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Thursday 11 September 2014

Uber – Now It’s Disability Discrimination

Driver and rider matching service Uber now has another problem for its army of lawyers, lobbyists and spinners to get their collective teeth into, far away from the organisation getting banned in Germany, as I noted yesterday. Back in the States, Uber has been sued for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after a number of incidents involving blind customers.
Several Uber drivers appear to have had a problem carrying guide dogs, or, as they are called in the USA, service dogs. It was claimed “one passenger had her dog forced into the trunk of a car, and the driver refused to pull over when the passenger objected. Another claims that a guide dog was nearly run over and a passenger struck with an open car door when a driver sped off after refusing a ride”.

What all those right-wing, freedom-loving, technically hip Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants in London, who have raved over how allegedly wonderful Uber is, make of this one will be interesting to see. But then, none of the ones that have passed before my inspection have any kind of disability, other than having had their sense of humour surgically removed.

It has been reported that “The California chapter of NFB (the National Federation for the Blind) claims it knows of at least 30 instances of blind customers being illegally denied rides. In one instance, a blind would-be passenger explained to their dispatched driver that the dog was a service animal, only to be cursed at”. So what has been the Uber response thus far?

You’ll love this: “After filing a complaint to Uber, [a blind customer who experienced issues with the service] got a response that its drivers are ‘independent contractors and we cannot control their actions’. It's unclear if Uber deactivated the driver involved”. By that same token, it would be pointless to complain about any instance of bad service, inappropriate behaviour, or worse.

Those instances of bad service include “In some cases, drivers allegedly abandoned blind travellers in extreme weather and charged cancellation fees after denying them rides”. It could be that the drivers have no awareness of the USA’s disability laws, of course, but the taxi drivers that they are trying to drive out of business have to have that knowledge, or they don’t get to ply for hire.

Nor, of course, do London’s cabbies have the luxury of not bothering to familiarise themselves with their duties towards the less able in society, who are bound to be disproportionately heavy users of taxi and minicab services. Or does Uber believe it can now pick and choose its clientele to suit its desire to grow bigger and stronger, and score More And Bigger Paycheques for Itself Personally Now?

The more I discover about Uber, the less pleasant this organisation appears.


Anonymous said...

This kind of behaviour is not unusual in taxi companies in the UK. It's definitely not unique to Uber.
I'm partially sighted and have been dumped in strange parts of town,overcharged by taxi drivers who realise I can't read their meter, refused a ride at all, accused of being drunk when I stumble getting in or out etc.
Inevitably it is much worse for those who have to use guide dogs - they are routinely denied service and treated in the same way as uber drivers apparently are behaving in the US.
When you try to complain most taxi services will tell you their drivers are self employed - they are just the dispatchers so they have no control over them and you must complain to the council.
Before pretending this is unusual or somehow related to Londoners in bars who want an alternative to London cabs it might be worth asking some of us disabled ppl what our experiences are.

Unknown said...

Uber isn't disrupting cab service for me.I love how I can just open the app hit request and usually within minutes my Uber driver is there.It's super convenient and definitely worth a try.