Could driving a Cab in Orlando be the Worst Job Ever
Posted in the Orlando Forum
#1 Mar 1, 2014
When I moved here last year, unfortunately, the only job I could find after months of searching was driving a cab for. I recall very clearly in my training session, which occurred with 13 other new hires, when the trainer said that 95% of you will fail at this job. That gave me some pause but since I had no other options I decided to give it a shot. But I quickly learned that trying to make any kind of living at this job with this company was virtually impossible.
You see, the company considered all of its taxi drivers to be independent contractors. Their attitude is, you rent the cab from us and you are on your own. You are totally independent and this is your business so its up to you to make it work. And if you fail, it is because of your own lack of determination, creativity, business sense, etc. The problem with that is that you are almost entirely dependent on the company. They own the cabs, they do all the marketing, they run the call center and customer service, and they provide and support the infrastructure. So, in actuality, you rely heavily on them to make a decent wage.
So, to start, they charge you $120 a day for a 12 hour cab rental. On that 12 hour shift you are actually only able to earn for 10 hours as you have to get your cab, clean it, put gas in it, check in and out of your shift, etc. Then, figure $40 to $70 a day in gas, depending. So, before you even leave the parking lot you are out of pocket a minimum $160 and anything you make over that in fares is what you take home at the end of the day. In that 10 hours if your cab breaks down- sorry, pay us our money, if the dispatch send you on a wild goose chase-sorry, if other drivers have stolen your fare that dispatch sent you to pick up-sorry, if dispatch knowingly sends you to pick up a crazy person who another cab driver refused to take-sorry, flat tire- sorry, people ripping you off by running or passing bad checks that you had no option but to take- sorry. Bottom line, no matter what you experience and even if you are blameless, the company gets its money no matter what. Shortly after taking the job I realized that I was worse off calling the police when getting stolen from because the amount of time that process would take would eat into my time and I would end the day with zero dollars. These eventualities, which are daily occurrences, eat away at that 10 hours but please remember, youre a private contractor, its your business and its all up to you. Needless to say, the resulting, shocking, and despicable earnings will leave you feeling dehumanized. Many days I left with nothing in my pocket and many days I earned $2 to $3 dollars per hour in a 12 hour shift. Undoubtedly one of the hardest things I ever had to swallow and as far as I am concerned a clear violation of labor laws.
There were also many substandard conditions we had to deal with. Many of the cabs had well over 400,000 miles and were in a terrible state of condition. Some were infested with roaches. I remember well the times I had to use my clipboard to smash the roaches that were crawling up the inside windshield and the expression on the horrified customers faces. Priceless! The lumbar support in some cabs were so jacked up I felt like I had a tree log behind my back. Unfortunately, the cab they give you is the cab you get unless you want to wait around hours for another one or go home, in either case, a lost day. Needless to say, I went home many evening with severe back pain.
I also believe that because the conditions are so bad and the dollars so scarce and with every driver competing for those dollars; inevitably, unethical behavior arises. It was obvious to me that management new. The worst transgression I noticed was with prepaid accounts. Many companies and individuals who used cabs frequently would set up an account and prepay for their fares on a monthly or annual basis. It was a common practice for drivers to pick these people and get them to sign
#2 Mar 1, 2014
I tried it for a while but it really sucked. Crazy people, lousy tips, sitting in a car all day. Your lucky if you walk away with 50 bucks. Definitely not for me.
#3 Mar 1, 2014
sign the authorization form without writing down the fare total on the form. Then when the people got out of the cab, the driver would sit in the cab and let the meter continue to run until he was satisfied with the fare total, and then process the transaction and write in the new total. I imagine this fraud amounts to considerable sums as there were accounts with hospitals, insurance companies, corporations, retirees, wealthy individuals, you name it. Ironically, one day I was dispatched to pick up the President of the company from the BMW dealership. The founders son to be exact. He had an account and he was actually the first person to inform me of this practice and he left the total blank and told me I should too when I have someone sign the form. I was kind of shocked.
Other practices included drivers stealing gas from each other, stealing fares from each other, taking advantage of tourists and foreigners by taking routes that were longer and not expedient. As a former administrator and manager I can honestly say that the internal controls at this place were negligible at best.
Needless to say, I could literally write a book about this place. At the end of the day, the 13 trainees that I sat with for 3 days of training were all gone in a few weeks. Better than a 95% failure rate. The ones I did speak to plainly said, its just impossible to make a living out of this. As I figure it, the company has to have a steady influx of cabbies to rent their cabs to and provide coverage for the area. The loose virtually all of them so they are in a constant state of hiring and training. The remaining 5 to 10 percent who survive either have found a nitch, are gaming the system somehow, are truly exceptional, or prepay to rent their cabs at $700 per week, which none of us could afford. And those guys are not making a killing.
This company hides behind the independent contractor contract which none of us got copies of. And then its all up to you, regardless. And if you fail, its your fault. Not the management and not the model. As for me, I made it two months. My last day they gave me a car with a flat tire. It was low when I received it but I figured if I turned it back in to get another one, I would have to wait around for hours and my day would be completely ruined as had happened in the past. So I filled it up and took the chance that it might stay full and drove it across town. It was completely flat in 15 minutes. I was screwed. I brought the cab back, cashed out, and went home again with no pay and never returned. After two months I could find no other employment, could not pay my rent, and was evicted from my residence. Real tough decision but I could not debase myself anymore or allow myself to be taken advantage of in such a way. I sold everything I had to stay alive and am now in a better place.
So in closing, all I can say is God Bless the immigrants, the retired, the people who have lost their jobs, and all of the others who attempted to brave the waters of the cab driving business in Orlando and its 95% employment failure rate. God Bless them for their time, sacrifice, frustration, and resiliency. God bless those who were screaming at the top of their lungs when cashing out that they were being paid slave wages. And God Bless all the other causalities (the ones fined for turning their cab in late only because they were desperately trying to make a few extra bucks, the ones whos vehicles didnt function and were not compensated, the people who were assaulted and complained to dispatch and dispatches only response was to knowingly send another driver to the scene, and the ones who had all of their time and money wasted because of an inept management).
So please keep all of this in mind the next time you take a cab. And if you do take a cab, there is probably a 95% chance that the cab you take is the company I worked for.
#4 Mar 2, 2014
Sounds like some of the memories I was glad to forget. I think one of the things that frustrated me the most was showing up early to your 12 hour shift to be sure you got the taxi you reserved the day before and then still having to wait an hour into your shift before you got you cab.That was 3 hours you didn't even get paid for.
#5 Apr 17, 2014
Surprised no one else can relate to this...
#8 May 25, 2014
I think there may have been some news stories on cab companies lately. Anyone hear anything.
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