Lyft and Uber Trade Barbs Over Cancelled Rides

The ridesharing startups are both accusing one another of sabotage in an all-out war of words.

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By Geoff Weiss

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A venomous spat that erupted this week between competitors Uber and Lyft begs a fundamental question: Does PR warfare bode well for business?

Regardless, the ridesharing startups are throwing down the gauntlet.

It all started yesterday, when Lyft alleged that Uber employees have ordered -- and then promptly cancelled -- 5,560 rides since last October in an attempt to disrupt its service. (Uber admitted to a similar ploy to sabotage rival Gett earlier this year.)

But just how did Lyft determine that a total of 177 Uber employees were behind the phony reservations? In data shared with CNN, the company "claims to have cross-referenced the phone numbers associated with known Uber recruiters with those attached to accounts that have cancelled rides."

Related: 'We're the Uber of X!'

In one instance, Lyft determined that a single recruiter was likely responsible for over 1,524 bogus reservations.

Uber -- whose CEO, Travis Kalanick, is known for being an outspoken competitor -- isn't taking the claims lying down. The company released its own statement today, denying Lyft's accusations and alleging that it has fallen prey to a stunning 12,900 cancelled trips courtesy of team Lyft.

Uber declined to specify how it calculated this figure, however, noting that "instead of providing the long list of questionable tactics that Lyft has used over the years, we are focusing on building and maintaining the best platform."

Related: Wait For Perfect or Charge Forward? Lessons From Lyft's Controversial NYC Launch.

Moreover, Uber claims that Lyft's accusations are rooted in a desire to be acquired. "One of their largest shareholders recently warned that Lyft would "go nuclear' if we do not acquire them," Uber said.

In a statement to Entrepreneur.com, Lyft's director of communications, Erin Simpson, called Uber's most recent claims "false" and "an attempt to deflect from their illegal cancel campaign. Lyft has more than 100 investors, all of whom are extremely excited that Lyft is approaching IPO-level revenue."

Phew. Okay, Uber -- your move.

While it has been said that honing a fiercely competitive spirit can have both positive and negative effects on your company's future, only one thing seems certain in this war of words: it's just getting revved up.

Related: Uber Unveils Carpooling Option to Make Trips Cheaper

Geoff Weiss

Former Staff Writer

Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.

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