This post is directed at anyone living in Christchurch. If you're not one of those people, don't feel you have to keep reading. If you are one of those, it is very important (and I'm not even kidding) that you take heed of this: do not take Gold Band taxis, in case you get the driver I got tonight.
I just got home. It is 2am.
This evening I went out to see a band, and at the end of the evening I decided to take a taxi home. I had had about 4 or 5 standard drinks in as many hours, and could not in any way have been considered drunk. I got into a cab and I said, "Northlands Mall - I have $17 cash, is that OK?" The question was more of a formality than anything else as Northlands Mall - which is about 2 mins walk from my house - is straight up a main road from town, and the taxi journey up this main road - a journey I have made many, many times - costs between $14 and $18, depending on the taxi company. I was just making sure the driver was OK with that. Checking we were both on the same page.
The taxi driver grunted. Stupidly, I assumed this meant "That's fine."
Then the taxi took off in completely the wrong direction - pointing right away from the main road which linked the city centre and the mall, and veering off to the left. "Oh," I thought, "this is an interesting route, but he knows I only have $17, and presumably has his reasons." Just in case, I reminded him that we were going to Northlands, and he grunted again. As we went round the long way (if you are having trouble seeing this, imagine a triangle; you could go straight from one point to the next, or you could go round 2 faces of the triangle, and that is what he was doing) I became puzzled, because the meter was getting awfully close to $17. But I knew it never cost more than $18, and I knew that he knew that I only had $17.
And then we stopped, on a bit of road which backs onto a park and has no houses, or street lights, and is not in a very nice area.
The taxi driver said, "$17."
I said, "We're not at Northlands."
He said, "This is $17."
I said, "But I checked when I got in, and you went the long way -"
And he said "$17."
And I was a bit scared, so I got out, and he turned the taxi around and was gone before I even got a chance to get the cab number.
And then I walked for 25 minutes at 1.30 am in the dark. And I am a girl, and I am small, and I was not carrying any weaponry, and I was very very afraid and I spent the entire walk home singing Disney songs to myself under my breath because it was the only thing I could think of to do to stop myself breaking into a complete and utter fucking panic.
I would've loved to have had enough cash on hand to pay the extra $5 or $10 it would have taken but I didn't, and I shouldn't have had to. If you are a cab driver and you say a certain rate is OK and then you go the long way to try and get cash you know your customer doesn't have and then you kick them out in a bad neighborhood you should be fucking fired, and first thing tomorrow I am complaining because I am really upset.
So the moral of the story is that you should never, ever take Gold Band taxis. Seriously. I do not do serious posts very often, but this is one of them. I know it's not the company's fault. But it's not worth it. Please, go with another cab company. End of cautionary tale.