A Nevada State audit of the Las Vegas taxi industry found that cabs in Sin City systematically overcharge customers to the tune of $47 million annually.
State officials found the rates and fees so outrageous that they called for the abolishment of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, which allows the notorious fares and steep fees, and turning over its regulatory duties to another agency.
In a report released Tuesday, auditors for the governor’s finance office said the $3 automatic processing fee cabs charge for credit and debit card payments should not exist. At the very most, such a fee should be no higher than 90 cents.
A table of estimated cab fares put out by the Nevada Taxicab Authority lists the $3 card fee, as well as a $3.50 meter activation fee and $2 fee for all rides originating from the airport – that’s $8.50 before the cab even moves.
Las Vegas cabs also add a fuel surcharge at a time when gas prices have plummeted to their lowest levels in several years. The surcharge is also tied to federal gas price averages instead of Nevada prices, which are much lower.
Las Vegas cab drivers are also known to “long haul” customers, taking them on longer, indirect routes to their destination to run the fare up. One Virginia woman who frequently visits Las Vegas told the Associated Press that the $15 fare she routinely pays for the same trip became $35 after the driver long-hauled her on an unfamiliar, convoluted route.
A union for Las Vegas cabbies told the AP that the $3 credit card fee enriches cab companies and hurts the drivers because a lot of customers think of it as a built-in gratuity for the driver when he or she actually gets none of that money.
“It is absolutely, utterly ridiculous to have a credit card fee of $3. That’s absurd,” Sam Moffitt, a union organizer representing drivers of one large Vegas cab company told the AP. “The drivers do not get any portion of that money.”
The audit comes just as Uber and Lyft got permission to start operating in the city. Several dissatisfied customers the AP interviewed already mentioned they would stop using taxis for rides and start using the ride-hauling companies, which are a lot cheaper and often more convenient.