Montgomery County cabbies protest credit card transaction fees

November 7, 2013

Montgomery County taxi drivers rallied Thursday morning in protest of the credit card transaction fees they say they are forced to pay to the taxi companies in the county.

The drivers said they pay a bigger share on every credit card transaction than other Washington area cabbies and they are asking Montgomery County to intervene on their behalf. The cabbies say they pay a transaction fee of up to 8.5 percent on every credit card fare, when other D.C. area taxi drivers pay between 3 percent and 5 percent per transaction.

Drivers and county officials say the cab companies set the credit card transaction fees. A spokeswoman for Barwood, the largest taxi company in the county, could not immediately answer questions about the company’s credit card policy and the drivers’ concerns.

The cab drivers gathered outside the Montgomery County Executive’s office building in Rockville on Thursday morning to deliver a petition to County Executive Ike Leggett.

Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for Leggett said the county executive plans to meet with the drivers within the next 10 days to discuss their concerns. He said, Leggett will also talk to the Department of Transportation about the credit card policy and the issues brought up by the drivers.

“We want to hear them out and we will see if there is any way that we can be helpful,” Lacefield said.

County spokeswoman Esther Bowring said there is nothing in the county’s taxi regulations that sets rules regarding what kind of credit card fees the companies can charge.  She said the county, however, can  mediate in a dispute between the drivers and the companies.

“For many years now, the drivers have been bitterly suffering and dying in silence because of unfair, unilateral and sometimes, totally senseless demands from the taxi companies,” says the petition signed by more than 400 county taxi drivers.

The drivers say they want to be able to use their own credit card processing equipment or use the taxi companies’ devices  “at competitive market rates.”  And they want the county to set a  minimum charge for customers who want to pay with a credit card.

The county “mandates that we have to accept credit cards, which is fine, but the companies don’t have to charge 8.5 percent,” said Mateos Chekol, a union organizer with the AFL-CIO.

The Montgomery drivers are the latest to organize in protest in the D.C. area.   In the District, drivers have been protesting new mandates, which D.C. Taxicab commission officials say are necessary to modernize the city’s taxicabs.  In Prince George’s, drivers have been protesting the competition they get from a private car company at National Harbor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.
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