Taxi companies are charging parents up to $25 extra to provide children's car seats and - in at least one case - not installing them properly.
Babies and young children are not required by law to be strapped into a car seat on public transport, including taxis, but the New Zealand Transport Agency recommends it. Taxi drivers must use a child seat if it is provided.
Many companies charge between $5 and $25 extra to provide a car seat, something agency spokesman Andy Knackstedt said they were entitled to do.
Discount Taxis owner Alan Webster charged $20 extra because the seats had to be collected and returned. The seats were not allowed to be stowed permanently in the boot. Alert Taxis and Corporate Cabs charge a $25 surcharge on top of the taxi fare.
Some parents chose to carry their babies and young children on their laps, rather than pay the fee, Webster said.
"It's a chance they take."
Glen Eden mum and Plunket car-seat trainer Rochelle Cave and her daughter Isla attempted three journeys on behalf of the Herald on Sunday this week.
Taxis United and Cheap Cabs said they did not have them and Auckland Co-op Taxis provided them for airport fares only.
Of three companies which said they could provide a proper seat for an extra fee, only one - Affordable Choice Cabs - actually could do so.
A Budget Taxis driver had an appropriate seat for Isla, but the vehicle did not have the anchor bolts installed to secure the seat safely.
Budget Taxis complaints officer Francis Raman said they trained their drivers in installing the seats, but agreed the driver had obviously not been trained. More training was planned.
Green Cabs showed up with no car seat, a mistake the company's general manager Karen Malfait blamed on the driver not reading the request properly. All drivers would be reminded to do so.
Waitemata Plunket car-seat manager Simone Budel said taxi drivers should ensure all passengers were safely restrained.
"The cost of a car seat shouldn't stop them. We would prefer taxi drivers kept their passengers safe, no matter what their age."