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Is Uber legal in North Carolina? Is a special license required?

Ken Little
StarNews

Q. Are carpooling apps such as Uber that pay drivers to share rides in their private vehicles legal in North Carolina? Are special licenses or insurance required to engage in this type of business?

A. Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for state Attorney General Roy Cooper, does not think a special license is required.

“I’m not aware of any statewide ban on Uber type services. Local governments may have specific licensing or tax requirements that I wouldn’t know about,” Talley said.

A recent column for consumers by Cooper includes tips for consumers who are considering using sharing economy services such as Uber.

“The sharing economy is growing these days as companies offer innovative ways for consumers to access services they need, like a ride or a place to stay,” Cooper wrote.

He wrote that as communities and existing businesses work to figure out this new kind of business model, “many consumers are signing up to use the services. But make sure you know what you’re getting into and how to be sure you get the deal you expect.”

In the area of ridesharing, companies like Uber and Lyft offer quick access to rides from other drivers in their own cars.

The companies have apps that can be downloaded directly onto an individual’s smartphone or tablet to help find the nearest participating driver.

“The app also lets you see the name, photo, and customer rating of drivers,” Cooper wrote.

“Ridesharing services provide convenience and lots of options, but prices can fluctuate. Uber and Lyft charge more for rides at certain times of day or on certain days, such as holidays,” Cooper wrote. “This means that you could wind up paying more than the standard rate depending on the hours and the demand for rides in your area.”

Cooper cited an example from last Halloween, where one North Carolina consumer complained that an Uber ride from Raleigh to Durham cost more than $400.

“If you request a ride with one of these companies, you should be notified if elevated rates are in effect,” Cooper wrote.

Anyone who suspects they have been charged too much without notice should contact Cooper’s office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM, or file a complaint at ncdoj.gov.

Cooper offered several tips “that can help keep you and your wallet safe in the sharing economy”:

  • Stay safe. Riding alone? Ask your Uber or Lyft driver to pick you up and drop you off in a safe, visible location whenever possible.
  • Traveling alone? Tell a trusted friend where you’re staying and when you’re expected back. If you ever feel unsafe on a ride or at a host’s home, contact law enforcement and let the company know about it, too.
  • Shop around. Don’t assume you’re getting a better price or better service through ride or room sharing. Compare prices and services to make sure you get what you expect for a fair price.
  • Watch out for price hikes. If you’re about to get a ride with Uber or Lyft, make sure you know the rate and are comfortable paying it. If the app warns you that your fare is subject to an elevated rate, decide if it’s worth the cost or make other arrangements.
  • Get feedback from other consumers. Companies often allow consumers to see reviews written by past customers. Consider price and ratings when  shopping, but keep in mind that not all online reviews are accurate.
  • Consider paying with a credit card to improve chances of getting money back if things go wrong.

RELATED LINKS:

Are taxis legally allowed to pick people up at bus stops?

Is the public protected from exposure to taxi drivers who are sick?

 

 

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Jeff Taylor

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