A Hawke's Bay taxi company owner says he's noticing problems with "out-of-towner" taxis coming into the region for big events and then charging "exorbitant" fares.
Chris Scott was stunned on Saturday night after a driver representing an Auckland-based company charged him $81.75 for an 8.5 kilometre trip from the Tomoana Showgrounds in Hastings to his accommodation in Havelock North.
Scott, from Auckland, was leaving indie festival Nest Fest at 10.30pm when he hopped into the cab to and asked to go to his parents' home on Iona Rd, paying by Paywave as he left.
Intercity Taxis claims Scott agreed to the price of $81.75 and it was therefore a legal ride. Scott says he had only agreed to $55, which was "steep enough" and says the added cost was "price gouging".
Intercity is now refunding him $26.
Wayne England, general manager of Hawke's Bay Combined Taxis, said he had noticed issues with "fly-by-nighters" operating taxis in the region for big events, and Scott's case was not unique.
Just over four years ago Parliament passed the Land Transport Amendment Act 2017 which allowed taxis, shuttles and private hire services to charge whatever they liked, as long as there was a price agreement before hire.
At the end of the trip the driver cannot charge more than the agreed amount, including deductions for any pre-payment made by the passenger.
England said this meant if the consumer agreed, they would then have to pay, which put the responsibility on those who were struggling to get home.
"Out-of-towners, cowboys, can come in and charge exorbitant prices. And as long as they have a PSL [Passenger Service Licence], P endorsement and a COF they can come into the region and charge whatever they like.
"We are finding issues only arise with big events when demand outweighs supply, but the responsibility goes back to the consumer to make the choice."
Scott said he and his fiance Callan Rose were trying to beat the crowd they knew was likely to want taxis when they were invited by a man to "jump in, jump in".
The man then jumped out of the car to "go get his mate's eftpos machine" before taking them the fastest way home, at Scott's request.
"I looked at my Paywave app and saw the driver had charged $81.75. I hugely regret us taking the taxi. It should not be allowed to happen."
Intercity Taxis manager Raj Dadu got in touch with Scott on Tuesday saying he would be refunded $26 so his bill was only $55.
Dadu told Hawke's Bay Today his company does not own the taxi that charged Scott, but offered eftpos terminals to the drivers, who drive their own cars.
He said he spoke to the driver and the driver told him Scott agreed to $81.75 and therefore the driver did not do anything wrong legally.
"The fares between the customer and driver were agreed, the driver told me, but I told him [Scott] that I would be happy to refund him the difference."
Dadu said the driver had left the taxi to get a different Eftpos machine because his had been malfunctioning.