British Columbia

Taxi driver added $15 'moving fee' to family's fare during ride from airport, passenger says

A Vancouver man says he expects more transparency from taxi companies after paying a fee for excess luggage. According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, it's a fee that shouldn't be charged.

B.C. Taxi Association says passengers should never be charged for luggage

A man who took a cab from Vancouver airport with his wife and in-laws has filed a complaint with Consumer Protection B.C. after he was charged a $15 fee for excess luggage. (CBC)

Travellers who check bags can expect to pay extra fees at the airport, but a Vancouver man didn't think he'd get charged for excess luggage on the taxi ride home.

He paid the $15 fee, only to find out later he didn't have to.

Egor Philippov, 31, took a Delta Sunshine Taxi from the Vancouver International Airport with his wife and in-laws on Sept. 29.

His in-laws were in town from Nigeria for his wedding.

The group of five piled into a minivan with eight pieces of luggage. Mid-way through their flat-rate ride to downtown Vancouver, Philippov said the driver remarked on the amount of luggage behind them.

"The driver was like, 'because you guys have so much luggage, I'm going to charge you a moving fee which is $15," Philippov said.

"I have never heard of a moving fee."

Philippov was charged $50 for the ride downtown.  A flat-rate taxi fee from the airport to downtown Vancouver usually runs around $35.

Philippov says his family took a taxi van, similar to this one loading luggage for cruise ship passengers, from the Vancouver airport on Sept. 29. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Philippov said he felt blindsided by the added fee, which he said was not discussed before the ride started. The confusion intensified when he tried to research whether the fee could even be charged.

It can't.

Under the Taxi Bill of Rights, drivers are not allowed to add charges to a fare for the handling or transportation of luggage. The Passenger Transportation Board dictates fees can be charged for freight, but no extra fees can be charged for personal baggage, which includes luggage and items that can fit in the trunk of a mid-sized sedan.

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, some taxi companies can charge a fee if a passenger is moving household items, like boxes or mattresses. Passengers are advised in advance of the fee amount.

Delta Sunshine Taxi did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Mohan Kang, president of the B.C. Taxi Association, said he has not heard of a passenger being charged a fee for their luggage. 

Even in a situation when a fee is warranted — for transport of household items, for example — drivers should show discretion, Kang said.

"You don't need to go by the book all the time," Kang said.

"We want to do it right. We are there to serve the general public and, as such, we should probably go the extra mile … to make sure the customers, the tourists are happy."

Carolyn Bauer, general manager at Yellow Cab, said there's "not a chance" a family of five should face an added fee for transporting their luggage.

The company does get requests to carry cargo and things like mattress boxes, she said. The fee for that is $15. 

Philippov has filed a complaint with Consumer Protection B.C. The Ministry of Transportation said it is following up on it.

"The Passenger Transportation Branch works closely with the organization to follow up complaints and will take appropriate action when necessary," ministry spokeswoman Danielle Pope said in an email.

"We are concerned to hear about any passenger that isn't getting adequate taxi service."

Philippov said he's heard of luggage fees charged by taxi companies in other countries, but with thousands of tourists pouring through the airport every day, he said he expects more transparency from taxi companies here.

"If anything, ask about it ahead of time," he said. "Know how much you're going to be charged."

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