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.
Jul 19, '02
I called the City Council Office, they referred me to the Mepropolitan Transit Development Board, who referred me to a Taxi cab complaint line. 619-235-2650
Please call and let them know what went on---I could call but from you it's first hand info, and you can give the specifics of where you were picked up and where you were trying to go, the cabee's name, etc.
I hope you do that--I love San Diego, and I hate it when people have an experience like that. Come to think of it, I hate having an experience like that!!
Jul 19, '02
Yeah, San Diego is pretty cool; I could eat at Ichiban, on University, in the Hillcrest area, 3 times a day and never get tired of it. Sushi to die for, yum... Pretty decent burritos in the Hillcrest, too, even had a lobster burrito!
Nice young man who works at Jamba Juice in Hillcrest area, named Ryan; wish I could have brought him home to be my adopted son.
Hey, maybe he'd consent to come home with me next time and I could fix him up with one of my daughters! Then maybe I'd have a perfect son-in-law!
Want to go to Balboa Park next time and see all museums, especially cat art exhibit at art museum. At least I got to see and say goodbye to baby panda at San Diego Zoo.
I will let you know next time I am in San Diego and we can meet in person, and have a drink in the Gaslamp area! I have not been there yet, but heard it is awesome.
Thanks for phone number of that taxi governing board; I will call them.
You know, the fare wasn't even the issue. I get reimbursed, regardless.
It just outrages me to think of people like him preying on the poor, the sick, the senior citizens on fixed incomes, and the poor families from out of town who have enough on their minds, worrying about their hospitalized loved ones. What an SOB!
Last edit by stevierae on Jul 19, '02
Jul 19, '02
Dear prmenrs ("goddess,")
P.S. I also e-mailed The San Diego Union Tribune, AARP, and Susan Davis at her office in Washington, D.C.