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So, fuck the disabled - we gots to get paid?

Really? You think it's more likely that their competitors have made up junk stories, than a company which has a known public history of ignoring rules and regulations, is breaking more rules and regulations?

Considering how many other taxi companies break regulations like this, but nothing said.

Uber does it, and its a massive issue.

I've lost count how many disabled unfriendly private taxi's there are, how many times the card machine "stops working". The industry in general is scummy. In general Uber is better than average.

And junk stories are very common, common service PR companies provide. About 50% of news stories are PR pieces, basically because journalists are lazy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_relations#Negative

I'm not saying this is one of those stories, but a huge quantity are. Especially when they mention other taxi companies in a good light, it makes it obvious.


Taxi companies may fight regulations, but they don't flout them.

If the city says, "We want 500 accessible taxicabs next year", taxi companies may say, "How about 200, five years from now?"

But they won't say, "Fuck you, I'm a special bro-snowflake and your rules don't apply to me."

Uber has gone out of its way to earn all the negative stories about itself.


If you have IP that you know a non profit is using without an explicit licence, you do not have to "go after them" - you own the IP and if you feel they're a worthy cause worth supporting, offer them "support" in the form of a no cost licence for your IP.

> View this from the position of a business with investors they're beholden to

I'm pretty sure even the most vindictive of VC investors can't compel a startup to break the law "because profits".


> companies might want to skip around accessibility issues when they're first getting started

So, if it's inconvenient, you get to pretend it doesn't exist because you're a "startup"?

That kind of mindset is what's wrong with the startup community. "Disrupt" isn't a synonym for "break any laws you don't like" and "startup" isn't a synonym for "I am above the law!"


Yes, you do. Accessibility laws generally include exemptions for small businesses. The Americans with Disabilities Act definitely does. Title III goes out of its way to only require "reasonable accommodation" that is "readily achievable" and not overly burdensome to the small business.

A company, like Uber, that has raised several hundreds of millions of dollars in financing, is definitely not a small business and doesn't get to claim that exemption.

The post I replied to was talking about the "startup community," so I was addressing that. A startup isn't breaking the law by not having the same level of accessibility as a large company. Uber has 2000 employees (excluding the drivers); they definitely wouldn't qualify.

That was exactly his point.

I'd really like to see you try and claim that loading a folded-up wheelchair that the occupant themselves regularly loads into a car on her own, is "overly burdensome".

I know the american legal system is pretty much fucked, but surely even you lot would have to accept that putting a folded wheelchair into the boot/trunk of a car is "reasonable accommodation".


In New York, there are thousands of wheelchair accessible taxis ( http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/passenger/accessible.shtml ), but there are also thousands of taxis that aren't wheelchair accessible. The ones that aren't accessible aren't breaking the ADA (then again, the ADA requires "reasonable accomodation," so the ones that aren't wheelchair accessible probably still have to make an effort to put a wheelchair in the trunk, if requested).

Black cabs are more accessible by default, but I'd assume if I called ahead for any taxi I'd need to let them know of any special needs, the same as if I needed to let them know I wanted a taxi for 7 people?

Shouldn't there be an area for adding special requests such as accessibility? You filter to the vehicles that are able and willing to take this passenger's money.

I can only assume that, as contracted drivers, they have to worry about scratches that may be caused by loading and unloading wheelchairs? Am I overlooking some kind of personal discrimination expecting people to be better?


The point here is that no special accommodation is required!!! The subject's chair fits anywhere a second passenger or a large suitcase would go. These two drivers didn't even want to try, and the second driver harassed her all the way to the airport, even after she put her chair in the car herself.

The special request feature wouldn't be hard to implement, but I'm not sure that it benefits drivers to respond to it unless there was also a system to incentivize them.

Such as being paid for accepting the business?

That seems like to right answer to me.

The ones that aren't accessible aren't breaking the ADA

But Uber is breaking the ADA.


As far as I can tell, Uber's argument is that its drivers are independent contractors, and if anybody's breaking the law it's the drivers and not Uber (because, frankly, that's always Uber's argument).

Taxis are also independent contractors. Not every taxi cab must be wheelchair accessible to comply with the ADA. Therefore it stands to reason that Uber's drivers don't necessarily need to modify their cars to comply with the ADA. I will concede that Uber drivers have a requirement to make a reasonable accomodation for disabled passengers.

It still isn't established if Uber's drivers really are independent contractors. But if they are, I don't see how Uber is in violation of the ADA. Individual drivers may well be. And Uber will need to sort things out if it expects people to continue to sign up as drivers.


> As far as I can tell, Uber's argument is that its drivers are independent contractors, and if anybody's breaking the law it's the drivers and not Uber (because, frankly, that's always Uber's argument).

I have a fun experiment. Let's ask the IRS if Uber's drivers truly are "independent contractors" as they argue, despite the regulations they impose on drivers which are surprisingly close to regulations you'd impose on an employee.

This has happened before, with costly consequences (Fedex Ground attempted to (illegally) label its drivers as independent contracts: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/10/23/h...


It happens all the time. And often the parent company is trying to avoid taxes (well, in theory the amount of taxes stays the same, it's just a question of who pays and who keeps the records). In this case, Uber's also trying to avoid learning about and complying with local, state and federal regulations (and, so far, they've been successful).

At least as far as federal tax is concerned, the IRS has some advice at http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employ... and http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employ... .


Can anyone submit a letter of determination to the IRS asking them to determine if Uber is operating legally with regards to its independent contractor worker classification?

I doubt it. But anybody can tell the IRS that they believe a person or company isn't paying their full share of taxes. I suspect that the IRS would prioritize complaints from, say, disgruntle corporate accountants, but it should be possible for anybody to report what they believe is tax fraud.

The IRS probably already knows about Uber. They probably haven't audited the company or asked for details, but they must be vaguely aware of how the company operates.


Uber is clearly the one provisioning the service to the customer, and is a large company. The drivers are contractors who do work for Uber, not for the customer. The customer pays Uber, Uber pays the driver. Uber is the car service, and must support its disabled customers.

I think that particular argument is pretty weak. Uber notifies the drivers of a pickup opportunity and they have the option of taking it and doing what the customer says for a while.

There's a lot of things that suggest Uber to be an employer, but the rides themselves seem very contractor-y.

Taking a percentage fee for putting driver and customer together leans away from employment, in my view. There are a lot of types of middlemen that are not employers.


> "startup" isn't a synonym for "I am above the law!"

It kinda is. Hear me out.

Commerce is bound to be political. Offering up a product or service for sale isn't always going to be acceptable to everyone. So we pass laws to tell people what they can and can't do. So far, so good.

Except that if this continues, the business landscape changes due to the collective weight of all these laws. Existing organizations that understand the growing burden of the necessary law that has to be complied with are eventually the only entities that can do business.

There needs to be some mechanism to operate in the opposite direction, to deprecate laws and allow smaller companies, who don't have the operational capacity to obey every single law that's ever been passed, to do business.

Law is an imperfect instrument, it remains imperfect no matter how much social good it does, it never foresees all the different ways that society can evolve. The startup, the small, scrappy player that seeks out market opportunities and creates businesses out of them, has to be willing to break laws, has to be willing to believe in itself and its ability to help society evolve.

Small economic actors have always played this role in society, there's nothing magic about Silicon Valley-style startups in this regard.


Should humans not get similar treatment, being allowed to ignore the law because it is bloated and outdated?

They do. Law enforcement resources are hopelessly and perpetually under-allocated. One can fly under the radar for a long, long time, so long as they don't start openly and flagrantly beg the "long" arm of the law to pay attention to them.

If you're both an under-privileged minority and you live in a heavily-policed area, this may not apply to you. But everyone else can operate based on a pragmatic assessment of the likelihood of getting caught.

Start a business that violates the law, so long as it's not one that invites the cops to bust through your doors, (i.e. drugs) your ability to operate will rest on society's judgment.

"Should be allowed" is language that hinges on a belief that the law is an inviolate arbiter of right and wrong. It is not. Crowd-sourced judgment is that arbiter. The law is just that arbiter's proxy.


How many hundreds of millions of dollars does it take before you are no longer a "small" actor?

That's not the right question to ask. The right question is whether we think Uber is innovative enough to change the laws for.

You've got your thinking backwards. It's not us that has to conform to the law, it's the law that has to conform to us. The right thing to do, IMO, is to make Uber conform to disability law, and do away with the other laws that seem to be doing nothing at this point besides protecting rents, like the taxi medallion system.

There are also other questions like whether we should consider Uber drivers to be employees or contractors. Any decently innovative startup will raise lots of these questions. Uber does just that.

Of course, it would require too much political capital to just do away with the taxi medallion system at this point. So we have to tolerate the grey state of affairs until the legal and political issues are wrangled.

Uber deserves to be rightly rich for being pioneers in this space.


> Uber deserves to be rightly rich for being pioneers in this space.

I have never been more disgusted by an answer on Hacker News. My apologies for that.

Uber's "wealth" is merely an artifact of VC money rushing into a space with an unjustifiable valuation predicated on the violation of transportation and disability laws.

Uber will be the Web Van of the mobility space. Cool idea, replaced by self-driving vehicles owned and operated by organizations willing to follow laws of the jurisdictions they operate in.


> predicated on the violation of transportation and disability laws.

You forgot labor laws.

I'm sorry you feel that way. I've attempted to lay out a rationale from as close to first principles as I can reasonably approach for the right relationship startups should have with the law and society and you've ignored it out of disgust.

No alternatives given for fixing the problems that legislation engenders for commerce, just irrational hatred.


> No alternatives given for fixing the problems that legislation engenders for commerce, just irrational hatred.

Not hatred, disgust. There's a significant difference.

What good is a service attempting to "disrupt" regulation if it lowers the quality of life for the most in need? THAT is not progress.


> There's a significant difference.

Not in that they're both irrational.


Wanting to be on the moral side of technological progress is by no means irrational.

The law is not necessarily moral.

I'd even go so far as to argue uber is larger than many taxi companies too. Not to take sides, but the whole small actor argument is bs now.

And "the law" is not the only measure of what's right. Just because it may end up being legal for Uber to discriminate against disabled doesn't mean they aren't major dicks.

There's a fundamental rule for living in the world: Don't be a dick. Uber is breaking that rule, through sociopathic sophistry.


there are many related fundamental rules, like "everyone is considered a dick by someone" and "you're a dick if you blame a group for the actions of a few."

mainly, though, none of these are actually rules because your subjective notion of what being a dick means isn't transferable outside of your head, even if it really, really feels like your opinions are right.


But by saying it, I hope to convince others. Because I really, really want "defending a corporation's right to condone and tolerate disabled discrimination" to be seen as being a dick.

Well, some provisions of the law only apply to businesses above a certain size, so yes, a startup literally can be above the law.

They're not above the law--it's just that, under a certain size, some law may not apply to them.

Uber is larger than most huge corporations. Their funding is astronomical (5.9 Billion) and their investors include folks like Goldman Sachs.

It isn't fair to real startups for giants like Uber to claim startup loopholes.


No one is claiming Uber has an out due to "startup" status. OP said "(somewhere well before billion dollar valuations)", which sounds like a clear shot at them.

Point is, early on it is understandable that Uber would take this kind of stance. Now, it's unconscionable.


But going the other way hinders progress in the name of very few people (if any) who may benefit from this kind of measures in very early stages. When the company gets a broad audience, then it becomes a concern.

And since the founders have growth in mind anyway, they'll be sure to make it possible to implement the measures later on (or they'll pay the price in court, either way all is well).


If i'm building an MVP I might not even fully support all of the popular browsers, let alone the correct standards for screen readers, and my page layout will probably break if you increase the font size. Similarly my website is probably only in one language.

(I'm not sure what my point is... I'm just thinking out loud.)


The Internet's a bit different, it's more of a virtual wild west... at least it used to be. If your service has a real world presence and you cut corners then you're more likely to bother someone - especially if you want to be ubiquitous.

The ADA applies to the Internet.

It does? Last I checked you don't have to make your page screen reader friendly. Some technologies are very inaccessible without modification.

Because you're catering to much smaller markets? I think the view above is something like a food delivery service not offering gluten-free or vegetarian options?

For certain values of "better" and certain values of "cheaper".

Depends entirely on your idea of "best". I value my privacy a lot more than most of googles "features"

I changed to DuckDuckGo in September-ish last year and I haven't looked back.


Best. Reply. Ever.

Large screen phones are quite popular in Asia, and it's not at all uncommon to see guys here with shoulder bags (basically a hand bag for a man) so the size issue is less of a problem.

For example: My Thai mother in law bought a Samsung something-or-other phablet that she could barely hold in one hand.


Pretty terrible result frankly. I geocode a number of tweets, but it shows my "location" as that of the office for a company I've conversed with here in Thailand.

That the .org TLD is open to anyone is a shame, and that it's used like this is even worse.

I know it will probably be an unpopular view here, but I actually quite like the approaches taken by Australia (where I grew up) and Thailand (where I live and run my business now)

In Australia you have to be a registered non-profit to get a .org.au domain, and you have to have an ABN or ACN to get a .com.au or .net.au. In the case of commercial domains, while it isn't checked at registration, if your domain name isn't somehow related to your company/brand name, (or even if it is and you aren't using it actively) you can lose it.

In Thailand, your .co.th domain name must match your company name - e.g. if you have HappyHamburger Co., Ltd, you can only register happyhamburger.co.th - this means new companies don't need to rush out and make sure they get the domain matching their company name (or even that it might be taken) to prevent squatters.


It being open to anyone isn't bad. It allows groups not formally incorporated as charities to have them, and many of those groups are befitting of a .org domain.

I don't know about the U.S., but in Australia a non-profit org is not necessarily a charity.

It's not universally unpopular, I tend to think the people who would care can't be arsed to. I know I gave up when ICANN started selling TLDs.

so what do regular people use as domain names ?

Well for Australia, you would use the .id.au suffix.

For Thailand, you would use the .in.th suffix.

Note however, that in Australia - any individual can apply for an ABN and if you're a freelancer or otherwise self-employed in Australia, you would need an ABN to issue tax invoices anyway.

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