Thursday, June 17, 2004

COMMUTING: Playing the Fare Zone Game With Hawkish Cabbies

My new housemate, who is new to Washington and its Byzantine taxicab farezone system, was charged $26 the other night to go three zones from Kelly's Irish Times to 39th Street, McLean Gardens. That is, of course, complete extortion.

When I relayed some helpful hints to beat the cabbies at their own game, I thought it would be good to pass that on to my readers.

So how do you one-up hawkish cabbies that prey on drunken revelers and tourists? Follow these rules.

1) When you can, pre-arrange a price. Ask: "How many zones will it be to [insert destination]?"
2) But that cannot always be done. So once you reach your destination and feel like you're being taken, ask for a receipt.
3) Ask the cabbie to fill out the starting point and destination. It is well within your rights as a passenger.
4) Ask the cabbie to sign the receipt.
5) Ask the cabbie to write out his taxicab driver ID number. If the cabbie refuses, write it yourself.

By this point, the cabbie will be frustrated, realize that you know his game and he's been caught. Admitting defeat, he may give in.

6) When you get out, look for the cab company name and any identifying features, like a cab number.
7) With all that information, you can file a complaint with the DC Taxicab Commission.

Be prepared to deal with a complicated bureaucratic mess. The Taxicab Commission isn't necessarily the most consumer-friendly agency.

The Oculus Wants Your Cab Horror Stories. I am currently compiling taxicab horror stories for future posting. With this, I hope to do an indepth analysis of the capital city's Byzantine taxicab system.


At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are such fun to read. I loved your comments about the cab company. That was great advice. I'll use it when I need to travel by cab in any city! Thanks

At 11:43 PM, Blogger James F said...

The only really weird story I have happened to my wife. She was at the Kennedy Center and wanted a ride back to our apartment in Arlington. After standing in the taxi queue, the cabbie she wound up with refused to take her because the destination was in Virginia.

We live maybe five minutes from the Kennedy Center, if that. But this weirdo wouldn't take her, and yelled at her to get out of the cab! The taxi stand attendant gave the driver a perplexed look, and refused his request for another passenger, instead making him move to the back of the line of taxis and calling the next one up to take her home.

Other than that, just the usual rip-offs. The fare from Dupont Circle/Adams Morgan to our apartment has ranged from $10 to $19.


Post a Comment

<< Home