Recently, Uber, the pseudo-taxi ride-sharing service that allows any licensed driver to use their personal vehicle as a money-making pseudo-taxi, has been in the headlines a lot here in Chicago. It started in late 2012:
CHICAGO ACCUSES CAB DISPATCH COMPANY OF VIOLATING CITY ORDINANCES
Alleged infractions include adding mandatory 20% gratuity; citations accompany separate lawsuits from taxi companies, riders
An alderman on Thursday called out a new taxi dispatch company that allows people to hail cabs using their smartphones and has run into problems with city regulators.
The city cited Uber Technologies Inc. this month with a variety of ordinance violations, including allegedly charging riders a mandatory 20 percent gratuity. The citations came at the same time that Chicago-based taxi and livery companies and passengers filed separate lawsuits against the company, alleging that Uber violated multiple Chicago and Illinois laws and engaged in false price advertising, among other violations.
This is not the first time Uber has found itself in hot water. Traditional cabbie companies, who are subject to strict regulation in many locales, have cried foul. For the moment, Uber and its rival, Lyft, seem to have won the day, at least in Chicago, and Illinois more generally, as Governor Quinn recently vetoed a bill that would have regulated Uber like a taxi company.
While I almost never pay for taxis nor Uber, by extension, my lovely wife and I are intimately familiar with Uber's close cousin in what is now being called the "sharing economy," AirBnB.com. If you're unfamiliar, AirBnB is a space-sharing, pseudo-hotel service where average folks with spare rooms, spare couches, or an alternative place to stay, can post spaces in their homes for rent, to tourists passing through. You can think of these stays as "very short term sub-leases" or "very short-term roommates." Relatively cheaply, compared to hotels, travelers can get a comfortable room, bathroom, and often kitchen and living room amenities. Some AirBnB hosts - like us, on occasion - even rent out their entire apartments for certain lengths of time, when they're on vacation or otherwise elsewhere for awhile.
The Flower of my life and I have been doing AirBnB both as hosts, and as tourists, since around the December of 2012. I can honestly say that AirBnB has changed our lives. This is our story.