Uber counters threat of higher fines with new campaign

Drivers reluctant to appear in photos: reports

(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Ride-hailing app Uber Taiwan is offering coupons worth up to NT$10,000 (US$312) to some of its customers, barely days after the Legislative Yuan amended the Highway Act which could lead to a fine of NT$25 million (US$781,000) for the San Francisco-based company.

Taiwan’s government and Uber have been waging a battle for four years, with bans and fines failing to persuade the U.S. company to withdraw.

Uber’s latest move was to offer a coupon to customers for putting a selfie with an Uber driver on Facebook with the hashtag of an Uber message between December 19 and 30.

Drivers were reluctant to appear in the selfies because they feared the pictures could be used as evidence against them in legal cases based on the recently amended Highway Act, cable station TVBS reported Tuesday.

Last Friday, the Legislative Yuan approved a proposal which could lead to Uber facing a fine of NT$25 million and even eventual dissolution. Drivers might have their driver’s license and vehicle registration taken away from four to twelve months, or have them terminated, with a waiting period of up to two years before they could be allowed to receive new licenses. Rewards will be given to citizens who report violations of the newly amended law.

The measures are officially directed against all illegal ride-sharing companies, but have generally been interpreted as part of the government campaign against Uber, which as in many other countries, has faced the ire of taxi drivers.

Uber has been fined a total of more than NT$66 million (US$2 million) and its drivers more than NT$20 million (US$625,000), most of which the company paid, reports said.