20 February 2020
The Consequences Of Overcharging Passengers
When becoming a taxi driver, you have to deal with numerous stereotypes and accusations, such as, “They always go the long way to overcharge you”, or “They’re just going to rob you if you’re not careful!”
However, over the last few months, there have been numerous reports of passengers being overcharged or taken advantage of.
Several reports have been popping up across the country of drivers taking incredibly long routes for journeys that should have taken less than half the time to get the passengers to their destination.
In December 2019, it was reported on the Daily Mail how an account manager named Ashleigh Cooper was charged nearly £530 for an 84-mile trip from St James’s Park in London to Gillingham in Kent, a journey which should only have been 40 miles. What should have been a straight journey along the A2 in London turned into a massive detour, heading towards Heathrow in the west and driving down the M25, before reaching Gillingham in the east.
In February 2020, a drunken London passenger requested a 5-mile journey from Russell Street in the centre of London, to Notting Hill in the east. However, the driver gave him an unexpected tour of East London towards Stratford, before turning around to head to the correct destination. The passenger was slapped with a charge of nearly £130.
Also in February 2020, it was reported that Uber driver Cornel Mihai exploited blind singer and passenger Victoria Oruwari. Once the journey had ended, Mihai persuaded her to hand him her phone so that he could end the trip. What he didn’t tell her was that he was going to give himself an unauthorised £20 tip. Mihai was promptly dumped by Uber and stripped of his minicab licence. Though he denied any wrongdoing, he was convicted of fraud by false representation, and ordered to commit to 240 hours of community service, with a 5-month prison sentence suspended for a year.
Wheelchair users are also a common victim of overcharging by taxi drivers. A common tactic has been to turn on the meter before helping the user get into the vehicle safely.
During a study conducted by the BBC in 2015, it was concluded that wheelchair users were regularly charged much more than able-bodied passengers. Wheelchair user Bal Deol and BBC producer Qasa Alom took 12 separate (but identical) taxi journeys, with Bal being charged more every single time. Undercover filming also showed a woman being told by a taxi driver that he had to charge her more than “normal people” because her wheelchair was heavy.
What are the consequences of overcharging passengers?
All taxi drivers must regularly keep themselves up to date with the laws and regulations over what they can and cannot do.
The penalties for such offenses can vary, from fines of over £1000 to community service, and even imprisonment. Drivers also run the risk of being stripped of their licence if they are caught overcharging passengers.
It may be tempting to cheat the system in order to get some extra cash. However, it’s important to remember that getting a little bit of extra cash isn’t worth the risk of losing your job and reputation, as well as running the risk of fines and imprisonment.