[Avodah] Hasagat Gevul of a bus company

T613K at aol.com T613K at aol.com
Tue Jan 8 06:35:30 PST 2013


From: Arie Folger <afolger at aishdas.org>

>> Dear  Ovedim,

Pitchei Choshen Geneiva veOnaah pg. 269 wonders whether a cabbie  may
solicit customers from a bus stop. Is it like recruiting customers from  a
competitor's store, which is prohibited? One argument in favor of  allowing
it - which, in my opinion, is unconvincing - is that bus stops are  not like
store, but merely convenient place markers for customers to know  where they
can flag a bus.

However, I can two other possible  distinctions that might make the practice
permissible, though I am  unsure.
1) the product taxi ride and the product bus ride are  fundamentally
different services....<<

Kol tuv,
Arie Folger,

This reminds me of an old joke which may be relevant.  A man  comes home 
from work all red-faced and out of breath and his wife says, "What  
happened?!"  He says, "I decided to save two dollars so instead of  taking the bus, I 
ran home behind the bus."  "You idiot!" she  replies.  "You should have run 
home behind a taxi, you could have  saved TEN dollars!"
If someone came into a store and offered customers similar products for  
much less money, he could be said to be undercutting the shopkeeper.  But  if 
he offered a different product, and much more expensive at that, how is that 
 undercutting his competitor?
Related to this question of why taxis are so much more expensive than  
buses, well, I don't know if buses in Israel are privately owned and operated  
for profit, but here in Miami buses are run by the government and the fare  
doesn't come close to paying for the cost of the transportation, which is  
heavily subsidized by the taxpayers.  Taxis, in contrast, are private  
businesses.  Perhaps someone here can tell me if hasagas gevul applies to  
providing a for-profit alternative to a government service?
I remember the famous story of the Chofetz Chaim, who supposedly tore up a  
postage stamp when he gave a letter to someone to deliver personally -- so 
that  the government wouldn't lose the money it was "owed."  I never 
understood  that story because if you didn't use the government's service, why 
should you  have to pay the government anyway?  Is sending a letter with a 
friend some  kind of hasagas gevul issue vis-a-vis the United States postal 
service?  I  don't see it. 
OK but then you will say the issue isn't using a taxi instead of a bus,  
it's the taxi driver using the bus stop -- built and operated by the  
government -- for his own private use.  Well OK suppose I told my friend,  "I have a 
letter for you to take to Israel, meet me at the post office and I'll  give 
it to you."  Hasagas gevul?  Or suppose I went up and down the  line of 
people waiting at the post office and said to them, "I can deliver that  letter 
for you at five times the price the post office is charging, but it  will 
get there quicker."  Hm I think I see...yes, it might be a  problem.
But the question was framed as "whether a cabbie may solicit customers from 
 a bus stop. Is it like recruiting customers from a competitor's store, 
which is  prohibited?"  Which implies that a private business (a taxi vs a bus 
or UPS  vs the post office) can in any sense be considered competition to a 
public  taxpayer-paid service.  But can it?
If I am out walking and get tired, I can't trespass on someone else's  
property and go sit on their lawn chair.  But I can sit and rest at a bus  stop. 
 Isn't the bus stop public property to be used however the public  wants to 
use it?

--Toby  Katz


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