Real Life

Consumer tips – Taxi rides

The taxi stops, you check the meter and dig for the $20 note. Then, before you can say, “Keep the change,” the driver taps the meter a couple of times and the fare’s gone up to $24. How can that be?

To work out how your final fare is calculated you need to understand flag fall, tariff or rate, and extras. Flag fall is the cost of getting into the taxi – you’re up for it before you leave the kerb.

A cheaper flag fall doesn’t necessarily mean a cheaper trip, as some firms combine cheap flag falls with expensive tariffs to add up to a more expensive trip overall.

The tariff or rate is the cost to travel one kilometre. Taxi firms can use different rates depending on the time of day – some add on when there are four passengers. Tariffs are supposed to be clearly shown inside the car. However, today many companies are simplifying this by charging a universal rate.

Taxi meters reduce the tariff when the cab is stationary or going slower than 20km/h. The tariff is combined with the flag fall to give you what you need to pay.

Extras are expenses unrelated to the time or distance of the journey. The two most common are a charge for booking over the phone and a charge to or from the airport, which is paid to the airport authority.

If you pay by credit card, Eftpos or voucher, the taxi company may add on extra fees. Those fees must be clearly displayed inside and outside the cab.

The taxi industry is competitive – if an expense isn’t listed in the fare schedule then you do not have to pay it – end of story.

Your rights

• You can choose any cab at a taxi rank – you don’t need to take the first in line.

• They cannot refuse to take you because you only want to go a short distance.

• They should take you to your destination by the shortest route or the one that is most advantageous for you.

• You must give your permission before the driver can pick up other passengers.

• All complaints are recorded in a register. If you are not happy with your service, contact the company directly. If it is a criminal matter, contact the police.

• Taxi drivers are required to have an area knowledge certificate for everywhere they pick up passengers.

• Smoking isn’t permitted by you or the driver.

• The car should be clean and the driver civil.

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