Uber has built its reputation on its reliability factor. Need a ride? Just pull out your phone and your driver will be on their way in no time. But not everyone is that lucky, especially those with disabilities.
Mollie Baland, who suffers from a rare eye condition that renders her legally blind, needed a ride to Regis University one morning during a snowstorm. The walk to campus wasn’t too long and she usually walked, but the ice on the ground made her nervous she’d slip and fall. She decided to call an Uber instead, but when her driver arrived, he refused to let her in because Baland had her dog, Ferris, with her… her legal service dog.
“The driver rolls his window down, and he says, ‘I can’t have a dog in here,'” Baland told The Denver Channel. “And I said, ‘Well, technically, under Uber’s policy, you can’t deny me because Ferris is my guide dog. If it makes you feel any better, I have a certificate to prove that he is a guide dog.’ And the driver did not say anything. He just drove away.”
This is not the first time that a situation like this has happened. In fact, a quick search of the right keywords will pull up multiple headlines near-identical to this very article’s title. To make matters worse, Uber was already sued in 2016 for these past occurrences by the National Federation of the Blind. The company settled the suit by agreeing to train their drivers to follow what is already a federal law and allow service animals into their vehicles. Uber also agreed to deactivate drivers who knowingly refused service to victims of disability with guide dogs.
In response to Baland’s claims, a spokesperson from Uber released the following statement: “We are deeply upset by this rider’s experience and have been in touch with both parties and have taken appropriate action. Drivers who use the Uber app agree to accommodate riders with service animals and comply with their independent obligations under accessibility laws.”
However, according to screenshots from Baland’s phone, “appropriate action” to them means giving them a warning.
“I’m very upset with how Uber handled the situation. The guy was only given a warning,” Baland said. “I am resilient. I just don’t want this to happen to other people.”
What do you think? Is the real victim here the driver who forced Baland and Ferris to walk half a mile in a snowstorm (and may have been allergic to dogs for all we know), or does this “Uber bullcrap” need to end? Let us know in the comments below!