Whitehorse taxis being ripped off, says cab owner

Whitehorse taxi drivers are routinely ripped off by non-paying customers, says cab company owner Ken Giam.

'Some people just run away,' said cab company manager Ken Giam

If you're taking a taxi in Whitehorse anytime soon, you might want to make sure you have some extra cash on you. Your cabbie might ask for some money down.

Ken Giam, a Whitehorse cab manager, says some drivers are asking for deposits these days to crack down on fare jumpers.

"Some people just run away. Some people say wait, I'll come back with the money. And then you wait there for a long time and they never show up," Giam said.

Giam said other times, a customer only has money for part of the ride. 

However it happens, Giam is losing revenue — about five percent, he estimates.

"If you call the police, they are not responsive to help taxi drivers when we get paid. Taxi drivers have learned they cannot rely on the police to get their money back," he said.

Deposits allowed under city bylaw

The city's taxi bylaw allows cab drivers to ask for up to $30 as a down payment on a ride. Still, the practice has irked some customers.

"I was like, 'no, I'll pay when I get home'," said Karrie Brown, who was recently asked by her cab driver to pay up front.

Brown wondered if she was being singled out because she's a First Nations woman. She and the driver ended up in a heated argument that escalated and eventually involved the police. Both filed complaints, but nobody was charged.

"Of course I have money, I wouldn't call a taxi if I didn't have money," Brown said afterwards.

The city's bylaw does not specify when a cab driver may ask for a deposit.

Giam said some drivers will ask for a deposit if they've had problems with customers in the past, but said if any of his drivers are found to be racially profiling customers, he'll take action.