Uber Pissed Off by New App That Compares Uber/Lyft/Taxi Prices

by Eric

Ever wondered whether you could be saving money by riding a taxi when Uber was surging? Or whether Lyft prices were cheaper at that moment? Wonder no longer, as a group of bright Harvard Business School students recently launched urbanhail.


urbanhail is a new startup, led by Hillary Maxwell and Rocky Lipsky, with a mission to give users side-by-side, real-time pricing – including surge rates – for different ride-sharing apps at any given moment. The team started work at the end of January 2016 and hired a contract developer to build the app. It went live April 19.

A few hours after launch, urbanhail got an e-mail from Uber employee Chris Messina:

Uber’s developer terms explicitly forbid using its data “in any manner that is competitive to Uber.  We’re more than happy for you to continue developing your app, but ask that you remove any features that list Uber’s prices next to our competitors. Please let us know if you have any questions. Thanks!”

Taking a page directly from Uber’s book (which prides itself on ‘disrupting’ the taxi industry), the students contacted lawyers who cast doubt on the legality of Uber’s contract terms.

Currently, urbanhail is only available in Boston, but once the app has been tested, the co-founders said they’ll be launching the app in strategic series of cities.

What are your thoughts on urbanhail and Uber’s response?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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Tri N May 6, 2016 - 10:44 am

the irony!

Geoff May 6, 2016 - 10:57 am

Hahahahahaha, Uber is pissed at their own game. That’s rich. But but but we’re not a cab service….

JJ-Na May 6, 2016 - 11:13 am

There is a website that does lyft vs uber fares. In chicago surprisingly lyft is usually chepaer. It is called fareestimate.com i think

Harlan V. May 6, 2016 - 11:54 am

Haha, taste of your own medicine!

Of course, users can always get fare estimates on each individual app. This new app will just save a few steps. If your product is great, you won’t mind being compared to the competition!

Eric May 6, 2016 - 12:17 pm

I think that’s the point of this app – saving you from having to open/close multiple apps to check fares. Essentially the Expedia/Kayak of ridesharing…

Calwatch May 6, 2016 - 5:18 pm

Uber’s model is to not ask for permission before doing anything. The students should do the same.

Ken May 6, 2016 - 6:02 pm

I never liked ubers corporate culture and its excessively unfriendly attitudes time to time. This is ver consistent with what I experienced with uber

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[…] Uber Pissed Off by New App That Compares Uber/Lyft/Taxi Prices by Point Me To The Plane. If Uber are offering better pricing and service, I don’t know what they have to worry about. Signals to me they know they aren’t doing both of those things in most markets. Looks like a nifty app! I wish they’d also add other local ride sharing apps. […]

Firewind May 12, 2016 - 1:11 pm

“Live by the…”

And the article is a bit behind the curve, not mentioning Fassen (Fasten?), whose radio commercials claim to charge less, pay more, and not do surge charging here in Boston. Also doesn’t mention that drivers all drive for as many such services as there are.

Said explicitly or not in all the commentaries, taxis as we have known them are dead. They were explicitly granted monopolies and heavily regulated so as to keep the service alive in a city or county. All over but the crying now.

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[…] month, we let you know about a group of bright Harvard Business School students that launched an app that they considered the Kayak of ridesharing.  Urbanhail allowed […]


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