I was ripped off by a New York cabdriver

This happened back at the end of June when I was in New York, but I must share it now because of a recent development.

We had just gotten out of Penn Station and walked up to 34th St. We (GF and I) were out there at around 4:00 AM and we had hailed down two different cabs already whose drivers refused to drive us to Queens. So when we finally were able to get a driver who would go to Queens, we were relieved.

He was driving a Ford Escape taxi, not a regular sedan. He barely spoke English, hailing from some African country (I think he said “Afrikos” when I asked him, but I looked it up later and I can’t figure out what that means.) He didn’t seem to understand where Queens was. We were able to give him a rough series of directions to get there, and as he was driving, he had two separate numbers on the meter: one was fixed at 39.00, and the other started at 0 and then kept going up as we got to Queens, eventually totaling $40. I figured this was just how taxicabs worked; that there was like a flat rate and then a running meter, to get to somewhere outside of Manhattan.

So the fare came to $80.00, and I tipped him 10 on top of that. After we were dropped off and I told my grandpa about it, he informed me that I had been ripped off and that it shouldn’t have cost more than $40.00 and that there’s no fixed fee for going to Queens. (He also said that drivers are not supposed to refuse to take you to Queens from Manhattan.) I felt like a total rube and was unbelievably pissed off.

He called the New York Taxi Commission and had me report the whole experience to them; I did so, and gave them the taxi driver’s name. It was “Bah.” I thought he had said “Bob” at first, but then I looked up at his ID placard and it said “Bah.” I figured that between this distinctive name and the fact that he was driving a Ford Escape cab, they could track the guy down.

But today I received a letter in the mail from them, saying that they could not identify the driver.

I am unbelievably pissed off about this and I am going to continue to try to get this guy’s ass nailed for fucking me over, as well as get re-imbursed. Should I contact the police as well?

If any of you are ever in New York and get into a Ford Escape taxi with a driver named Bah, please get his number and report this cocksucker to the proper authorities.

It’s understandable that you’re a bit sheepish after being taken like that.

No one likes to have the wool pulled over their eyes.

Luckily he didn’t ram ewe.

Seriously, though, I’m sorry to hear about that. But unless you took down the plate# or find him again, I don’t see how this can be resolved. For all ewe know, he could have stolen the cab and drove it around for a couple days to make a few quick bucks, then ditched it.

Also, if you know a local (and you did), never EVER take a cab without talking to them. I understand DC at least has a very complex system (to an outsider) of zones. Knowing how to take a cab within a zone, then change cabs at the border of another, is a very important skillset to people reliant on public transportation in DC. It’s just a good general rule to avoid being ripped off. Luckily your lesson wasn’t too terribly expensive.

Ewe guys, stop making jokes. This cabdriver could already be on the lamb for all we know and we oat to work together if we’re going to ram him into the barn of justice. I mean shear-iously.

I know the guy’s name and I know that he drove a Ford Escape rather than a conventional cab. Shouldn’t that be enough to track him down? What are the odds of there being another Escape-driving driver named “Bah”?

Are they unable to search by name in the cab driver database?

I bet they can. I also bet there is no Bah in their database.

The law says cabbies can’t refuse to take you to outer boroughs of NYC, but the reality for many years is that such refusal is commonplace and you’ll get turned away unless you agree to pay a surcharge.

If it’s any consolation, Mayor Bloomberg is supposedly on the warpath about this. Maybe you could write him a nice letter.

How could they possibly enforce this?

You wave down a cab, ask to go to Queens, he says no and drives away again. You complain to the cab company using his reg plate, and he says, “What? Never met this guy, nobody ever even asked me to go to Queens”. It would be totally your word against his, how could they ever sanction anybody?

There’s where the other $39 went.

This is probably accurate. Unless the cab you got in was a Yellow Cab there are no Ford Escape cabs in NYC, at least that I’ve seen. You have Yellow Cabs which come in all shapes and sizes but are all very distinctly cabs and easy to determine by the paint job and then you have black (and very occasionally silver or gray) Lincolns that are also cabs. Each cab in the city has an emblem in the window indicating their status as a taxi. There are several people who will turn their own personal car into a cab and stick a meter they found on eBay or Craigslist on the dash but they aren’t legitimate and could rip you off or drop you in the middle of who knows where and you would have little recourse.

While this is correct there is a very specific procedure you have to follow. When the cab pulls over you need to get in and close the door behind you before you tell them your destination. If you tell them through the window they can just drive away but once you are in the vehicle they must take you anywhere in the city that is accessible by cab.

All the sheep puns, but no mention of him getting fleeced by a guy named Bahhh? I’m disappointed in you guys!

By all means contact the police. Crime is always at such unbelievably low levels in NYC that there must be dozens of Detective 1st Grades sitting idle who would jump at the chance to sink their teeth into such a meaty case.

Didn’t the cab have a meter?

I’d just let it go. It sucks, but it’s over and it’s not a huge sum of money. Live and learn.

I’m not sure how it works in NYC, but in Boston cabs are part of the BPD. They actually do investigate abuses. I actually got some money returned to the business that I worked for after a cabbie took one of my employees the long way around.

Perhaps he was a cabdriver from some other jurisdiction (Jersey, for instance) who had just dropped someone off at Penn Station. Hence the non-yellow cab and the unfamiliarity with driving to Queens. Presumably he wasn’t supposed to pick up passengers at all while in NYC, but maybe he figured that at 4:00 am, no one was going to complain.

Maybe the flat $39 was his last fare, still showing. Did he actually tell you the fare was the two numbers added together, or did you conclude that yourself and he just accepted the money? Obviously, in the latter case he still should have told you that the flat $39 was not part of the fare, but maybe that’s a lesser sin than actively lying to you.

I’d write off the extra $39 as a middle-of-the-night surcharge and forget it.

Contacting the police is pointless. You already contacted the right people, the TLC. If they can’t track down this guy, no one can. One point to remember, each taxicab has 3 or 4 drivers, almost all immigrants, times 13,000 cabs. The odds are that there is more than one Bah, either first name or surname driving around Manhattan.

Cabs refusing to go to the outer boroughs has been a problem since time immemorial and every mayor tries to clamp down on it. But until they make Brooklyn and Queens double-fare zones, it’s never going to work. Basically, the cabbie is screwed once he drops you off and has to drive all the way back to Manhattan on his own dime, especially at 4 in the morning.

It sucks that this guy ripped you off, but it’s a good reminder to everyone that you should know the basic rules of taxis when you travel. This guy will eventually get caught and lose his job, which is sad because he’s probably supporting a ton of people back in his country.

OP can you clarify. Are you saying you got into a non-Yellow cab? or that you got into a cab which was “regulation” and displaying the NYC and TLC logos, it’s just that it was a Ford Escape style of car? Was Bah the last name or the first name?

Anyway I think the problem is, it’s not that distinctive of a name. IF the driver who scammed you still holds his TLC license, it could have been:
BAH,SOULEYMANE License # 438009
BAH,ABDOULAYE License # 463855
BAH,IBRAHIM License # 487054
BAH,IBRAHIMA License # 487491
BAH,AMADOU,T License # 500379

And I’m only a 1/3 of the way through the licensee list. There are probably between 10 and 20 people it could be.

You can look up current licensees here:

Also for future reference, do not tell the driver where you are going until you are IN the cab, and if they refuse, pull out your cell phone and tell them you are calling 311, right this very second to report them and writing down their license number (text it to yourself if you have to). 311 goes straight to non-emergency city services.