Updated June 2, 2011 at 5:44 p.m. with quotes from San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose
Some San Francisco taxi drivers have illegally opted to go cash-only after cab companies recently imposed a 5 percent fee on credit-card transactions, The Bay Citizen recently reported.
But cab riders are not always willing to go along with that choice — as evidenced by a cellphone video shot by would-be taxi passenger Ed Meng and reported by the SF Appeal. When the driver told Meng he wouldn't be able to use his credit card, he asked for her name and cab number, which she refused to provide, demanding instead that he get out of the vehicle. The impasse lasts some seven minutes before the increasingly furious driver gives in:
This doesn't seem to be an isolated incident. Bay Citizen reader Kelly Patrick Rupp recently emailed the following:
Recently I've heard a few friends tell me stories about altercations that have taken place with drivers after arriving at their destination and then refusing to accept the card. But nobody ever seems to know who is in the right and what they can do in that situation. What would happen to the rider if they simply got out and walked away without paying? If they were to get involved, would authorities ever side with the rider since the cab is required by law to accept a card?
I don't think anybody wants to see San Francisco's cab drivers getting the shaft but I also think people have the right to know what they can do should an altercation like the one mentioned above arise.
First things first, all San Francisco taxi drivers are required to accept credit cards. You shouldn't have to ask about it before getting in the cab — but even so, that might not be a bad idea.
"[I]f they claim their machine isn’t working they should have a manual backup with them," Paul Rose, the spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates cabs in the city, said in an email.
If the driver refuses to accept a card, authorities ask that you report him or her by calling 3-1-1. If you provide the taxi number, the SFMTA may be able to contact the driver to correct the behavior. The agency can also work with cab companies to suspend a driver who refuses to accept credit cards.
And finally, if the conversation becomes an altercation, you can call the police. "Our drivers are instructed that if there is a fare dispute, they can get the Police involved, and that usually resolves things if the Police are available," Rose said.