Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Taxing taxi-meter cabs

I am getting to the end of my tether with the cabs here in Virginia (I know I keep saying I'm Washington, but in fact I'm staying and working just outside DC - I'm lying).

The taxi drivers are terrible!

The hotel keeps randomly cancelling or not booking my morning cabs for a start. This led to them having to get one at short notice for a colleague and I one morning last week. The cab driver was annoyed at having been told to drive to the hotel at short notice and shouted at us for most of the journey, saying he wouldn't pick us up again. I despair! (He didn't get a tip.)

Also, few of the drivers know their way around. They ask you what route you want to take to your destination (I don't know - I've never driven here!). My journey to work should cost $20, and twice it's come to $35 as the driver went the wrong way. It was the same driver both times, and the second time I told him there must be a quicker way since it cost a lot less when other drivers took me. He asked what way that was, and I said it was via the freeway, but I didn't know what road it was. He then went the same way as the last time (the HIGHway, it turns out, not the FREEway) and when I complained about the cost he complained that I hadn't told him which way to go! (He even had a GPS system in his cab but ignored it.)

I've now asked at work and know the freeway number and exit number for my office. Good planning Stephen!

Though not good enough as it turns out. Tonight the cabbie didn't know the way to Mclean, the suburb I'm staying in. In fact he refused to even pull away from my office until I'd tried to set up his Bluetooth headset on his mobile phone. When we did get moving we ended up miles out of the way and I could soon see he didn't know where the hell he was. I turned my GPSr on, and I knew there was a geocache near the hotel, so I could then tell which direction we should be going in. I ended up map-reading and directing the driver to the hotel. I was clearly annoyed, and I ended up telling him to ignore the meter (near $40 by this time) and that I'd pay no more than $20 (he should have paid me).

I was thinking I was just having bad luck, but the people I'm working with acknowledge that the cabs are terrible (especially the Brits who live here and know what UK cabs are like) and you have to know exactly which route you want to take.

No comments: