Friday, March 19, 2010

Do You Take Credit Cards Driver?


Hi folks, its been a while.

Since my Happy New Year post its taken this long for the work to pick up. Some evenings have been really bad but its definitely getting better out there as the economy repairs itself and people now have those extra few shekels which enable them to go out in the evening and afford a taxi home afterwards.

After months of umming and ahhing I decided to sign up with a credit card company thus managing to stop the flow of jobs I was having to refuse from getting away. To date I've only done about six jobs and the first payment has just gone in to my account this morning. The clincher was when one evening a few weeks ago I was approached by a drunk couple who'd been to the Boujis nightclub and asked if I took cards. I said no and after walking down the line of cabs on the South Kensington rank they came back to me and said that if I took them they would go home, collect a bank card and then go to a cashpoint and get me my money. Sounded ok to me so I took them. They were both very drunk and and soon nodded off. When I got to their area in the Kennington district I had to shout out to wake them for directions. I eventually stopped on Kennington Park Road but had driven quite a ways past their house. The girl got out as I waited with her drunk partner. After a while she came back and said she couldn't find her card and started getting hysterical as she only had a few hours left to get some sleep before work in the morning. Her partner woke and they both walked back towards her house which was about a hundred yards behind me on a busy road. I wasn't overly concerned as in my opinion they weren't the type to not pay so I sat there....and sat there...and sat there!!! I eventually U-turned and drove to where I guessed they'd entered their house. There were about three possible houses it could've been but I couldn't be sure so I sat outside for what seemed like half an hour with thirty something pounds on the meter and eventually had to drive off. They'd probably sat down to discuss the situation and passed right back out again. There's not really a lot one can do in that situation other than camp outside all night but it wasn't really an option so first thing in the morning I signed up for the credit card machine and its already proved invaluable late at night. Its of the chip and pin variety and works off a phone signal so as long as i'm in an area with coverage it will work. I also like the fact that it does debit cards as well but the 10% charge has already put a few people off. The thing is, on average, the meter rises by £1 when people get out to use a cashpoint so they might as well pay by card.





My Credit Card Machine


There's an unspoken rule that the cab who was driving ahead of you gets the next job. Common sense, good manners, etiquette call it what you like. So there I was driving down Earls Court Road one night last week. Its a two lane one way street and I was on the left. Up ahead on the right hand side I could see a hand go up and after a quick glance at my wing mirror I could see it was my job as the cab in the right lane was quite a way behind me. I pull in for the girl and she starts to get in. The cab in the right lane pulls up alongside me and starts mouthing that I'd nicked his job, opening his door as if to intimidate me into giving up the passenger. We had a heated exchange of words and insults as one would expect and he eventually pulled away empty handed giving me a one handed salute. Now, on the flip-side I was dropping off in Kings Road and as that passenger paid me there was another one waiting to get in. There's another unspoken rule that if you've just dropped off and there's cabs For Hire behind you then you send the passenger back to them. It was Friday night, my windows were steamed up, there was absolutely work on every street corner so I thought nothing of it as the next passenger got in and asked for Walton Street. Alongside pulls the cab that was behind me and starts the usual "are you sure mate?" In this case I explained why I did it but he said I should know better and I suppose he was right. I offered him the job but the passengers, not knowing the reason as to why, refused to get out. The other cabbie drove round me and was hailed immediately putting an end to a sticky situation but also highlighting the need to maintain cab etiquette at all times coz "if the machine breaks down, we break down" (Midnight Express).

The cab is now a year and a few months old but giving me trouble free motoring on a daily basis. Paying through the bank as I do I am seldom up at the garage. I recently took it up there for a 30k service and was offered a newer (brand new) TX4 if I could find another driver to take mine on but alas all my mates have their own cabs and to be honest I'm quite happy driving my one as its better the devil you know and all that jazz. I did pick up a great big lump of metal in one of the wheels which as soon as I pulled it out deflated the wheel but I've since had the spare replaced and all is well.

I recently got a distress call from my sister telling me my mum's car had broken down. She was collecting my dad from his 3 times a week dyalisis at Northwick Park Hospital in her aging Peugot 205. It was rush hour and took me and Jane the best part of an hour to get to her. By then the police had attended and pushed her car off the road. It transpired that the car had cut out and rolled back onto an ambulance (mum reckons the ambulance hit her) and they had called the police. Any way I tried to jump start it but after a few attempts we called the RAC and the guy that came out within 10 minutes said the alternator had packed up so with a dead battery the engine would keep cutting out. He boosted the battery for about fifteen minutes giving it enough power for me to get the car back to mums. The following day I bought a replacement alternator and fitted it myself and its been fine ever since, I really should have been a mechanic!!!

Take Care Out There.

L.C.

44 comments:

John said...

Happy new year yourself, thought you had emegrated I did.Law and order has broken here. Taxis will bull up close behind you knowing that when you stop they can take the passinger from behind. If you let a guy into traffic he will pick up the next fare, a big no no in my day.
At least we don't have minicabs.
Happy Paddys day.

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bobx1970 said...

Need to see this--"beware the minicabs of London"--better to take a taxi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnBJDPLH3Sw

Very funny video.

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Tarek said...

Nice Blog!

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LucidMoney said...

Hi London Cabby,

Do you accept advertising on your blog at all? I'm currently working for a taxi insurance company and would be interested in setting something up.

Any further info on this can be sent to emptysea@live.co.uk.

Cheers,

Matt

Alberto C.R. said...

Very peculiar contents and style. Nice job!

Alberto Comesana

combatlondon.co.uk

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Anand said...

Card machines are both good and bad! Yes they get you more work but imagine my surprise when 4 months after a journey I'd done, I get a letter from my bank stating the customer had put through a charge back request.

The journey was over 4 months ago and I haven't got a clue who it was. Their chip and pin didn't work so I swiped (BIG mistake) and took a signature. It turns out the sig was fake and card may have been stolen.

Some friends in the minicab industry say they often get stung by genuine customers who submit a fraudulent charge back (is that an oxymoron?) - i.e. they intend to use the card and then claim they didn't authorise the transaction....unfortunately the law sits with the card holder at present!

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建霖建霖 said...

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Gotham said...

wow. the little credit card machine is cool, i guess i would love to carry such a gadget, its small but fits nicely and for a cab driver i think its improtant to have because many people do not sit in taxis just because they know the cabbie will not have the credit card machine to charge them, a great idea i would say to increase your income

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Miss City Girl said...

Being a regular user of Black cabs it surprises me that I don't know these rules. But if I see a light I put my hand out and whoever stops, stops.

I think in this day and age a card machine is a must.

Keep up the great work. You guys are my heros. (No really, I'd take a black cab over the bat-mobile any day of the week!)

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NYC taxi photo said...

Wow are you ever getting hit up by the spam comments or what?

anyway, this post is amazing to me, that in such an international, and large city, such politeness is encountered with taxicabs. Wish it was so in New York City. Here it has gotten to the point where it deemed as acceptable to pull across 4 lanes to pick-up so long as the other empty cab aligned with the lane adjacent to the customer is more than 5 car lengths away. I s'pose I'm becoming just as bad as the rest of them. and as for picking up right after dropping off, that's how money is made, at prime times there are so many customers that there is no problem with that.

it's when people cut through traffic and screw up the entire street and almost cause accidents, and cut in taxi lines while other cabs are holding the line back by picking up. that's when it is completely unacceptable. how nice it must be to be driving in a civilized taxi world.

and also that's awesome that your credit machines charge the customers extra. here in new york the drivers pay the extra 5% which also deducted from teh total fare including taxes and tolls, it's only 5% but it's infuriating that the driver should pay and not the passenger for the right to use a credit card.

文滢 said...

融會貫通的智慧,永遠不會被遺忘。..................................................