back to article Uber to pay millions to settle claims it ripped off disabled people with unfair fees

Uber has promised to cough up a few million of dollars to settle claims it unfairly charged disabled passengers waiting fees if they took extra time to board their rides. The car-hailing biz was accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in a lawsuit brought by the US government last year. Uber adds extra …

  1. Blackjack Silver badge

    Taxis may not be perfect but I was never so glad I never used Uber or something similar due to fear of getting robbed or worse.

    And yes that has happened with these kind of "services", just Google it.

    1. NeilPost

      That’s doesn’t negate taxi’s globally from being a grubby CARTEL- including local councils, city authorities, licence/shield issuing bodies, drivers, taxi companies - ripping people off for decades until Uber arrived and gave it a hefty kick in the balls.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        FAIL

        You might want to look up the definition of cartel. Taxi service regulation varies wildly from country to country as does experience with it. This is the opposite of a global cartel.

        Uber's promise of cheaper fares was predicated almost entirely on lower payments to drivers by increasing the number of casual workers who don't get paid health insurance, etc. There was a lot of spin about differential pricing as the key to increasing capacity when demand surged but the data of the last five years have shown this be little more than an illusion.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          You forgot the part about Uber having operating losses. Easy to look good if you don't care about making a profit.

  2. Winkypop Silver badge
    Pirate

    Pirates

    The lot of ‘em

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Pirates

      The most popular presentation at a recent business conference I attended was "Be more pirate" presented by Alex Barker.

      Emulating the mythological success stories of 17th-18th century pirates has become highly fashionable. It's been forgotten that in reality almost all the many hundreds of pirates throughout this period were short lived and very unsuccessful. The exceptions can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The current message is simply - ignore the rules and do whatever you want to get on (admittedly rather the like the general ethos of the real pirates) but it fails to take account of either its effectiveness or its consequences.

      For a more balanced view of piracy, see Lane, K.E., Blood & Silver, Signal Books, UK 1999, or Cordingly, D., Life among the pirates, Little Brown & Co, UK 1995.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Pirates

        The descriptions of pirates given by R L Stevenson in 'Treasure Island' is hardly complimentary, and that was published in 1894. (Excellent read too, especially the description of 'driving' a coracle.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pirates

        Which hand?

        Not the one with the hook?

  3. seven of five

    Why is this legal anyway?

    "To settle the case out of court, and with no admission of wrongdoing"

    They broke the law. Discriminated customers. Ripped of their workers.

    When I break the law, I am in trouble.

    Why can they get off the hook that easy?

    Too many things are broken in USAland.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Why is this legal anyway?

      If they fix the system and reimburse those affected... I'm all for doing it in a speedy way, rather than having it drag out over months.

      But despite not being an admission of guilt, it should also not be a permanent immunity... Anything else they do and this should be lumped back on top.

    2. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Why is this legal anyway?

      Since they refunded the customers they can claim that it was always their policy to refund wait fees for disabled customers and that they just have a very slow processing time. It would not be an effective use of tax money for the DOJ to force this to go to a very long trial as the out of court settlement is good enough.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Why is this legal anyway?

        Whilst I accept the point about good use of public funds and the expense of a long trial, as I read the article, Uber has agreed to provide the customers with a credit of twice the cost of the extra wait time. That is not the same as refunding. It means that the only way to benefit from the agreement is to use the service again.

        1. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: Why is this legal anyway?

          Neat.

    3. thejoelr

      Re: Why is this legal anyway?

      This is not the only lawsuit related to this, and they've done great stuff like argue they aren't a ride sharing service.

    4. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Why is this legal anyway?

      It's the power disparity between corporations and individuals. It's not just a legal issue; it's also programmed into society's conditioning and values.

      If I shoplift and am caught, I will go to jail, and society will look down on me as being a criminal. I can't just say, "Oops, sorry, here's your <name-of-item> back." and then walk away scott-free.

      If a business overcharges, they can say, "Oops, it was a billing (or "computer") error. We'll give you a credit." and they are legally-and-societally in-the-clear.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought these people want to be part of mainstream society. Nothing says inclusiveness like being an Uber profit centre.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Unhappy

      I live in Reading, UK. The pavements on London Street have been 'prettified' by the inclusion of textured surface comprising approx 10cm square blocks which protrude a few mm above the normal surface and cross the enter width of the pavement every 10m or so. Noticing a person in a wheelchair struggling to go up the hill in some hot weather a few years back I asked if he would like a push, and he accepted. The wheelchair was really difficult to manage over the protrusions. I'm afraid that much of society discriminates against disabled people either by accident or design. So Uber's charging for time taken boarding the vehicle does rather put them in the mainstream. Sorry.

  5. John Robson Silver badge

    So now...

    instead of being charged for being "too slow" to get into an uber, they are charged time to fill out a form which others don't need to fill in...

    1. Swarthy

      Re: So now...

      And having to disclose a medical condition... And given Uber's track record that HIPAA data will be up for auction very soon.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: So now...

      I wonder what "disabled" means? If you don't have a registered disability, but some other reasons for taking longer to get in the car, such as a leg in a plaster cast, a temporary disability, or something more long term, like getting quite old and infirm. Or one of the "non-visible" disabilities or conditions that may not be "registered" with "authorities". Do they get to fill out waiver forms too? Or does this only apply to people on some sort of "list". Will Uber accept a waiver based on the customers own description?

      1. VicMortimer Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: So now...

        There's no such thing as a 'registered' disability in the US.

  6. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

    Really?

    "This agreement sends a strong message that Uber and other ridesharing companies will be held accountable if their services discriminate against people with disabilities."

    An out-of-court settlement without admission of wrongdoing, I'm not convinced.

    Paying a fee to make legal problems go away isn't accountability,

    it's more cost-of-doing-business

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uber really should be banned, they have constantly shown they have no interest of following the local laws in any country they are in or even treating customers decently.

    Who would charge a disabled customer for taking too long to get into a vehicle or order a meal at a restaurant etc?

  8. Jim-234

    I'm guessing Uber's solution will be to just tell drivers tough luck, you have to sit there as long as it takes and if that means you get paid next to nothing, well we don't care.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh no, it doesn't mean that drivers will be paid 'next to' nothing for waiting longer.

      It means they'll be paid exactly nothing for it. Uber doesn't pay the driver a penny until the ride starts.

  9. Boo Radley

    Taxi Driver's Viewpoint

    As a taxi driver, I give every customer 5 minutes to get into the car, but getting out is a slightly different issue. I had a semi-regular but not disabled customer who would pay his fare, and then take up to, literally, 10 minutes to get out of the car. Yes, he was overweight, but not morbidly obese. He would get his legs our so that his feet were on the ground, then rock back and forth to get momentum to get upright, usually failing the first few times. He would ask me to take his hand and pull him up and out, which we're not allowed to do. Plus, he would stop after each failed attempt to talk for a minute, and would only shut up when I told him to get out. His girlfriend could always see how angry his behavior made me, and the last time he rode with us I told him upfront that I wouldn't accept payment until he was actually out of the car, charging him wait time while he attempted to exit the car. That was the last time I saw him as a customer. I now see him riding with the only other local taxi company, and I'm assuming that they're charging him the same wait time that i threatened him with, as they're notorious for being jerks to their customers.

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