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Beware of false taxi drivers

Saturday 3am in the inner north, I found myself requiring a taxi.  After a very short wait I was surprised at the arrival of two taxis.  The first taxi driver – a female, blocked off the street in what I first thought was a bid to block the second taxi driver off.  After she pulled into the kerb, I got into the taxi as the second taxi driver drove by.

As she pulled away from the kerb she was off to a jerky start.  When I questioned her about her experience in driving a taxi, her response was that it was a new taxi and she wasn’t familiar with it.  This was an excuse that I was only prepared to put up with for a very short time, as her manner was indicative of her driving – reckless and influenced by what I strongly suspect was heroin.

After demanding that she turn around and take me back to my point of departure, she had the nerve to tell me not to worry about paying her any money because “You can’t please everybody”.

After being freaked out by the whole event, it was suggested to me that the taxi was stolen.  I urge people to be cautious.

[ED - The interesting thing will be whether the ghosting driver was just planning to pocket fares, or shake passengers down harder.]

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19 Responses to
Beware of false taxi drivers
Skyring 8:39 am
03 May 10
#1

What did the police have to say about this when you reported it?

sepi 9:41 am
03 May 10
#2

Freaky. CT yesterday had a story about a legit taxi driver who regularly abuses passengers, drove off with someone half out the door, and always uses the highest fare rate. And I once had a wierdo taxi driver who kept asking me if I lived alone and which was my bedroom window etc. I’m glad I dont’ often need a taxi.

Skyring 10:39 am
03 May 10
#3

sepi said :

Freaky. CT yesterday had a story about a legit taxi driver who regularly abuses passengers, drove off with someone half out the door, and always uses the highest fare rate.

Well, we’re only hearing one side of the story there, but it sounds plausible. If the story is true it sounds like a good case for criminal charges being laid. There are cabbies who will routinely charge at the higher rate, especially if they think that the passenger isn’t dipping into their own pocket.

sepi 10:50 am
03 May 10
#4

It had been to the tribunal, so it was a verified story. the taxi network confirmed that this driver has been in trouble before. The only action they are able to take is to remove him from the job network (phone bookings), but he is still driving around picking up jobs at ranks.

It is a real problem – the taxi inidustry needs cleaning up, but taxis are already expensive, and making them vet drivers more thouroughly would only put prices up.

p1 10:54 am
03 May 10
#5

There definitely seems to be a subset of the taxi driving community who will make sure that the highest rate is set for anyone from a Gov’t Dept using a cabcharge.

notquitesigourney 12:08 pm
03 May 10
#6

Skyring – To be honest with you, I hadn’t thought of reporting it to the police until reading your comment. As I was drunk and in a state of shock I failed to get important details such as the cab number or a very good description of what she looked like. I’m unsure if a report to the police would be useful?

el 12:08 pm
03 May 10
#7

I don’t understand – What part of the story indicates that this was a ‘false’ taxi driver?

fgzk 12:19 pm
03 May 10
#8

notquitesigourney. Drunk. Yet you still could pick the subtle signs of heroin use. Which then brings me to the question of how the driver actually managed to navigate the fares system to intercept your pickup address. Sorry if H was involved she would have fleeced you no matter what.

p1 12:29 pm
03 May 10
#9

I’m unsure if a report to the police would be useful?

Might well be useful if in fact a cab was missing/stolen/whatever that night.

ML-585 12:43 pm
03 May 10
#10

In case you’re not aware, all ACT Taxi, Hire Car and Bus drivers are now required by law to display a Public Vehicle Driver Authority Card which includes a photo of the authorised driver.

According to the TAMS Media release
(http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/185488/MR130_0310_public_vehicle_ID_cards.pdf), “Passengers will be able to report a driver to the RTA on 13 22 81 if the card is not displayed, by noting the company providing the service, the vehicle’s registration and the time of hiring.”

Katietonia 1:18 pm
03 May 10
#11

sepi said :

Freaky. CT yesterday had a story about a legit taxi driver who regularly abuses passengers, drove off with someone half out the door, and always uses the highest fare rate. And I once had a wierdo taxi driver who kept asking me if I lived alone and which was my bedroom window etc. I’m glad I dont’ often need a taxi.

I had the same experience with a taxi driver, asking me if I lived alone and which bedroom was mine. I did make a complaint but never heard back. I just told him “I live with my brother, who is a complete psycho”.

Skyring 1:39 pm
03 May 10
#12

I’m a cab driver. I really detest cabbies who rip off passengers. So often we are put in a position of immense responsibility to get a passenger home safely when they are unable to drive, it’s late at night, they need help etc. etc.

When a cabbie takes advantage of a vulnerable passenger or compromises safety by driving while on drugs or hyped on too much Red Bull or just one too many double shift, then it gives the whole industry a bad name.

I took a cab the other day. The cabbie was honest with me about not having a credit card reader, he took me the most direct way from the airport to Fort Mason when he might have assumed I was a tourist who knew no better, he helped me find an ATM so I could get cash for the fare, he was helpful with current information and I was more than happy to give him a generous tip. But I still took his cab number.

Just in case. A good habit to get into. And I might have discovered some time later I’d left a phone or camera behind.

It doesn’t take much. Just a quick note of the details of the fare. At the very least the cab number. It might be the morning after when you realise that something wasn’t quite right, and the more details you have, the better.

trix 5:47 pm
03 May 10
#13

In case you’re not aware, all ACT Taxi, Hire Car and Bus drivers are now required by law to display a Public Vehicle Driver Authority Card which includes a photo of the authorised driver.

Wow. Haven’t seen one in any of the several taxis I’ve taken in the past few weeks.

I also haven’t seen a rate card either that tells you when they charge the higher rate and when they do not – or do these not need to be displayed?

bd84 10:07 pm
03 May 10
#14

Jerky start? I would suggest that 99% of taxis in the ACT are automatic, it would have rung alarm bells to begin with if they were driving a manual. The cab number is displayed in various parts of the taxi, including inside. I don’t really understand that if you were sober enough to remember some things in detail and your alarm at the ride why you wouldn’t have taken a cab number. Seems all a bit strange, but you could probably make good money from picking up drunks and charging anything.

Skyring 2:43 am
04 May 10
#15

bd84 said :

Seems all a bit strange, but you could probably make good money from picking up drunks and charging anything.

Most drunks are going home and know roughly what the fare should cost. The really drunk drunks might not be able to work out they are being ripped off, but the downside is that they are drunk drunk drunk and likely to be out of money, throw up in the car, go to sleep, get emotional/angry/abusive, talk crap etc.

Quite frankly, there are easier and safer ways to make money. The best way to rip off drunks? Open a nightclub.

MsCheeky 2:17 pm
04 May 10
#16

Just as a matter of interest (particularly for Skyring, the globetrotting bookcrosser), I’ve spent a bit of time in taxis in Shanghai, China. When you enter the cab, the driver presses a few buttons to start the electronic metering, and at the end, presses a couple more and hands you a receipt that details time of the journey, cab identifying info, and I don’t know what else because I can’t read chinese. If you leave your camera in the back of the cab or have any problems with the driver, the cab is easily identified.

The cabs are generally clean and well maintained, often with a touch screen for the passengers to play with. The average quick journey around the city costs about $2, and tipping is not expected. I didn’t come across any problems with drivers, though obviously couldn’t chat with them about the footy or whether I live alone, but my son who lives there tells me they are almost always honest.

astrojax 1:07 pm
05 May 10
#17

they also execute people in china for relatively minor offences, so little wonder cabbies are honest! ;)

Skyring 10:11 am
08 May 10
#18

MsCheeky said :

Just as a matter of interest (particularly for Skyring, the globetrotting bookcrosser), I’ve spent a bit of time in taxis in Shanghai, China. When you enter the cab, the driver presses a few buttons to start the electronic metering, and at the end, presses a couple more and hands you a receipt that details time of the journey, cab identifying info, and I don’t know what else because I can’t read chinese. If you leave your camera in the back of the cab or have any problems with the driver, the cab is easily identified.

Sounds like a good idea!

Japan’s cabbies are delightful. I really like the lace covers on the seats. Not sure about the optional seatbelts.

American cabs are very hit and miss. Sometimes literally – I was involved in an accident in one at JFK. But I’ve travelled in some really grotty ones here and there. The worst was in Charleston, where there were months, if not years of grime and rubbish visible in corners.

A recent ride in Istanbul was alarming. The cabbie obviously moonlighted as a racecar driver. Then again, just driving in Istanbul is alarming. Most Australians would be put off by a street that is smaller than the vehicles using it, but these young Turks happily use narrow lanes for tour bus shortcuts.

Hong Kong has a great taxi industry. Cheap and convenient, and if you can’t speak the language, the driver hands you a cell phone, you talk to an English speaker, you hand the cellphone back to the driver and your instructions are translated.

Canberra’s cabs are pretty average, IMHO. Standards are rarely enforced, and about the only interest the police show in taxis lies in writing tickets for trivial parking infractions. What about the cabbies who rip off the passengers, or drive a shift on someone else’s licence? Where are the police then?

madchihuahua 4:30 pm
03 Jun 10
#19

“As she pulled away from the kerb she was off to a jerky start. When I questioned her about her experience in driving a taxi, her response was that it was a new taxi and she wasn’t familiar with it. This was an excuse that I was only prepared to put up with for a very short time, as her manner was indicative of her driving – reckless and influenced by what I strongly suspect was heroin”

Are you a doctor?, Are you a professional driver?, are you sure it happened?, because you seem to know about everything. I’m pretty sure i’d rather be in a car with her than you. i’ve had worse cabbies than that. Anyway, you’ve probably have had more rear-end accidents than a gay in locker-room, because if writing is an indicator of driving, yours’ is probably more reckless because you think have the right to judge, yet you’re impatient.

Anyway, not that this heroin-addict cabbie would be reading this. Maybe it’s better they have a job, if they lose it, they might be the one breaking into your house and stealing your stuff.

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