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At an airport a family decides to take a taxi and tells the driver they want to go to a particular road and the taxi driver tells them they know that road and feeds it into the GPS. Everything seems fine when midway the passengers realize that the driver is going the wrong way because a road of the same name is in multiple cities, causing several hours to be wasted. Is it automatically the driver's fault? Does it matter whether the driver is employed by a company as in this case or is self-employed? Is it correct that even if a driver is self employed they owe a certain standard of care to customers?

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    Was the street the taxi driver navigated to the closest street with the requested name? (Also, how does this waste several hours?)
    – marcelm
    Feb 3 at 13:41
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    I found a plausible example for those wondering "how could this happen". 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC is well-known as the address of the White House. If someone landed at BWI and said "Take me to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.", many taxi drivers would assume "visiting the White House" but there is a 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Baltimore. 12 miles to Baltimore, 36 miles to the White House. Wants to go to Baltimore, could easily end up with an extra hour or more of driving depending on when the problem was noticed. Feb 3 at 14:49
  • @marcelm No, actually the street's name was not the same but sounded very similar to a street the taxi driver was familiar with, which was in a different city from the city the airport was located in, which is where the road that the passengers wanted to go to was located.
    – user389532
    Feb 3 at 20:33
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Feb 5 at 20:57

2 Answers 2

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It could be the passenger's problem or the taxi's problem

When these sorts of breakdowns in communications happen in specifying contract terms then either or both parties can be at fault.

If the passenger specified the wrong address then it is clearly the passenger at fault. Similarly, if the driver drove to a different address from what the passenger said, it would clearly be the driver at fault.

However, if the passenger was imprecise and the driver made an assumption then who bears responsibility depends on whether that assumption is reasonable or not.

For example, the main street in the Sydney, Australia CBD is George Street. Even though George Street is an extremely common name with literally dozens in the Greater Sydney area, a taxi driver would reasonably assume that a passenger at the airport asking for "George Street" means the one in the city, not any of the others. In such a circumstance, the onus is on the passenger to specify exactly where they want to go.

Whether the driver is an employee or a contractor is irrelevant - they are the representative of the organisation with whom the passenger has a contract.

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    On the other hand, the taxi driver knows that there are more than one street named George Street, whereas the passenger from the airport could be a tourist who doesn't even know that "Greater Sydney" is not all in Sydney.
    – Stef
    Feb 4 at 18:05
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It would very much depend on jurisdiction. In most municipalities in the US, taxis are highly regulated, see Ch. 6.310 of the Seattle Municipal Code for an example. The rate charged is automatically computed by a sealed meter which tracks mileage, and starting at 6.310.460 there are various rules related to rates, for example

E: A for-hire driver shall not ask, demand or collect any rate or fare other than as specified on the meter, required by ordinance, or pursuant to special rates or contract rates on file with the Director

and 6.310.465

K: A for-hire driver shall not make any discriminatory charges to any person, or make any rebate or in any manner reduce the charge to any person unless such is in conformity with the discounts or surcharges contained in the filed rates

Since the charge is exactly computed by a sealed machine, there is no provision under the law to dispute the charge.

Under the provisions of 6.310.465 G

A for-hire driver shall use the most direct available route on all trips unless the passenger specifically requests to change the route

A passenger might therefore file a complaint, based on a purported violation of this regulation. This does not affect the charge to the passenger, but might result in an Class A administrative sanction (fine) against the driver if the administrator who deals with the case finds that the facts support imposing a fine, but such findings are highly discretionary, and the municipal code does not say what level of proof is required to support a finding that a person did not use the most direct route to a mistaken destination where the driven is not clearly at fault for mistaking the destination.

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    I don't see anything in these regulations that addresses the driver going to the wrong destination.
    – Barmar
    Feb 3 at 15:33
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    Correct: there are no such regulations. It would have to fall under the "direct route" regulation and the administrator's interpretation of it.
    – user6726
    Feb 3 at 16:25
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    In this case it appears the driver probably was using the most direct route -- to the wrong location. I don't see how this answers the question. Feb 4 at 5:44

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