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Cabbie complains about people haggling over fares

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Cabbie complains about people haggling over fares

Post by Admin on Sun 25 Jan 2009 - 6:55

TAXI customers in Barnstaple are increasingly haggling for the lowest possible fares as ranks become flooded with drivers desperate for trade, a furious cabbie has claimed.

Mike Dewberry, of 001 Taxis, said credit crunch-wary customers were now dictating fare prices to him, rather than the other way around.

Mr Dewberry, who has been in the trade for more than 20 years, said: "I really love this job and do my absolute best to keep my customers satisfied — but it is becoming harder to make a living.

"There are too many cars out there on the 'cream' nights. Most of the drivers out on those nights have other full-time jobs but just turn up with their cars on the busy nights and vie for everyone else's business.

"I remember when the pub kick-out time used to last for two-and-a-half hours and it was very hard work. These days, with more taxis on the ranks than ever before, you're lucky to get half-an-hour's work."

He said intense competition meant drivers were now offering "stupidly cheap fares" and pricing each other out of the market.

He said: "Customers are now dictating the fares to us which is crazy — you wouldn't go into a clothes shop and barter over the price of a shirt would you?

"The answer is simple — we need marshalled taxi ranks that operate on a first-com-first-served basis.

"Customers should queue at a barrier and take the next cab that comes along, regardless of the firm.

"I also think it should be compulsory to turn your meter on — it's the only way of creating fair price structures and, after all, isn't that what it's there for?"

Despite his fear that his income was under threat, he disagreed with demands from other cabbies for fare increases, saying they were "plain greedy", not least because North Devon was already in of the top 15 most expensive places to get a taxi in the UK.

North Devon Council's licensing committee has recommended to increase the first three-quarter mile maximum fare from 2.50 to 3.

Maximum taxi fare tariffs set by the council are up to 120% higher than the national average. The average national night rate for a 10-mile taxi fare is 23.31 but in North Devon the same journey could cost you as much as 51.25.

A two-mile daytime fare in a hackney cab in North Devon can cost up to 5.63, compared to a national average of 4.78.

Increased competition means customers rarely now pay the full rates.

North Devon Council makes no profit from licensing taxis and has rejected previous claims from cabbies that it has issued "too many" Hackney licences.

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