Cab riders experiencing no-shows urged to file complaints

No-show taxis are rare, according to Nevada Taxicab Authority records. Zero complaints within the past 12 months.

That may be right, but I think it’s wrong.

When I asked readers last week to share their experiences, I heard from dozens of people. Some had missed their flights, and only the kindness of a Las Vegas woman helped keep a foreign woman from missing a wedding. One woman recalled having to wait with her handicapped son suffering from brain cancer for 2½ hours after a dinner.

None filed a complaint with the Nevada Taxicab Authority. Only one tried.

Even Las Vegan Byron Goynes, who made the news recently, didn’t file a complaint after he made two calls to Western Cab on May 20 and nobody came. He gave up after an hour.

A couple of cabdrivers who asked to remain anonymous admitted no-shows are a very real problem in Las Vegas, past and present. One wrote no-shows are “the new normal here in Vegas. Most drivers won’t leave the Strip at all.”

A second said that while there are some “nefarious drivers out there, the problems with taxi service are systemic and are due to the collusion between cab companies and the Taxicab Authority. The process is this: If something goes wrong and there is proof, blame it on the driver. If there is no proof, then pretend like it didn’t happen.”

A third driver blamed no-show passengers for the problem.

New director weighs in

Scott Whittemore, who was appointed June 19 as the taxicab authority’s new administrator, reiterated “we investigate passenger complaints.”

“I have concerns that this industry continues to be painted with a broad brush with anecdotal evidence,” he emailed Friday. “The story that doesn’t ever seem to be told is that taxicabs in Clark County are likely the safest, most vetted for hire transportation option in our community.” He said the industry is also working to modernize its technology.

“As a regulator I have to rely on evidence in the form of submitted complaints, violations witnessed by our Enforcement investigators, or complaints taken in the field,” he said. Complaints about no-shows have dropped dramatically, he insisted.

Stephanie Taylor remembered her then-husband missing a flight in 2013 “when no taxi would pick him up from our apartment near UNLV.” Uber and Lyft weren’t an option in Las Vegas until late 2015.

‘Distressing and sad scenario’

Lynette Campbell told of being at her local beauty salon near Durango Drive and Flamingo Road — pre-ride hailing — “when I came across the most distressing and sad scenario.” A foreign woman here for a family wedding on the Strip had been waiting an hour, making call after call to a cab company “and promise after promise was made by dispatch.” She was close to missing the wedding.

“I couldn’t let our city make this woman miss such a sacred family experience.” So Campbell drove her to the hotel with minutes to spare. “My salon told me that no taxi ever showed up.”

The last time local Mary Hausch tried to take a cab was about five years ago when she called for one to take her to the airport.

”After waiting a half-hour, I called back,” said Hausch, a former Las Vegas Review-Journal managing editor and retired UNLV professor. “When I told the dispatcher that I lived one block off Las Vegas Boulevard, his suggestion was that I drag my luggage to the boulevard and hail a cab.”

Richard Seraydarian wrote: “I used to live near the Strip and if I had an early morning flight, I would call the cab company the night before and ask for an early morning taxi. They would always say no can do … call when you are ready to leave. But the next morning when I called the response was that no cab would be available for two hours.”

Marilyn Lacy’s no-show has caused her fondness for Uber to greatly increase. “Called from my home at 5 a.m. asked for a ride to the airport. Never came. I called to see what was happening; operator checked and came back on the line and said he had a flat. I asked why she didn’t notify me as they asked for my contact number when I originally placed the call. She had no idea.”

Apparently ride-sharing companies aren’t perfect. Sherry, an out-of-towner who asked that I not use her last name, had two no-show Lyfts. Staying at the Silver Sevens hotel May 11, the delays made her miss her flight and she sat at McCarran International Airport for six hours. She complained to Lyft, which removed two $5 cancellation charges. But a $10 savings doesn’t make up for a six-hour wait, she said.

Make the complaint

Tony Higgins said he tried to file a complaint a few years ago, but at the time the authority didn’t accept emailed complaints, although it does now. “When I tried to call, they stonewalled me for days.”

But what about the passengers who don’t complain? The frail senior citizen who doesn’t have a smartphone and needs a ride to the doctor and who must use a cab?

That person is unlikely to file a complaint.

My advice to readers: If a cabbie doesn’t show, you must file a complaint. Otherwise, the authority will keep on insisting it’s just not a problem.

But that’s not what I’m hearing.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column runs Sundays in the Nevada section. Contact her at jane@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0275. Follow @janeannmorrison on Twitter.

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