Lyft accuses Uber of trying to disrupt its service

Uber and Lyft, the two leading providers of Internet ride-sharing services, are anything but pleased about sharing the burgeoning business.

Lyft tells CNN Money that Uber employees have deliberately scheduled and then cancelled thousands of ride requests in an attempt to disrupt Lyft's business.

The company claims that it cross-referenced phone numbers of ride requests that were subsequently cancelled with Uber workers. A total of 5,560 such requests allegedly have been made since October 3, 2013, Lyft contends. A Lyft spokesperson also told CBS MoneyWatch that Uber staff who are responsible for recruiting drivers book rides on Lyft in hopes of poaching their drivers.

"It's unfortunate for affected community members that they have used these tactics, as it wastes a driver's time and impacts the next passenger waiting for that driver," said Erin Simpson, director of communications at Lyft, in a statement. "We remain focused on growing the business faster than any competitor through better customer experience and innovation."

Separately, Uber responded to CBS MoneyWatch's questions regarding another allegation that the company sent some of its New York City drivers text messages stating that, under New York Taxi and Limousine Commission regulations, it is illegal for them to also drive for other ride-sharing companies.

"The crux of the issue is that TLC regulations are unclear," Uber said in a statement. "We did send a text message a few weeks ago based on long-standing interpretation of TLC policy; however with conflicting interpretations we're now following the interim direction."

According to one wire report, Uber had denied intentionally trying to disrupt Lyft's service, although it does admit to offering recruitment incentives to attract customers of competitors.

There is a history of bad blood between the two companies, whose headquarters are situated near each other in San Francisco. As Dow Jones reported, they are "undercutting each other's prices, poaching drivers and co-opting innovations, increasingly blurring the lines between the two services."

Uber has a significant advantage in the fierce competition between the companies. Not only is it in many more markets than Lyft, but it also has received $1.5 billion in funding to date, versus $332.5 million for Lyft. Investors are betting that the companies could, in addition to undercutting the existing taxi and limousine markets, grab significant business as a logistics provider that can deliver packages.

Both Uber and Lyft have encountered significant resistance from existing transportation services, as well as from state and local government regulators who say that the companies often operate in a gray zone.

Update, 4:23 p.m.: Uber has issued a statement responding to Lyft's claims that Uber employees are deliberately scheduling and canceling rides, calling them "baseless and simply untrue." Uber also contends that "Lyft's own drivers and employees, including one of Lyft's founders," had cancelled 12,500 trips on Uber. Lyft dismissed that allegation as "false," calling it "an attempt to deflect from their illegal cancel campaign."

  • Erik Sherman On Twitter»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.

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