Determined recruiting tactics or dirty competitor tricks?
Get Taxi (also known as Gett) is alleging that rival car service provider Uber engaged in the latter over a the past few weeks in New York City, ordering and canceling rides as a way to tie up service and recruit Gett drivers.
An Israeli start-up that has since gone international, Gett allows users to order and pay for car service via a smartphone app, just like the American-created Uber. Apparently considering Gett a threat to its US business, top employees at Uber’s New York office personally called and then canceled over a hundred rides in the beginning of January alone, according to CNN.
Once the rides were canceled, Uber’s fake pedestrians then texted the frustrated drivers and attempted to poach them, offering jobs as drivers for Uber.
Gett provided screenshots to several media outlets including CNN and Gawker’s Valleywag blog, which showed Uber staffers including Uber’s New York general manager, operations and logistics manager and community manager all engaging in the tactic.
Furious Gett CEO Jing Herman said she believed the activities of Uber top brass constituted a denial-of-service attack, reports Tech Crunch.
Reached for comment, Uber spokesman Andrew Noyes noted that perhaps the company was a bit overzealous in its recruitment tactics.
“Our local teams can be pretty determined when spreading the word about Uber and how our platform opens up new economic opportunities for drivers,” Noyes said in the statement. “In this instance, the New York City team was a bit too ambitious and we’ll make sure they tone down their sales tactics.”
However, Tech Crunch was less than convinced.
“Depending on where one sits, the word ‘determined’ is either a fair descriptor of an ambitious, if not zealous philosophy, or a hilarious understatement,” the site’s Rip Empson noted. “Uber’s statement, of course, showed that the company was aware that its business practice had likely crossed the line, but qualified that by saying that Uber had then paid any necessary cancellation fees. Whether that makes up for the ‘transgression’ or not, remains to be seen.”
For its part, Gett spokesperson Rich Pleeth told CNET that the company was looking into ways to make sure drivers’ phone numbers can’t get into the hands of competitors. Pleeth did not comment on whether the company would be taking legal action against Uber.