I had a fight with a taxi driver yesterday morning.
When I got in I asked the driver to take me to St Leonards via the Pacific Highway.
After crossing Sydney Harbour Bridge, instead of taking the turn off for the Pacific Highway the driver continued along the Warringah Freeway.
I told him that I wanted to go along the Pacific Highway and ask why he didn’t turn off and he told me it was faster to go along the Warringah Freeway and Chandos Street.
Having spent a good portion of time traveling to St Leonards, I know this is not the case.
I also know that it is more expensive.
Anyway, the driver told me he could take be through the Crows Nest exit. I told him not to as we would hit traffic and he responded with “exactly”, then went on to tell me the freeway was faster again. Whilst this is happening, I noticed there was a bit of traffic around us.
I told him again that it would’ve been faster by the Pacific Highway, to which he told me that was “bullshit”. He told me that only I have ever said to go along the Pacific Highway. He also may have said that only people like me request to go along the Pacific Highway, but I’m not too sure.
I said that it was my right (which is the first right listed for customers in the taxi) to decide on the route. He responded by telling me I didn’t specify which exit to take to get onto the Pacific Highway. The problem here is that there is only one exit from the Warringah Freeway to the Pacific Highway if you’re coming from Sydney Harbour Bridge and if he was unsure, he could’ve asked me. I told him that I didn’t say which exit as I didn’t consider him to be stupid.
I told him I had been traveling to St Leonards for the last six years (which is a lie as it has been slightly more than five years and eleven months) and due to this I knew which way is faster. I asked him how long he had been doing this and he avoided the question for a bit before telling me he had been doing it for five years. However, I doubt he had been traveling to the same location every day he worked for that period.
We’re going back and forth about this for a while until he asked with a fair bit of hostility, “where are you from?”. I responded with “Sydney, born and raised”. I asked him the same thing. His response was “Sydney”. I then asked him where he was from before Sydney.
After a few seconds he said he was from Nepal. I don’t think it matters at all, but If he’s going to ask where I’m from, I’m going to ask him as well.
Eventually we stop across from a pub in St Leonards. He said he wouldn’t charge the bridge toll which he patronisingly told me was something they can charge for crossing the bridge. However, as I was paying by card, there was a surcharge which ended up being more than 10%, which as far as I’m aware is not meant to exceed 10%. I asked him about this and he told me that it was 10% plus 1%. He may have meant a dollar but it’s not what he said.
So we argued a bit more with him continuing to patronise me by explaining what the options were on an EFTPOS machine and what they meant whilst I told him the average I pay to get to St Leonards is $27.
He offered to call his boss and have them tell me I was wrong about the surcharge and which route was quicker. I agreed to this and told him his attitude sucked and that he was meant to offer a service and not an opinion.
Eventually he said something along the lines of “how about we go to the police station and sort it out there?”, as he was having difficulty reaching his base. I agreed to it.
We drove a short distance to the police station when he was able to get through to his base. The radio was turned up to an almost painful level of volume and had a large amount of audible distortion.
Eventually the base advised they’d get a supervisor to call the driver.
A supervisor called immediately and asked the driver what the issue was. The driver said that I disagreed with the surcharge and that I didn’t specify which exit to take to get onto the Pacific Highway and was disputing the fare.
When I spoke to the supervisor, I told him where I requested to go and the route I chose, how the driver behaved and what he said. I told him how long I had been traveling to St Leonards (six years; not almost six) and that I was indeed disputing the surcharge and fare and how the driver offered to go to the police station. I also advised that I was no longer comfortable with being in the taxi with the driver.
The supervisor asked me where I was picked up from and where I was heading to, then told me that the average fare price was about thirty-one dollars to get there, but then said that could vary a fair bit. I told him I knew this but I also knew that going via the Pacific Highway took less time than the freeway and reiterated that despite my choice of route, the driver didn’t follow it.
Whilst this was happening the driver tried to talk over me but I quite bluntly told him I was talking.
The supervisor asked to speak to the driver again. He told the driver that it’s best to get customers like me out of the taxi as quickly as possible. He continued by saying that sometimes a driver will come across a customer that is used to paying a certain amount so it’s best to accept it and keep going. He also said that there was no need to go to the police station for something like this. The driver tried to talk over him a bit but the supervisor stopped him by firmly telling him to listen.
He told the driver that it was costing him money as he could be getting other fares right now. The driver relented and when he did I said “good, because you’ve made me late”. The driver responded by saying “well you’ve made me late!”. Then the supervior said we were both late. He told the driver to accept what I’d give him. The driver then asked if I’d be happy with paying twenty-seven dollars and twenty cents (which was the original unaltered fare). I started rummaging through my wallet for change.
Once he got off the phone I gave him all about six dollars (most of my change) and told him that his service was shit, so that was all he was getting. He asked if he could have my details for the complaint. I got out of the taxi instead.
It’s probably quite petty and childish but I expect better service than that.