Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Former cabbie: Three-year struggle soul-destroying

Mark Hendry.
Mark Hendry.

Mark Hendry quit the taxi business because he lost so much money it eventually cost him his home.

The Glenfield father said the three years he spent in the industry were "soul-destroying".

"It was horrible. You think you are involved in something professional and doing the right thing and it's all going to work out, but it didn't".

Mr Hendry purchased two cabs - one in 2010 and one in 2012. He said the price he paid for working from the airport, his GST, insurance, petrol and vehicle maintenance were not recouped by profits from fares.

He did not believe drivers should "rip off" customers, but could understand why some were desperate to earn an income.

"I eventually lost my home because I was unable to repay my mortgage on that money."

He eventually left the industry for his current job, bus driving, and said he was more secure.

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One taxi driver spoke to the Herald but did not want to be named in case there were repercussions.

He said drivers were under emotional stress from working long shifts for little pay.

"People say the fares are quite high, but if you only do three fares when you are working 13-hour shifts ... we have to work that long to get three fares if we are lucky."

It was expensive to cover the costs of running a cab, he said.

"We are struggling either way, the price of everything has gone up."

$135 for trip from airport to city

Hawkes Bay businessman Chris Taylor was charged $135 to travel from the airport to central Auckland last month - more than double what he was used to paying for regular trips to the city.

"We were sitting in traffic and the fare was just going up and up and up. I had to pay for it, of course, because I had hopped into the car, but I wasn't very happy about it, especially as we were just sitting there and the fare was mounting."

Despite coming to the city about six times each year, Mr Taylor was unfamiliar with the most direct route - but said his driver did not take him on a motorway during the 21km journey.

"It doesn't seem very fair. I was expecting maybe a $60 fare, which is normally what it would cost, and when I was on the way back from the same place it was $35 ... and I am 99 per cent sure we went a different route."

Mr Taylor doubts he will ever take another taxi off the rank and plans to use prebooked services with quoted prices.

His tale was one of hundreds received by the Herald, including that of David Pellett, who was charged $40.20 to travel less than 7km to Mangere Bridge. It was 1am and there was no other option, he said.

"You're in a Catch 22 because it's one o'clock in the morning and at that time you don't have those options.

"To charge that sort of rate is ridiculous. It's exorbitant, it's just too high."

Robin Norris said she was charged $40 to travel less than 1km to her car she had parked at the Ibis Hotel.

"I was charged $40 and was told this was a mandated charge for rides within the airport because it entailed the driver returning to the back of the queue for taxis looking for more lucrative fares to the city."

Another woman said she had just returned from Australia and handed her driver a $50 note - which is the same colour as the Australian $5 bill.

"As I was stepping out of the taxi I realised, I turned to say something and the driver took off, my door still open."

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- NZ Herald

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