Mobile taxi service Uber has exploded in popularity recently, with major investments from Google and even partnering with the latest Transformers movie, but the meteoric rise has been tempered with controversy. In Europe and Asia, the app has sparked protests and has been legislated against to make it harder to use. The company's business practices are now falling under the microscope again, but this time it isn't coming from the old guard rallying against the upstart; instead competing ride on-demand service Lyft claims that Uber is scamming it.
Data acquired by CNN Money from Lyft allegedly found that 177 people who the company believed were linked to Uber have called and canceled about 5,560 rides since October 2013. In one reported example, a single person with a phone number linked to 22 accounts booked and abandoned 1,524 trips. The tactic would serve two purposes. First, it would keep Lyft drivers busy, which might make some users hop over to the rival for a ride. It could also be a recruiting tool to try to convince drivers to work for the competitor.
Uber denies involvement, and it claims some people in Lyft's data may be normal users hoping to find new drivers for the service. "We even recently ran a program where thousands of riders recruited drivers from many platforms, earning hundreds of dollars in Uber credits for each driver who tries Uber," the company said in a statement to CNN Money.
These aren't the first allegations of similar tactics against Uber, though. In January, rival service Gett claimed that 100 rides were booked and dropped by Uber employees in New York City in just a few days. In that case, the strategy was supposedly all about recruiting. After submitting orders and getting the drivers' phone numbers, they would be called in hopes of convincing them to switch companies.