Yesterday I experienced another problem with access to rideshare. This literally averages once per week, sometimes twice in a row. The problem is similar no matter which rideshare company I use. The pattern is the same: driver stops, sees clearly marked SERVICE DOG, Driver YELLS: NO DOG, or “You CAN’T take the dog. Then, I TRY to educate (if they haven’t driven away already).
To rideshare drivers who continually tell me: “I just didn’t know they don’t tell us”
There IS training material. Do you need “scratch and sniff books” to understand it?
Please recognize when you sign up to provide rideshare it is a real job with real legal consequences.
When you see, something that looks like a dog, don’t assume I just want to take it with me to be cute.
I wish I didn’t need the dog but here’s the deal:
I have a disability. The dog functions as a cane. I tried various other ways to mitigate my disability but nothing else worked. Federal and state law requires that I be allowed to mitigate my disability using the SERVICE DOG.
When you see something that looks like a dog MR/MS RIDESHARE DRIVER here is what you do:
You can ask the person with the dog two questions:
1. Is the dog a Service Animal required because of a disability?
2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
If the reply to question #1 is yes, and there is a reasonable reply to question #2, you must allow the dog in your car PERIOD END OF STORY!
Here’s a link to Department of Justice ADA information
Notice, you cannot ask what disability the person has, or ask for documentation for the dog.
There is no new car, or allergy exception to the law. In the unlikely event that the Service Dog does damage or cleaning is required, you can charge the Service Dog handler a fee, just like any other customer.
Here are a few examples from each of the rideshare companies I have used (company names have been left out because my goal is education).
Driver: Is the dog going?
Me: “Yes she is a Service Dog required for my disability.
Driver (interrupting before I go on to TRY and explain how the dog functions):
“You will have to get another driver, I just can’t take the dog.”
Me: “The dog is required, she functions like a cane doing balance/ counter-balance, if you refuse service you will be in violation of Federal and State laws.
Driver: “Well let me call them.”
Me: “Please do and let me talk to them.”
In this instance the company did explain to the driver that if she drove away she would be deactivated from their platform because she is required by law to transport the Service Animal with me.
It’s pleasing that the driver took steps to call driver support, and get correct information. Out of a full year with an average of 6 trips per week, I had only ONE driver say she would contact her support line before refusing service.
There have been other instances where the driver shouted “You can’t take the dog,” and promptly left without allowing any other interaction and there have even been instances of the driver coming right up to me, seeing the dog, and hitting “cancel.”
When I experience a total denial of service I always complain to the rideshare company and I do additional complaints to the Department of Justice. The rideshare companies tell me they address drivers accordingly, including temporary deactivation while they make sure the driver understands the law.
After the fact education is better than nothing but, in the age of technology there is no excuse for having to do it.
Put yourself in my shoes just for the day:
You are physically not able to drive, not able to ride a bike, not even able to walk ½ block due to physical limitations. You have a way to mitigate your disability. You can be “normal” and get things done.
You must go for appointment so you start out an hour and thirty minutes early because you have no idea whether the driver who is “minutes away,” “like running water,” “at your disposal,” will comply with disability access laws.
You have a 1 in 3 chance that the driver will refuse service and you must try for driver #2 or #3 before getting the service you need.
On a rare great day there’s no problem on the first stop but, wait you have to do two more errands before heading home so on stop two, or three you just may encounter the driver who refuses no matter what you say.—so NO DOG, means NO RIDE, which means no idea if you are going to make it to your next appointment on time, or when you will return home.-- No way to run a life much less have a social life.
On a bad day:
First driver NO DOG, NO DOG NO DOG, yelled at the top of his lungs
Second driver: Roll by upon seeing the dog, hit “cancel,” I get a text “sorry our driver had to cancel today,” REALLY? After coming from 12 minutes away the driver just happened to need to “cancel” upon seeing the Service Dog? Third driver: “NOT IN MY CAR LADY” as he drivers away. Driver 4 finally knows the law and complies.
At the conclusion of the day, I contact customer care for the rideshare company. The reply is always the same, “so sorry, it’s not our policy, we will address it with the driver.”
Wonderful! Glad to know you don’t routinely discriminate against disabled people. Please find a way to communicate this to your drivers so that I am provided the same service as your “normal” customers.
To people who have said: “You do eventually get a ride, so what’s the big deal?”
I say, come spend a week in my body and I will show you “the big deal.” Navigating barriers to get things done is one thing, but having unnecessary barriers because some jerk does not know, or does not want to comply with the law, gets old. —These are people that get in your face and insist that they are correct, refuse to listen to anything you have to say, and roll away acting so superior.
PS: This is the 21st century and discrimination is against the law; I would also think it's considered rude to totally ignore a customer.
We appreciate all our friends. Please know when we are out and about we must say:
“Not now we are working!”
DD & SERVICE DOG GOODEE