Taxi cab experience a cautionary tale for riders

Timothy Allen is frustrated. The 31-year-old was recently given the run around by a local taxi company.

Timothy Allen is frustrated.

The 31-year-old was recently given the run around by a local taxi company, while trying to find his luggage that was lost in Victoria.

On Friday, March 18, Allen and his girlfriend Lindsay Hogue travelled to Victoria to visit family and friends for the weekend.

After a night out downtown, the couple called Victoria Taxi for a cab to drive them to their friends’ house in Saanich and take them back to Allen’s grandmother’s house in downtown Victoria, where they were staying.

When the cab arrived, Allen loaded his two bags into the trunk — his duffle bag, which had a number of collector baseball hats, watches, and another computer bag with a laptop containing sensitive information and a number of photos from recent trips.

After the cab dropped them off at his grandmother’s house at roughly 2 a.m., Allen instantly realized he had forgotten his bags in the trunk. He ran after the cab, trying to flag him down, but it was too far gone.

He called the dispatcher, who was able to identify the cab, and attempted to send the driver back. For the next hour, Allen was on the phone several times with the dispatcher who was unable to get a hold of the driver, despite the fact that the driver’s GPS system showed he was picking up other passengers.

The dispatcher eventually said there was nothing more they could do if the driver wasn’t responding and told Allen to call Victoria police to file a report.

Police were able to intervene and get a hold of the driver who, to Allen’s shock, claimed there were no bags in his trunk.

“The whole time we were waiting, we thought ‘he’s busy, he’s coming’. It didn’t even cross my mind that he didn’t have the bags,” Allen said. “As soon as he said he didn’t have it, it was just a feeling of disgust.”

The next day, Allen spent hours on the phone speaking to Victoria Taxi dispatchers, who were rude and constantly hung up on him, he said.

Allen, who is originally from Victoria and comes back to visit roughly one a month, hasn’t had a problem with cabs in the past.

“I’ve accepted that my bags are gone, but it hurts losing personal things. The material items can be replaced, that’s easy to get over, it’s the pictures that really hurt,” he said, speculating either the driver has his belongings or another passenger took them. “We understand that drivers are self-contracted and they are not liable. But there was absolutely zero concern from the cab company, that was the worst part.”

Jim Bell, general manager of Victoria Taxi, said the dispatcher followed the right protocol, trying to get a hold of the driver to send him back to return the items.

“We try to have contact with our drivers all the time, but occasionally the drivers don’t call us right away and that appears to be the case in this. The supervisor went to extraordinary lengths to contact the driver,” Bell said, adding articles get lost in cabs on a daily basis.

“The driver searched the vehicle and said it wasn’t in the vehicle. We have to take the driver’s word.”

He added if items are found in cabs, drivers inform their supervisors who make arrangements to have the item returned to its original owner. The company does have a lost and found, however, if things are not claimed within eight hours, it is given to Victoria police’s lost and found.

Allen and Hogue said the situation doesn’t put them off from taking cabs in the city again, but hopes the experience acts as a cautionary tale to all cab users.

“I would just like the public and the Better Business Bureau to be aware that this activity is happening,” Hogue said.

“This company is neither reliable nor is it safe. If something more serious were to happen and they had no ability to contact or find their drivers, I am afraid of what could happen.”