$787.33 for a cab ride, even if the cab is a priceless limo, is way too much to pay to be transported a couple miles in downtown Chicago. But a college student from Winnetka, Illinois realized that her fare cost her nearly the price of tuition.
According to MyFoxChicago on March 18, a “20-year-old college student from Winnetka unknowingly paid much more than her short cab ride should have cost.”
In December, Becky Siegel grabbed a cab to meet up with her friends at the Sweetwater Tavern and Grille. She took the Metra train and then hailed a cab at the Ogilvie Transportation Center.
When Siegel went to use her credit card, she said the cabbie told her his “swiper” wasn’t working, but offered to use his personal cell phone and Square – an add on smartphone device that allows for credit card transactions – to charge her the fare, which she says was about 10 bucks. Becky told him to add two dollars for the tip as well.
When Becky’s mother Susan got her daughter’s credit card bill, she was shocked to see an amount that seemed as if her daughter had traveled across the country, not just a few blocks.
“He was apparently very friendly and chatty, and was talking about pedestrians crossing where they shouldn't,” Susan Siegel recounted. “He gave her a price and she thinks it was, you know, under ten dollars. And so she said, ‘Can I use a credit card?’ And he said, ‘Oh, my swiper isn't working. Here give it to me and I'll do it on my Square.”
Becky told the Chicago Tribune, “I guess I didn't pay attention or I didn't look… I just signed my name with my finger and I left.”
Because it was a signed transaction, the Siegels said their Visa credit card company would not dispute the charge on their behalf. They next contacted the Chicago Police Department, who said that there was no crime by definition, and could not intercede.
The Siegels then contacted the cab company, and the driver, Ali Ghazanfari, who incredulously stood behind the exorbitant charge.
Yahoo! News picks up the story, and explains how the driver started singing a different tune when the media called him out.
Ghazanfari’s story changed when Siegel got in touch with the Chicago Tribune’s, “What’s Your Problem?” problem solvers. They reached out to the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. "I remember exactly what happened,” the driver told the Tribune. I made a mistake on the fare." Ms. Siegel said, "He called me two or three times, and he was in a panic. What I do know is that he is really sorry that he got caught."
Mika Stambaugh, a spokesperson for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, said that the Siegels should be getting a check from Square for the full amount charged by the week’s end.
As for the cabbie?
“Our department has suspended his public chauffeur license pending this investigation… He cooperated with us but he's not in the country so we still have a few unresolved issues pertaining to this case,” Stambaugh said.