New York cabbies caught overcharging passengers – 1.8 million times

The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission has uncovered a massive scam/scheme in which 1.8 million riders were overcharged.

The scheme netted 36,000 drivers an extra $8.3 million in cab fares, charging passengers about $5 too much for each ride.

The overcharging wasn’t even that hard for them to pull off – the cabbies would simply change their meter to a higher per-mile fare, reserved for rides in the Nassau and Westchester area.

When activated, the meter would show the new fare code, but I doubt anyone sitting in the back would actually notice. Sadly for the cabbies, the taxi commission did notice – and thanks to recording equipment and GPS tracking, they have been able to determine exactly which drivers were involved.

One driver – Wasim Khalid Cheema overcharged his passengers 574 times in one month, and has now lost his taxi license.

Of course, the cabbies are fighting back, claiming it could all just be one big misunderstanding. According to Bhairavi Desai of the Taxi Workers Alliance, the meters are to blame. Other cabbies join her – mentioning how easy it is to press the wrong button, complaining how small the buttons are on the meter.

Soon, New York taxi’s will be outfitted with updated fare warning systems, which will alert riders to the higher fare, and make them acknowledge the fare change on the rear displays mounted in New York Taxi cabs.

New website helps Seattle visitors share a taxi

Now that visitors to Seattle can hop on the light rail from Sea-Tac Airport into downtown (or take the 45-minute bus), fewer may be likely to take an expensive cab. But for those who don’t want to hassle with lugging baggage onto public transportation or who are arriving at odd hours, there is a new way to get from the airport into the city without spending the usual $40 on cab fare., which was just launched last week and is still in beta, promises to connect passengers looking for a cab with others who want to share. If you are interested in sharing a cab to defer costs, just log on and either search for a posted ride (rides are posted by time, origin, and destination) or post your own and invite people to share with you.

Sharing a cab would save you quite a bit of money (though not as much as taking public transportation). If you share with one other person, your fare would drop to about $20 from the airport into the city. Share with two people and it’s less than $15. Obviously, the more people who use the service, the better your odds of finding a taxi to share. When I searched recently, I only found one posted ride for the day, and it wasn’t even going into the city center.

It’s a good idea in theory…of course, you could just get in the taxi line and ask around to see if anyone is heading your way and willing to share their cab.

[via The Seattle Times]

Cabbie drives 1,600 miles — customer refuses to pay

Life as a cabbie is no walk in the park. They deal with drunk passengers, being robbed, and often spend part of their shift cleaning up puke in the backseat of their “office”.

The worst customers are probably those that take the cabbie for a ride. These thieves take advantage of taxi cab services, and run off without paying, when they reach their destination.

South Florida cab passenger Lucilo Perez (pictured here on the right) took things to the next level. Perez convinced cabbie Lelis Almeira to drive from Miami to Western Tennessee, without the means or intention of paying.

This is a 20 hour / 1,600 mile drive, and the cabbie had to pay for his own gas and food using his credit card.

When he arrived in Tennessee, the lady Perez was traveling to meet, said there was no way she’d pay for the cab. Apparently, Perez was under the impression that his lady friend would cough up the $3000 cab fare.

Memphis police arrested Perez, and he’ll now need to find the cash to pay his cab driver. Meanwhile, the cab driver has lost all faith in humanity. Though I do feel sorry for him, the tough lesson here is to get a guarantee that you’ll be paid – especially on a 1,600 mile journey.


Go Fast Cab brings text message taxi requests to Chicago

Go Fast Cab, a company that hopes to change the way you hail a taxi, is now offering service in Chicago. Rather than standing out on the street in the cold or rain, waiting impatiently for the sight of a taxi with an illuminated “available” light, all you have to do is text and a cab will arrive at your door.

Here’s how it works. You text your address to 777222 (777CAB) and the request is dispatched from Go Fast Cab to a local taxi company, who sends the next available car off to your location. Of course, that’s where the system has the potential to break down. At high volume times, you could be waiting a while (though you can text with the word STATUS for an update). You might wait just as long outside on the street-corner, but then at least you get to feel like you are doing something. You’ll also have the chance to flag down a cab from another company, whereas with Go Fast Cab, you’re pinning all your hopes on one dispatcher.

Still, on bad-weather days or for trips to the airport when I’m laden with bags, the idea of a cab showing up at my house, without me having to call and deal with cranky operators or endless holds, does sound nice. If you’re not in Chicago, you can still use the service too. The company, which started with San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County, has plans to expand Go Fast Cab to San Jose, Phoenix, Nashville and Charlotte.

London Black Cabs voted best in the world – Parisian cabbies the rudest

A European survey of 1400 tourists has revealed where you can find the best taxi cab service.

33% of the votes went to London, followed by New York (17%) and Berlin (6%).

London cabs were also given high marks for friendliness and knowledge of the routes. They do lose marks for being exceptionally expensive.

New York came second in almost every category, except safety. In fact, New York cabbies were voted “worst drivers”, though they make up for it with their knowledge of the city.

Taxi drivers in Paris were voted the most unfriendly, and rightfully so in my opinion.

In all the times I visited Paris, I never came across a single cab driver who seemed to posses the will to live, let alone the ability to provide friendly and reliable service to the millions of tourists visiting their country. Paris also takes the top place in worst taxi availability.