Just got back from Las Vegas. The trip was good (details and pics coming soon) – but I did not tip the cab on my way back from Sea-Tac Airport to my place today.
I usually do. And a lot. In fact my friends say that I tip too much – whether in restaurants, in saloons or in cabs. Today was different – and I honestly did not think that the driver deserved even a cent. Moreover, I actually wrote down a big “$ 0.00″ in the tip section of the receipt. Here’s what happened, from scratch.
Got down at Sea-Tac around 9:35 PST. The Seattle Metro bus 194 had just left and the next one was a 30 minute wait. BTW, the Metro 194 route is a real nice transport to/from the airport if you are in downtown Seattle. The route is via I-5 and it takes about 30 min to get there – hassle free. And after you read what I am about to write, I hope you will also rate the Metro 194 as a good service – at least better than some cabs.
So we decided to get a cab home – and got into one. I have taken cabs from SeaTac to my house 7 times in the last 1.5 years. And I am positive that it was always around $34-$36 – and I would mark it up to $40 and a nice “thank you”. Today it ran up to $41.
Anyway that’s not the problem – I wanted to know if the fare had increased (I remember that there is a flat rate of around $33 to/from SeaTac and downtown). So I asked the driver if there was a flat rate from SeaTac. He said that it’s $35 flat from downtown to SeaTac but not while returning. And I thought they have a card in every cab that states the flat rates – so I asked for it. The guy was pissed off. I don’t know what crime I committed (as far as I know, I asked him in the most polite way possible – I didn’t want to come off as a cheapo).
He got agitated and said that there’s no such card, the fares increased in October and I can pay him $41 now. So I asked him if he can swipe my card (I was carrying $40 cash – as my previous experience had thought me to to). He took the card, swiped it and asked me to sign my receipt.
It was all okay till this part – here’s when the fun started. I was giving him my autograph when he started off in Hindi – “Tum saale Desi logon ka yahii problem hai”. (for my non-hindi-speaking friends, that means something like “This is the problem with you Desi (Indian) people”) hmmm… I was not gonna take that sitting back – and I thought it was a racial slur. As far as I am concerned, the situation or my behavior did not warrant a racial slur (really, nothing does. Or should). I had never heard (or maybe I never recognized it) racial abuse so far – and that too from another Indian/Pakistani? . So I told him, in English, as I didn’t want to go down this path – that, this was uncalled-for and was really bad.
By now he was out of control – shouting and enraged (and I swear I did not call him any names at all). So I said, I am not going to sign the receipt if this goes on. I asked him to shake hands, take the receipt and go home (Ok, even I was not the most polite person by now, but I was not bad-mouthing). His reply was – “Pay and get out of my cab.” He tried to threaten me by picking up the phone and starting to dial someone. I thought it was the police – and that they would be fair mediators So I said, “Who are you calling, the Police? Ok – let’s wait for them – I am not signing the receipt till then.” And then he gave in, again shouted me to get out of his car.
Anyway, I got his badge number and details – and he asked me if I was going to file a complaint. On hearing “yes, obviously” he shrugged and muttered something.
So – I just left all the details of the complaint on the Seattle TaxiCab complaint hotline (BTW – a nice IVR system. I initially expected them to call me back during “working hours” – the number’s 206-296-TAXI). Also left a voice mail with STITA cabs complaint line.
Maybe the fare has risen and is now more than $40. Maybe the sites that Google turns up are still not updated with the latest fares (they still say the fare should be around $35) – http://www.engr.washington.edu/epp/icders/transp.html http://www.portseattle.org/seatac/ground/groundrates.shtml#d
Or maybe the meter was rigged? Maybe STITA cabs really deserve the bad bad reviews they have on yelp (oh and they are going to get another one in a few minutes).
But what I am sure of is that it did not deserve all the rude behavior, racial slurs I got from the driver.
Let’s see what turns up – both complaint lines acknowledged the entry and said that they will get back (in fact I have heard good things about Seattle Cab complaints) within a few days. Will update the blog when I hear from them.