San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Doing Business

Uber vs. taxis, round 2: Technology, business models and incentives for service

Here’s a business idea: What if we created an app for taxis just like Uber and sold it to the taxi cooperatives?

That was the text I received from a friend a couple of days ago, right in the middle of yet another protest from taxi drivers asking the government to intervene and block Uber. My buddy’s rationale was that by creating a similar app, we’d be saving the cooperatives money currently spent on radio frequencies, and on the salaries of the nice ladies who pick up the phone when you call the cab company. The ones who call you “corazón” after they’ve located a taxi for you.

We tend to focus on technology when trying to explain why companies like Uber or Airbnb are so successful, since the app itself is the face of the company. However, I told my buddy that in spite of our entrepreneurial spirit, apps like that already exist; even if they didn’t, they wouldn’t really do much to help the cabbies. The disruption being generated by shared-economy startups (those that connect people willing to provide a service with those demanding it) is not the technology itself, but instead what the technology enables – how it changes the interactions between parties and the rules under which business is conducted.

Let’s examine how the taxi industry has operated up to this point. The first thing you have to do is get a permit from the government, which can be a challenge because of the limited number of permits available. This puts the authority awarding the permits in a position to pick winners and losers; when resources become scarce, this creates an incentive for corruption. Even if the awarding process were completely fair and transparent, which is quite a reach, the scarcity could create – indeed, it has created – a black market where permits are sold at outrageous amounts or even rented out as an asset.

So drivers must get permit any way they can, get a hold of a red car, pay insurance, affiliate to a cooperative by paying a fee, and start working. After you have overcome the barrier to entry, you are good to go. There’s nothing that can prevent you from providing the service. What if you happen to be rude to customers? You can continue to work as a taxi driver. What if you like to play slalom on the highway and pretend you are Vin Diesel’s co-star? You can continue to work as a taxi driver. What if your thing is to have reggaeton blasting out of the speakers at full volume? This one actually happened to me). You can continue to work as a taxi driver.

In short: once you have crossed the bureaucratic hurdle, you can perform the service whichever way you want because there are no deterrents for bad service, nor incentives for good one. Once you’re in, nobody can take you out again. No one can tell you how to do your job.

See also: Taxi drivers throw eggs as Uber Costa Rica offers free rides

Let’s now see how Uber or any other sharing economy businesses operates. The company creates the platform (the app) and invites everybody to join, either as a driver or a passenger. As a driver, the rules to participate are transparent: you must meet certain guidelines, such as the maximum age of your car, and then you must complete the training, both in the interest of good service to the passenger. Because the company does not decide how many drivers should be out there, it doesn’t become a gatekeeper. The incentive to favor some in detriment of others is removed. Everybody gets to play. If there are not enough passengers, you can choose not to drive, but it is a supply and demand game now.

More importantly, Uber drivers get rated by customers, which builds their reputation on the platform and determines whether can continue to play. No good service, no play. Voilá! An incentive to provide excellent service on a daily basis is created. The only way for drivers to guarantee their continued participation in the game is to put in the effort to make customers happy on every ride. The driver, usually a regular Joe, is happy because he made a few bucks with some idle time. The passenger is happy because she received better service. The company is happy because it took a cut of the transaction.

All good, then? Not yet.

Some argue, very justifiably, that the service provided through the Uber platform should be regulated in some way. That’s only fair. Insurance, taxes and fees should be comparable so it doesn’t give those under the new model a way to undercut the taxis on price. Governments should move fast to regulate shared-economy businesses, instead of making it hard for them to operate by clinging to old regulations. This is increasingly relevant because every year, more and more companies with the exact same business model will come to market. Today, it is happening with public transportation, accommodation and errands. Tomorrow, it could affect all kinds of services.

While the war declared by taxi drivers is being waged on the streets, three things are certain. First, by blocking streets and making everybody late for work, all the cabbies are achieving is eroding the little good will they had among the general public and sending more new customers to Uber. Showing up in the news for throwing eggs at fellow taxi drivers who don’t join the protest is, by any definition, a big PR no-no.

Second, governments are slow, but they’re not dumb. Eventually they will realize that this is not something you would want to stop, and even if you wanted to, you really can’t. When that moment comes, all the kicking and screaming isn’t going to change anything. That’s called progress.

Finally – and this is relevant for entrepreneurs – if you want to start disruptive businesses, your first step should be to look for old industries with entrenched, outdated habits. Next, figure out how to fix their inefficiencies by creating better incentives. Then, and only then, do you build the app.

That’s what I’m going to tell my buddy.

Read more “Doing Business columns” here

Randall Trejos works as a business developer, helping startups and medium-sized companies grow. He’s the co-director of the Founder Institute in Costa Rica and a strategy consultant at Grupo Impulso. You can follow his blog La Catapulta or contact him through LinkedIn. Stay tuned for the next edition of “Doing Business,” published twice-monthly.

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Ken Morris

I don’t understand attitudes like this.

Uber is illegal, plain and simple. Worse, it knows it is, and intentionally operates illegally.

Appropriately regulated and with legal status, sure, Uber is a good idea. However, the first battle Uber needs to fight and win is with the legal system, and proceeding to operate without fighting and winning that battle makes it a criminal enterprise.

The analogy that comes to mind is drug dealers. Should selling drugs be legal? I think so. However, selling drugs when doing so is illegal, even if the law is wrong, is a criminal activity that should be forbidden. Indeed, winking at it just allows the drug dealers to make excessive profits because they are operating outside the law.

Uber, like the drug dealers, wants us to debate the merits of its busines model as if it were legal, since that debate draws attention away from their criminal acts.

I for one don’t fall for this crap. Uber, like potential drug dealers, should get the laws changed BEFORE they operate. By operating first, they are just criminal scum.

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Hachi Ko

Commenting further upon this topic…

I made this comment in a previous post…

> All that most people care about is the taxi fare. As long as Uber is cheaper, nobody cares if it’s legal or not.

There is a parallel to this, in history. Almost 20 years ago, a DC-9 operated by a company called ValuJet crashed in the Everglades of Florida, in the USA. I call this the “Gator Food” flight. Much like Uber, ValuJet was a “Low Cost” service (in this case, an airline), that stretched the laws as far as it could, in order to undercut the other airlines. It worked… for a while…

Then, one day, a bunch of “Screw the laws, and Screw the quality” people boarded a ValuJet flight, in order to save a few bucks over the “Regular” airlines, and became “Gator Food.” I don’t want anyone to die… I really don’t… but they were asking for it. Uber is next.

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Hachi Ko

I thought about your reply some more, did some more research, and looked into my notes regarding Uber, which I have been compiling for months. I was trying to find the right way to put this, to accurately describe Uber’s legal situation.

We both contend that Uber is operating illegally in Costa Rica, so we agree on that point.

I disagree with on this point:

> the first battle Uber needs to fight and win is with the legal system, and proceeding to operate without fighting and winning that battle makes it a criminal enterprise.

Uber needs to do Nothing in this regard. Uber has no obligation to fight and win with the legal system. It is up to the legal system to challenge Uber. So far, the legal system has not challenged Uber.

Also, although Uber is operating illegally, it is NOT a criminal enterprise. Allow me to explain… Uber’s activities are “Legal by Omission.” In other words, Uber claims that it is NOT a taxi company, and therefore none of the laws regarding taxi companies apply to Uber. As of this time, the Costa Rican government has not challenged that assertion. Nothing that Uber does is specifically declared LEGAL by Costa Rican law, but, according to Uber, nothing that Uber does is ILLEGAL under Costa Rican law, either.

Uber is just “Eating Up” all of this debate. Governments all over the world won’t touch Uber, and Uber knows that as long as it is cheap and keeps tossing out “Freebies”, that its fans will rally to its support. All that most people care about is the taxi fare. As long as Uber is cheaper, nobody cares if it’s legal or not.

Uber drivers and passengers love to spew the rhetoric of “Not a Taxi Service” and “Antiquated Government Laws”, but they never seem to clamor for a change in those laws. They don’t believe any of that stuff, anyway. They just want cheap taxi fare, and since Uber has to pay none of the licensing fees, taxes, and other expenses, and has to comply with none of the rules, laws, or regulations, Uber can offer those cheaper fares. Uber could start Finning Sharks, and Uber drivers and customers would still be singing the praises of Uber.

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Hachi Ko

I agree with your basic points. Uber is illegal. I want Uber out of Costa Rica just as much as anyone else. However, I don’t blame Uber for its continued existence, especially considering my perspective from right here in Costa Rica.

Solis, his administration, and other departments of the Costa Rican government have stated that Uber is operating illegally. However, they have done absolutely nothing about it. In this particular aspect of the issue, I am PROUD of Uber for continuing its service in Costa Rica. It’s disgraceful that this is the government’s response to Uber, and I applaud Uber’s continuation of its service, but only for this particular aspect of the issue.

If someone were selling Heroin and Crack to 8-year-old kids in front of the President’s house and downtown in front of the National Theatre, I would be appalled. But if the government’s response were, “Yeah, that’s illegal… but we’re not going to do anything about it”… I would probably go downtown and help those guys sell their drugs.

Uber has basically told Costa Rica, “F@#$ You! Costa Rica!”, and the government has done absolutely nothing about it. You Go! Uber!!!

I’d be surprised if there is not a large sum of “Dirty Money” involved in Uber’s continued existence in Costa Rica.

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Hachi Ko

Actually, I just got a brilliant idea, and I think that I am going to implement it, in the San José area…

Using the free Glympse app, I’m going to offer a cash-only ride-sharing service, throughout Costa Rica. Prices will be based upon Uber’s formula and subtracting 25%, with no Surge Pricing. In addition, anyone with an Uber receipt will get their first free ride with us for free. If one of our drivers is not within 7 minutes of your location, we’ll switch the request to Easy Taxi for you, automatically. We’ll rebate you the difference between our fare (which is 25% off the Uber fare), and the fare charged by the regular “Red” taxi, up to the full amount of your next fare with us. You have to “opt-in” to this feature, and we will only you to use it once per month, until we determine how that option fits into our budget.

We will be cash-only, but the necessary software is already up and running in the open market. It will take me and a couple of friends about 2 or 3 weeks to put the network together.

Drivers will have to show a valid Costa Rica driver’s license and the proper RTV and Marachamo stickers, as well as current license tags (front and back), upon demand by the passenger. We will have NO training and NO requirements. All that drivers have to do is sign up and go. The risk to the passenger is minimal. I already know 7 Uber drivers in Costa Rica who drive for Uber with fake credentials, so there is really no point in going through the hassle of verifying that. If the passenger is satisfied with the driver and the car, then we are satisfied. Uber drivers can participate too! So can regular “Red” taxis (although they will have to charge the meter rate, which will usually be a bit higher than our regular rate — see above).

All drivers are private contractors… we are just connecting drivers with passengers. If Uber is not doing anything illegal, then neither are we.

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Hachi Ko

The name of our new company is “Montar Sin Reglas.” I’m still working on a logo.

All I ask of the Costa Rican government is that, if the government allows us to be sued, then Uber must be included in the suit as a Co-Defendant, and that BOTH Uber and my company be subjected to the same penalty, if any. In the case of a financial penalty, I request, in fairness, that the same Percentage (rather than fixed amount) of gross income penalty be applied to Uber, that is applied to our company.

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Shawn Pendergrass

“Governments should move fast to regulate shared-economy businesses, instead of making it hard for them to operate by clinging to old regulations.” That sentence pretty much sums up the problem. It’s not that Uber is necessarily evil for getting away with what they can — it’s the fact that government regulatory authorities are quickly getting behind on the times.

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Hachi Ko

My question on that issue is, “What exactly is it that government is ‘behind on the times’ regarding?” And does that make it “OK” for Uber to do what it does? Uber is an entirely self-regulated agency that “complies” with the law by omission, while quietly snickering that they are not “breaking” any laws. Everyone knows that Uber is a taxi company, and everyone knows that Uber knows that. The rhetoric that Uber, its drivers, and its passengers spew is a “Yeah… SURE you’re not a taxi company” statement that has probably only fooled a dozen or so people on the entire planet. Uber quietly laughs while it trots to the bank, because Uber knows one thing for CERTAIN… One way or the other, this entire situation will come to a head, and there will be at least one BIG loser. That loser (or losers) might be the passengers, or the drivers, or the governments, or the legit taxi drivers, or the legit taxi companies, or the population and the transportation system as a whole. But it will NOT be Uber. Uber has made sure, by its very business model that their drivers or passengers or someone else will take the fall, when the time comes. Uber’s big owners and corporate types will close their multi-billion-dollar bank accounts and retire on an island in the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, an Uber driver goes to prison, and an Uber passenger is dead.

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王淑惠

Do you know the fare is $0.30/mile in Detroit? Please read http://www.uberally.net/public-news/030-per-mile You might be satisfied that your rate is much higher. If drivers are not united, are you sure your city UberX rate will not go down to match Detroit’s by tomorrow? If you are passengers, why do you need to pay higher fare than Detroit’s?

After Uber taking greedy 20% or 25% commission, the drivers can only get $0.24/mile or less. Please read https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/2016-Standard-Mileage-Rates-for-Business-Medical-and-Moving-Announced IRS allows $0.54/mile deductible for business miles driven. This comparison ($0.54 vs $0.24) simply proves how badly Uber mistreated their drivers.

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Hachi Ko

Uber can’t mistreat drivers. It’s impossible. Uber has the sold idea that it is not an employer, and so far, no government has called them on it. The ONLY thing that can hurt Uber is being declared an employer. Until that happens, Uber is only an “information resource.” As long as Uber is not an employer, the only thing that Uber can be guilty of is having an ugly logo. All Drivers are private contractors and receive a U.S. Tax Form 1099, in the USA, and the equivalent in other countries. Despite what drivers and passengers may THINK that Uber is responsible for, as long as its drivers receive form 1099, Uber is not even responsible for a single parking ticket. Uber could OFFER to pay any expenses, but they are not obligated to do so. Uber has ZERO legal responsibility, anywhere in the world. Uber is not, even in the slightest degree, responsible for ANY medical expenses that you may incur due to a crash. That is solely between You, the Driver, and the Driver’s insurance company. Uber is a true ZERO-risk company. When the day comes (if it ever does) that Uber is declared an employer and a taxi company, the CEO of Uber will say to his fellow executives, “Well… We had a nice run. Everybody empty your bank accounts, and I’ll see you in Tahiti in two weeks!” Uber is, truly the ultimate scam… and this time, it’s legal. I bet Madoff wishes he had thought of this one!

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Mike Willis

The argument is simple… Everyone has gotten greedy and complacent, most cabs aren’t great anyway and cost way to much. Uber is cheaper and more convenient. It’s not really my concern if the Government or insurance agency are making decreased profits from less regulatory/license and insurance fees.

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Hachi Ko

–> Uber is cheaper and more convenient. It’s not really my concern if the Government or insurance agency are making decreased profits from less regulatory/license and insurance fees.

My primary concern is… “Where does this end?” Does every business and profession eventually become unregulated?

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Hachi Ko

In fact, I can see the writing on the wall on Uber in Costa Rica. This is very typical of the Costa Rican legal system.

You’re riding in an Uber Taxi, and there’s an accident. Maybe no one even gets hurt. The Transitos show up, and they’re all saying, “Ummm… It’s an Uber Taxi. Does anyone else know what to do in this situation?” All of the other Transitos will either shrug their shoulders or say, “No.”

At that point, you’re not leaving Costa Rica until the accident report has worked its way through the entire Costa Rican judicial system, which could take months.

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Hachi Ko

I’ll reply to my own reply here… :)

Don’t think that this can’t happen to you in Costa Rica. Although it has been over two years since this has happened to someone that I know, personally, beware of this trap if you rent a car in Costa Rica.

This situation depends upon the details associated with your car rental agreement and your credit card’s policy regarding car rental. I don’t allow any of the people whose travel arrangements I arrange to rent a car in Costa Rica. If you’re in an accident in your rental car, and especially if there is an injury involved, it is very likely that you won’t be leaving Costa Rica until some assurance of settlement is provided. It took two weeks to sort out the last issue I had with a customer and a rental car accident, before he was allowed to return to the USA.

Now imagine, with all of the uncertainty surrounding Uber, what is going to happen if you’re in an accident in an Uber vehicle, especially if an injury is involved.

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Hachi Ko

I can understand that point-of-view. But what happens when your Uber Taxi is involved in an accident, and Uber uses yet another loophole to get out of paying your medical bills? You call up your Insurance company back home and your credit card company, and they both deny your claim, since you were riding in a “Pirate” taxi?

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Hachi Ko

To the author…

One good thing that Uber has done is exposed flaws in the taxi regulations of many countries. While I think that Uber’s claim that what it is doing is Legal is quite disingenuous, it does highlight the flaws and loopholes that exist in law.

Solis is completely befuddled, and made a earlier statement about the dangers of regulating or restricting activity on the Internet. The problem with Uber has nothing to do with the Internet or the Uber app. The problem is with Uber operating as a de facto employer of part-time taxi drivers and bypassing the regulations which apply to taxi drivers and the companies who employ them. Come on, Uber… we’re not that dumb. You regulate who can drive, what kind of car they drive, the exact fee that they must charge, exactly how much of that fee that they receive as payment, training, insurance, and the use of your app. Uber… You are an employer. Nobody is fooled, Uber, although your drivers do very much enjoy saying that they are NOT employees, with a nod and a wink.

The egging of fellow taxi drivers was horrendously bad move by the regular taxis. Not only does it demonstrate “dissent within the ranks”, it hurts nobody but the regular public (potential passengers). It certainly doesn’t hurt Uber.

Here are my suggestions for REAL protests by the regular taxi drivers. This would, of course, require a mass consent to implement these ideas:

1) All regular taxis should just take a random day off. No regular taxi service, period. Or, you could just skip a Thursday afternoon/evening from 3 pm until about 6 pm. Uber’s “surge pricing” system would go nuts. Then, at 6 pm, suddenly flood the streets with on-duty taxis, ready to serve. Uber drivers would suddenly see surge pricing disappear.

2) Join Uber, and on your day off, or whenever you have a couple of free hours, take a couple of short-range Uber rides. After each ride, give a random review, such as “The driver constantly texts while he’s driving”, or “The driver curses and tries to hit motorcyclists” or “The driver’s car had a wobbly rear wheel and bad brakes.” Using this idea, you definitely have to flood the system with reviews from a lot of different users, or it won’t work. But, it does work. For example, most of the reviews on TripAdvisor regarding hotels and restaurants in Costa Rica are fake. That’s because a large number of user IDs are posting fake reviews. If only a few people do it, Uber will quickly find their reviews and delete them.

3) Start a petition, with huge support, to make pirate taxis Legal. After all, pirate taxis are doing exactly what Uber does, just without the app.

4) Again, as a large, coordinated group… make a bunch of ride requests all at one time, then cancel them as soon as soon as surge pricing goes into effect. It will cost you a little bit, but you’ll frustrate a LOT of Uber drivers by doing that. Your primary goal should be to make most of Uber’s ride requests Fake requests, that get canceled.

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Hachi Ko

There is an app for the regular “Red” taxis in Costa Rica. It’s called Easy Taxi. It doesn’t provide you with all of the information of the Uber app, but it does provide most of it. Most importantly, it provides real-time GPS information on the taxi, the driver’s info, and the estimated time to arrival at your location.

I use Easy Taxi all of the time, and it works great.

Perhaps the current taxi system does need to be overhauled. That’s a valid point of discussion. I have no problem with a discussion of that issue. What I do have a problem with is legitimate taxi drivers paying all of the necessary fees and having their taxis outfitted will all of the proper paint, emblems, and equipment, and Uber getting away with not doing that.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a taxi driver, but Uber’s concept seems to basically be a “Sneaky Pete” way of getting around existing laws. Uber knows that the law is not intended to make what it does legal, but they’re using existing loopholes to get away with what the law intended to be legal.

My biggest problem with Uber is the implication that this could go much further. I’m a certified pilot. Why don’t I just buy an airplane and offer flights for a fee, without paying all of the fees and jumping through all of the hoops that the legitimate airlines do?

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ccdagp

First of all Uber is an employer. The only thing that may be in question is what type or kind of employer they are.

Second: “HACHI KO”, you became irrelevant when you posted. [2)Join Uber, and on your day off, or whenever you have a couple of free hours, take a couple of short-range Uber rides. After each ride, give a random review, such as “The driver constantly texts while he’s driving”, or “The driver curses and tries to hit motorcyclists” or “The driver’s car had a wobbly rear wheel and bad brakes.” Using this idea, you definitely have to flood the system with reviews from a lot of different users, or it won’t work. But, it does work. For example, most of the reviews on TripAdvisor regarding hotels and restaurants in Costa Rica are fake. That’s because a large number of user IDs are posting fake reviews. If only a few people do it, Uber will quickly find their reviews and delete them. 4) Again, as a large, coordinated group… make a bunch of ride requests all at one time, then cancel them as soon as soon as surge pricing goes into effect. It will cost you a little bit, but you’ll frustrate a LOT of Uber drivers by doing that. Your primary goal should be to make most of Uber’s ride requests Fake requests, that get canceled.]
There is no difference wether you are the one who tossed the egg or insighted the one who tossed the egg!

Third: many Costa Ricans have gone the way of the people of the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) with one noticeable difference, Ticos holding there noses hi towards the sky as if they are of an upper class if and when they have chosen to become a thug!

Fourth: I am approached by someone weekly if not daily, asking about Costa Rica, saying I’ve heard it’s beautiful and a great place to visit and to live? My reply has changed over years of me saying “yes and going on and on and on about the people and country I was proud of”, to simply saying not anymore.

Fifth: For many years my view was that a Tico had the right to hang there nose hi, I viewed Ticos as the kindest and friendliest people in the world living in the most beautiful place on this planet, my view has since changed i now believe there are so many beautiful, kind and friendly Ticos that are prisoners of modern day Costa Rican Thugs who have and continue victimize, and squander the reputation of the people of Costa Rica.

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Hachi Ko

More information regarding the “Employer” issue. Uber does NOT employ drivers. All Uber drivers are independent contractors. I went through my notes and found a couple of very interesting tidbits regarding this issue…

Let’s say that you’re an Uber driver. Who is responsible and who pays for damages and injuries if you are involved in an accident? Ultimately, the driver is responsible, although Uber has voluntarily implemented some safeguards (although Uber is not required by law to do so).

When you are driving only for personal reasons, only your own personal insurance will cover any losses or liability.

When your are “On-The-Clock” with Uber, which means that you are logged in and available for service, but have received no requests for rides and are not carrying any passengers, Uber will cover your losses and liability, secondary to your personal insurance. In other words, you must first file a claim with your personal insurance company. If you reach an impasse with your insurance company, or are not satisfied with your settlement, then you may file a claim with Uber.

If you have received a request from a passenger and are enroute to pick up that passenger, or you are actually transporting a passenger, then you may file a claim with either Uber or your personal insurance company. You may first file with your personal insurance company, and then file with Uber if you reach an impasse or are not satisfied with your settlement.

Uber is a bit unclear as to what happens if the Other Driver is at fault, and that driver has no insurance or his insurance company won’t pay. You may be left “out in the cold”… and Uber has done this to drivers in the past. Uber may deny a claim if the Uber driver does not meet Uber’s very strict Code of Conduct and other rules.

As both an Uber driver and a passenger, you should be aware that if another, non-Uber driver is at fault, his insurance may not provide liability coverage if he hits a Uber vehicle.

As an Uber passenger, you should be aware that you have contracted the services of an independent contractor (the driver), which may make you liable for any damages or injuries if an accident occurs. You may even be liable for damages which occur in an accident while the Uber driver is enroute to your location, prior to picking you up.

As an Uber driver, you should obtain very explicit details on the terms of your personal insurance policy, regarding your use of the Uber service. For example, your “Medical Payments” coverage may not be in effect while you are carrying an Uber passenger.

As a passenger, you should be aware that since an Uber driver is obligated to file a claim with his personal insurance company, prior to filing a claim with Uber, Uber may not know about any accidents in which that driver has been involved. Uber is not entitled by law to know of any accidents or violations charged to Uber drivers. This includes such charges as drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter. Uber is also not entitled to disclosure of a driver’s criminal record, including all convictions, such as rape, murder, or child molestation.

If you are involved in an accident in Costa Rica, while riding in an Uber vehicle, you can expect to be detained in Costa Rica for several months, as a potential material witness and liable party.

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Hachi Ko

I am also asked, on a daily basis, whether or not Costa Rica is beautiful and a great place to visit and to live. My answer is the same as it was 15 years ago… “Yes.” However, the details of that answer have changed, greatly. Things always change, and they have changed profoundly in Costa Rica, over the past 15 years. As with all change, some things have changed for the better, and some things have gotten worse.

Far too many expats in Costa Rica moved here because of an idyllic dream, based upon a few 4-week or 8-week “vacation-like” visits prior to moving here. Even more sadly, I know a few expats who have lived in their “Ivory Towers” in San Rafael de Escazú, and various resort-like destinations along the Pacific Coast… some of them for more than 30 years… who still have No Idea what Costa Rica is really like.

I do love Costa Rica, and I proud of this country and its people. But no person can tell another person what is good and what he likes. As I have for over a decade, when someone asks me, “Should I move to Costa Rica?” or “Would you recommend that I move to Costa Rica?” The answer that I always give is, “You will have to make that decision for yourself. I can give you the facts, and I can show you all that I know, but only you can decide if Costa Rica is right for you.”

When someone I know does decide that he wants to live in Costa Rica, I encourage them… “Put all of your stuff in storage, come down here, and live here for a year, as a ‘Perpetual Tourist’… not to scam the system, but to really see if you want to live here, before you apply for Residency. I’ll help you find a place… a Tico place, in a Tico neighborhood, and you’ll live there for one year. You’ll shop at the farmer’s markets and pulperias, you’ll go to sodas, you’ll go to Tico bars and restaurants. You’ll learn Spanish, and you’ll meet some of your Tico neighbors and hang out with them on a regular basis. After that is done, the decision of whether or not to move to Costa Rica will very clear in your mind.”

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Hachi Ko

Expounding upon the “Employer” issue…

Uber’s drivers sign contracts that declare themselves to NOT be employees of Uber, and they are paid as independent contractors. Uber does employ administrative personnel all over the world, including Costa Rica, but Uber does not employ any drivers. This keeps Uber free of any responsibility for the actions of its drivers and any liability for incidents that occur during the use of Uber’s services. It’s a perfect business model. Uber bears absolutely ZERO liability for anything that happens in Uber vehicles, and anything that happens between an Uber driver and passengers.

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Hachi Ko

I didn’t become irrelevant. You simply misunderstood my point. The Red Taxi drivers accomplish nothing, and in fact hurt themselves, by protesting in a way that has a negative effect upon the people and government of Costa Rica. They definitely hurt themselves by attacking each other, such as with the egging. As I stated in my previous post, the red taxi drivers need to be attacking Uber, in a Legal manner that harms Uber, its drivers, and its passengers. I don’t want to incite anyone to toss an egg. I DO want to incite them to use Legal means to oppose an illegal service.

Uber is an employer? So far… almost no government has agreed with that… and that’s all that matters.

In the matter of the red taxi drivers versus Uber, this situation has taken an odd turn because Tico culture cannot assimilate the concept that a business that is illegal, and that the government admits is illegal, is still allowed to operate in Costa Rica.

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