Smelly cars, rude drivers, and unreasonable fare charges made up some of over 1,300 complaints received by the taxi’s watchdog last year, the Irish Examiner can reveal.
The National Transport Agency, which regulates the profession under the Taxi Regulation Act 2014, has released details of the complaints to the Irish Examiner under the Freedom of Information Act.
The NTA has revealed they received a total of 1,310 complaints from customers last year.
Driver behaviour accounted for the most complaints last year, and the NTA received 528 such submissions in 2018.
A sample selection of complaints were provided to the Irish Examiner.
“Driver used abusive language. He was trying to make the journey longer,” one sample complaint stated.
“When we finally got to our destination I told him I wasn’t happy with his behaviour and I wanted to take a photo of his details on the dashboard of the car. He removed his details from the dashboard,” the customer said.
In this case, the NTA issued a fix payment notice for failing to display driver identification.
“At approx. 04:15am, a taxi pulled in to the bus stop and proceeded to poach customers waiting for the bus to Dublin Airport,” another complaint read.
“He was offering the journey for the same price per person. The minivan taxi was already nearly full and he was looking for two more persons to sit in,” the customer said.
The NTA said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute this complaint.
“Pulled this driver over at 9.30pm. As we sat into the car we noticed that the clock already had a meter reading of €5.20 that was before the car had even pulled out,” another complainant wrote.
“We questioned it with the driver and he started shouting at us to get out of the car that we were wasting his time”.
The NTA issued a Fixed Payment Notice in this instance, and the driver was found to have been plying for hire outside of his licensed area.
The next highest number of complaints were the 468 received in relation to fare issues.
“Taxi stopped for me, I sat in, he asked where I was going,” one complaint began.
“I said [where], he said it’ll be €17. I told him it’s not, the meter will tell him how much it is, he claimed the meter wasn’t working tonight and that he’s estimating prices himself. I told him that he shouldn’t be out working if his meter isn’t working. He drove me home, extremely quickly, no lights, no traffic so I imagine it would have cost a lot less than €12 or €15. I still gave him the €15 and took his number down”.
The driver subsequently received a fixed Payment Notice for failure to operate taximeter while on hire.
“This driver tried to charge me 15.60 Euro for an €11-€12 trip,” another customer complained.
“When I queried this unmetered excessive amount he told me there was a two Euro surcharge. When I asked for a receipt he refused unless I paid 15.60, unmetered, for maximum 12 Euro fare. I declined having asked three times for his details and paid 12 protesting lack of unfurnished receipt”.
This driver also received a Fixed Payment Notice for failure to operate taximeter while on hire.
“My taxi driver turned on his metre half-way through our journey he gave me a costly bill, “one passenger complained, however, this complaint was not proceeded with as the complainant did not assist the NTA in the identification of the driver or vehicle.
A visitor to Ireland complained that they were ripped off by one driver.
“The taxi was a white with a green diagonal band that said “TAXI”. The driver was friendly and chatty during the trip. On arrival, he charged us €50. Being preoccupied with other things and unfamiliar with the currency we did not question this and did not ask for a receipt or check the meter.
Only after he had gone did we realise that we had been cheated. We are assured by our host that the journey should have cost only about €25 at most.
However, in this case, the NTA said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, s they were unable to identify driver or vehicle.
Another complained about what happened when they sought a receipt so they could claim their taxi ride on expenses.
“However, the driver printed off a whole load of receipts and not the one for my journey. I didn’t realise this until the following day,” the customer said.
The correct receipt was subsequently issued to the customer.
Another Dublin passenger said the driver took a route that included two tolls, without asking.
“Firstly he took the port tunnel and when I question his choose [sic] of that route and then continued to drive over the east link toll bridge again without my consent. Upon arrival at my destination, he totalled the fair and it came to €32.80 but he insisted it was €37 because of tolls. I paid the €37 and requested a receipt to which he gave me the handwritten note attached with no details about this taxi. I insisted need a printed receipt for work and he tore it off by hand with no toll or total,” the complaint read.
The driver was issued with a fixed payment notice for failure to print and offer a receipt.
A passenger complained that one driver took a ‘detour’ when bringing them on a trip that usually costs them around €8.
“We had to pay €15.80. I’m not asking for money back, I just don’t want that this happen to someone else,” they said
The driver was interviewed and given ‘advice’ by the NTA and the complainant was then unwilling to take the matter further.
A total of 261 complaints were categorised as “hiring matters”.
“Taxi had his light on, [there was] no one in the taxi. I hailed it & he pulled in,” one complaint read.
“As I went to open the door he asked where I was going I told him and he just turned his head and drove off, leaving us standing looking for a taxi at this late time of night.”
A caution was issued to the driver.
“The driver rolled down the window to ask where I was going I told him he wasn’t allowed to ask this as I know my rights and he told me he was and drove off,” another complained.
The NTA could not proceed with any investigations as there was no response from the complainant when contacted.
However, another case saw a payment notice issued to a driver for an “unreasonable refusal”.
“This man was waiting at the rank and refused to bring us because he said “we could walk”, so we asked again if he would bring us or not and he got angry so we had to leave the taxi. I told him I was taking down his number and he said he didn’t care,” the complainant said.
A sample of the 50 complaints about vehicle conditions provided revealed there were complaints about smelly cars, a vehicle making ‘strange noises’, a taxi that was dented and ‘shabby’ and one cab with ripped seats and inaccessible seatbelts.
“I took a taxi from the rank… and the taxi has what can only be described as a smell of sick,” one complaint read.
“While I recognise previous customers (today or previously) may have soiled the taxi however the driver is entitled to a soiling charge and should be off the road or have sufficiently cleaned the car. I advised the driver of the smell,” the customer told the NTA
Responding to this submission, the NTA said the complaint was “not proceeded with” as there was “no evidence of any offence after the vehicle had been inspected”.