Sydney taxi driver's hidden $10 fee sparks outrage

Here's what to do if you believe you've been overcharged for a taxi journey.

A furious taxi passenger in Sydney has taken to social media to air his frustration after $10 was allegedly added to his fare the moment he stepped into the vehicle.

Sharing a snap of the taxi meter on Reddit, the indignant commuter said the cab driver had pressed a button that automatically added $10 to the flagfall, bumping up it to $17.70. "We told him to get f***ed and all got out the cab," the angry passenger shared.

Taxi meter
A furious passenger claims a taxi driver added $10 to his fare the moment he got in the car. Source: Reddit/phelan74

Passengers rage

The post was greeted by outraged commuters who shared their own frustrating experiences with cabbies in the NSW capital. One user asked the author of the post if he questioned what the additional fee was for.

"I asked him what was the button he pressed to add $10 right away and he just told us that's the normal starting price," the original poster replied.

According to Transport NSW, urban areas have a maximum hiring charge of $3.60. During peak hours, which are from 10pm to 6am on Fridays, Saturdays and evenings prior to public holidays, there is an additional $2.50 on top of the hire charge.

NSW Taxi Council responds

In an interview with Yahoo News Australia, NSW Taxi Council's newly appointed CEO Nick Abrahim confirmed that the cabbie's actions in this case were out of line.

"I'm going to make it very clear: It's not normal practice and it's against the rules," Abrahim said. "Fares for rank and hail are regulated by the NSW government, which means whenever a passenger uses or accesses a taxi from a rank or the streets, the taxi driver must – in every single case, including the airport – use the meter. At the end of the journey, what is on the meter is what the passenger pays."

Sydney taxis
Taxis in NSW are required to only use the meter to determine fares. Source: Getty

Price surging against cab rules

A regulated fare structure is designed to give passengers certainty, peace of mind and consistency of price by eliminating the ability of rank and hail taxis to inflate prices.

"The rules don't allow for that to happen and we don't want that to happen. This is why we strongly support the regulated fare structure, and that also needs to be enforced and make sure that drivers do follow the rules," Abrahim told Yahoo News. "Passengers must also be aware of what those rules are. They must also understand if a driver doesn't do the right thing, there are reporting mechanisms to be able to report a complaint and for that matter, to be investigated."

How to report incorrect taxi charges

In this instance, Abrahim clarified it is difficult to identify the taxi company based on the receipt due to the fact that GM Cabs, which operates the second largest fleet in NSW, also runs a national payment platform for taxis under the same name, and therefore the name appears on all receipts regardless of operator.

He added that if passengers feel they've been overcharged, or if there are charges that have not been explained or may seem incorrect, they should collect as much information as possible.

"Whilst the information on the receipt can be vital and important, we always encourage the passengers to take down as much information as possible including the taxi registration and the brand of the taxi that can be found outside. There's also information displayed inside the taxi which includes both the registration and the taxi company that driver is connected with," he continued and explained that passengers can reach out to the Point to Point Transport Commissioner at 1800-500-410 in these cases.

Passengers who file a complaint to the commissioner's hotline will be given a reference number, and the case will be passed on to the taxi service provider who will be required to investigate the matter and take further action with the driver. The service provider then has to report back to the passenger and the Point to Point Commissioner on the action on the investigation or complaint.

For passengers who may feel uncomfortable to take down details in the taxi, Abrahim advises the minimum amount of information required for an investigation. "Just note the registration number on that taxi and ideally, the brand, which is usually written on the side of the vehicle plus the details of the trip: date, time, and location. This would suffice in helping an investigation take its course," he explained.

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