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How to lodge a complaint about taxi service in B.C.

File photo. .
File photo. . File / Global News

There’s no time of year when it’s harder to catch a cab than a weekend during the holidays.

That challenge was on full display last weekend when a video of a customer being refused service because his home in New Westminster was “too far” went viral.

But what can you do if you’re left high and dry by a taxi driver?

READ MORE: Taxi refusals jumped by 50 per cent between 2015 and 2016: PTB

B.C.’s transportation minister is urging people to lodge official complaints if they’re being refused service.

Speaking with CKNW’s Simi Sara, Claire Trevena said those complaints will help inform a report on the taxi industry the province has commissioned as it moves towards ride-hailing services like Uber.

“We don’t want anybody to be put in a risky situation, and so this is why we are taking our time,” she said.

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“To make sure that we get the answers that will work to ensure that people who do want to take cabs can get the cabs when they want them, but those who want alternate means of transportation can get that, but can get it safely.”

LISTEN: Minister of Transportation responds to taxi refusal video

Who to report to

But how exactly does the public make a complaint?

In the case of pressing safety issues such as dangerous or impaired driving, customers should call 911 immediately.

For other complaints, customers are encouraged to report their problem directly to the cab company first, and then to lodge a complaint with regulators.

Navigating through the variety of government agencies that oversee taxi service can be tricky, but there is a single portal that can be used to report problems.

READ MORE: Vancouver taxi expert says B.C. dragging its heels on Uber

The starting point is Consumer Protection BC, which has an online form that can be used to lodge complaints. Customers can also do it by phoning the agency at 1-888-564-9963.

Consumer Protection BC will then review the complaint, respond to you, and refer the case to the appropriate body to address it.

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Alternately, you can directly email the Passenger Transportation Branch at passengertransportationbr@gov.bc.ca.

LISTEN: How to make a complaint about cab service

What to report

Taxi refusals are one of the most the most common complaints, but passengers are entitled to a variety of protections under the province’s Taxi Bill of Rights.

Drivers are not permitted to refuse service over the length of the trip. They are also not permitted to refuse payment options such as credit cards or TaxiSaver vouchers if those methods are accepted by company policy.

READ MORE: Taxi demand in the spotlight in Vancouver as ride-hailing delays mount

Customers also have the right to choose the route taken, or if not, to expect the most efficient route.

You can see the full list of passenger rights here.

People lodging official complaints should include their full name, and as much detail as they can about the incident.

In particular, Consumer Protection BC asks that customers report “four Ws”:

  • Who – Include the company name, the taxi number, and the name of the driver
  • What – Provide a clear and complete description of the incident
  • When – Include the exact date and time of the incident
  • Where – Be as specific as possible about where the incident took place
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The province’s report on the taxi industry is expected to be completed in early 2018.