Opinion: Uber’s age limit should be enforced

If you are an underage customer of Uber, have you ever been told that there is a minimum age requirement of 18 as part of Uber’s terms and conditions? The answer from the majority is “no”. The age limit has always been an artificial aspect of Uber. It seems to be a trick for the…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/janejingblog/" target="_self">Jane Jing</a>

Jane Jing

April 5, 2016

If you are an underage customer of Uber, have you ever been told that there is a minimum age requirement of 18 as part of Uber’s terms and conditions? The answer from the majority is “no”. The age limit has always been an artificial aspect of Uber. It seems to be a trick for the company to avoid taking liability for minors, while still making money by not enforcing the rule. Though Uber makes the lives of adults and teenagers easier, the age limit damages the service’s usefulness, since minors are less likely to have their personal transportation and Uber can solve many of their difficulties.

I have had a lot of personal experience with Uber. While trying to let my parents rest, and lacking the ability to drive myself, I have called upon Uber as my only solution to attend early dance practice at 5:30 a.m. Beginning last year, my experiences with Uber were fine, with nothing really bad happening to me, except for one driver who I met twice. It was he who first told me that it was illegal for me, a minor, to take Uber.

A $6-penalty would be implemented for canceling the ride after five minutes. But, that was not the issue. What really mattered was my concern about being able to take Uber in the future. No one around me has ever noticed this rule that the Uber company itself generally does not enforce. Bad things do not usually happen; most Uber drivers are generous and willing to transport minors.

“I started taking Uber a year ago — up until now. Overall, I had a pretty good experience with Uber. Nothing bad ever happened to me; I used it whenever my parents [couldn’t] drive me somewhere, since I don’t have my license yet. But, I [did] not know there is an age limit, and no drivers have ever mentioned that to me,” said Sierra Canyon junior Genevieve Hannelius.

In today’s society, more and more parents are considering Uber as a tool to reduce part of their daily duty so that they no longer have to spare work time or give up free time to drive kids to practices or to the movies. With Uber, everything works in a better and easier way. So, in terms of efficiency, Uber has definitely benefited our society on many different levels. However, for the credibility of Uber, it is essential to avoid ambiguity and make their stand of their appealing or enforcing the age limit.

“My kids [take] Uber occasionally, when they are going some place that’s an hour away and I can’t drive them. And, I did not know about [the age limit]. If [the Uber company] is having it as a rule, then they should really enforce it. For a lot of people it would be a huge inconvenience, but if that’s their rule because they have to worry about the liability of the company, they should enforce [the age limit],” said Alison Terry, a homestay parent.

The Uber company’s tagline states that Uber is “everyone’s private driver”. However, according to the company’s legal terms and conditions: “You must be at least 18 years of age, or the age of legal majority in your jurisdiction (if different from 18), to obtain an account. Account registration requires you to submit to Uber certain personal information…The service is not available for use by persons under the age of 18.” The age requirement has made Uber deceitful. I have been taking Uber for two years as a minor, and I have never been told of this age limit until recently. I believe the majority of teenagers who are under 18 have no clue about this condition as well, but, they are able to have functioning accounts that allow them to call for rides.

“I am taking Uber, and I knew there is an age limit, but they don’t really enforce [it]; they just want the money. I ‘Ubered’ a lot the year before I had my license… I felt like it’s a great tool because it’s much cheaper than the taxi. So, I think they should take away the age limit, or make it an age [limit] [of] 13 or above, or something more lenient. Because I don’t think 15, 16, and 17-year-olds are going to have a problem taking Uber as long as they trust the company,” said junior Hunter Bleeden.

Besides that, something more intriguing is on the registration page of Uber’s official website. The only information that customers are required to provide is their email address, password, name, contact information, and payment method. Age is not even required on the registration page. The company must be aware that people don’t care about the tedious statement of their rules. So the actual intention of the company is somewhat distorted from its advertisement of “making life easier, and everyone’s private driver” to  merely making money. By having an age limit in the rarely read agreement and not enforcing it, the company has found a way to get out of taking liability for teenage patrons, while still keeping minors as a “special” group of customers and making money.

The issue of minors taking Uber is still of paramount concern and a controversial topic in people’s daily discussions. Should minors take Uber? Is Uber a safe way of transportation? And why is there an age limit, if Uber doesn’t enforce it? Frustrated by Uber’s poor customer service, I have tried numerous ways to reach Uber to get a reasonable explanation about the age limit. Though, all in vain; I have found no email addresses, no contact numbers, and no responses through Twitter or blog. On that account, I tried to interview a Uber driver, who may have a more intrinsic understanding of the age limit. To my surprise, he spoke to me in Spanish that I barely understood let alone doing my interview, so that didn’t work as well. It is essential that Uber responds to these questions with thoughtful answers in order to calm the teenage customers, and either repeals the age requirement or enforces their rules.


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