An Uber driver was hauling passengers even though he had no valid driver's license, The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is alleging.
The PUC caught the driver; whose license had been revoked, was caught trying to haul passengers between Downtown Denver and Denver International Airport (NYSEARCA:DIA), CBS Colorado Investigator Rick Sallinger reported. PUC employees caught the driver by booking a ride on Uber then inspecting his vehicle when he arrived.
Disturbingly the unlicensed driver was only one of several violations the Colorado PUC uncovered. Some other Uber misdeeds in Colorado included:
· Several vehicles lacked "markings;" the Uber stickers, which are required by state law.
· At least one Uber vehicle had missed a mandatory inspection.
· One Uber driver had missed the required medical exam.
The problem seems to be Uber itself and not ridesharing apps. Lyft received no citations from the PUC in Colorado, Salinger reported. Uber was fined $4,300 because of the violations in Colorado.
This is the second time in April that Uber was fined by a state PUC. The California PUC fined Uber $1.13 million because it was not adequately investigating complains about drivers drinking alcohol on the job, Car Insurance Samurai reported on April 14.
Uber Accused of Ripping Off Drivers Again
Uber's fare structure deliberately shortchanges drivers a lawsuit filed in US District Court in Sn Francisco by driver Sophano Van alleges.
Van's attorneys are alleging that Uber's software calculates two fares for each ride, The Los Angeles Times reported. That enables Uber to pocket the difference between the two amounts which violates the contract the company signs with drivers.
Receipts reviewed by Times reporter Joel Rubin showed that Uber charged a passenger $54.80 for a trip to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), but based the driver's pay on a fare of $43.55. Rubin was unable to verify the receipts which were provided by Van's lawyers.
Lawsuit Might Destroy Uber
If these allegations are true this lawsuit might destroy Uber because it would have to pay tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to tens thousands of driver. That threatens Uber's supposed valuation of $70 billion.
The lawsuit comes at a very time for Uber because its Chinese archrival Didi is now worth an estimated $50 billion, Bloomberg Technology reported. Didi just raised $5.5 billion in venture capital and it is coming to America and Europe.
Didi is apparently accumulating a war chest for global expansion; and the development of self-driving cars, venture capitalist William Bao Bean told Bloomberg. The Chinese Unicorn has high-powered allies including Japan's SoftBank, Alibaba Holdings and Tencent Holdings.
Didi Might be Coming for a Piece of Uber's Action
"The bruising battle with Uber taught [Didi] a lot," Bean said. "Now it's battle-hardened, and can buy the best talent in the world to attempt to go big in China, and also go global."
That should scare Travis Kalanick to death because Didi won the ridesharing war in China and effectively drove Uber out of the People's Republic. Such a deal will be complicated because Uber is the largest shareholder in Didi, it owns around 17.5% of the Chinese Unicorn according to Bloomberg.
Didi also has a partnership with Uber's only effective American competitor Lyft. Didi has a near monopoly on ridesharing in China where it offers around 20 million rides a day, Bloomberg estimated. Whether Didi can achieve success in the United States or Europe where it lacks protection from the Communist Party remains to be seen.
An even greater danger for Uber would be Didi teaming up with a car manufacturer; such as Ford (NYSE: F) or General Motors (NYSE: GM). GM already owns a large piece of Lyft so it might already be in bed with Didi.
Both Ford and GM are flush with cash right now, so they would be in a good position to finance an effective rival to Uber. Ford reported having $39.99 billion in the bank on March 31, 2017. General Motors had $24.8 billion in cash and short term investments on December 31, 2016.
It looks 2017 is shaping up to be a rough year for Uber. One has to wonder if this unicorn will survive or perish.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.