Some Las Vegas Taxicab Companies Pressure Cabbies to Rip Off Tourists

 

Some Las Vegas Taxicab Companies

Pressure Cabbies to Rip Off Tourists

by Vegas Taxi Driver
February 6, 2009

Several years ago I went to work as a Las Vegas cabbie for a very high pressure cab company. It had been quite a few years since I had been a cabbie in Las Vegas. I had worked for other cab companies in Las Vegas and I was confident about my ability to do a good job at any company. But no matter how hard I worked or tried to keep up with the drivers of this particular company I was working for, the average amount of money booked by other drivers on my shift was much higher than my book. At the end of my shifts, when I was counting my money, I would listen to the drivers tell horrible stories about how they ripped off customers and long hauled people. Then when I came to work the next day I would be called to the office to get chewed out by a supervisor for not booking enough. When good conventions were in town, I was not allowed to work because I had not been booking enough. I was required to come to work seven days a week and at least one half hour before the cabs started come in from the previous shift and sit there until they called my name, if I was lucky enough to have my name called at all. Then I would be assigned to one of the oldest junkers they had in their fleet, because I was not a high booker, and most of the time I was given a restricted medallion so I could not pick up passengers on the Las Vegas strip and McCarran Airport and Downtown Las Vegas, which is where 95% of the business is in Las Vegas. 

It did not take long for me to realize that the only way to succeed at this company was to start booking as much as the other drivers, and the only way to do that was to be a crook and a thief and a liar. But I think more highly of myself than that. I hadn't been a crook for other kinds of businesses where I could have made a lot more money than driving taxi, so I wasn't going to be a crook for them. Fortunately, they did have a lot of radio calls and a few good dispatchers. Since I had owned a taxi in a different city 20 years ago where drivers only take radio calls, I knew how to take radio calls. So I just drove restricted cabs and went out and took as many radio calls as I could and went to local casinos on the outskirts of Las Vegas and picked up passengers at their cab stands.

Every day the company printed out a sheet with all the drivers names and the amount of money they booked so that drivers could compare how well they did.  When I was driving restricted cabs, I always was one of the highest booking restricted drivers. However, when I was driving an unrestricted cab for them, I was always one of the lowest bookers. But the amount of trips I did was more than the average. The only reason I was a low booker when I was driving unrestricted cabs was because my trips cost less because I just took people the direct way instead of jerking them around and going in circles.

One Saturday night I remember I booked about $120 less than the average amount booked by the other drivers on that night. It had been a busy night at the airport and there were some late flights that came in, so there were lots of opportunities for drivers to long haul passengers through the airport tunnel. I also had more trips than the average amount of trips of other drivers. The only thing I did not do is jerk people around. The next day I was chewed out by one of the supervisors for not booking enough. That was the last time I worked for that company.

Because of my experiences working for some Las Vegas cab companies, I wrote several blog articles years ago about the bad policies and unscrupulous practices of taxicab companies in Las Vegas. But what I failed to say is that not all Las Vegas cab companies are the same. After working for the worst, now I work for a company that is owned and operated by decent people who have never punished me for not being a crook and have never tried to force me or coerce me to be a crook or break laws or be unethical, and have allowed me to drive good vehicles and work good shifts and not be restricted even though I am not a high booker. I don't want to give the impression that all Las Vegas taxi companies are run the same way. 

I just started writing on this blog again after taking a two year break. My point of view has changed and my situation is different now. Two years ago I would have guaranteed you that there was no way I would still be driving a taxi in 2009. But things happen. During those two years the company I currently work for has treated me way better than I ever expected, and if I knew then what I know now about the owners of my current employer, I would have been more careful in the past to make certain that readers understand that not all owners run their companies the same way. Just because some Las Vegas cab companies have practices and policies that are unethical and abusive does not mean that it is true of all taxi companies in Las Vegas.

Why should I care if some Las Vegas taxi companies have bad policies and unethical practices? Two years ago the Nevada Taxicab Authority was going crazy flooding Las Vegas with more taxis and two of the reasons they gave were: (1) Not having enough taxis at the Las Vegas Convention Center during times when it is impossible for taxis to get to the dysfunctional poorly designed Las Vegas Convention Center, and (2) The amount of money booked by drivers was high. > Some Las Vegas taxi companies force and/or encourage drivers to long-haul customers and drive crazy and steal from other cabbies and even run their meter with no passengers in order to satisfy their bosses and be able to continue to drive a decent vehicle or work a decent shift or not have a restricted medallion. 

The Nevada Taxicab Board should take into account that the amount of money booked by drivers who are pressured to book high amounts and that  should not be the basis for punishing the honest drivers by adding more medallions and creating long lines of empty cabs at the airport and in front of hotels. As far as the Nevada Taxicab Board relying on a report from a Nevada Taxicab Authority administrator who stands at the Las Vegas Convention Center and says, "See, we need more cabs," without doing studies on traffic congestion and feasibility and capacity, anybody can do that. The Nevada Taxicab Board should have better information than that before just putting more and more cabs in Las Vegas without finding out the real reasons and working to fix the real problems.

The Nevada Taxicab Authority, which is responsible for enforcing laws regarding taxicabs in Las Vegas, routinely says that they are cracking down on long hauling by drivers, and sometimes they do take action in that regard. But even if a Las Vegas cabbie gets caught long hauling, it does not do anything to hinder cab companies from having policies that force, encourage, and pressure drivers to long haul. The driver pays the fine, the driver also has to reimburse the money collected from passengers, and still has to pay the company for the meter, and the company still makes money from the long haul. If the driver gets caught enough times, the company fires the driver and hires new drivers who learn from other drivers how to long haul and not get caught. There needs to be a law in Nevada that specifically prohibits taxi companies from coercing and pressuring drivers to long haul. The company I work for now does not reward drivers for being crooks and thieves, but some Las Vegas cab companies do.

There have always been crooks driving cabs. That does not bother me personally as a cabbie. I don't care what the other drivers are doing, as long as it does not hurt me. I feel sorry for people who have such low esteem that they feel that have to stoop to ripping people off in order to make money, but I don't have anything against them. That is up to the individual drivers and the authorities in charge of the taxicab business. I am fine with the fact that I make less money than crooks, whether it is in the taxi business or any other business. Many people who are not crooks go to work at certain Las Vegas cab companies, and then they have to become thieves in order to drive a decent vehicle or work a decent shift or not be restricted from picking up tourists on the Las Vegas strip or McCarran Airport or Downtown Las Vegas, and that is a problem for Las Vegas.

All of the cab companies tell their cabbies to follow the laws and all Las Vegas taxi companies punish drivers that get caught long hauling or breaking any other laws, but if drivers of certain companies know that they have to be high bookers in order to have the opportunity to drive nice cars and not be restricted, and if the amount of money they book on their meter is compared to drivers who are long hauling and stealing rides from cabbies who follow the rules and the laws, then drivers  are actually being coerced into being crooks. This is bad for Las Vegas.

Fortunately, I do not work for a company that forces me to be a crook. There are many decent and honest cabbies working for the company I am employed for now, and they do not have to be crooks and thieves in order to drive nice cabs and work good shifts and not be restricted. I am not saying that all the drivers at my company are honest and do not long haul, but they are not rewarded by the company for being crooks, and they are not pressured to be crooks. 

by Vegas Taxi Driver
February 6, 2009

 
 
 

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  • Tuesday, February 10, 2009 3:38 PM Unk wrote:
    I personally have no problem telling people the 2 companies who's policy it is to rip-off the public are Desert cab and Nellis cab.

    If you doubt this, simply compare their averages against the industry averages. Their numbers stick out like a sore thumb. Theirs are always 25% higher than all other operators.

    Taxicab Authority does not care. Based on their lack of ANY enforcement, one has to conclude they and the State of Nevada LIKE having tourists ripped off for millions each year.

    This issue is easily one of the biggest scandals in Las Vegas.

    Taxicab Authority should be dissolved. They serve no useful purpose and instead create trouble. TA is nothing but an easy job for 2 dozens stupid people.
    Reply to this
  • Monday, June 20, 2011 5:57 AM how to get money fast wrote:
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  • Monday, August 22, 2011 11:02 AM RAGMAN wrote:
    T-A meeting 08-23-2011. NO MORE CABS!!! Cab drivers in Vegas are BELOW the POVERTY LEVEL. Go to the meeting and help STOP more cabs from being added.FIGHT FOR YOUR JOB!!
    Reply to this

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