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From alleged aggression to dog allergies: Why people complain about taxi drivers

“The driver, to my surprise, took offence … saying that he didn’t need to take such abuse and he is not bringing me home but kicking me out.”

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Alphalight Pro Stock

THE NATIONAL TRANSPORT Authority (NTA) received hundreds of complaints about taxis in 2016.

As of the end of October, the NTA had received 797 complaints. It received 928 complaints for the whole of 2015.

The majority of the complaints received this year were about driver behaviour (353) and issues with fares (284).

Most of the complaint outcomes involved no further action as the complainant didn’t respond or there was no evidence of an offence.

Here is a selection of the type of complaints received by the NTA about taxis and taxi drivers, ranging from an iPhone allegedly being broken to a driver being fined for not informing the NTA of a dog allergy.

Driver allegedly becoming aggressive 

In one complaint received in August, concerning driver conduct, a man wrote about an incident in which a taxi driver allegedly became aggressive and broke an iPhone.

The man said the taxi driver picked him and his wife up in Swords village and became angry when they changed where they wanted to go.

“When we got into the cab we ask the driver to take us to Tyrrelstown. As he took off we actually asked him would he take us to Ashbourne. After hearing this he shouted at us asking where he was taking us. I asked to hold on a second and he got extremely angry with us and told us to to get out of his car.”

The man said the driver began shouting and got “very aggressive”, upsetting his wife.

He said that when his wife tried to take a photo of the details of the car, the driver shouted at her and “slapped at her hand knocking my iPhone from her hands and smashing it on the ground”.

They reported the incident to the gardaí.

Outcome: The complainant was contacted by the NTA and confirmed that An Garda Síochána are investigating. It was explained that the garda investigation takes precedence and, while a record of the complaint will be held at the NTA, no further investigation will be undertaken by the authority.

‘They kicked me out’

In another instance of a driver allegedly asking a passenger to get out of their car, a person complained in January about a taxi driver he hailed in Portmarnock, Dublin.

The person said the drive kept the meter running while they went to get petrol, noting:

“He pulled up at the petrol station and got petrol at the point where I noticed there was €2 on the meter, which did not concern me. Then when the driver got into the taxi he clicked up the meter to €4 and I jokingly said: ‘Wow, €4 and we have not left yet!’

The driver, to my surprise, took offence to this comment, saying that he didn’t need to take such abuse and he is not bringing me home but kicking me out.

The person alleged that the driver then drove them to a garda station.

“I told him I just wanted to go home and I had no interest in going to the gardaí. I opened the door of the taxi while moving and jumped out as I was concerned for my safety. I got another taxi home.”

The person said the next driver provided a “professional and decent service which we should be proud of”.

They said they didn’t want to pursue the matter but thought the transport department should know what happened.

Outcome: The driver was contacted and notified of the complaint received. The NTA could not take any further action as the complainant stated they had no interest in any further proceedings.

Airport runs

In a complaint received in August, a person complained about how a taxi driver allegedly treated them and their mother when driving them from Dublin Airport to their nearby home.

The person said: “We live not too far from the airport but after traveling all day and having four suitcases decided to take the taxi instead of the bus. From the beginning the taxi driver seemed rude when he asked where we were going.

He clearly seemed unhappy that we live so close and started being rude, sarcastic and aggressive towards us…

“My mother immediately asked him to stop if he didn’t want to drive us home, but he refused and kept on driving.”

The person claimed that the driver “started cursing under his breath and started to get very agitated”, adding: “He wasn’t using indication and was driving irrationally.”

They said he needed directions but wasn’t grateful when he got them.

The person said that they and their mother felt “scared and threatened” by the driver during the 15-minute journey.

Outcome: The driver was contacted by the NTA. He recalled the journey and stated he had already been spoken to by gardaí in Santry about this matter. Based on the evidence and that gardaí had also spoken to him, the driver was issued advice.

Overcharged 

In another airport-related complaints received in August, a person said their taxi driver gave them a handwritten rather than a printed receipt.

They said the driver charged them €49.80 to get from from Terminal One and Dublin Airport to Ballymount Dublin.

The person said they were sure the fare should have been less.

Outcome: The driver was interview by the NTA about the matter and stated that on arrival at the destination he totalled the fare and when waiting for the printer to print the receipt jammed and the fare cleared from the meter.

He said he panicked and could not recall the actual amount on the meter and he wrote a handwritten receipt for €49.80, which he said was an estimate of the fare including the toll. The driver stated he wished to apologise for any inconvenience caused to the passenger and accepted the handwritten receipt was not sufficient.

He was issued with a fixed payment notice for a ‘failing to print and offer a receipt’ which he indicated his willingness to pay to resolve the matter. The €40.00 fine was paid within the permitted timeframe.

Allergic to dogs

In July, a person complained about a taxi driver he hailed in Dublin city centre but refused to take his custom as the person had a blind dog. The driver said he was allergic to dogs.

The complainant stated: “I explained to him that under the taxi rules he had to carry a guide dog but he claimed he did not know [this].”

Outcome: The driver admitted refusing the fare on the basis that he is allergic to dogs. The NTA said that a Small Public Service Vehicle (SPSV) driver “may refuse to carry a guide dog or other assistance dog in his or her vehicle where they have provided prior evidence to the authority that they are unable for medical reasons to carry a dog in his or her vehicle, no evidence had been provided by the driver in question”.

Therefore he was issued with a fixed payment notice for the unreasonable refusal and paid a €40 fine.

Vehicle condition

In a complaint received in April, a person explained why they were unhappy about the condition of a taxi in front of them.

They said the vehicle was ”billowing out fumes to the extent that visibility was impaired for those behind him”.

Outcome: The licence holder told the NTA they did “recall the vehicle emitting a large cloud of soot on this date and time and explained the turbo had failed and engine oil had also got into the fuel system”. They then took the vehicle out of service and replaced the engine.

Read: Here are the most common reasons people complain about taxis

Read: ‘I don’t want any parent to experience what I did’: Taxi man’s crusading mission against suicide

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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