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Government Threatens Local Businesses With Fines For Links Uber

Q COSTA RICA – Restaurants and hotels expose themselves to sanctions and administrative procedures per campaign of royalties and discounts of Mother’s Day

Entrepreneurs express anger and frustration by measure; Are required to declare breakage with transport platform

In an attempt to restrict the operations of Uber in Costa Rica, the Ministry of Economy has ordered local businesses to stop promotions linked to the transport platform declared illegal by the Government. Otherwise, they would be exposed to sanctions and administrative procedures.

The warnings were made Thursday morning to a group of establishments, including restaurants and hotels, that present within three business days an affidavit stating the suspension of any promotion linked to Uber.

Otherwise, added the MEIC, the business is exposed to an administrative process by the National Consumer Commission (Comisión Nacional del Consumidor, ), which could result in the imposition of fines of 10 to 40 times the monthly base salary (currently ¢ 426,200).

Gustavo Araya, executive director of the Wyndham San Jose Herradura hotel, one the businesses to receive the formal notice, said, “After the deadline, without the MEIC receiving the sworn statement, it will be presumed that the business has not amended the information in time.”

Araya shared the MEIC notice on his Twitter, account.

“In a country of rights, those who determine the legality or not of things are the laws and/or the courts. There is no single resolution that determines Uber’s illegality. The Constitutional court vote only speaks of Law 8995 (which I believe is the law of special taxi service),” Araya told La Nacion.

The businessman added that he does not fear the threats of the MEIC because he believes in the rule of law and that there will be more promotions with Uber.

“It is a pity that they waste time with this.” Two MEIC officials, with a driver, came to see me to give me the notice. How much did this cost the State and all in the middle of the fiscal crisis?” said Araya.

The deputy minister of the MEIC, Carlos Mora, explained that the actions by the government agency is based on the presidential directive issued on August 9, which orders them, the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT) and Ministerio de Seguridad Publica (MSP), of the declaration of illegality of Uber.

Adriana Sánchez, a businesswoman and owner of a restaurant, also notified said: “This morning we were victims of bullying and from the least expected: the State.”

Sánchez explained that, a few days ago, an Uber representative offered her a verbal agreement for a joint promotion, to give the customers of the restaurant a Mother’s Day gift if they arrived using Uber. In exchange, Uber would promote the business to its users.

Like Araya, other entrepreneurs received similar notifications following the Mother’s Day promotion published on August 11 on Uber’s official blog.

Sánchez told La Nacion, I am declaring myself “officially threatened by the Government of Costa Rica”.

“It is a threat: it is a sobering action on the part of a State that wants to control everything, but it does not even have the capacity to raise taxes. A State that intends to teach me, as a legal representative of a company, by giving me three business days to present them with a notarized document in which I promise the “Papa Estad0” (Father State) not to play with Uber again,” said Sanchez.

The businesswoman insisted that her company does not break the law, nor does it have to be “a scapegoat for a slow and aging state” which, according to her, has not adapted to change and “believes that we still use PowerPoint in our team meetings “.

“I deeply regret that my company is in the midst of this ridicule, but what I most regret is that we continue to have a sham of legislation in everything that concerns the digital space: that the protection of citizen data is a lie. Let’s not punish porno-vengeance. Let us keep thinking that we live in 1990 and that times do not change,” she said.

Yet another restauranteur has a similar story.

Federico Lizano, the owner of a restaurant in San Jose, said, “They arrived this morning before opening, they told me that they were from MEIC.That was when they asked me if I had made promotions with Uber and I told them that we had a discount in my restaurant. Then they gave me the notification,” he said.

Lizano described as absurd that the government tries to tell you how you should run your business.

“More than my anger, which is absolute, I feel completely intimidated and in a very passive and official way. They come to tell me what I can and what can not promote as a business. Fatal,” lamented the businessman.

The La Nacion said it did not disclose the names of the businesses at the request of their owners, for fear of reprisals.

Deputy Minister Mora acknowledged that there are more companies notified, but said he still has no legal authority to publish who they are.

To use or not use Uber
The government has made it clear that users (riders) of Uber are not at risk – not yet, at least – of sanctions or reprisals, as the government focuses on targeting Uber drivers and now businesses with links to Uber and for the benefit of the consumer.For riders – Uber is a convenient, inexpensive and safe service, allowing the hire of a private driver to pick you up & take you to your destination with the tap of a button on any smartphone device. A nearby driver often arrives to pick you up within minutes. Not only is this an on-demand car service, connects users with a reliable ride in minutes. You can even watch as your driver is en-route to come pick you up.

For riders – Uber is a convenient, inexpensive and safe service, allowing the hire of a private driver to pick you up & take you to your destination with the tap of a button on any smartphone. A nearby driver often arrives to pick you up within minutes. Not only is this an on-demand car service, it connects users with a reliable ride in minutes.

You can even watch on your smartphone, in the safety of your home, work or say at a restaurant,  as your driver is en-route to come pick you up. Beats having to stand at a corner, hailing a taxi, that like in remote areas or in the middle of the night, never one to be found. Or like in downtown San Jose when it is raining, when all the taxis are busy or parked at popular bus stops waiting for riders.

Launched in San Francisco, California, Uber now operates in 642+ cities in 77 countries. In (San Jose) Costa Rica, Uber began operations two years ago, in August 2015.

In Costa Rica, Uber began operations two years ago, in August 2015. Uber drivers use their own cars, although drivers can rent a car to drive with Uber. One national car rental company promotes a vehicle rental specifically for Uber drivers, with a shared fare in exchange for a late model vehicle.

The company told the Q it had not received notification from the MEIC.

Earlier this year, both the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) and the Public Transportation Council (CTP) ruled out blocking the software, in response to the taxi drivers and their unions demands to do so. Costa Rica has no legislation that allows them to block the app. meaning Uber will continue operating in the country.

Costa Rica has no legislation that allows them to block the app. And despite the recent crackdown by the Policia de Transito on Uber drivers, who face fines and seizure of license plates, and including violence from taxi drivers, Uber in Costa Rica is going strong.