of questions and asking for favors, that for in a society that are not get used to this type of interaction, could be annoying There have been some complaints from tourists, regarding the services of tour guides and taxi drivers since, although they also get tired of the same daily routine, it is part of their job to deal with foreign and domestic people and they are expected to do so with a friendly and warm attitude, that, is something that tourists can´t overlook. One interviewed tourists expressed: “one awkward moment happen to me, when I asked to the taxi ( taxi ) driver what the better places to visit are and what he can recommend of the city?, to what he replied that in a map I could find that, and then he closed the visitor window”, another one said that “the tourist guide was tired and when the group asked a question he replied with a badly attitude”.
But the focus point where the greatest number of complaints have been expressed are associated to the taxi services. From people who have ended up being insulted by drivers, to some more who have ended up being deceived with the directions and end up being left far away of the original destination, so that way, the taxi drivers can charge 30 euros, instead of 10 euros, in the worst case the taxi drivers has refused to take a particular passenger because the way of clothes or with the excuse that they have too much luggage. There are a large list of comments from many people, with different experiences, but many of them agreed the fact that taxi drivers were one of the worst experience of their stay in France.
In order to know how bad the treatment of the taxi driver with the clients is, you can take a look of the comments posted in tripadvisor, which is a well-known platform to publish the experience of travelers. Many comments expressed that the experience in Paris was difficult at the time of moving, one particular comment catch the attention, a couple express that they stopped a taxi at the established stops, they indicated the destination to the taxi driver, and began their journey. But in the middle of the trip, the couple noted that they were on a different road to what was marked on the map, so when they asked the direction to the driver and reminded him the destination place the driver started to answer with shouting and insulting. They get upset and only got out of the car, and left without paying for the trip, which had left them in and unknown zone. A similar case happened to another tourist, who had paid for a private taxi service to go from the hotel where he was residing to the airport since he had a flight at 8:00 pm, and lost it because the taxi never appeared and when he called to the taxi driver to claim, he never received any answer.
However, not all the comments published are bad, there are many cases of good services and recommended companies that offer an excellent service, for that reason is better to investigate about which taxi can help you instead of disturb you. Due the problem mentioned about with some taxis drivers across the country, now many tourists prefer to use the smartphones applications to find a taxi, which is safer and easier to use. While these applications are more reliable and simple to use for tourists, in the other side the taxi drivers are protesting against these apps, because they do not like the idea of these apps, due they are getting lower profits but the costs to work per day are still the same. According the estimation, every month around of 150 taxi drivers, resign to their jobs because they can´t afford the maintenance cost to continue working, all this is because the people prefer to use apps like Uber for example, which reduce the companies taxi usage.
Cesar Prieto, a French taxi driver based in Paris says, “Before Uber and the other mobile applications, the best days of work were Friday or Saturday nights because it was always work available”. But in just two years, these trips have been drastically reduced, “now we have to wait at our stops from 40 minutes to an hour and a half to make a service” The protests not only occurred in France, but also in Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, and England. As result gave rise to strikes in the French capital by different groups of taxi drivers, which closed the main traffic lanes, stopping the traffic of the city, forcing some tourists to walk long stretches to reach the airport. These strikes were not a thing of one time, the strike was repeated several times, escalating in bigger events, which resulted in one person being injured and another one arrested for attacking with his car, in an attempt to break down the barrier formed by the anti-riot squad.
The situation during the protests was not only tense, but it was also getting out of control when to the French strike received the addition of taxi drivers from other countries, which was a huge amount that the police could hardly control which caused more chaos in the area. The taxi drivers not only lit bonfires with the tires, they also clashed directly with the police, even destroying a car belonging to one of Uber’s drivers. The police, after most of the chaos had passed, could process 19 people under arrest. One of the thing that started the protests was the so-called Uberpop, which for the taxi drivers was a fraud, because the drivers of this application, did not pay taxes or social contributions, besides they did not have the insurance or professional requirements to be able to work as taxi drivers. Many tourists, including celebrities guesses such as Courtney Love, witnessed the protests and the disaster in Paris, where she wrote on her Twitter account: “They are hitting cars with metal bars, is this France?, I feel safer in Baghdad”, then she added another message to the French President, François Hollande, asking where the police were and if it was legal in the country “to attack the visitors “.
During the protests the vice president of the Spain Taxi Confederation, Julio Sanz García, claimed “the lack of commitment of politicians before a sector that generated thousands of jobs is remarkable and is a clear example of how they develop themselves, allowing fraud, tax evasion and lack of guarantees”. The protests reached the legal point when the company Uber France, was sued, being forced to pay 1.2 million of euros to the organization of Taxis National Union, because the company did not force their drivers to return to a specific stop and allowed to ride customers in their cars in the middle of the road. This was a key reason for the taxi drivers, because when this was done, they denied the tourist arrived to the official stops, which is something illegal in the country, but Uber did not give too much importance and even allowed it. Likewise, another of the legal fights, which was a hard hit for the Uber Company, was having to cancel the Uberpop application in France, due this allowed people to contact non-professional drivers.
The case in France is much more serious and “dramatic” than the situation in other countries such as Spain, explained Sanz and showed the comparison between Paris, with about 19,000 taxi drivers that should compete against 14,200 Uber vehicle drivers or another application, while in Madrid, there are 15,700 taxi drivers registered against only 1,500 Uber drivers or another application. Despite the much money that Uber paid as compensation not all was negative for them, since in these legal struggles, Uber managed to overcome the case of the employment situation, which prevent their drivers from being classified as employees of the company, that way were able to maintain the business model that transformed Uber in the most valuable non-stock company in the world.
This is not the first sued which Uber, that located in San Francisco USA, has been involved. Only in the year 2016, 12 lawsuits have been filed on working conditions in different parts of the world. A British court ruled that Uber should pay his drivers the minimum salary and vacation. Also, Uber presented in 2017, a class action lawsuit by California drivers, after a judge rejected a deal worth 100 million dollars, after considering it inappropriate. Nowadays, the French court was only looking for a total of 5 million euros for obligations that corresponded to those 2 years that affect the registered taxis drivers, if the court cover a longer period, would endanger Uber’s business model in the country. In France, the authorities indicated that Uber should reclassify the drivers as employees, and in this way, it was requested to the company to make the corresponding social security contributions. To back up that request, the Union agency for collecting social security contributions and family allowances, or for its initials in French the URSSAF. Their legal representatives indicated that they had found signs of the existence of a kind of hierarchical relationship between Uber of France and its drivers
For its part, the Uber legal defense express that: “the company has explained countless of times that we are not responsible for the actions of the drivers, since they are independent contractors”. Uber officials in France, after learning the request and data provided by the court, refused to make some comments about the ruling. After an exhaustive analysis The Paris court, in the end, did not rule if the Uber drivers should be treated as employees. Instead, the judges decided to dismiss the case due to the basis of certain fundamentals, and all that concluded with a failing in which the URSSAF authorities were obliged to share with Uber the evidence obtained during the hearings that involve the drivers, because the information was used to demonstrate the situation of them. Considering that the URSSAF authorities didn’t share the information. Uber was not in the obligation to verify if the drivers were using or not the mobile app, which created the doubt to the French authorities, as they were not able to prove that the drivers and Uber presented a hierarchical relationship the case still was dismissed, but one thing that the French authorities and Taxi companies reached, was to regulate the Uber drivers using the established stops and following the rules that the most taxi companies have to obey.