Assaults and unprofessional conduct by Winnipeg cab drivers are out of control, while the lack of alternate choices limits any opportunity to fight back. Something needs to change.
This is my story; but it’s only one of many that the stranglehold on the cab business has allowed here.
So, we called Duffy’s to go from home to St James and then again for a return ride about two hours later. All started fine.
About two minutes into the ride home as we turn onto Portage Avenue, the driver answers his cell phone, hand held! My wife makes a comment about being uncomfortable; he just makes a gesture and continues. So I now ask him to hang it up or stop. He eventually hangs up and apologizes saying it was wrong and should not have happened.
We expressed it is unsafe and illegal, and he says sorry.
Not two minutes later he answers again, this time he is arguing with someone. As we go along, the conversation heats up and his driving worsens. Again, I ask him to get off the phone.
Now he starts arguing with me, and with the guy on the phone, all the while paying little attention to the road. This goes on block after block as he argues with both of us, and his driving becomes increasingly erratic.
So, now I phone Duffy’s and I’m telling the dispatcher what this guy is doing.
“Yes, I’m in the car right now and he’s driving like an idiot and won’t get off the phone,” I say to the dispatcher.
The dispatcher says, “I’ll call him” … like he needs another call!
He then says, they will send another car and hangs up.
All the while, our driver is still arguing on the phone, arguing with us and paying little attention to the road or his driving.
He finally pulls over and we get out and walk over to the curb.
After a minute or two, another car pulls up and as we walk towards this car the original guy starts yelling at me to pay him; then he says he’s calling the cops.
I lose it and start yelling back at the guy; now he turns on his flashing emergency light.
Driver 2 asks what’s wrong and I quickly tell him while suddenly more cars arrive.
They surround us, head lights glaring, menacing, staring, intimidating.
I yell at the first guy to get the cops. “I got pictures of you on the phone,” I say to him. Then, all of a sudden he rolls up the window, the four of them sit for a minute or two, then his emergency lights go out and they all drive away.
No other car ever came.
So, here we are stranded in a strange part of the city at 4:00 am, my wife is really scared and it’s not the best part of town to be. Do we head back towards Polo Park or do we head toward downtown? Neither option seemed very safe. We notice a McDonald’s down the road and decided, open or closed, someone should be there.
Now, I’m talking to my wife about what to do if something happens. “Any strangers come along,” I tell her, “you pay attention; if I push you, you run and I’ll try to handle anything.”
I still can’t believe any company would just dump their customers with no concern for their well being!
Soon, along comes a Unicity cab and the guy stops, rolls down his window and asks, “What are you doing out here at this time?” I explained what happened and he says, “No problem, I’ll get you home.”
My wife gets in, and just as I’m getting in, he says, “Hang on, I just got a notice on my screen that you guys ripped off another driver and have no money?” All lies! He says, “I need to see some cash,” so, I hand him a hundred and off we went.
Seriously, so now these drivers and Duffy’s have decided to maliciously make sure we were stuck out there.
Knowing the dangers, the dispatcher and driver mislead us to believe another car was coming, but instead were plotting to abandon us, and orchestrating a plan to make sure we were stranded.
This is just plain wrong.
Since the occurrence, I have left messages on the manager’s phone, as well as emailed the entire story, with not a single reply.
We are not the first to face this kind of abuse from Winnipeg cabbies, nor was our experience the worst.
Winnipeg is known as a city where a taxi is “not” the safe ride home.
Lack of competition leads to abuse of power and something needs to change.