In September, Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court upheld a decision of the country’s anti-trust watchdog to fine two Dutch-registered online taxi service providers, Uber BV and Rasier Operations BV, an estimated 50,000 Euros each over unfair competition.
Both of the companies appealed the decision, stating that they were not a taxi company but only acted as intermediaries between passengers and car drivers through online/mobile apps.
Uber launched in December in Sofia, and ever since taxi companies have been furious and have been campaigning to remove the service from the country because of unfair competition and no requirement for licenses or documentation for the drivers.
Police track down and stop UberX Sofia Drivers
A couple of days later, over twenty UberX Sofia drivers have been reported to have been fined by Police Authorities in Sofia for “unauthorized taxi services”. (UberX is one of many private car services that Uber has to offer, as a low-cost option).
Users in Bulgaria, have been furious and outraged about the latest development, demanding a more open and open and business-friendly approach towards new companies, technologies, and innovations. However, the world’s most highly capitalized startup, is facing similar trouble in other European countries.
Back in summer, France faced violent protests and local authorities denounced it as an illegal taxi service, and it’s not better in some other countries as well.
At the moment the service is unavailable in Sofia, the only in which it operates in Bulgaria.
A while ago, Uber representatives somewhat confirmed that they’re planning to expand to the region. Will be interesting to see how the authorities will react when it comes to lobbying for traditional versus market disruption.