I just came back from doing some teaching in San Diego; this experience shook and outraged me so much that I am going to e-mail literally everyone I know about it. I am told it is a scam of epidemic proportions.
Here's the story. I know the area pretty well, and am aware of what cab fares are from various hospitals where I contract to other points. Had to take Orange Cab one night, because I could not get through to Yellow. Cab driver asked for my credit card so he could call it in for pre-approval. He then stated that the fare would be would be, "at least" $$$, quoting a figure that approx. 3 times the normal price. He then took off in the wrong direction.
I immediately told him he was going the wrong way, and said, "No, I know the normal fare, and it is $." He turned around to argue with me, crossed over into the wrong lane, and nearly hit a car head-on.
He then sat through 2 long traffic lights, running up the meter. I didn't worry about it; I just calmly told him I knew what the normal fare was, and that is what I intended to pay. He stated, "You must be in a bad mood; did you have a long night?" I ignored him. He proceeded to the freeway, which was absolutely unnecessary.
When we got on the freeway, he drove for some time, and then had the nerve to ask me if I knew which exit he should take. I threw up my hands and said, "I don't have a clue where you are. I told you how to get to the hotel; you ignored me and said you knew a better way." He swore under his breath, drove a while, and told me he would take me "for free."
We finally got there, somehow; he still had my credit card, and I asked for it back. He demanded what the meter said--over 3 times the normal fare. I said, "I thought you said you were going to take me for free?" He said, angrily, "NO, YOU PAY, what it says on the meter." I asked him to let me talk to his boss over the radio; he refused, and would not give my card back.
I looked at his ID, repeated his name out loud, grabbed the card, and said, "Fine, I will be out to pay AFTER I have called your boss from inside, and I am not paying ONE PENNY over the usual fare."
I went in and started calling; he drove off. His supervisor said, "Maybe he just thought he knew an easier way, and got confused." PLEASE!!! I TOLD the driver the exact route, which was a straight shot of less than one mile.
The supervisor became extremely angry when I told him I would be informing the hospitals where I taught of the incident, and encouraging them not to refer patients, families or visitors of patients, staff or visiting educators to this cab company. He stated, "You do what ya gotta do!" and hung up on me.
This is what disturbs me. If this driver did this to me, what are he and his cronies doing to patients, family members, elderly visitors, and other nursing contractors who are unfamiliar with the area? He would easily pocket 3 times the normal amount, at least, from every single fare!!
Imagine the poor families, called to San Diego because they have a loved one in the hospital, already distraught, financially burdened by hotel and food expenses--and then becoming victims of an unscrupulous cab driver!
I told a hospital security officer about the incident that night; I did not even have to identify the cab company. He did it for me, and told me that, indeed, they had been the subject of a scandal in which they were charging exorbitant amounts for transporting elderly or handicapped people to and from hospitals and freestanding dialysis centers. He also said they did this to unsuspecting tourists.
Please pass this information on to everyone you know going to San Diego, and, of course, advise them to be very savvy about cab fares in other unfamiliar cities as well. (Any hospital information desk staff member or hotel concierge can offer advise regarding appropriate cab fares from "Point A" to "Point B.") Hopefully, by spreading the word, we as nurses may be able to prevent senior and disabled citizens from becoming victims of scams like this.
I apologize for the lengthiness. I do think this is a very important issue. If I can prevent even ONE person from becoming a future victim, I will feel more at ease.
Stephanie Tate, RN, CNOR, CLNC, Clinical Nurse Educator
Paradigm Legal Nurse Consulting
308 NE Alberta
Portland, OR 97211