back to article What, Uber charges disabled people fees for taking a while to get into their ride? Doesn't seem fair, says Uncle Sam

The US government sued Uber this week, claiming the ride-hailing app giant unfairly charges disabled riders waiting fees if they need extra time to get into vehicles. A surcharge is added on top of a ride fare if a passenger takes longer than two minutes to enter a vehicle after it arrives. Uber added wait time fees in some US …

  1. Winkypop Silver badge
    Stop

    See no Uber, hear no Uber, speak no Uber

    See title

  2. eldakka Silver badge
    Flame

    This is a deliberate tactic by Uber.

    I mean, how hard would it be to add a 'disabled passenger' button on the drivers app that a driver can just press when they realise it's a disabled passenger, thus waiving the waiting fee?

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      They're following the budget airline model where what you think is included in the price (e.g. time to get into the vehicle) is actually an optional extra. Uber will be charging for carrying luggage in the boot/trunk next.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Extras

        UK Hackneys (Taxis) charge for luggage. The rates vary by council but typically:

        LUGGAGE 30p:

        For each article of luggage conveyed inside or outside the vehicle and /or for each non-folding pram and /or for each person in excess of one and under five when using rates 1 and 2 only.

        (NOTE: luggage means suitcases or trunks NOT briefcases or carrier bags)

        When conveying a bicycle; Rate 2 should apply

        NO EXTRA CHARGE SHALL BE MADE FOR A DISABLED PERSON’S WHEELCHAIR OR AN ACCOMPANIED/ASSISTANCE DOG

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Extras

          "NO EXTRA CHARGE SHALL BE MADE FOR A DISABLED PERSON’S WHEELCHAIR OR AN ACCOMPANIED/ASSISTANCE DOG"

          Instead, a lot of hackney drivers simply refused point blank to carry such passengers and drove off (it gets reported semi regularly)

          It's quite hard to identify them too so they usually get away with it unless inspectors are running sting operations

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The business model is not to give the driver any autonomy

      They could simply add a disabled field to the account signup - with a sufficently involved process to ensure nobody ever manages it.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      How hard would it be for the passenger to have a "I have a disability" check in his profile so that UBER already knows not to apply the wait fee ?

      But that would go contrary to the Uber Way : charge everything you can possibly think of, refund maybe but only if the user complains.

      EDIT : hadn't gotten to the bottom of the replies before posting mine.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Whilst that is a very realistic approach the outcome may not be what people expect.

        Tick the box and you cannot get a ride.......

      2. Gruezi

        I for one would love an option to say I am disabled

        I have a visual disability, and love Uber because I dont have to faff with credit cards or cash in the back of a dark taxi. But I have lost count of the number of times I have had to text an Uber driver and say "hey I probably wont be able to see approach, so look for the dude with the short white stick and that will be me". I would love and option where I can tell Uber I am disabled and the driver would know and it would make pickups a hell of a lot easier.

      3. eldakka Silver badge

        > How hard would it be for the passenger to have a "I have a disability" check in his profile so that UBER already knows not to apply the wait fee ?

        While useful, it certainly isn't sufficient, as it wouldn't help much when a non-disabled customer orders a uber on behalf of someone who is disabled.

        Therefore the ability of the driver to, at time of pickup, indicate it is a disabled passenger would still be necessary.

    4. hoola Silver badge

      The entire thing is discriminatory.

      One of the reasons black cabs are, well black cabs is because they have all the accessibility features.

      There should be no justification in charging people extra time to get in or out of the vehicle.

      If the margins are that tight then something is wrong with the business model.

      But, having said that, looking at they way I have seen people with obvious physical disabilities or mobility issues treated in the US this attitude by Uber is no surprise.

      Uber, just like all the other US Tech companies believe they are outside any regulation or laws, anywhere they operate.

      They really are despicable and the attitude has to come from the very top.

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Headmaster

    RTFA

    The UK Supreme Court ruled in February that UK Uber drivers should be classified as employees and not contractors

    No. The Supremem Court ruled that the drivers who brought the case should be classed as employees. This had zero impact on any other Uber drivers (or any other gig-economy workers)

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: RTFA

      It is a Supreme Court judgement, so it is binding on other courts, and therefore applies to all Über drivers, and all other workers in similar circumstances.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: RTFA

        "and therefore applies to all Über drivers, and all other workers in similar circumstances."

        This part is simply untrue. I suggest you read the judgement, because neither you nor the other chap even know what the case was about.

        Obviously it isn't what you think, because no other drivers have followed suit.

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: RTFA

      The Supreme Court upheld the Industrial Tribunal decision that the drivers were "workers" and subject to additional benefits under law that Uber had denied them.

      by extension, this would also apply to anyone else in same position who choose to take Uber to court for recompense.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: RTFA

        "The Supreme Court upheld the Industrial Tribunal decision that the drivers were "workers""

        Correct. Finally someone is at least on the right page.

        "and subject to additional benefits under law"

        Nope, subject to additional costs, overall. That's why...

        "anyone else in same position who choose to take Uber to court for recompense."

        ...No-one has.

        The judgement is very simple and I suggest reading it. It does not say what is widely claimed.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: RTFA

      "ruled that the drivers who brought the case should be classed as employees"

      That is simply wrong. They are workers, but not employees.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: RTFA

        Loving the downvotes for a simple factual statement.

  4. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Yeah that's not cool

    Yeah that's not cool. You would hope it would have not had to come to a lawsuit, that they should have distinguished from the start between people screwing around and not getting in the car (... or actively saying "Hey could you wait 5 or 10 minutes") and people having trouble getting into the car. I'd hope if someone had that much trouble that it takes over 2 minutes to get in the car that the driver would offer to help, but I do realize maybe they won't.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Yeah that's not cool

      "I'd hope if someone had that much trouble that it takes over 2 minutes to get in the car that the driver would offer to help, but I do realize maybe they won't."

      From the sound of it, they did help but they couldn't tell the driver app that they had done so. The driver app only sees a delay between the driver pushing the "I'm here now" button and then the "We're going to start driving now" button, and billed the passenger accordingly. They could add a control for the passenger shouldn't be charged, but they didn't bother. Even with a driver's help, I'd imagine that loading a wheelchair into a car can take a while. Without the driver's help, I would think it very difficult at all.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey, uber drivers stop!

    Many taxi drivers spot a wheelchair and just keep going. It can take a long time for a wheelchair user to catch a yellow cab.

  6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    average wait time fee charged to riders last year was “less than 60 cents” per trip

    Average wait fee was less than 60 cents? Riiiight. because the vast majority of wait fees were able bodied people who were a couple of minutes late. Meanwhile, at the other end of the curve, are the disabled people who simply can't get them and any assistance devices into the care that quickly and I have no doubt will primarily be at the end of the curve where not only are the wait fees higher, but get charged them on every journey.

  7. ClarkMills

    Send fair

    In a user pays environment where a car, driver and time have real world costs this seems fair. If the users don't like the terms of service then either adapt and don't be late or go elsewhere.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Send fair

      I'm not sure that someone, for example who requires a wheelchair to be folded up and put in the back of the car, can adapt. Or are you one of those people who think the disabled, old and infirm should be locked away out of sight of the general public because of the extra cost incurred in dealing with the blind, the deaf those who can't walk etc?

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Send fair

      "If the users don't like the terms of service then either adapt and don't be late or go elsewhere."

      It's because of attitudes like this we need laws preventing disability discrimination.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Send fair

      That logic has been used for nearly every discriminatory or uncaring reaction to people with disabilities, and it's been wrong every time. If you can't climb stairs, then choose to work somewhere that already has ramps. If you can't see the screen of this visual application, find a different program for the purpose because why should we follow the various OS or window system accessibility systems?

      People with disabilities have lots of things they can't do already. We shouldn't be so uncaring as to add to that list simply because we're lazy about doing that little bit of extra work. In addition to it being ethically wrong to do that, we benefit from providing all of society the ability to contribute--many very skilled people also have physical problems and can do great work when not limited by someone's laziness.

  8. Justin Clements

    Sigh

    And this is why people hate big corporations. Simply give the driver the option to waive the fee if the customer is disabled and instruct them that by law they must do so. The disability laws really are quite straight forward in this case.

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