Citizen complaint of the day: Cabbie says credit-card readers don't work early in the morning

An aggravated citizen reports:

I took a cab from my home is roslindale to Logan arriving at 5am. I tried to pay w. credit card but the driver insisted the system wouldn't work until 7. Taxi 592 forest hills independent taxi service. I have been in too many Boston cabs where "the system isn't working" for credit cards.

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    It's crazy how prevalent this

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    It's crazy how prevalent this is in Boston. Especially late when cabs are in demand. The pre-screening where you're going, saying cash only or the machine isn't working when it's sitting there saying Please Swipe!. The Clover trucks can take credit cards with an iPhone, but > 50% of Boston taxis have broken readers? Is the solution just to start stiffing them on tips?

    It's infuriating. When I have

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    It's infuriating. When I have that happen to me, I do not tip the driver unless the machine is actually not working. In my experience, there was one time it was clearly not working, that's it. When they tell you that, just run the card through anyway, you will see it come up and work.

    That doesn't work until they

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    That doesn't work until they turn off the meter, though, does it? Most drivers seem to just read you the total off the meter when you arrive, and leave it running.

    Just take their Medallion

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    Just take their Medallion number down and tell them you are going to report them to the Hackney division. The machines usually spring to life. (It's a miracle!) Not having a working cc machine is a 3-day suspension I believe.

    I have had good luck reporting, and receiving follow up, from the BPD on taxi issues.

    A cab with 'broken' reader is

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    A cab with 'broken' reader is considered unfit for service and cannot legally carry passengers. More people need to report the medallion numbers to the BPD hackney unit when drivers pull that BS.

    They just want the cash

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    I had a cabbie tell my husband and I that his machine was broken when we arrived at our destination, even after telling him we had no cash and were going to use a card when we got into the cab. Of course he was very angry with us but we insisted we had no cash and after ten minutes he took our card and the machine magically worked. This seems to happen every time we get into a cab now.

    UBER>Cabs

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    This is why I haven't taken a cab since Uber came to town.

    I have been told that the cab

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    I have been told that the cab drivers are charged a substantial fee for each transaction, which is part of what is making them so resistant to accepting credit cards. Can anyone confirm this?

    They pay a 6% fee -- a cost

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    They pay a 6% fee -- a cost that was built into the last fare hike. They also don't like waiting for the transactions to post.

    Scams

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    They are charged on average a 5-6% percentage as a fee for credit card use. However at the exact same time as credit card readers became mandatory, the city authorized them a 7% rate increase to offset this fee.

    Bear in mind that it is already more expensive to take a cab in Boston than NY. So even before, and still after, the rate increase you were, and are, being ripped off.
    http://radioboston.wbur.org/2011/02/14/taxi-cost

    The real reason they don't like the card readers

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    When you indicate a tip, it gets recorded at full value.

    It then gets taxed at full value.

    Otherwise, they report very low tips relative to the cash they take in.

    They can also take the cash at the end of the shift and get wasted on it immediately.

    Metrocab

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    It is inexcusable that he bulled this BS on you and you should report him. That said, I'd recommend just calling Metrocab next time you are taking an early flight. You can call them the night before and they show up on time in front of your house in a nice clean car. I have never had a problem with them, including when I
    took a cab from my house in Roslindale yeasterday to Logan, arriving at 5:45am (unless it was that extra 45 minutes that made the meter work).

    Completely Agree

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    Metrocab drivers usually arrive a few minutes before the time I requested the cab. The drivers are pleasant. The only time a credit card system was malfunctioning was when the screen was off to the right. I had to guess where the screen buttons were. But it worked. And when a receipt doesn't print - out comes the receipt pad.

    Using the screen allows me to select the tip I want to provide. So there is no short change. I believe that there is a theory that using credit cards more easily results in more cash exchanged since the hard cash is more easily counted and "weighs" more. So a cab driver without a working credit card device is running a higher risk of a lower tip.

    I don't use any other cab company. The one time I called another large cab company I was told they don't schedule pickups at least for where I was - downtown. I have not called them again.

    Metrocab comes across as valuing customer service from the call to the drop off. I'm glad to sing their praises.

    A modest proposal

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    If the card reader doesn't work, text the medallion number to an enforcement number and the ride is free.

    On the other side of the spectrum:

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    the last time I was in a cab, it said "cash only" on the outside. but I asked the driver to verify, and he enthusiastically verified that he had it covered, despite the lack of an obvious CC machine.

    So he took us to jillians (and skillfully got us there real quickly, despite a sox game), and when it came time to pay, grabs his backpack, and digs out a square attachment for his phone. Awesome! these things are perfect, and all cabbies should have them on hand. it was nice to have a savvy cab driver for once.

    Well, that cab driver was skirting the system.

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    Square charges 2.75%. The mandated system charges 6%. He's trying to save money. So he shouldn't be doing this. He might not like the deal the city has with the credit card company but that's not his decision. He's breaking the law.

    They're lying, every single one of them

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    Cash is king in the cab world, so naturally they try and get out of using credit cards.

    I rarely have to take a credit card, but when I do I have both the Square and Intuit apps on my phone. Given that 90% of the cabbies I know have the latest phones, they have no excuse not to take them.