After a high-profile campaign by taxi drivers, in December a judge ordered ride-sharing and taxi app Uber to cease operations in Spain, while the courts investigated whether the US firm’s activities constituted unfair competition. But it seems that Uber was undeterred by the legal wrangling, and has launched a new Spanish service called Uber Eats, which customers can use to order take-out food via its mobile phone app for delivery in Barcelona.
The firm has taken note of one of the constant criticisms it has received since it began operating in Spain last April, and will from now on require its drivers to be registered as self-employed with the Spanish Social Security system. In exchange, drivers will be paid €2,50 per food delivery, of which Uber will keep a 20 percent commission. Customers will be able to choose specific dishes from a range of restaurants. The menu will change every day and the price will be between €8 and €11.
“The idea is that users (i.e. the drivers) will be people who are already registered as self-employed and want to work with us during the hours that Uber Eats is available,” explain sources from the company. The lunch service will be available every day between 12.30pm and 2.30pm, and dinner between 8pm and 11pm. The Barcelona districts of L’Eixample and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi will be covered, as well as the Poblenou and Barceloneta neigbourhoods.
The service does not contravene the cease and desist order imposed by the Madrid court last December, which saw Uber forced to close its service throughout Spain on New Year’s Eve. The court order prohibited the transport of passengers, after complaints from taxi associations that neither Uber itself nor its drivers had any of the necessary permits to offer that service.
But the lawyer for the Madrid Taxi Association, José Diez, who filed the original lawsuit against the US firm, believes that it is “just a question of time” before another court action is brought against Uber for its new activity: “You need a license to transport goods,” he explained.
Barcelona is the second city where the Uber Eats service has been introduced, after its initial launch in Los Angeles last August. “The idea is for people to get to know restaurants that they would normally not go to because they are on the other side of the city,” Uber sources explain. “You don’t need to give an exact address – you could be in a park or on a beach. The cost of the transport will always be €2,50, no matter how many dishes you order.”
The company is working with Plateselector, an electronic restaurant guide, to offer the service.