Cabbies Turning Down Plastic For Cash

Fees eat away at taxi fare

When Sammy Yohannes is driving his cab, he hopes his next fare will pay in cash.

"They use their credit card and it is about 5 percent to 8 percent of the total fee," said Yahannes.

Cab drivers picking up rides at San Diego's Lindbergh Field says they make less money when they get paid in plastic because of the fees and charges that come with the credit cards. But some riders say cab drivers claim their credit card reader is broken, so riders are forced to pay in cash.

"I'm pretty sure some do that just to get the cash," said Yahannes. "But I'm not going to do that to the customer."

It is, in fact, against the rules in San Diego. When a driver is given the rights to drive a cab he must agree to take credit card payments. Some drivers use Apple Square to take payments because it takes less of a percentage to use.

Most cab drivers say credit card payments make up as much as 80 percent of their fares.

"It's important for me that the customer is happy," said Mostafa Shjades, who's been driving a cab for 30 years. "And if taking a credit card is part of what makes them happy, I have no problem with that."

Drivers today not only have to pay for the right to take a credit card, but they also have to deal with competition from ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. That makes it hard when customers are only going a short distance.

"When it is three bucks or $7 fares and they try to give you a credit card it's like, 'Come on, that's why you get these drivers that try to push eagerly to go to a ATM machine,'" said Alex Gebreselassie of Cross Town Transportation.

"After a while it gets pretty annoying," said driver Sammy Yahannes.

But he admits when he's not driving a cab he usually pays with a credit card himself because of the changing economy and the fact that younger riders rarely carry cash. But for the drivers, cash is still best.

"Absolutely," said Gebreselassie, "but we have to face reality, cash is not existent."

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