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The reviews online are scathing: rider after rider who claims a Seattle taxi driver berated them for not paying with cash. But at least one cab company wants to make things easier. (AP Photo/file)

Yellow Cab to change the way you pay fares

The reviews online are scathing: rider after rider who claims a Seattle taxi driver berated them for not paying with cash.

"Don't try to pay with a credit or debit card or you will either be given attitude or denied service completely," wrote one reviewer.

"He had the audacity to complain about me using a card. In fact, he tried to tell me he didn't take cards and that he'd have to charge me fare to go to an ATM," another review read.

Although all of the Seattle-area's major cab companies claim to accept debit and credit cards, some won't do so without voicing their displeasure.

KIRO Radio took 10 cab rides around the downtown area with various companies including Yellow Cab, Orange Cab and Eastside for Hire. Of those, eight drivers complained when given a debit card for payment.

"You don't have cash?" a Yellow Cab driver asked when dropping us off in Pioneer Square.

"No cash?" said another driver for the same company. "Are you sure you don't have cash?"

He sighed and shook his head.

An Eastside for Hire driver, however, gladly accepted payment in the form of a card for a $6 ride from Belltown to Lower Queen Anne.

Puget Sound Dispatch, which handles the city's 554 Yellow Cabs, claims it does not receive a lot of passenger complaints about drivers who refuse to accept cards.

"From my perspective, I don't see it very often," said Jim O'Malley, dispatch manager for Puget Sound Dispatch. "Cash and credit cards are treated the same."

But drivers are forced to pay a fee if they accept payment via card, which could explain why some prefer cash.

"Just like if you're using a credit card anywhere - any business - there is always a fee," O'Malley said. "And the driver pays the fee because he is the businessman."

On the bright side, the process of using a credit or debit in card in a Yellow Cab is about to get easier. O'Malley said Puget Sound Dispatch will install backseat payment systems in all of their cabs within the next 15 months.

Currently, Yellow Cabs drivers must make a physical copy of your card for their records before they can swipe it.


Brandi Kruse, KIRO Radio Reporter
Brandi Kruse is a reporter for KIRO Radio who is as spontaneous and adventurous in her free time as she is on the job. Brandi arrived at KIRO Radio in March 2011 and has already collected three regional Edward R. Murrow awards for her reporting.
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