Taxis and making change

I have what I think is a factual legal question, though if the discussion (d)evolves into something else then perhaps it will need to be moved to a different forum.

Twice now I have been at the end of a taxi ride with the driver claiming that s/he cannot make change. The first time this happened, I felt stuck having to give a very generous tip. Recently somebody suggested that if this happens, I should simply refuse to pay. Would that be legal? Does the driver have any legal obligation to be able to make change, or to tell me at the outset of the ride that he will not be able to make change? And am I legally required to fork over three $20 bills for a $42 fare if that’s the only way I can pay? (Let’s assume we’re somewhere where I can’t run into a store to make change.)

Of course what makes this a particularly tricky case is that the monetary transaction doesn’t take place until after the service is rendered, at which point the transaction must take place immediately.

So, what does the law say about this?

If they make you pay more than is one the Meter…call the police or local tranist authority. Tell them to go get change and come back - pay them when they come back. Don’t hand them any cash until they have the change out. Cabbies are required to carry $20 in change (in NYC).

I’ve had this happen once. I handed him a $20 bill for what I think was something like an $11 fare. How ridiculous that he could not change that; I would have only needed $6 back after tip. I told him to stop the meter, go get change, and drop me off.

So in answer to your question, I don’t know. I just wanted to gripe about my crappy cab driver.

I’m actually curious about this. I know, for example, on the bus/train if you don’t have exact change, oh well. You’ll just have to forfeit the smallest bill(s) you have into the machine; you’re not getting change. Similarly, with taxis is the burden of having correct change on the customer? Can different cab companies set their own policies? Is there a legal requirement in place to stop shady cab drivers from deliberately operating sans change?

This not not easily Googlable. Or my Google skills need honing.

However, with buses you can know exactly how much you need to pay before you get on. In addition, if the driver won’t give change for a $5 bill when the fare is $1.50, you can take your $5 with you as you get back off the bus. You only know the exact fare for a taxi ride at the end of the ride (with the exception of a limited number of routes with fixed fares, and a few general exceptions like taxis in the District of Columbia).

Just as a note, the District of Columbia has dropped the zone system and switched to a metered system.

Speaking of DC, here are the rules for change and taxis:

Now, it doesn’t say what a passenger should do, but the implication is that if the driver doesn’t alert the passenger about needing to get change, then if the passenger wants change the driver has to make it without the 50 cent charge.

In most cities, a cabbie caught without change (it happens) can pull up to any other cabbie and get help.

Yeah, the one time I was told by a cabbie that he didn’t have change (for a $20 fer cryin’ out loud), I told him that I was not going to pay for him to get some. He obliged, but not first without a little whining. :rolleyes:

If the driver fails to inform the passenger that he may not be able to change $X bill, the customer shouldn’t have to pay for the time the driver takes obtaining change after he’s arrived at the destination. That’s just the way I see things, and have no idea if there are rules about it anywhere, or if we’ve all just been living by some unofficial rule all this time. I’ll shut up now and let people who know what they’re talking about have at it.

Thanks all, for the information. I’m glad to see that at least NYC and DC have laws about this, in favor of the customer. Does anybody know about Chicago? This is where it has been a problem for me.

In Cairo, the cabbies often claim not to have anything smaller than a 10 pound note. Also, their English tends to get a lot worse around fare-paying time.