• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

Scott Cam explodes when taxi drivers refuse to turn on meters instead of charging fixed fees

ByElla E. Kidwell

Nov 14, 2022

Taxi drivers are being slammed as customers report a sharp rise in taxi drivers refusing to turn on their meters and instead demanding an inflated flat rate.

The Christmas holiday season is fast approaching and drivers are expecting a surge in bookings with 2GB host Ben Fordham raising the issue of high fixed charges on his Monday morning radio show.

Block host Scott Cam told Fordham about his own experience with a taxi, saying taxi drivers “cheated people” and it was a safety issue.

Cam said he and his wife went to get a taxi last Friday night when a taxi driver tried to negotiate a price.

“I don’t often catch taxis, so I was unaware of this situation (not activating the meters),” he said.

“Someone told me to negotiate with the taxi drivers as I was walking to the taxi with my wife.

“And I said ‘Don’t be ridiculous, you don’t negotiate, you just put the meter on’.

Block host Scott Cam (pictured left with wife Ann) had a bad experience with a taxi driver on Friday night

When the Cams got to the cab and said where they were going, the driver said it would cost $45.

Cam was surprised and said, “What do you mean? Turn on the meter.

But the driver refused and said there would be a flat rate of $45, asking Cam if he was “satisfied” with the cost.

“So I said ‘No, I’m not happy about that, put the meter on. It is illegal for you not to put the meter.

The driver refused and told the couple they could take another taxi.

“So we got out, with a few choice words, and walked up the road and got an Uber for $27 from the same address,” Cam said.

He said that in addition to the illegality of not turning on the meter, the taxi driver’s request became a safety issue if the fixed price quoted was higher than the passenger could afford.

“My concern is that my daughter…coming out of a pub or party at two in the morning, somewhere far away, and then they tell her it’s $50 to get home, she doesn’t have no other alternative,” Cam said.

“And she has to cope…otherwise she goes out, waits for an Uber and she’s exposed at two in the morning.

It is illegal for taxi drivers not to turn on the meter (pictured) when taking a fare

It is illegal for taxi drivers not to turn on the meter (pictured) when taking a fare

“They rip people off. There are advertisements on radio and television about the quality of the taxi service (saying) “Come with us, we will take care of you”.

“They don’t care about us. They don’t care about anyone. They are ripping us off.

Cam said this type of off-meter driving is common overseas.

“We’ve all been abroad and had to negotiate with taxi drivers,” he said.

“Now they’re bringing that European style of taxi driving to Australia. And it’s not for Australia.

“We have meters, that’s how we run our taxi system and we need to eradicate that.

“They rip off kids, rip off people.”

<a class=Taxi drivers have been criticized for the illegal practice of refusing to turn on the meter. Pictured is a man getting into a taxi in Sydney” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Taxi drivers have been criticized for the illegal practice of refusing to turn on the meter. Pictured is a man getting into a taxi in Sydney

Cam said he and Fordham “could afford to take a cab, but not the kids, who are trying to get home late at night, and that’s what worries me.”

Fordham agreed, saying that was why Uber and other ride-sharing companies had succeeded – they were able to say “the service you’re getting right now isn’t up to par.”

Cam said he had never encountered the practice of no meter before in Australia.

“It’s the first time it’s happened to me,” he said.

‘(But) talking to a lot of people since it happened to me on Friday night, it’s commonplace. My daughter said this happened on every cab ride.

Survey

Have you encountered taxi drivers refusing to turn on the meter and simply demanding a flat rate?

  • Yes. It happens regularly. They have to be stopped, it’s against the law. 194 votes
  • Sometimes. It doesn’t happen much, but it shouldn’t happen at all. 49 votes
  • No. I have only had good experiences with taxi drivers. 83 votes

Fordham said it happened to him too, and many callers and commenters supported his and Cam’s stories.

Caller Phillip said he had the same problem, being charged $40 after errands from Randwick to nearby suburban Coogee – a distance of 4km.

“We didn’t realize the meter wasn’t on until we got to Coogee,” he said.

Terry was asked to pay $100 from Olympic Park to Parramatta – 11.6km away – after the NRL Grand Final.

Another caller was told it was a $150 package from Barangaroo to Sydney’s Northern Beaches and the meter would not be on.

Peter said not turning on the meter means you’re not covered by accident insurance.

Fordham ended by saying he knew “it used to happen, but then the taxis would have cleaned up their act”.

“But you can’t have that, where people are told it’s $150 if you want to get from the city to the northern beaches,” he added.

In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, the NSW Taxi Council condemned drivers who refuse to turn on meters.

“The NSW Taxi Council’s view of fare denials and drivers not using the meter for rank and hail fares is (that it is) unacceptable.

“Taxi station and hail fares are regulated and set by the NSW Government.

“This means that taxi drivers must always use the meter when picking up passengers from a street or at a taxi stand.

“We are working with the NSW regulator – the Point-to-Point Transport Commission – to stop this activity.”