This Week, Give Cab Drivers a Little Credit


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If you’ve ridden in New York taxis for a long time, you’re probably already wary of the credit-card machines that have been installed in many of them. The ones that have been in cabs for a couple of years now never really worked, and not handing over cash just feels weird. The Post reveals today that cab drivers are also suspicious of the devices. In fact, many of them would do anything to prevent you from swiping. According to the tabloid, they’d rather just grab your cold, hard cash and will lie about broken machines or fake policies to make sure that’s how you pay. The Post doesn’t specifically explain why some drivers would rather have you pay them in cash, but the implication that most cabbies are cheats is pretty heavy throughout the piece. The problem is so bad that the head of the Taxi and Limousine Commission himself was once prevented from using a credit card by a deceitful cabbie. The cabbies’ union claims that the problem is the equipment, not the drivers. After the jump, some technical advice on what to do to avoid this problem.

1. Make sure you swipe your card before the driver pushes the cash button. We recommend doing this during the elongated “cooldown” portion of the ride, when the cabbie slows down to a crawl without stopping so that the meter makes the next fare jump before you get out.
2. Threaten to file a complaint. Take down the taxi driver’s medallion number. Complaints can result in fines and restrictions, and few people actually go through with it. Don’t simply yell at the guy through the Plexiglas; people have been trying that approach with bad chauffeurs since the time of Archimedes, and it’s never worked.
3. If the cabbie says the card machine doesn’t work, try it anyway. If it does, don’t tip him. That $1.60 will turn into the most satisfying half-a-Starbucks you had all day.
4. Befriend your cabbie before all of this becomes an issue. Ask him to turn up that Air America and join in the debate with Randi Rhodes. If he’s not listening to Air America, ask him whether he is Indian or Pakistani. They love that.
5. If all of this fails and you end up having to get out of the cab and run to the ATM, and then you’re both late and really angry about it, and you want to somehow do some damage to the taxi industry, we suggest you write an article in the tabloid newspaper you work for. That’ll teach ’em.


This Week, Give Cab Drivers a Little Credit