16 Feb Driver reveals increase in number of fare-dodging passengers
Move to an app based booking system; that is the advice from zoom.taxi following reports about the number of people dodging cash fares.
The call for private hire vehicles to move to a system where they can ensure payment when they accept a journey comes after drivers in Grimsby try to fight back against fare dodgers.
In an interview with the Grimsby Telegraph local driver Linda Richardson reveals how she had four customers run away without paying in just one week and has lost over £100 in fares since December and says other drivers have to deal with the same problem on a daily basis.
Speaking out, the drivers say “enough is enough” as they battle fare-dodgers, drug dealing, prostitutes, child vandals and even passengers weeing on their seats. Some say they have to spend their own money making repairs to their cars after they are damaged by passengers.
But Linda, who has been a taxi driver for 21 years and has even been held at knife point, wants to stand up to the fare dodgers and the anti social behaviour which is affecting the livelihood of those in the industry.
And alarmingly, she says there has been a significant rise in problems facing drivers since October.
“You really would be surprised at some of the people who run away or simply tell us that they are not going to pay their fare.
“We have had school teachers, old pensioners from Waltham, drug dealers and people who have just drunk too much, there is no stereotype of the people who just refuse to pay or run away.
“The one that really annoys me though, is when we are clearly being used for a drug deal, and we see the person get out of the car, go and buy their drugs, which they clearly have money for, then at the end of the journey they run away or just say that they are not paying.
“The thing is, it can get very intimidating when someone runs away or refuses to pay, because they are stealing from you, but you don’t know what might happen if you stand up for yourself and try and get your money back.
“It can be a bit ridiculous, I have had someone empty their handbag to show me they have no money, but can give me half a bottle of perfume.
“I have even had someone once offer me two bottles of shampoo instead of paying.
“People need to realise that when they ring a taxi driver and they know they do not have the money to pay for it then they are committing fraud.”
Another driver in the Lincolnshire town said she had one passenger run out of her vehicle and into his back garden before answering the door to her in his boxer shorts and claiming he had never left the house.
“I was having none of it though and demanded he paid me my money. I eventually got it,” she said.
Driver Andy Moore said: “The biggest problem that I have is the kids that think it is funny to attack your vehicle with bricks and stones, it is going to lead to a serious injury one day.
“You get it all over the town, there are these groups of kids that will leave a bicycle or scooter in the middle of the road, expecting your vehicle to stop when you get to it, then they start pelting you with bricks and stones.”
Fareed Baloch said the problem with cash fares is the need for trust between driver and passenger and that is why increasingly people were moving to a system where payment can be confirmed.
“It’s only a minority of people but the fact is with the pressures in the industry already and the high costs of running a vehicle many companies, particularly sole traders or small businesses, want to make sure their passengers cannot run off without paying.
“That is why we have our app which means if there is a problem with certain areas or certain passengers then they can take payment details in advance and ensure that any damage can be covered.
“Of course there are some people who will prefer to pay with cash and the system allows for that too, but many people like the flexibility of paying via app and having journey details and receipts sent straight to their email.
“It’s one of the reasons why so many young people in particular use Uber and rather than lose those potential customers to Uber drivers, local companies can offer both the 21st century technology with the local link.”