This isn’t a work of fiction. This isn’t a lie. This isn’t a stretch of the truth. This is, in fact, a 100% completely true story of how the Pittsburgh Yellow Cab Company essentially held me hostage for roughly 30 minutes.
Let’s start with the definition of “hostage,” just to make sure we are all on the same page. Webster defines a hostage as:
- a person held by one party in a conflict as a pledge pending the fulfillment of an agreement
- person taken by force to secure the taker’s demands
My trip into Pittsburgh was going amazingly well. The flight from Chicago took off on time, arrives 15 minutes early, there was a cab waiting, no line for the cab and we made it into Pittsburgh quickly. I was just praising the gods for all this great fortune, when things took an abrupt turn toward crazy town.
The cab driver stopped at the MARC USA Pittsburgh office and read me the fare; $34.00 and change. I pulled out my Discover Card (it’s my card of choice and I’ve used it for every cab ride I’ve ever taken from and to the Pittsburgh airport) and handed it to the driver. The driver snapped his head back at me, pursed his lips and in a clearly irritated tone said to me, “I don’t take Discover, only Visa or Mastercard.” I mumbled under my breath, that this was ridiculous and the said to him, “well, that’s the only card I have.” This was technically a lie. I had my Visa CheckCard that’s tied to my banking account; however I never use that card for cab rides. In the past I’ve witnessed and heard of stories where a vendor/service will run up charges once they have your CheckCard info. I should also mention that the Yellow Cab website clearly indicates that they do in fact take Discover Card. But, I digress…back to the story.
The driver snapped back to me and said, “Bullshit, I want my money now. You’re not going to rip me off.” Woah, this totally caught me off guard. I was completely confused. At this point, I said, “Well, there’s an ATM over there (roughly 15 feet away), I’ll go there and get you your money.” That seems fair, right? Well, not to this guy. No sooner had I put my hand on the door handle to exit the cab, the cab driver locked the doors and yelled to me, “no, no, no, I’m not going to fall for this trick.” Huh? So I was literally locked inside the cab and couldn’t get out. Perplexed, I tweeted, “I’m locked in a cab. My cab driver wont let me out because I gave him Discover Card.” While tweeting, the driver told me that he’d be calling the cops. I was getting more confused by the moment. I once again reiterated my request that he let me out so that I could get his money from the ATM. But, he ignored my commentary and proceeded with dialing 911.
Well, I guess not to be outdone, I tried calling the Yellow Cab customer service line from my cell phone 3 times. However, each time, my call automatically was sent to voice mail. There was no one, not one single person, actually manning the customer complaint/service line. Well, so much for customer service. 15 minutes went by and I realized he had not turned the meeter off. I pointed this out and was then cursed at and told that it was not my place to tell him how to use his cab. WTF, right? Ok, it gets better. I then said to him, “look, just let me get out so I can get your money and we can then both put this behind us.” At this point, the driver of Yellow Cab 159 went further into crazy town. He, said that he was going to sue me for lost wages, because I was the one causing this situation. Huh? No, seriously, huh?
I continued to ask to be let out of the car and finally he agreed. Great, I thought, I grabbed my bag and attempted to leave the cab. I should point out, the cab was a mini-van with sliding doors on each side. I attempted to exit from behind the driver’s side. The driver then demanded I leave my bag with him. Ummm, no. The bag had an iPad, Mcbook Pro, a few expense checks and some other personal items. I declined and that’s when he grabbed me and tried to pull the bag off of my shoulder. I then slid back into the car and exited out of the door behind the passenger’s seat. I made my way to the ATM, grabbed $40.00 in cash, brought it back over and asked for a receipt. He refused to provide a receipt unless I gave him the money. Again, strange, but at this point, nothing was phasing me.
This is when it got even stranger…the cops showed up. Yes, I said cops. See, he had apparently called 911 twice. The first officer on the scene was alone. He was quite helpful and very cordial. I wish I had taken down his info, because he deserves a medal. He asked me what happened, I explained the situation and he apologized. He then went over the cab driver, got his story, came back and agreed to procure the receipt from the cab driver in exchange for the money. Not a problem. I gave the officer $1.25 (I’d already given the cab driver the $40.00 from the ATM). The officer provided the cab driver the $1.25, got me my receipt and again apologized. This is when a police van showed up with 2 or 3 (I can’t recall) additional officers. They were a bit late to the party
The officer advised me to call the cab company, talk to a supervisor and explain the situation. I called again and again was dropped right into voicemail. I’m sending a link to this post to the cab company and will let you know what happens. Talk about a crazy Friday; and it wasn’t even Friday the 13th.