As consumers one of the things we tend to be most afraid of is being overcharged. This type of scam is exactly what has been uncovered in New York City. Everyone knows how congested New York is and how the city relies on its maxicab . When a patron enters a taxi they trust that the driver is charging them according to the rates are posted and universal among all taxis for that city. At its core, the real issue is how broken trust has led to theft.
In New York 59 cab drivers have been charged with stealing more than $235,000 from unsuspecting taxi riders. Instead of charging the rate for an “in town” fare, the cabbies were charging “out of town” rates. The surprising element in these thefts is that it appears that they were not “organized”. Each of the cabbies made the conscious decision to overcharge their clients independently!
Unfortunately, New York is not the only example of taxi drivers over charging their fares. In Lexington, Kentucky the world equestrian games are being held. Because of this, a drastic increase in the number of visitors to the city resulted in the demand for taxis. With this opportunity, drivers have been tempted to gouge the unsuspecting tourist. Several complaints have been logged in the Mayor’s office about cab drivers over charging. In response, the mayor met with 3 companies to discuss the problem, and is addressing it proactively.
A straight rate over charge is not the only way cab drivers can steal from their customers. Another form of over charging is to take longer routes. The cab driver may be charging the specified rate, but by travelling farther than necessary they can increase the amount the customer is paying for going from point A to point B.
As a consumer how can you protect yourself from either being overcharged by paying a higher rate or taking longer routes? First, if you suspect that you have been overcharged, address it with the cab company. All drivers have identification; take down the cab number, and name of the driver. Phone the company and discuss your concerns with them. To be proactive about the fare, call the taxi company to order a cab rather than just jumping into one. When ordering the cab, ask what the fares are for their fleet. If this is not an option, be upfront with the driver when you get in and find out what the rates are. As for the cabbie taking a longer route, if you are unfamiliar with the city a little research before hand can save you in the cab. You may want to Mapquest your destinations, or use your own hand held GPS to track the route the cabbie is using.