Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, February 13, 2021

When Alphabet City resident Tamara Perez got slugged in the mouth by a cab hack that refused to take her credit card as fare payment, I figured this that that incident would be just the tip of the iceberg.

Sure enough, others have come forth with harrowing tales of cabbies who flip out when it’s card-swipe time:

Sarah Snedeker, 24, says a driver locked her in a cab in Manhattan and spit in her face.

When his maniac driver refused to use plastic, Michael Blumenthal, 28, says he ended up running away from him through a Queens alleyway.

The cabbies are avoiding taking credit and debit cards because, basically, they make less money: Not only do they have to part with 5 percent of each fare for processing fees, but card payments also leave a paper trail that, unlike cash, can’t be hidden from the taxman.

In a sense, there’s not much incentive for independent contractors like taxi drivers to go with electronic payments. The rationale for merchants to start accepting cards is that it speeds up the transaction, including eliminating the need to handle paper money by having the money directly credited to your bank account, etc. Speedier transactions means the ability to take care of more customers in less time, and that volume should offset the processing fees. So for a retail business like a bakery or a dry cleaner, it works out well because it keep the long lines moving faster.

But for cabbies? The payment transaction doesn’t affect how quickly they can do their jobs — they still can take only one fare at a time, and that’s going to take however long it takes. The only possibility for increasing volume is the ability to pick up fares who otherwise wouldn’t take a taxi because they never carry cash, in which case hacks who work airports exclusively might do well. But in New York City itself, enough people still carry cash so that there’s no advantage.

For me, I’ll be sticking with the subway. I’ll be damned if I have to get into a tussle with some fare-skimmer just to get a ride.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/13/2008 10:47:16 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin'
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