Uber? Should Taiwan allow Uber to operate?


#242

Objection, m’lud. Counsel did not answer the questions.

It’s like this. Some people know that a TV picture is just an illusion produced by a bunch of light-and-dark lines appearing very fast on a piece of glass. Others think there are little people trapped inside the TV.

The equivalent in law is those rumbling, red-nosed old lawyers who know exactly how a law came into being, why it was constructed the way it was, and how it hits all the right spots in human psychology to produce the desired result. And then there are others - they tend to end up working for the government - who just accept that things are what they are and it’ll be that way for ever. The law as written is just some sort of magic. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If they were discussing entertainment, they’d look on the invention of colour TV with deep suspicion.

Law is a kind of technology, and if people don’t use it right, or don’t design it properly, it causes huge problems, or it breaks. You can break entire countries with bad laws, and employment law is particularly scary. It’s economic nuclear fission.

Exactly! And wouldn’t it be an utter pain in the ass for all concerned if she were my employee? For one thing, she’d be on $40 an hour like any other skilled employee instead of $400. Everybody’s happy, but some are more happy than others. Don’t see much of an ‘unequal relationship’ there, do you? Care to comment on why?

I now got anther guy, who appears to be honest and competent. And he’s a lawyer!

Well, these revolve around the fact that the government there believes that employees are helpless children who are mercilessly (mercilessly, I tell you) exploited by big bad vampire employers. One must either play the role of a helpless child or a big bad vampire, and miraculously, one can flip from one to the other by becoming an employee, or an employer. The government, of course, is all sweetness and light and only wants what’s best for us.


#243

I also like Uber. The yellow Taxi here try to cheat me so many times. Not need.

From the Station to my home is around 100 TWD. If i ask a yellow Driver in Front of the Station, he charge 300 TWD without Meter. The next one 250 and so on. Realy not need this.


#244

So eventually, by the fourth taxi, you’ll be paying the same amount as you would with an Uber!

You might want to ask him to start the meter next time. The only thing I can think of that would not have them start the meter is you got into the taxi having already agreed to pay the amount? Or they forgot to start the meter?


#245

It’s a pretty common scam for taxi drivers around Taipei Station to try and stiff foreign faces on fares. They ask you where you’re going and offer an inflated fare before you even get in the cab. I just threaten to report them, and refuse to ride with them after they change their tune, which usually brings on some choice Taiwanese expletives.


#246

kinda surprised to hear that. I’ve been taken on a magical mystery tour like, once, in a taxi. A couple of times they’ve genuinely forgotten to switch on the meter and then _under_charged me afterwards. The only real complaint I have about taxis is that their driving skills are uniformly shite.


#247

uber is now officially gone in taiwan as of midnight.


#248

He tell you the Price before you enter the Taxi and he also say not Meter. I try it many times at the Station, no one is cheaper then 250.

@Dr_Milker
How to Report them ?


#249

Are the taxis you’re using self owned or are they part of a taxi company?

I believe it’s almost regular practice amongst the self owned taxis, but unlikely if the taxi is under one of the big taxi companies. I’m not sure where to report the self driven taxis, but the big taxi companies, you can look up their customer service hotline (or something similar) and report their license plate.

You can also use the big taxi company’s app to call a taxi to pick you up, you shouldn’t run into the issue if you do this.


#250

I have never been cheated by taxis in Taipei. My main complaint is sometimes they are very smelly and the taxi drivers are not aware of GPS


#251

Like ranlee said, not sure how to do that if they’re not driving for a taxi company. Most of the taxis that try that scam hang out on the street right outside of Taipei Station’s east exit. All you really need to do is walk away from that area a short distance and flag down a taxi that’s driving on the street. I’ve never been scammed by a taxi that I flagged down.


#252

Overruled. The only real question was superfluous:

But aren’t the government now scrambling to revise that to allow companies to do what Uber was doing?

Answer: no. The amendment that resulted from the online consultation was passed before Yubo decided to pull the plug. It applies to transportation service providers, which Yubo refuses to admit it is – or rather was.

If you have evidence that the government is selectively enforcing the Highway Act (as far as taxi services go), please share.

Law is a kind of technology, and if people don’t use it right, or don’t design it properly, it causes huge problems, or it breaks. You can break entire countries with bad laws, and employment law is particularly scary. It’s economic nuclear fission.

Freedom of contract is a wonderful thing, although I’m aware some jurisdictions don’t recognise it.

There are fairly simple responses to most of their objections, m’lud, but it would be boring to list them out.

It may shock you to learn that (1) the ILO considers English law among the most “freedom of contract”-friendly in the civilized world, and (2) the London tribunal’s decision is on solid ground as far as recent case law goes. Whatever you studied back in your school days may be obsolete now, like so many jobs and gadgets.

under normal lawyer-client circumstances, she’s not your employee! She’s just a mandatary. If you don’t like her, fire her!

Exactly! And wouldn’t it be an utter pain in the ass for all concerned if she were my employee? For one thing, she’d be on $40 an hour like any other skilled employee instead of $400. Everybody’s happy, but some are more happy than others. Don’t see much of an ‘unequal relationship’ there, do you? Care to comment on why?

The reason why you’re not your lawyer’s employer is very simple: you’re a client. When you go to a restaurant, can you tell the difference between a customer and a laoban? When you go to a buxiban, can you tell the difference between a student and a laoban? Perhaps not. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#253

I have some sympathy with the views expressed by our learned friends above. But not much. Personally, I think Uber’s mistake was referring to drivers as contractors. They are not. If Uber provides a data service, the drivers are their customers. If they’re also providing a business model, then the drivers might be franchisees. I’m using these words, incidentally, because it makes governments and their lawyers happy if things are neatly categorized, not because I believe they have any useful real-world meaning.

“none of our reasoning should be taken as doubting that [Uber] could have devised a business model not involving them employing drivers.”

They could undoubtedly have devised a product that kept the lawyers happy, and might even have made drivers happier. Drivers have genuine gripes about their relationship with Uber - for example, one “feature” is that the driver is not told where the passenger is going. This is just stupid. An information system correctly designed for drivers would provide this information. However, if they tried to fix everything the lawyers don’t like, they’d end up with a commercially-useless proposition.

The contradiction [between Uber purporting] to be the drivers’ agent and [asserting] “sole and absolute discretion” to accept or decline bookings.
I have no idea where they got this from. The driver presses the ‘accept’ button. Or not. I’m guessing they took this out of some other context: Uber logically would need to assert discretion over the start of the booking process, for example to exclude people whose payment method is blocked or who are known to be bad customers in some way.

The fact that Uber interviews and recruits drivers.
Or, of course, they could allow any random rapist or psychopath access to their app without any checks at all. In which case some guy in wig would be on their case for not performing adequate checks. Rock and a hard place.

You could easily argue that Uber are simply promoting their services to potential customers (ie., drivers). Or if you refuse to accept that, it’s logically possible to “recruit” independent contractors. IT companies do it all the time.

The fact that Uber requires drivers to accept trips and/or not to cancel trips, and enforces the requirement.
Yeah, they just don’t. They ‘encourage’ drivers to accept 80%+ and give them a bonus if they do. Not a good idea IMO, but I don’t see how that crosses the line to ‘employment’. I don’t get instructions from my boss to tell me to complete 80% of the tasks that need doing.

There are certain requirements about cancellations, but these amount to no more than minimum good manners. Drivers are at liberty to turn someone away if (for example) they’re drunk, but not if they’re black.

Again, rock and a hard place. If they didn’t do this, service quality would nosedive and people (especially lawyers) would be up in arms.

The fact that Uber controls the key information […] and excludes the driver from it.
Uber clearly does withhold important information (as in the case of passenger destination mentioned earlier). But exactly what are the lawyers asserting here? That Uber should provide an unfiltered flood of raw data to every driver?

Providing a UI that works for people whose attention is focused on a safety-critical task (driving) is one of Uber’s key selling points, and the data is theirs to sell. That is, in fact, the entire basis of their registration as a data service. Oh, but they’re lying about being a data service. Circular logic much?

The fact that Uber sets the (default) route and the driver departs from it at his peril.
Rubbish. The route, as far as I can tell, is calculated by Google, and drivers accept it because it’s 99% likely to be good.

Apparently customers can ask for a route change, and drivers can use their own discretion to account for traffic problems. In practice if a customer doesn’t complain about a long-winded route, nobody cares.

The fact that UBV [the Dutch co.] fixes the fare
Uber is providing information about the market - in this case ride scarcity and the typical prices customers expect to pay. The critical point here is that the driver is not forced to make trade at a price he doesn’t like: if he doesn’t want to accept the fare, then he doesn’t.

As usual, the lawyers are floundering outside their narrow expertise. If Uber didn’t do this, it would be chaos. Tricycles in the Philippines make up their fares according to how much they think the customer is good for. The net result is complete market failure.

The fact that Uber subjects drivers to […] a performance management/disciplinary procedure.
Customers rate drivers and Uber blocks service access to poorly-performing drivers … because (a) if they didn’t, the rating system would be 100% pointless and (b) they have the right to sell their data and billing service (that’s what they do, remember?) to whoever they choose.

The fact that Uber determines issues about rebates, sometimes without even involving the driver whose remuneration is liable to be affected.
As do Credit Card companies under similar circumstances. This issue is related to their billing service, which you could argue is only tenuously related to the ride-booking service (and in fact isn’t even available in some places).

The fact that Uber imposes numerous conditions on drivers […] instructs drivers as to how to do their work, and, in numerous ways, controls them in the performance of their duties.
Any contract imposes numerous obligations on both parties. That’s the whole point of a contract. This is an astoundingly stupid remark.

As with fares, Uber do this because it makes good business sense, and because the alternative would be chaos, with each driver making up his own policies (and most likely coming up with bad ones).

The fact that Uber accepts the risk of loss which, if the drivers were genuinely in business on their own account, would fall upon them.
Not sure what they’re referring to here? Uber’s insurance services?

The fact that Uber handles complaints by passengers
Fine, so they offer a BPO service too.

The fact that Uber reserves the power to amend the drivers’ terms unilaterally.
Um what? This is exactly what happens with a customer/service-provider relationship. My bank does it all the time.

In most jurisdictions this is one of several things an employer absolutely may not do, at least not without the employee’s consent and an updated contract of employment.

Oh good grief, here we go again. There is no ‘bargaining position’ at all. Bargaining is not a component of the transaction. Uber offer a service to the drivers - customer recruitment and billing - and the drivers decide whether or not that service is advantageous. When was the last time you went into a restaurant and ‘bargained’ over whether the menu prices were fair or not?

In the land of Because I Say So. Therefore it’s an employment contract. Awesome. Why not just say that in the first place, instead of pretending you’re going through this logically?

All the humming and hawing really just illustrates what I said earlier: governments need to stop getting so obsessed with putting companies, or their various bits, into neat boxes. Are there lawyers out there arguing whether airlines are, in fact, catering companies which serve meals in flying restaurants? The days when William Smith and Co. was a Miller with six Employees and John Jones around the corner was a Carter with an Apprentice are long gone.

Um, yes, I know. And it’s my right, and hers, to create that relationship at our discretion. As opposed to the government’s discretion.

You missed my point though. I was asking why she gets to charge $400 an hour. Answer: artificial scarcity. Lawyers collude to ensure that prices stay high, and erect high barriers (well, one bar) to entry into the profession. An unequal relationship has been created, but funnily enough we don’t hear lawyers protesting about it.

I find it odd that you’re arguing that the likes of you and me - skilled people - should be allowed to sell services in whatever way we choose, protected by all kinds of statutes and precedents, while someone with less lucrative services to offer should only be allowed to become a vassal. For his own good, like.


#254

When did I say anyone should be a “vassal” without legal protection? The point here is that employees have more legal protection than contractors. If they want independence more than legal protection, there are ways to achieve it, just not through sham contracting.

Do you actually hold that employment law should not exist at all (freedom of contract über alles), or merely that the line between employment and non-employment should be redrawn to make employment relationships rarer and allow more control and supervision by those who hire contractors?

There are so many nits to pick, so little time. If you really want to understand the judge’s reasoning (including some facts that may differ from what you’ve heard about Uber in other countries), the full text is quite clear. If it’s the general concept of the employment relationship (in modern times) that baffles you, I can keep going.


#255

You were implying - correct me if I’m wrong - that highly-skilled individuals should be allowed greater freedom of contract than lower-skilled individuals, on the basis that the plebs are more likely to prostitute themselves and therefore have to be protected from their own plebness.

I fundamentally disagree. They have a different set of legal rights and obligations. Whether formal employment amounts to ‘protection’ is open to debate. Take job security: the fact is that there are plenty of ways an employee can lose his job tomorrow, while a contractor can usually find ways to make himself indispensable.

My beef is with the government taking it upon themselves to override a citizen’s opinion of his own status. If governments wish to define a thing called “employment” - which implies a certain predefined contract with the State and with a third party - then it should be up to the citizen to decide if he wants to use that package of rights and obligations … or not. If you accept the personhood of corporations, then the same right should apply to them too.

I think, in principle, the decisionmakers would agree, but here’s the problem: they’ve got themselves into this position because of the way taxation is implemented. They are forced to shoehorn people into little boxes because, if they didn’t, rules about tax and social security would be applied inconsistently.

You’ll probably respond that, no, it’s not that at all; we just can’t allow (some) people this freedom because they would enter into contracts on the basis of ‘unbalanced negotiating power’, or whatever the phrase was. Which they might, of course.

I will point out again that people who have valuable skills almost never find themselves in this position. A skilled employee has a lot of leverage. Come to think of it, a useless or malicious employee can do far more damage to his employer’s business than an employer could ever do to him.

So as I said earlier, one solution suggests itself: attempt to build a society in which as many people as possible have valuable skills. People, companies and countries protected from the consequences of their own incompetence tend to lose interest in becoming competent.

This is, and always has been, ‘allowed’. It is not the government’s business to dictate business process. A building-site lackey can’t drink on the job. A contract foreman can’t drink on the job either. Employment status has buggerall to do with it: not wallowing in your own crapulence is a critical part of getting the job done, and both the lackey and the contractor have someone paying their wages who wants the job done right.


#256

I will read it. It might be clear, but I bet it makes no more logical sense than the excerpts.

The description of the respondents made me laugh. They should have just written: “this case involves aggrieved former Uber drivers and Cockney Wanker’s Taxi Service. Oh, and Uber.”

Anyway, I’ll go through it in detail when I have nothing better to do.


#257

Ah, I see. Inventions like minimum wage, holiday pay, sick leave, health insurance and so on are all things that the average person neither needs nor wants and are therefore not beneficial to society as a whole, and anyone claiming otherwise is simply a snob. Well, I’m glad someone caught me out. I was afraid my solidarity-with-the-working-class act was too convincing! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

The point here is that employees have more legal protection than contractors.

I fundamentally disagree. They have a different set of legal rights and obligations. Whether formal employment amounts to ‘protection’ is open to debate. Take job security: the fact is that there are plenty of ways an employee can lose his job tomorrow, while a contractor can usually find ways to make himself indispensable.

This is strange. I thought you were complaining that the government makes it too hard for you to fire little Mr. Burst Boil, yet here you are showing your grave concern for BB’s lack of job security and claiming it wouldn’t be an issue if he were a contractor. :confused:

Of course, if BB earns US $400 per hour and doesn’t spend it like water, he probably doesn’t need sick leave or any of that stuff. Sadly, most people don’t earn anything near that and are quite relieved to know there are certain benefits to which they’re entitled by law – unlike contractors, who can only turn to the law for enforcement of whatever contract terms they’ve obtained through bargaining.

Do you actually hold that employment law should not exist at all

My beef is with the government taking it upon themselves to override a citizen’s opinion of his own status.

And my beef is with the employer taking it upon itself to override the same citizen’s opinion, which also happens to be the opinion of the government and leading authorities on labor issues and human rights, and in some cases is even the employer’s opinion spelled out in plain language in the contract (until they end up in court, and then it’s a typo :rolling_eyes:).

If Joe Pleb truly doesn’t want to be an employee, who’s stopping him? Most companies would be happy to be rid of the extra responsibility, would they not?

If the tax office classifies Joe as an employee, in Taiwan the default result is a lower tax bill. (The deductions are also different, which by default still works out as less tax for Joe to pay, though as a contractor Joe can deduct business expenses that may add up to more. The Council of Grand Justices recently ordered the MOF to revise the deduction limits for employees within two years.)

If governments wish to define a thing called “employment” - which implies a certain predefined contract with the State and with a third party - then it should be up to the citizen to decide if he wants to use that package of rights and obligations … or not. If you accept the personhood of corporations, then the same right should apply to them too.

They did define it. The constitutional basis for the Labor Standards Act (passed in the 1980’s) is not in dispute, and even while the marriage debate rages, no-one seems to be calling for an overhaul of the guyong section of the Civil Code (from the 1920’s).

Compulsory insurance is a three-way contract: the employer, the employee and the government all contribute (not equally), so the BLI may get in Joe’s way, but the maximum penalty for him is a whopping $500 NT. (I’m less familiar with NHI and jiubao.) For most employment benefits though, the employee bears no burden. And insurance is not strictly an employment matter; contractors can also use it.

(Obviously I’m using Taiwan’s laws as the starting point; you are welcome to enlighten me about the horrible government oppression of employees in places like England.)

The reasons why employment benefits are compulsory is simple. (1) If you make them “optional”, the average employer will simply refuse to consider them, unless the employee (or prospective employee) has abnormally high bargaining power, and in case you didn’t notice, the planet has never been more crowded. (2) Even with equal bargaining power, society deems some sacrifices of personal freedom acceptable for the greater good. (I suppose this is where your pleb argument comes in, if you want to paint employment as a class issue.)

You’ll probably respond that, no, it’s not that at all; we just can’t allow (some) people this freedom because they would enter into contracts on the basis of ‘unbalanced negotiating power’, or whatever the phrase was. Which they might, of course.

I will point out again that people who have valuable skills almost never find themselves in this position. A skilled employee has a lot of leverage. Come to think of it, a useless or malicious employee can do far more damage to his employer’s business than an employer could ever do to him.

So as I said earlier, one solution suggests itself: attempt to build a society in which as many people as possible have valuable skills. People, companies and countries protected from the consequences of their own incompetence tend to lose interest in becoming competent.

Great, give everyone valuable skills. While they’re waiting for their valuable skill lessons, they still need to eat.

allow more control and supervision by those who hire contractors?

This is, and always has been, ‘allowed’. It is not the government’s business to dictate business process. A building-site lackey can’t drink on the job. A contract foreman can’t drink on the job either. Employment status has buggerall to do with it: not wallowing in your own crapulence is a critical part of getting the job done, and both the lackey and the contractor have someone paying their wages who wants the job done right.

Health and safety issues are not the focus of determining whether or not an employment relationship exists.

It’s like if you hire Joe to paint your house, obviously you can control him to the extent necessary to avoid getting paint all over the furniture and what not, but if he’s a typical contractor, he supplies his own brushes and paint, and he only needs to deliver the result you desire.

If you supply the brushes and paint, order him to wear a suit and tie, tell him when to brush up/down/side to side, forbid him to talk to the neighbors or paint any other house in the neighborhood for 1 year after finishing your house, and so on… the more of that kind of control you exert, the more you’re acting like an employer instead of a client.

Obviously there’s still a problem here: if you have a dichotomy and just a thin line between the two extremes, people may be confused about where that line is (even if you have a third category, which you do in common law).

If you have a better idea, go ahead and promote it. See if any society is interested. For now, I think a taxi driver working 12 to 15 hours a day deserves at least minimum wage, assuming he’s not one of your burst boils (and yes, I know they’re out there).

The good news for you is that Uber is appealing the London case. :popcorn:


#258

"It’s been like a week. Don’t you miss us yet?"

“We would be glad to see Uber work with taxi operators and car rental service companies, as long as they are subject to government regulations and pay all required insurance and taxes,” Chang said. “We also would not prevent Uber drivers from joining taxi or car rental companies.”

“However, if Uber forms a partnership with car rental companies, the main business entity should be the car rental firm, not Uber, and drivers should be employees of the car rental companies,” Chang said, adding that the relationship between car rental firms and their drivers are also regulated by the law.


#259

Now that it is 2017, here’s a brief updated on the situation:

Want to Make Some Money in Taiwan? Report Your Uber Driver to the Police
Nicola Smith / Taipei
Jan 12, 2017
Until last week, Owen Lee made good earnings working overtime as an Uber driver in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to boost his modest monthly salary as a marketing agent for a restaurant website.
By driving over 150 hours a month, Lee, 28, could make up to $1,250 — roughly two-thirds of his regular salary — giving him disposable income for travel and savings for the first time.
But on Friday, he abruptly gave it up after the Taiwanese government not only introduced some of the largest fines against Uber in the world, but also launched financial rewards for anyone who turns drivers in.
Under the new rules, the San Francisco–based company could incur fines of up to $780,000 unless it registers as a normal taxi business and follows the same safety and insurance standards.
If Lee is caught using Uber’s ride-hailing app, he personally faces a $3,100 fine and losing his driving license for four months.
“It’s not worth the risk,” he says. “Especially now that the customer can tell the police about me. It has become too dangerous.” Five of Lee’s Uber-driving friends have also stopped.
Read More: Why Uber Is Disappointed by This New Restriction in Taiwan
In the four years since Uber entered Taiwan, 1 million people have downloaded the car-booking app to avail of 10,000 registered drivers.
But its popularity has not spared it from the legal quagmire and resistance from local taxi firms that has blighted Uber’s launch in several markets from Europe to Asia.
Opposition was spearheaded by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), to the surprise of Lee. Like many young people, struggling with living costs in Taipei, he voted the DPP into power last year, hoping for a more modern brand of politics.
DPP legislator Jason Lin admits there has been heavy lobbying from taxi associations to ban Uber, but adds that the company could operate if it compromised on tax issues and officially registering its drivers.
“We welcome Uber in Taiwan but you have to follow our laws,” he says, describing Uber’s approach as “too aggressive.”
The company said it welcomes regulation and it is due to hold imminent crisis talks with Taiwan’s Ministry of Transport. The ministry maintains its objection that Uber is currently registered as a technology, not a taxi business.
Uber’s new, ultra-modern office in Taipei’s business district projects its ambition for huge growth in Taiwan.
But frustration is in the air. The company says it is “very disappointed” by the decision to amend the Highway Act to impose steep fines, warning that it risks Taiwan’s stated ambition to attract tech start-ups.
In an interview shortly before the government’s decision, Michael Brown, Uber’s Asia Pacific regional general manager, said the move would be regressive.
Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Uber
“We think this is moving Taiwan in the wrong direction. Taiwan wants to be the ‘Silicon Valley of Asia’ and we think [it] should be embracing innovation,” he said.
“By condemning this technology, which is de facto what would happen with this amendment, the government is making a statement that it’s not open for business to global technology companies.”
Uber argues that it complies with all existing local tax laws.
But Jason Hsu, a legislator with the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party, and an Uber supporter, urged the company to be “more cooperative” in meeting government concerns in order to win trust.
Read More: Uber Just Answered Everything You Want to Know About Your Driver
He also accused the government of finding a “lazy answer” to the issue, “to protect old industry.”
Hsu is drafting a digital economy act to improve the future legal framework for tech start-ups.
However, it may be too late for one single mother, named only as Ms. Yang, who says that driving for Uber allowed her the flexibility to both earn and care for her children.“The government can give us subsidies, but what we really need is the opportunity to work,” she says.


#260

Uber should not come to Taiwan.
Taxis are the social catch nets here in Taiwan. Nobody needs Uber to get from A to B.
If you think you need clean, socially acceptable drivers, go back to the old country.


#261

Are you being sarcastic?