A story was published here on July 24, where a vacationing Uber driver from Augusta, Georgia, Rob Noel, outted a fake Uber driver in Carlsbad.
Over the weekend of July 25, I attempted to find Prince Raza Shah, owner of the fake Uber car causing the controversy. On Friday afternoon, I easily found the fake Uber car parked at the corner of Oak Street at Carlsbad Boulevard (Coast Highway). I returned to the corner three times; the car had not moved, as late as 11:00 p.m.
To Carlsbad Village Drive, then back to Oak Street
Saturday evening, the car was parked at the corner of Carlsbad Boulevard and Carlsbad Village Drive. And on Sunday afternoon, back at the Oak Street location.
Several people passing by stopped to take pictures of the car, having either seen the Channel 10 investigative piece, or read the story in the Reader.
Apparently, with all the media attention Shah has received, he now uses the car as an advertising piece only. When one calls the number listed on the car, reportedly a plain white Prius picks up the passenger.
Business cards passed out at Coyote Bar
Additionally, taxi drivers reported that the fake Uber’s business cards are passed out near the Coyote Bar and Grill, a popular downtown restaurant with live music and dancing.
On July 28, Carlsbad police’s Lt. Marc Reno said the city began an investigation a few weeks ago, before the controversy hit the media. Oceanside police have also started their own investigation.
Uber Cab changed to Uber
Old pictures found on Facebook clearly show Shah’s vehicle marked in big red letters, Uber Cab. The word “cab” has been removed, assumingly once Shah started receiving unwanted attention.
Lt. Reno explained that if Shah is trying to operate as a taxi, or a ride-for-fare limo service, he does not have the necessary permits. “Either way, he still needs a city business license, and he doesn’t have one,” said Reno.
In Carlsbad, taxis may operate under licensure of the county. “The county will do a background check and vehicle inspection. A meter has to be installed and weights and measures has to certify the meter,” said Reno.
Limo services need TCP#
Limo services, statewide, must be licensed by the Public Utilities Commission, and post a TCP# — transportation charter permit — on the vehicle. Mr. Shah’s does not have a TCP# posted. “Limos may not pick up random customers on a street corner, as he is doing,” said Lt. Reno. It has to be a “call for service,” with a pre-arranged flat fee.
Reno said he has inquired to the PUC if Shah has applied for a TCP number. “I think when you call for a limo, you don’t expect to get picked up in a Prius,” said Lt. Reno.
“We could easily write him a citation now [for not having a business license],” said Lt. Reno. But that wouldn’t put an end to the fake Uber car. Mr. Shah’s business is legally incorporated in California as “Ubertransporation,” clearly different from the name Uber.
Yet he and his drivers state they are with Uber, and his car has several recognizable Uber logos posted. That’s up to Uber to take enforcement action in civil court against Shah for trademark infringement, etc.
Shah used Carlsbad golf course logo
Carlsbad has already been down that road with Mr. Shah, successfully suing him in federal court for trying to illegally use and profit from the city’s golf course logo.
Uber’s legal department did not return e-mails requesting comment, by publication time. Lt. Reno fears, as do area taxi drivers, that Uber may be so big that it isn’t going to get involved trying to stop Shah.
An update to Channel 10’s investigative piece, where they caught up with Mr. Shah, aired on July 25.