Uber is a great service for disabled people, and it should be the case that Uber Assist only improves this.
However, at present it isn’t.
So what’s the problem?
Uber By Itself Is Great
Now for clarity’s sake, I have been using Uber for a number of years and I think on the whole, it is a great tool.
It has helped me go from a part time freelancer to running a successful business.
I use it all the time and there have been times, when it has got me out of a few tight spots..
There are many advantages, especially when compared to traditional private hire firms.
Read: How To Travel If You’re Disabled
So why don’t I like Uber Assist?
Assist should be better right?
Well, it should be, but right now it isn’t working right.
What’s Wrong With Uber Assist
The first problem is that drivers are enticed to train for Assist by the offer of improved commission rates.
So, although the rider is not paying extra for a ‘improved’ service, the driver is actually making more money.
In practice, this means that drivers want Assist jobs, which you can understand.
However, the upshot is that drivers can be hostile if they’re not getting Assist rates.
This has happened to me on a number of occasions and it is less than pleasant.
One driver actually forced me to cancel the job and rebook as an Uber Assist job. This meant that I had to pay an extra £4 and it made the rest of the journey hell.
Now as I have said previously, I was using Uber regularly without too many problems before Assist was a thing.
Sure, every so often you got a driver who was less than pleasant but I have to say that Uber have excellent complaint procedures.
Don’t get me wrong the process could have been more straightforward but I just stuck to a script:
“That wheelchair won’t fit…”
“The wheels come off.”
“I’ll show you.”
That was all it took for the most part.
That was it and that worked for (most part) for YEARS
Then Assist has changed it.
Assist has given some drivers license to refuse you.
“Have you booked an Assist? You should have booked an Assist…
Now, technically I should book an Assist.
However, here’s the thing, I just want a Uber as fast as possible. I’m the customer after all, I should be able to choose.
I suspect that I would feel differently if there were logistical reasons why I couldn’t just jump in the first X that comes along.
But, I don’t and that is because I took the time think about it. I took time to think about the dimensions of my chair, how it comes apart and how to explain the process.
What I’m getting at here is by trying to be more inclusive, Uber is becoming exclusive, and some drivers are using it as a stick to beat passengers with.
What’s the answer?
I’m not sure…
However, I know what I want. I want to be able to order an Uber and ride like I have been doing for years, and not be harassed because of something that is of no benefit to me.