Saturday 24 February 2018

'Extremely dirty' cars, rude behaviour and fare disputes - Complaints soar against taxi drivers

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Stock Image

Gordon Deegan

The smell of one "extremely dirty" taxi was "horrific", forcing the passenger to keep the window open for the entire journey.

That is one of 492 complaints received by the National Transport Authority (NTA) for the first six months of this year as the number of taxi complaints soared by a quarter over the same period last year.

The sharpest rise in complaints was in relation to the condition of taxis.

The number more than doubled, up from 13 to 30 for the six months.

The person who complained about the "horrific" smell in the taxi in April of this year stated that in the same vehicle a side panel on the door was missing, while the leather covers were torn and dirty.

In response, the NTA inspected the taxi and issued the driver with a fine for failing to meet the standard required.

Another customer made a complaint in June of this year to state that the 'vehicle was dirty and there was a bad odour. Brakes and suspensions were clearly damaged as the car made several strange noises when the car was braking."

In response, the vehicle was removed from service by the driver and replaced with a newer vehicle and advice was given to the driver by the NTA.

The largest area of complaint was "driver behaviour", accounting for 212 complaints.

'Threatened'

One customer lodged a complaint concerning a Dublin taxi driver who ordered his two passengers to get out into the freezing cold as one of them was "hiccoughing". The driver told the couple that he would charge €140 if the passenger was to get sick, then decided that he wouldn't take them.

Another passenger said that a taxi driver "stuck up his middle finger at me and drove off" after the passenger had taken a photo of his badge as a result of the two of them disputing the fare.

In a further case, a passenger said she felt threatened in the taxi on her way from Dublin Airport to her home at Kinsealy in north Dublin in April of this year.

She said that after telling the driver her destination, he rolled his eyes and said: "This is just my morning, isn't it?"

The woman continued: "As I was getting a taxi on my own, I felt intimidated by a man when I just wanted to get a taxi to work to pay my fare. I paid my fare and I am absolutely disgusted that I was made feel like that in a regulated taxi."

Overcharging

Complaints relating to 'fare matters' were the next biggest category, accounting for 168 complaints - a jump of 17 on the 151 complaints for January to June 2016.

An Indian national who arrived at Dublin Airport complained in February 2017 to the NTA after being charged €43 for a journey that normally costs €25.

The driver charged €43 after taking his passengers on a significant detour.

He was interviewed by the NTA, made full admissions and sincere apologies and stated that it was poor judgment on his part.

A written caution was issued to the driver, who made a refund to the customer concerned.

The figures show that a further 82 complaints were made in relation to hiring matters.

This compared to 55 complaints made under that heading in the first six months of 2016.

Irish Independent

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